by Eric Herm —
As humans, we tend to forget our bond with the rest of nature’s living creatures. Despite our magical ability to drive shiny automobiles, don the latest fashions, construct extravagant cities or make full use of opposable thumbs, we are really no different than the rest of nature — we all eat, drink, breathe and sleep.
The recipe for thriving human health is really quite basic: healthy food and water, regular exercise, sufficient rest and minimum stress. For nature, it is no different. Plants, trees and even the soil are all alive and in need of food (humus), water (rain), exercise (sunshine), rest and minimal stress. Everybody eats. So too, does every living thing.
Knowing this, why would we willingly continue to feed toxic chemicals to our food and fiber crops? In commercial agriculture, we bombard our fields with herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops without fully accepting the responsibilities or repercussions. Poison is the main ingredient in the commercial agriculture recipe.
In 2007, more than 2 billion pounds of herbicide were used worldwide, one-fourth of which (541 million pounds) were used in the United States. Globally, we spent more than $14 billion and $5 billion in the U.S. on herbicides alone, according to an FDA report. America also purchased more than 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides in 2007, totaling more than $12.5 billion in sales.
We are planting more than 100 million acres of GM crops each year. In 2011, major commodity crops such as corn, cotton, canola and soybeans are now 90 percent genetically modified. Those numbers are increasing, even though more than 30 countries across the globe have banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) altogether. Yet in America, our own President Obama appointed a former Monsanto bigwig, Michael Taylor, as the Food Czar of the FDA. Monsanto is one of the largest purveyors of GM seeds and their accompanying chemicals in the world today.
GM food tastes awful compared to organic or natural crops. In fact, given the choice between GM and natural feed, livestock will instinctively choose the natural feed every time. Would we rather enjoy cheap, non-nutritional food that tastes like the south end of a north-bound skunk or a higher priced, high-quality natural bounty that replenishes us with more vitamins and minerals?
When we pay less for compromised food, we end up paying more in doctor visits, prescriptions and other health care costs. Everything is linked. We are what we eat, which impacts every aspect of our lives.
Most people have no clue that GMOs or GM food and crops are essentially fake food and seeds. They are organisms that have been injected with genes from another living organism, allowing them to resist certain insects and withstand herbicides, such as Roundup®. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is proving to cause damage not only to the soil, but also to the livestock that eat the GM feed from these crops.
Our cattle, pigs and chickens are all eating a 90-percent genetically modified diet. GMOs are linked directly to SDS (sudden-death syndrome), high infertility and miscarriage rates in livestock. Three consecutive generations of mammals fed solely on a GM diet are unable to produce another generation. They become sterile and/or barren.
Apart from these dangers, after a 30- to 90-day diet of GMO feed, livestock are prone to allergies, stomach lesions, bleeding digestive tracts and cancerous tumors. We are poisoning the animals we eat. What we are cooking at home and barbecuing on the weekends for our friends and family is essentially poisoned meat.
As a fourth-generation farmer, I have seen firsthand the destruction of this disastrous recipe. We have more weed and insect issues than ever, accompanied by more soil degradation due to monocropping, excessive chemicals and GMO production.
Chemical companies are running agriculture now. We have created billion dollar corporations that do not need to exist because we are buying products that weaken our fields and crops, creating the need for more products to overcome the diseases and malnourishment they cause.
We continue to treat long-term problems with short-term solutions. In the process, we are making billion dollar companies out of the likes of Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, DuPont™, Dow and Syngenta. Meanwhile, farmers continue to go out of business. Less than one million farmers remain in America, representing a fraction of one percent of the total population. We are attempting to feed and clothe more than 350 million people each year with this corrupt system.
It is critical that we all get involved with our food. That starts by educating ourselves about what we are eating, where it comes from and whether or not it is genetically modified. We have to read labels at grocery stores and avoid buying the foods with genetically modified ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup.
Buying local organic food as much as possible will help support our community’s economy, our family’s health and the local farmers. We need to be involved with our food co-ops, farmers’ markets, community gardens, pick-your-own gardens or whatever is available in our communities. More people should be growing their own food to help support a more sustainable lifestyle.
National organizations such as the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association and others need our support to help fight important legislation battles. The Organic and Non-GMO Report is a wonderful resource to keep us up-to-date on what is happening with our food. Like Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth, many books are available to inform readers about GMOs.
An incredibly important event took place in October 2011. The Right 2 Know March began in New York City on October 1. People marched for more than two weeks all the way to Washington D.C., and convened in front of the White House on October 15 and 16 to demand the labeling of GM foods. For more information see: www.right2knowmarch.org.
This farmer was there. We are all impacted by nature and by our food supply. Everybody eats. Now everybody needs to get involved.
Eric Herm farms near Ackerly, Texas. His is the author of Son of a Farmer, Child of the Earth. www.sonofafarmer.com.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 2, Oct/Nov 2011.