There are plenty of reasons to protest GMOs

Companies manufacturing them only care about their bottom line

Dear editor,

In a recent letter, Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, a company that promotes pesticides and genetically modified seeds, tells us that GMOs are perfectly safe and there is no need to go out into the streets to protest against them.

No, no need at all, if you are willing to believe every word that comes from corporations that are well-known for putting profit before any other consideration. Remember how the tobacco companies insisted for years that cigarettes couldn’t possibly harm you, that they were actually good for you?

He says with GMOs farmers no longer need to do so much tilling to control weeds. He fails to mention that that’s because with GMO seeds they use herbicides instead.

No mention of the fact that the weeds are developing resistance to the herbicides so that stronger and more dangerous products have to be used. No mention that these herbicides are now becoming implicated in numerous human health problems. No mention of the fact that that the bees, our most important pollinator, and other beneficial insects are disappearing.

Or of the fact that GMO pollen can easily be spread by wind or insects to fields where it is not wanted, destroying the livelihoods of farmers whose crops were certified as organic, or who wanted to be able to save their own seeds for the following year.

And he says our groceries are 60 per cent cheaper because they contain GMOs. Funny, I seem to remember that groceries were a lot cheaper before we had GMOs.

But since our government is so friendly with big food corporations, it refuses to allow labelling to let us know which products contain GMOs.

For thousands of years people planted seeds to grow the plants that provided their daily sustenance. They saved seeds from their best-performing plants, and gradually over time they developed crops ideally suited for the places in which they lived.

And since seeds are living organisms, if the climate changed over time, the seeds changed along with it. Many different varieties were planted so that some crop would always survive even in a bad season.

Farmers and gardeners who developed good seeds often sold them or traded seeds with their friends and neighbours.

With genetically modified seeds, none of this is possible.

Farmers who use GMO seeds have to buy fresh seeds every year from the company that produces them. They have to sign a contract that says they won’t save them and replant them the following year, so they are totally dependent on the seed company if they want to continue farming.

They aren’t allowed to select and save the best seeds for their specific climate and growing conditions. Even if a farmer wanted to grow non-GMO crops, most of the seeds they would need are no longer available because the seed companies that carried them were bought out by biotech companies and the seeds discontinued.

And if GMO plants are found growing in the fields of someone who did not purchase seed from that company, the person can be sued, even if they didn’t plant them there. The biotech companies have made no secret of their intention to control the world’s food supply.

Genetically modified seeds were developed from seeds that had been saved and selected by gardeners and farmers for thousands of years, but because the corporation took these seeds and inserted foreign genetic material into them, suddenly they can own the whole kit and kaboodle.

I don’t mind corporations being able to patent toasters or car parts or computer chips, but I personally find the whole concept of a corporation being able to own life-forms which are the basis of our survival extremely objectionable. It goes against everything I believe in about nature and our relationship to it.

Our food supply should not be controlled by multinational biotech corporations whose only interest is their bottom line. That’s why we need to go out into the streets to protest.

Ellen Rainwalker,

Cumberland

 

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