Friday, October 4, 2013

Why I Am Against Monsanto

Reblogged with permission from

I am stepping out of my comfort zone and have volunteered to organize a march against Monsanto in Castlegar, BC. I am organizing it together with Jazdyne Armstrong who is also currently studying to be an registered holistic nutritionist at CSNN with me. We are excited!
Check out the event page here.

If you would like to attend a march against Monsanto in a different area, find a location near you on the list of all events here.

In preparation for this event I decided to do a post on why I am against Monsanto.

The main reason that I do not support them is that Monsanto is an unethical company. Here are some of the reasons why:

They lie about their goals. They say they genetically modify food to help with world hunger. But the truth is genetically modifying food is nothing more than a business strategy for them. They genetically modify plants to withstand larger amounts of their brand of pesticide known as "Round-up" creating what they like to call "Round-up ready crops". This ensures they sell more Round-up, and also more of their crops, as any non-genetically modified crop would die from having so much chemical dumped on it. Just this past summer the EPA raised the allowable limit of pesticide residues allowed to be present on Monsanto's products even further (Source).
Their true goal, is to have control of the food supply; they want everyone reliant on them. Now, you guys are probably think I've gone schizophrenic on you, but I kid you not. If you don't think this is happening, please check out this list of products that contain GMOs. Note the items on that list are probably 90% or more of conventional grocery store items. Do you remember when that happened? Because I don't. But somehow the majority of grocery stores shelves have become GM products.
I also would like to point out that Monsanto is doing absolutely nothing for world hunger. One point many anti-GMO activists have made is that right now there is more than enough food in the world to feed every person. However, people aren't dying of hunger due to lack of food, they are dying of hunger due to lack of money to buy said food, or buy land to grow food on. Monsanto isn't offering to give their food away for free, are they? Further reading here. I find it extremely disgraceful of them to hide their greedy plans behind such a selfless cause.

"Monsanto: we will sell you the problem, and then sell you the solution" (Source)

They do not respect the environment. Science has advanced very far in the last little while, I will give them that, but has it advanced so far that they can do better than nature itself? I don't think so. It is important to remember that genetic modification is different than hybridization, which is nature's process of different species pollinate to create a hybrid species. You can't cross pollinate an animal with a plant, nature doesn't work that way. Anybody who tries to claim Monsanto's GM crops are just speeding up nature, doesn't know what they are talking about.
In addition to this their pesticides are killing off the bees we need to pollinate crops. This occurs because bees collect pollen from pesticide drenched plants and bring it back to their nest to store it as honey, then later when the bees go dip into said stored honey, they are also hit with a concentrated dose of systemic pesticides which compromises their immune system and also targets their central nervous system (Source). See the picture below to get a better idea of why bees are very, very important. Too add insult to injury Monsanto purchased 'Beeolgics' back in 2011, which is a company dedicated to helping save the bees. It makes sense that Monsanto wants to help the bees, because without bees, their GM plants won't be pollinated. However, if Monsanto owns the company, they can also keep any information regarding the toxicity to their pesticides to bees quiet (Source). If Monsanto really wanted to save the bees, a better approach would be to develop safer pesticides that weren't killing them in the first place, or better yet, use less pesticides!
Money won't be of much value when all the bees are dead and the environment is toxic.

picture borrowed from MSN news

They lie about a lot of other things as well. On their website they state; "We oppose mandatory labeling of food and ingredients developed from GM seeds in the absence of any demonstrated risks, as it could be interpreted as a warning or imply that food products containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts." OK, two things here; first, there IS demonstrated riskHere is an article about a study that found GM corn was linked with organ failure in rats, and another on how rats fed GMO maize showed signs of kidney failure. The conclusion of the second study was that longer term testing of GMOs are needed and it cannot be concluded that GMO corn is safe. Here is another study in which GMO potatoes caused mucus in rats GI tracts to rapidly increase (a common complaint of IBS). There was also this study that came out recently that showed rats growing massive tumors when fed genetically modified corn. That study concludes: "These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods, are currently unknown. In conclusion, our data presented here strongly recommend that additional long-term (up to 2 years) animal feeding studies be performed in at least three species, preferably also multi-generational, to provide true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods.". I have heard all the arguments in the book against these studies; how the control groups aren't big enough, how rats are prone to tumors and health problems anyway, etc. That's fine, I am not going to argue for or against these studies because I don't feel qualified to do so. BUT, regardless of how pristine these experiments are, I would say they still count as demonstrated risk. You can take this point or leave it, I think there is still good argument against them regardless of the safety of genetic modification itself. Note that Monsanto has also genetically modified crops that produce a toxin that make insects stomachs explode when consumed called BT toxin. BT toxin was claimed to be broken down in the digestive system of humans and completely safe for consumption, but a study conducted in 2011 showed that BT toxin and other pesticides associated with genetically modified food were present in the blood stream of pregnant and non pregnant women. Sketchy.

