You may have heard the term GMO. If you have not, it stands for “Genetically Modified Organism.” It may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, but unfortunately it has become an issue for us all, as GMO seeds are being planted at an ever increasing rate. GMO seeds are seeds that have had their genetics altered in a laboratory. (There are also GMO animals.) I’ll include an excerpt from a Wiki article on the subject, as they have explained the process pretty well:
”Genetic modification involves the insertion or deletion of genes. In the process of cisgenesis, genes are artificially transferred between organisms that could be conventionally bred. In the process of transgenesis, genes from a different species are inserted, which is a form of horizontal gene transfer. In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason. To do this artificially may require transferring genes as part of an attenuated virus genome or physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host using a microsyringe, or as a coating on gold nanoparticles fired from a gene gun. However, other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium to transfer genetic material to plants, and the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food)
Today there are many food items that are GMO. Tomatoes, corn, peppers, soybeans, even alfalfa that we feed to our livestock. According to the Wiki article: “In the US, by 2009/2010, 93% of the planted area of soybeans, 93% of cotton, 86% of corn and 95% of the sugar beet were genetically modified varieties.” Meaning, unless you grow your own from non-GMO seeds, you and your family have been using/consuming these genetically modified items. Since there are not, as of yet, any labelling requirements for GMO products, you probably didn’t even realize it. Is this a problem? It depends on who you talk to. For me, yes, absolutely this is a problem.
There is one company that is really at the center of the GMO debate. That company, Monsanto, is the company that manufactures “Round-Up,” a popular herbicide/pesticide that many people use these days on both their garden and their lawns. Because Round-Up works so well at killing weeds, it was also killing the crops planted in the treated fields. So to “solve” that problem, they started genetically engineering the crop seeds to be “Round-Up resistant.” To me that seems an awful lot like creating a new problem in the guise of solving an old one. Today, Monsanto is responsible for most of the GMO seeds on the market.
I’m very uncomfortable when people start thinking they can “fix” or “improve” nature. Tampering with the natural order of things, especially right down to the cellular level is not acceptable to me. Even worse yet, studies have shown that GMO crops have not produced a significant increase in crop yields…so what are we using them for?
If you decide you don’t want GMO products in your diet, or on your homestead, you can purchase strictly non-GMO seeds to plant in your garden. Because of the strong feelings against GMO seeds, many companies are now selling non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds. This is what we purchase for the garden here, on our homestead.
I have not tried all of these companies, nor am I affiliated with them in any way, so do your own research. For a starting point, here are some non-GMO seed sources:
Every individual family out there has to make their own decisions regarding use of GMO products. For me and my family, we will not. These products have not been proven safe. I am inclined to think that Nature got it right the first time, and that we shouldn’t try to “improve” upon that. I’m left wondering if in some years time there will be some terrible result from all of this GMO nonsense, akin to our current issue with antibiotic resistant bacteria. I guess only time will tell. In the meantime though, my homestead will remain GMO free.