Well, it’s finally happened. Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) Frankencrops have busted out of their fields and are on their way to a roadside near you.
According to a new survey, presented at a recent meeting of the Ecological Society of America, GMO crops have officially found their way into the wild in the good old US of A.
And guess what the next destinations on their whistle-stop tour are? Well, non-GMO fields and our own backyard gardens, of course. These altered crops seem destined for our regular food supply, and, sadly, there really isn’t much we can do about it
The researchers found that over 85% of the roadside canola plants they tested were, in fact, the offspring of plants that had been given genes to make them resistant to one of two herbicides. The invading plants—which Monsanto with no hint of irony insists on calling “volunteer crops”—were found along thousands of miles of state roads that stretch way beyond the South Dakota farms where they were originally being grown.
Because…well…plants aren’t exactly known for respecting fences or borders, are they?
To make matters worse, researchers report that these crops not only happily made the jump from their pampered Monsanto fields to unfriendly roadsides and parking lots but also managed to mutate along the way! Two different herbicide-resistant plants mated, producing a new never-before-seen third crop of GMO plants that are resistant to both of the major weed killers.
While it was probably inevitable that GMO crops would eventually escape into the wild …honestly, once we went skipping down that GMO path there really was no turning back…this news does shine the harsh light of reality on the fact that we have now completely lost control. The concept of maintaining some type of reliable separation between GMO and non-GMO crops has flown right out the window.
Once, pushing for clear labeling of GMO foods in grocery stores made sense as a strategy to help us make informed choices when shopping for our families. But how long will it be before these crops have invaded all of the fields and the labels mean nothing?
And the ability for farmers to keep GMO crops out of their fields, and therefore safely own the rights to their seeds, has gone from endangered, to virtually destroyed.
Talk about feeling helpless!
So what can we do?
For now, try buying from local farms. You have a much better change of avoiding GMO foods…at least in the short term… if you’re buying from a small producer at your local farmers’ market or roadside stand.
When you buy produce at the grocery store, be sure to check the sticker. If the number on the label starts with the number 9 put it in your basket, it’s organic. And check out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide for more tips.
Finally, we can demand that strict laws on labeling and traceability—like those that have existed in the European Union (EU) for years—be passed to help protect us (although the United States and the World Trade Organization are currently pressuring the EU to relax its stance and begin importing GMO foods again.) And join organizations like the Organic Consumers Association and support it’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign to bring an end to the biotech bullying.
According to biotech-industry whistle-blowers, one genetic modification always results in more than just the desired change. And the fact remains that we still don’t have any idea what long-term effect these tinkered-with crops will have on our bodies and the environment.
I, for one, have no desire to find out.
And I’m fed up with playing the guinea pig.