Secondly, Monsanto's GM foods ARE inferior to conventional and organic foods. Well, I guess it depends on what their definition of inferior is, but my definition of inferior food means lower quality and less nutrients. So conventional food is superior because it has less pesticide residues on it. This lessens the toxic load on the body, which lessens oxidative stress on the body, which is ultimately better for your health as high toxic load increases risk of cancer or other illnesses (calculate your toxic load here). Now, organic contains NO pesticides. So it is superior to both GMO and conventional products because it has the lowest toxic load. Organic crops must be grown without the use of chemicals, and because of this the soil must be more nutrient rich, because the 'old-fashioned' way to grow food is to nourish it properly. When the soil is nutrient rich, the food grown in said soil is also more nutrient rich. Crops will not contain minerals that were not present in the soil it was grown in. Due to this, Organic foods contain more vitamins and minerals, they have no chemical residues on them, and they are in the state nature intended them to be in. That is why organic food is superior. In addition to this there is really no comparison between the taste of organic produce and taste of conventional or GMO. They don't even taste like the same food. Conventional and GMO produce are both flavorless as yield, imperfections, and color have been prioritized over taste and nutrients. No wonder nobody likes vegetables anymore.

I saw someone on Facebook post this review the other day. It states that lots of studies have been done on GMOs and the general consensus in the scientific community is that they are safe. I'm not going to argue and say every single one of those studies is wrong because obviously that cannot be true. I am not really surprised by this because their definition of what is safe and what isn't is a lot different from my own. I don't consider a lot of things safe that the scientific community has decided is safe. For example, it is considered safe by the scientific community to be exposed to certain levels of chemicals on a daily basis when working in chemical labs, oil fields, etc. I don't consider this safe from my own personal experience. I used to work in chemical labs and I was pretty much getting sick every month, and my skin health went way downhill, I also often felt congested even when not sick and had a lot of anxiety most of the time. No, I didn't die or get cancer, but does it really have to go that far before something is deemed not safe? The problem with the scientific and medical community is that they are only looking for full blown illnesses. This is a major different between conventional and holistic medicine. Holistic practitioners aren't looking for illnesses, we are looking for underlying imbalances that could eventually lead to illnesses. You don't just wake up with cancer one day; it is a process. It takes both the generation of cancer cells and the failure of the immune system before cancer is generated, and even then it takes time to develop enough to be detectable by medical technology. If we were doing these studies and checking for more subtle things such as digestive health (transit time, internal inflammatory responses, bacterial counts, etc), hormone balance, or immune system function I'm sure a lot more things would crop up in the studies.
Another thing I don't like about this review is that they are like 'oh by the way, we actually decided its safe now! Don't worry about the fact we've already been feeding it to you for the last 10 years, because now its proved to be safe!'. It still brings me back to the fact that they are unethical. You don't release something to the public before you test it extensively and make absolute certain its safe.

