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GMO Campaigns, Organic Truths and Public Perception

January 28, 2015
Heirloom beans at SlowMoneyFarm 2013

Heirloom beans at SlowMoneyFarm 2013

So picture a person in full dress – protective clothing, hat, respirator, spraying *something* (unknown what the something is) in a garden. It’s a garden, based on the plants surrounding the person. There’s a quote attributed to Monsanto, and driving backhanded support for nonGMO food.

I could be a cheerleader and say go nonGMO! Yes! And many reading would believe it, post “like”, maybe share it. Well, I hope that there will be likes and shares anyway, because the truth is the truth, and misleading doesn’t help people decide what’s their preference in the grocery store.

You see, there’s no indication what the person in the photo was spraying. It might have been pesticide, herbicide (although it would kill the plants in the photo!), fungicide, fertilizer, water…there is no factual explanation for what is in the spray, but of course you are to believe that it is evil and kills us, therefore you should support nonGMO because all the nonGMO in the photo…oops, wait, it doesn’t say it’s nonGMO. Many comments talk of GMO crops, but the crops pictured aren’t available as GMO. Misinformation, photos of oats represented to be wheat, falsely leading people is not something that represents my nonGMO production of food. Indeed, few people buy a CSA share, or anything else, based on it being nonGMO. Some might be suspicious because heirlooms are different and different is bad or scary. If it’s on the internet it must be true, right?

Dent, or field, corn. Often used for livestock feed

Dent, or field, corn. Often used for livestock feed

Yet there are folks with college degrees believing the boogieman in the box in the cupboard is going to kill them. The boogieman that they purchased and brought into their home because they “didn’t have a choice” among the tens of thousands of other items on our American store shelves!

The truth is there are very few products for GMO production. Field corn, some sweet corn, some varieties of soybeans, cotton, papaya, squash, sugar beets, canola. No peppers. No tomatoes (the GMO tomato was rejected by the public and removed from production!). No popcorn. No wheat. No oats.

There are some things in testing – famously potatoes and apples…but that is not public access, it’s testing. Something said to not happen (as in “GMOs aren’t tested…!”). The reality is, for the issues needed, the GMO seeds fill a need for the farmer, so that it is available to sell. That might be pest resistance or drought tolerant or other issues. The reality is, for those who really don’t want it (for whatever reason) there are options, but those options mean you need to alter your purchasing behavior. That’s something many just don’t want to do.

Potatoes to benefit consumers with less bruising and less browning when cooked (which is said to be cancer causing and warrant labels in California!) are available, but there isn’t a rush to purchase. Apples that resist browning are in development. The owner/developer says “”80 percent say, ‘Fantastic, bring it on.’ And 20 percent say, ‘Hmm. I don’t think I like genetic engineering.’ But they all eat it. Even if they were a nay-sayer that was never going to eat any GM fruit, they will eat a slice. It’s not like we have to ask them to eat a slice. They will ask if they can eat a slice.””

The reality is many think that organic means no chemicals. Comment sections are loaded with such things. We shouldn’t eat what kills something. One points to the combination of vinegar, salt and Dawn to use for weedkiller – does that mean vinegar and salt are off the diet? Extreme, yes it is…and many of the comments are extreme. Four years ago the NPR reported on pesticide use in organics.

“”Organically grown” food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may also be used in producing organically grown food. Increasingly, some consumers are purchasing organically grown and processed foods as a way to reduce their exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Many supermarkets now stock organic products for their consumers. Ask your grocer about organic food and its availability at your store.”

Pepper grown from Johnny's Seed stock.

Pepper grown from Johnny’s Seed stock.

Certified organic must meet certain qualifications, including not using synthetic treatments – that does not mean no treatment. Fungicides, pesticides and other things are used, and an organic industry serves those needs. Much debate if it is better or worse, but it’s a choice. Johnny‘s has over 500 items that are organic. This is one of the sources SlowMoneyFarm sometimes orders from, and many others choose also. Many are certified organic seeds, the seeds thousands of people buy for their gardens. Dozens of supplies, needed for organic production, span from starter pots to pesticides and more – certified organic does, indeed, use supplies including these. Fungicides are sometimes needed and, as home remedies have failed the last 2 years, it may be a solution this year in order to get a full crop.

The truth, dear reader, is it’s a challenge to get food to the table, whether our own or someone else’s. That challenge leaves many people vowing to not try because they can’t grow anything – but still need to eat. Basic science review is needed among the public, but more on that tomorrow!

Everyone should choose what they want to eat. The more restrictions you put on your choices, the fewer choices you have. That can be a good thing, or can be not a good thing. You decide! Finance your decision! Can $83 per month make a difference? With less than 1/3 of the US being $830 million you bet it can! Do you want nonGMO? $830million in sales will insure it’s there! $830million insures there are developments to make it better. Want organic, CSAs or other choices? Financing it helps you and the farms you’re supporting. We all have choices.

Use them wisely. Make the choices accurate and for your family, based on truth and preference.

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