January 31, 2011

The USDA caves to Monsanto. What now? ~ Denise DellaRocco

Photo Courtesy of jetsandzeppelins

Why My Heart Hurts for America.

Organic farming, organic dairies, and the organic food industry were just forever changed.

Yesterday, the decision came down from USDA Secretary Vilsack to deregulate the use of “Roundup Ready,” genetically modified alfalfa.

The biggest argument for the decision you will find is that it’s the farmer’s choice. They should have the choice to grow what they want. The reality is that farmer’s who have dedicated their life to feeding America don’t want to grow that crap. Farmers don’t want to start spraying Roundup on plants before they even sprout from the ground.

Now, they’ll be forced into it. If they don’t, their crops will be overcome by the GE Roundup Ready seeds anyway—it’s just a matter of time. Then once their crops are corrupted, they’ll be sued by Monsanto for using their patented seeds. Farmers are amazing and smart people. They aren’t going to waste their time losing everything; they are just going to grow the GE crops. If you want more information, please read this post.

But here’s my bigger problem—and this is truly the reason why my heart hurts. Yesterday the United States government made their ruling very clear, as they have on numerous occasions in the past. They have put the interests of corporations over the will and wants of citizens. Over 250,000 people contacted the USDA and President voicing their opinions against GE crops. I guess those voices fell on deaf ears.

Now, it will come as no surprise to you that I typically lean Democratic in my voting—but I am registered Independent. Today, at this very moment, I feel like I have no place to turn in the American Democratic system. Republicans have always been in favor of deregulating all industry–it was President Bush Sr. that allowed the first genetically modified crops to be grown, with great pleasure. Obviously Obama has no courage to stand up to big corporations either. Sigh, was it not just this week Obama boasted during the State of The Union: no earmarks for corporations? Way to go, Mr. President!

Why I believe America is going to lose out:

The genetically modified crops we grow (which is currently at 89% for things like soy, corn, canola, soon to be alfalfa) cannot be exported to countries that have banned GMO’s. Which also means our meat and dairy products, that come from animals raised on genetically engineered feed, will no longer be exported either. Food exportation is over a $40 Billion a year industry–China alone purchased $13 Billion in US exports in 2009.

To top my list, our health: our friends at Monsanto were the creators of things like Agent Orange, Saccharin, DDT, and rbST (growth hormone for cows). Do we want such chemically toxic driven producers controlling our farms? When splices of things like antibiotics and chemical pesticides are put into the DNA of plants, when every cell of a plant is altered so it can no longer be called corn for example, but rather it has to be named as an insecticide, we should be scared.

Rise in food allergies? Why of course. Conventional crops are the least of our worries. Conventional farmers would spray crops as they saw fit, during the growing season. Now with the GE seeds, the rise in chemical spraying has greatly surpassed the typical need for pesticides in a growing cycle. Monsanto’s GE seeds need spraying and more chemicals, early on. How convenient; they also sell the farmers the pesticides. It comes as no surprise to me that our bodies are rejecting the foreign chemical-laden plant products we are putting in it. We are designed to process meat and plants with ease. When the food we eat has been genetically altered, there’s no telling what havoc it reeks on our bodies. The USDA tells us it’s safe, but really who’s going to be objective enough to tell us other wise. Obviously not the US government, you know the one that puts chemical corporations over people? Yeah.

The last underlying fear I have: the loss of species. With the disappearance of independent seed companies, Monsanto has purchased over 12 suppliers of seeds in the past seven years, so there goes plant variety. Farmers pride themselves on saving seeds. The seeds are the heart of a family farm, being passed on from generation to generation. With Monsanto patented seeds, a farmer has to purchase new seeds from year to year. Will the day arrive when it becomes illegal to grow a garden in our own backyards because the seeds are not genetically engineered? Sounds crazy, but it is a possibility.

My advice.

Join a CSA (community supported agriculture), buy from farmer’s markets. Kiss a local farmer that grows small non-GE crops. Buy organic because organic regulation does not allow for genetically engineered ingredients. Help me take back America from big corporations. Visit this website, Millions Against Monsanto and see how you can make a difference in your part of the country.

I truly believe we can do it. For the future of our children, we must!

Denise DellaRocco has called Colorado home since 1994, the summer she packed up her car and headed west from her native home, New York. She started her blog, Eat Play Love, in 2007 where she writes about life as a mother of two girls, the wife of a guy that chases snow for a living, and a woman trying each day to live a simpler life full of gratitude. In her free time, you can find Denise trying to reach her goal of hiking 200 times in 2011, reacquainting herself with painting, cooking nourishing meals, drinking a cup of tea, packing bento lunches, spending quality time with her family, and connecting with others on twitter (@eatplaylove). She never takes for granted how fortunate she is to call the magical city of Boulder her home.
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