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What You Need to Know About GMOs

It is my honor to introduce you to my friend Nicole of Little Blog on the Homestead. I have asked her to share some important information with us today. I hope you’ll read it prayerfully and take the appropriate action.


I’m so excited that Tracee asked me to come over here and talk to you guys about GMO’s. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years I am sure you’ve heard some of the debate surrounding the use of genetically modified organisms in food/farming.

There are a few basic things you’ll need to know when it comes to Genetically Modified Organisms, also known as Genetically Engineered Crops. Hopefully this will help you feel a little more confident when reading about the GMO debate and when it comes to making food choices for your family.

What Are GMO’s?

Well, they are genetically modified organisms, created by splicing the DNA of different species of plant, animals, and bacteria. GMO’s are not something that can be found anywhere in nature or history.

In the 1980’s scientists began crossing the genes of different species. Whereas previous mutations and cross-pollinations took place between the same species i.e. rye and wheat, GMO’s cross completely different species i.e. taking genes from a strain of bacteria and splicing it with corn.

How is that Different than Hybrids or Cross-Breeding?

There is a big difference between GMO’s and natural modifications. Plant breeding has been around for thousands of years, ever since humans first started growing food vs foraging. The domestication and breeding of plants was even a popular hobby for lay people.

Gregor Mendel pioneered genetic breeding of plants back in the 19th century, recognizing the dominant and recessive alleles and their impact on different plant traits. He was able to selectively cross pollinate plants in a way that would enhance positive traits.

By the 20th century botany moved more into the laboratory and a variety of techniques were used to create different varieties, also known as mutant breeds (because they were exposed to x-rays, gamma rays, and more).  Chemicals and techniques were used to encourage mutations of the crop, and pull forward various desirable alleles.

Most of these mutant breeds were useful in scientific studies, but not a lot of application with commercial viability. As such the popularity has waned and they didn’t make it into the food supply in any meaningful way.

Why the Concern Over GMO’s?

GMO’s are something that exist so far outside of the realms of possibility in nature, and we really don’t know the ramifications of those pairings yet. In a little under 1 generation we have exploded the use of GMO’s in our food supply.

For me, I am always looking to see who is going to benefit most from an advance. Is it pure scientific research designed with no ulterior motives? Or is someone benefiting economically from this advance? If you look at the creation and explosion of GMO’s it’s pretty clear to see the answer to that.

Even in the early 90’s no one seed company dominated the market. The top 10 companies held 37% Of the market share. Today they control nearly 70% with corporate giant Monsanto alone holding 27% of the market share (as of 2009 data). This would be less troubling if these same companies didn’t also dominate the pesticides industry.

So who is benefiting in this economy? The big businesses who are making billions? Or the every day family who has seen the nutritional density of their food drop significantly in this same time period?

What Harm Are GMO’s Causing?

Regardless of all the other concerns I may have over the use and effect of GMO’s they’re completely unsustainable. The use of herbicides and pesticides used in conjunction with GMO’s has increased dramatically. For just a few disturbing thoughts consider this:

  • The World Health Organization recently labeled the primary herbicide encouraged by GMO crops as probably carcinogenic.
  • Increased herbicide use, promoted by the planting of GMO crops, has been so severe that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, 60-100 percent of the rain in Midwest farming communities now contains herbicides.
  • GMOs thus result in millions of pounds of probable carcinogens in our air and water.
  • And, just as the overuse of antibiotics has caused resistance to some bacteria, herbicide overuse has created resistant weeds on 70 million acres, resulting in the use of stronger and even more dangerous herbicides. This is called the chemical treadmill.

How Prevalent Are GMO’s in our Food?

Well, this is the scary part… We don’t really know. Corn and soy are the two crops most likely to be genetically modified and they’re also the two most prevalent crops in most processed foods. But because we don’t have any sort of labeling in the US there is no way to which foods have GMO crops in them.

I’ll be talking more about the need for labeling over at Little Blog on the Homestead over the next couple of months and I’d love for you to follow along.

Thanks again to Tracee for having me over today, and hopefully I’ve given you some interesting things to think about.

Nicole blogs over at Little Blog on the Homestead, sharing with readers her attempts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. When she isn’t writing about homesteading, you’ll find posts on the zombie apocalypse (more commonly known as emergency preparedness), her homestead wedding, real food recipes, and every day life living on a suburban homestead. Follow along for yourself at www.littleblogonthehomestead.com and via social media at the links below.

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