If you haven’t heard about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered (GE) foods or Monsanto‘s role in all of this, I hate to be the one to rupture your bubble, but this is a big issue and we all need to get educated about it. I’m not a scientist, farmer or bioengineer, but I am a foodie. I love food and have been in love with sustainable agriculture concepts and practices since the 80s. I’m also not a news journalist and don’t pretend to be one, so I’ll be clear about my opinion right up front – I prefer to eat NON GMO/GE foods and I doubt anyone could convince me otherwise.
MOMENTARY GASP FROM LACK OF REASON: I googled “Monsanto” and their company link says, “Monsanto – A Sustainable Agriculture Company” – WHAT!?!? REALLY?!?!? I’m sure they have their rationale, but to me, sustainable agriculture is about responsible farming and I just don’t get this particular tag line at all. Ok. Done freaking out, back to the post . . .
I was introduced to a wonderful new film project that Mariel Hemingway is behind called Stop Monsanto. I’m excited about the film and hope you will be too. I had the opportunity to correspond with Ms. Hemingway about the film and the issues behind it (GMO/GE food). But first, let’s just do a little GMO 101 . . .
What are GMOs?
One of my very favorite writers, Nancy Dreyfus, did a guest post for TheGreenDivas.com, which is a thorough 101 on GMOs, called Waiter There’s a Fish in My Tomato. I HIGHLY recommend reading this well-researched and documented article. In the meantime, here’s her definition of GMO:
A genetically modified organism (GMO, also called “genetically engineered”) is a plant, animal or microorganism (eg, bacteria) that is created by means that overcome natural boundaries. Genetic engineering involves crossing species that could not cross in nature.
Video of Mariel Hemingway on Stop Monsanto
Watch this short video of Ms. Hemingway passionately explaining why we should #StopMonsanto
Q & A Between GD Meg & Mariel Hemingway
GD Meg: What exactly is Monsanto?
Mariel Hemingway (MH): Monsanto is an agricultural biotechnology company and it is the biggest seed developer in the world. Monsanto’s patented genes are inserted into seeds and then the company strong arms farmers into using those seeds. Monsanto controls much of the seed market, which allows them to set their own price, and have a huge impact on the food that is available for us to eat.
Monsanto has also donated $4.2 million to fight Prop 37
which would require the labeling of genetically engineered food. Monsanto has an impressive history of corporate crimes, including contaminating our food and environment with GM crops! Monsanto has the dubious honor of being the worst company via Corporate Watch
GD Meg: Are they the only company involved in or promoting GMOs?
MH: They are not, but they are certainly the biggest. Monsanto’s patented genes are being inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S., according to the AP. Other companies include DuPont’s Pioneer (DuPont has donated more than $4 million to No on Prop 37) and Syngenta. Also note that former Monsanto executives currently act as head of the FDA and our Food Czar! Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is their former attorney!
GD Meg: Why are GMOs so bad?
MH: There are major concerns about the short and long term impacts of GMOs on human and animal health. I’m very concerned about any food I put into my body, and I wouldn’t want to ingest something if I didn’t know where it came from. The fact that Monsanto is spending so much money to make sure GMOs are not labeled and to keep people uninformed should make everyone concerned about the impact GMOs can have on our bodies.
GD Meg: What do you say to those that argue that Monsanto’s GE (genetically engineered) seeds and ultimately GMO food is the only way to feed the world’s growing population?
MH: If food is not safe or healthy, I don’t think we are doing anyone a favor by giving it to them to eat.
GD Meg: We’re doing this to help promote your film project, Stop Monsanto. There are a lot of websites and even documentaries on this topic. What was the initial inspiration for this film?
MH: The inspiration for this film is I am upset about what Monsanto is doing and how they are treating farmers and people around the world. My hope is the film will raise awareness about the company and make people more aware about what they are putting into their bodies.
GD Meg: Why a narrative format film?
I think movies have always been a great way to mix education and entertainment. A movie like Philadelphia
did so much to raise awareness about AIDS, more than any documentary or news story ever could have.
GD Meg: You’ve become a prominent voice for healthy and green living. What inspired you to become so passionate about the environment and this issue with GMOs/Monsanto?
MH: The food we eat is so important to how we feel, and I believe we are more likely to make changes in our food choices if we know what is going on. I want people to have the knowledge so that they can all stand up and say, “I have a right to know what I am eating and whether or not it is good for me.”
GD Meg: What resources do you recommend to people who want to learn more about GMOs, Monsanto?
Monsanto has been getting tons of media coverage because of Prop 37, so you should be able to stay informed by reading news articles, especially ones from California papers and stations, where the proposition is getting a little more coverage.
GD Meg: For folks who want to get active, what do you recommend?
Our biggest focus is spreading word about this project as wide as possible. Any Facebook posts, tweets, Google + shares or emails to friends are a huge help. If you are inclined and able, a small contribution to the project would also help. Support #StopMonsanto