Public concern is growing about the dangerous health effects of genetically modified crops (GMOs) and glyphosate. GMOs refer to organisms which have the DNA from a different species, such as bacteria, virus, animal or plant, injected into it to create a novel organism not occurring in nature.
Most GMOs are modified to tolerate the spraying of herbicides that kill surrounding weeds or to produce a pesticide in every cell of the plant which kills pests biting into them. GMO crops include corn, soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, certain varieties of zucchini, crookneck squash, papaya, apples and potatoes. Monsanto manufactures 90 percent of GMO seeds worldwide.
The company also produces Roundup, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate is used for killing weeds in farms, gardens, parks, playgrounds and vineyards, and is also used as a desiccant to dry crops. Glyphosate has been declared a "probable human carcinogen" by the World Health Organization. California has listed glyphosate as a carcinogen; France and other countries have banned it outright.
Cultivation of GMO crops is banned in 38 countries and in five counties in California and two in Oregon. A prohibition in Sonoma County has qualified for the November ballot, with over 20,000 valid signatures. On May 24, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will vote to place the measure on the ballot or vote it into law.
There are many safety concerns with GMOs. They were never independently tested before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The revolving door between Monsanto, the FDA and the EPA jeopardizes objectivity. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine states that "several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GMO food." Other concerns are cross-pollination and danger to bees, butterflies and biodiversity.
Do we really want Monsanto controlling our food supply? Join us in the March Against Monsanto on Saturday, May 21, at Sebastopol Downtown Plaza at 2pm. For more information, visit occupysonomacounty.org.
Linda Deer is a member of Occupy Sonoma County. Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.