Dr. David Suzuki's speaks out about GMOs:

Their crops are invasive, and Monsanto has somehow made that everybody else's fault. Read about a family whose crops were contaminated with Monsanto's Canola here. Monsanto sued them, and won, because they have patented their crops. The law states that the contaminated crops, no matter how the contamination occurs (pollination, wind, etc.), becomes property of Monsanto. Monsanto has done this to over 400 small farms, putting many of them out of business (Source). Monsanto is taking advantage of their invasive GM crops as a way of eliminating competition. How can small farms compete with something like that? (Another story here). Another thing that really gets me about this is that they have somehow convinced judges to rule that every plant grown that is a descendant of a GM seed is somehow property of Monsanto and that they must pay a fee for growing it. That's crazy. That doesn't even make sense if you think of it in terms of buying other copywritten merchandise; if you buy a book, does everybody who reads that copy of the book have to pay a fee to the publishing company? No, because that is crazy.
If Monsanto kept their GMOs contained and didn't attack others like this, I might be OK with them. The thing that really gets me is not only that they want to fiddle around with genetic modification of food, make their plants produce toxins, and load their crops with pesticides; they are also forcing out all their competition so we have no choice but to eat their crops. Why should we leave them alone when they won't let us make our own personal choices?

The biggest problem with the scientific community is that they think they know everything. I am 100% speaking from experience on this one. I often hear the argument from other scientists 'well I know this, so what you say couldn't be true!'. Well just because you can't imagine a little reaction mechanism or feedback cycle in your head, doesn't mean its not possible (read about more bad arguments here). I have a degree in chemistry, and to be honest I don't feel like I know very much; there is still a lot I have to learn. When somebody tells me something I have no knowledge of, I don't tell them they are wrong because I know some other thing that is vaguely related; I listen to them. Everybody deserves a chance to express their opinions. I find that most scientists don't have respect for others opinions. Its just 'I'm right, you're wrong' and that's all there is to it. When it comes to GMO's, a great deal of the scientific community seems to think anyone who opposes them is an idiot. Well, just because you have higher education, does not mean you are right all the time. Everyone makes mistakes; even doctors, and even the smartest people in the world. The fact is, no matter how smart you are, you don't know everything. In addition, there are scientists that are against GM crops, myself included, and the union of concerned scientists is a whole group against genetic modification.

"True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing." - Socrates

I am, in no way, saying that we should not advance scientifically. Science is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility (yes I said it!). I am therefore in favor of responsible science. I am also in favor of informed choices, which means labeling their products. Responsible science means long term testing before releasing your product to the public. It also means non-biased third party testing; not having companies that stand to profit from allowing GMOs into the market to test the products. This is a large reason why I also do not support the pharmaceutical industry. In this day and age, everything is going faster and faster, but food and drug safety is one thing that should NEVER be rushed. Nobody can predict what the long term effects of these products will be, unless they test them long term of course! Genetically modified foods is just another example of society forcing things into going faster. I mentioned in my post about fighting allergies without pharmaceuticals that 100 years ago people were using pure poison (radium, arsenic, and thallium to name a few) in their face creams and energy drinks thinking it was good for their skin and giving them energy. I personally think it would be naive to think in 100 years we have advanced past making these kind of mistakes. In another 100 years, we might will have the same shocked thoughts on the GMOs and drugs of today.

If its not safe to breath, how is it safe to eat?

How to avoid GMOs:
  • products that are certified organic, by law, cannot contain GMO products
  • The phone application "Buycott" will allow you to scan the barcode of grocery store items and inform you if the company supports labeling or not. This can help you determine which foods contain GMO products. 
  • Eating local and organic produce and doing your own cooking is the best way to avoid accidentally buying producs that contain GMOs. 
  • Be wary of any product that contains canola or soy bean oil, its probably GMO unless it states otherwise.
  • GMOs are present in a lot of things you would not expect, never assume you are safe until you have checked. Some of my recent findings is that the brands thai kitchens and larabar are against labeling, and if they are against labeling, I would bet money that they have GMOs hidden in their products. 
Further Reading:
I don't believe this is a complete list of all Monsanto's shady business techniques, but I'm borderline writing a book on it at this point. So I hope this post gave you a clearer picture of Monsanto's true colors. If you go on their website all you see is smiling happy farmers, promises that Monsanto is working for a better tomorrow, and all that other corporate garbage. While it is comforting to believe that their only wish is to solve world hunger and save the bees, I'm not buying it, and neither should you. 
Thank you for reading everyone. This was a long one, and took me quite a while to read further into. You can follow me on google+ or like my facebook page to keep up to date with my blog posts. Now I gotta start making some signs! 
How do you feel about Monsanto? Leave responses below.


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