Questions remain about GMO science

Writer Dan Gregg presents his arguments against genetically modified crops.


For the Capital Press

Published on April 17, 2014 12:00PM

“GMOs have been shown to be safe, successful and profitable” is a belief that many people have with little or no scientific studies to back it up. It is well known that the Food and Drug Administration, in its approval process of genetically engineered crops, has relied on studies of the biotech companies themselves where there is an obvious conflict of interest.

As a citizen of Jackson County, Ore., and an avid gardener, seed saver and environmentalist of 40-plus years, I am interested in making wise decisions concerning the future of our food and water/health and vitality!

I have searched for both pro and con information on genetically engineering and all its implications, including soil and human health. I have to admit that at first glance the possibilities are enticing; one farmer can grow 1,000s of acres of soybeans and not have to pull one weed with the promise of higher yields and other benefits. As I looked deeper, I found several documentaries available online that illustrate dangers associated with the cultivation and consumption of GE crops. A few of them are “Genetic Roulette,” “The World According to Monsanto,” “After 10 Years of Failure,” “Seeds of Death,” “The Future of Food,” “Food Inc.,” “GMO, OMG” and “Fresh.” All of these demonstrate enough questions about GMOs and their accompanying practices to raise grave concerns about this technology and how it is being used.

Iowa farmer and “student of the soil” Howard Vleiger is on You Tube with scientific documentation of his direct experience growing GE and non-GE crops side by side. He found exactly the opposite of “safety, success and profitability.”

Ag scientist and Purdue University professor Don Huber has determined that longterm effects of “Roundup” (most widely used herbicide worldwide and many GE crops are “Round-Up Ready”) are detrimental to soil micro-organisms and causes nutrient lockup in the soil.

A French scientist, Dr. Seralini, showed quite alarming health effects in lab rats using the same study protocols as Monsanto did, only for a longer period of time, testing Roundup Ready Corn.

In India tragic consequences came to thousands of farmers who planted Monsanto’s GE cotton because of decreased yields, poorer quality fiber, more expensive seed, pest damage and twice the requirement for water. The resulting insurmountable debt led to thousands of farmer suicides. All of this was, of course, opposite of what was promised by the company selling the seeds and chemicals.

Then there is the issue of Monsanto suing hundreds of Canadian and U.S. farmers for patent infringement when GE pollen traveled on the wind into non-GE crops. Wouldn’t it be more logical to say that their GMO genetics trespassed into fields where it was not wanted.

The Rogue River Valley here in Jackson Co., Ore., is 8-10 miles at its widest. FDA seed purity requirements are a 4 mile radius from any compatible crop’s pollen. When Syngenta (an international chemical company) moved in with GE sugar beets, without notification to other farmers in the area (and within the 4 mile radius) several organic seed producers were forced to till in thousands of dollars of contracted seed. Before this became known there was 20 or so GE beet plots countywide and when a seed growers group was formed Syngenta opted out rather than compromise and leave room for other farmers.

Genetic modification is in every cell of those plants and potentially altering our DNA as well. This is an urgent situation requiring urgent action. Imagine recalling these genetics that are being planted worldwide!!

After educating ourselves, myself and thousands of others and hundreds of businesses have opted to ban this technology in Jackson County through ballot measure 15-119 on May 20. We left a clause allowing for research in enclosed areas to satisfy concerns that this technology has something to offer in the longterm.

Please, people, farmers, consumers of food, let’s educate ourselves to the truth of this matter and be wise and smart for the children who we have borrowed this world from!

Dan Gregg of Ashland, Ore., has a small compost business has been growing organic gardens for over 40 years, using mostly open pollinated, heirloom varieties. He has studied permaculture and hopes to delve deeper into permaculture and natural farming practices.


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