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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

FRANKENFOOD

FRANKENFOOD! (OR, how TV sometimes anticipates real life)

I LOVE all of the CSI shows, mainly because I love to watch smart people solving puzzles. These three shows are really good at that (and the back stories about the people involved are interesting as well). Unfortunately, sometimes the shows anticipate real-life problems. Like the CSI: MIAMI episode, BAD SEED. I have watched it several times since its original air date, and it gets more and more interesting every time. It was a very scary show, made even more frightening by my reading the latest information about GM crops that dropped into my e-mail the next morning.

GM, as I’m reasonably sure that everybody knows at this point, stands for Genetically Modified; GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and usually means food crops. Most people call it FrankenFood and refuse to eat it. There was an absolutely huge scandal a few years ago when it was discovered that Taco Bell was using GM corn in their tortillas. 

According to the article, there is some concern that a protein found in the altered corn could cause an allergic reaction in some consumers, which is why the FDA had not approved of its use in humans. Y’see, this corn was only approved for cattle feed. So, OF COURSE, instead of it being directly fed to the consumer in the form of corn products, we got to eat it in beef. Wow. Wasn’t that terrific. According to U.S. government scientists, the GM corn, named "StarLink", is safe for cattle, pigs and other farm animals.

Uh-huh. It’s safe for our food animals to eat it. SURE it is. Of course, nobody did any sort of research into whether those food animals were safe for human consumption, either. An independent laboratory, Genetic ID Inc., concluded in three sets of tests that the samples contained StarLink corn. The boxes of taco shells sold under the Taco Bell brand were produced by Kraft Foods Inc., a unit of Philip Morris Co. Inc.

Dr. Mercola stated back in 2000 on his web site: “In addition to being worried about the corn, what do you think happens to the livestock being feed the GM foods? Although I do feel that animal protein is an important part of the human diet, I am a firm believer in treating livestock properly, which certainly does not include feeding them genetically-modified "FrankenFoods". This is another great reason to buy organic whenever possible and to try to only patronize companies that pledge to stay GM-free.”

So, this is important why?

As Monsanto prepares to unleash its latest Genetically-Modified (GM) corn supercrop, the International Journal of Biological Sciences has revealed the true cost of these crops. The study focused on three GM corn crops - Mon 863, Mon 801 and NK 603 - and found that they caused statistically significant rates of kidney and liver malfunction, as well as some heart, adrenal, spleen and blood damage in rats. These crops have been approved for consumption in the U.S. and many countries in Europe without proper research into their affect on human health.

GM technology inserts non-food genes into the DNA of food, sometimes making the crop more resilient to herbicides and other times, causing them to produce toxic proteins that act as pesticides themselves. This process changes the structure of the food drastically and presents humans with substances that have never been a part of the human or animal diet.

Several countries in Europe, such as Germany and France, have already banned GM crops, including Mon 801. But the U.S. FDA has done us a potentially dangerous and disastrous disservice by simply taking Monsanto's word that these genetically modified crops are safe and not doing any testing! This 90-day study was just the beginning, and these GM crops must be studied further instead of being immediately available for human consumption.

And this has what to do with a TV show?

Here’s the plot of BAD SEED:

When a pale and unconscious ER patient named Lauren, dies from complete organ failure, Alexx Woods believes she was murdered with an unknown poison. Ethan, her boyfriend who said he had planned to propose to her, becomes the main suspect. Horatio and the team test everything in her apartment for any sort of poison. When the boyfriend collapses during Delko's questioning, they discover Lauren was poisoned by a deadly strain of E. coli. The team investigates the restaurant where Ethan and Lauren last ate but are directed to the farm where the produce comes from, as E. coli starts with the grower. Ryan, Jesse and Walter get resistance from the farm but manage to test the crops and come up with nothing. They investigate other methods the strain could have infected the crops and discover everything is controlled by a larger corporation, Bixby Organic Foods. They secretly go back and test the irrigation system and discover the water tests positive for E. coli as it goes right through a manure invested cattle field. They discover the corn that's feeding the cows is a perfect breeding ground for E. coli but when Alexx tells them that Ethan doesn't have an E. coli infection they have to dig deeper as to what the source is. Bixby was growing genetically engineered corn to make easier to digest and Ethan had eaten some of that corn, showing symptoms of botulism and succumbing to it. Horatio confronts the CEO of Bixby but he claims a few deaths are worth feeding an entire nation.

This is the attitude of Monsanto and all of the other ginormous chemical and agricultural combines. Of course, that they all will be getting even richer as a result of these “FrankenFoods”, so-called, is just a SIDE issue. They really really REALLY care about us and gosh, if a few people died of allergic reactions to their manipulations, so what? That’s just that many FEWER people to clutter up the earth, after all!

And this, gangers, is why we ALL have to watch what we eat and where it comes from.


Friday, August 9, 2013

RANDOM POSTS, RANDOM MUSINGS

Thursday is usually the day that I get all of my junque mail. Some of it is just that: junk, some of it is amusing (coupons for Viagra sent to MR. Harlan Bennett) and some of it is very informative and interesting.

I belong to The American Farmland Trust. Which, I’ll add, is a grass-roots organization that is dedicated to saving American family farmlands. They sent me a most interesting bumper sticker entitled NO FARMS NO FOOD. Most family farms don’t use GMO seeds for their crops, and most family farms also don’t factory-farm their animals. If you’ve never had real grass-fed beef, for example, you don’t know what you’re missing in terms of taste and texture. There’s another consideration as well: most factory-farmed animals are fed antibiotics because the conditions on the farms are so atrocious. So, the antibiotics are in the food chain, which means that the humans that eat the animal flesh ingest the antibiotics, which in turn means that the bugs that the antibiotics are designed to fight have a chance to mutate and become immune. Which means, of course, that THEN when you get sick and start taking antibiotics for whatever disease or sickness you have, the antibiotics are ineffectual.

So, what does this have to do with family farmlands disappearing? It means that there are fewer and fewer farms where you can go and get non-factory-farmed animal flesh and non-GMO produce. Unless you’re a member of a co-op, you just have to TRUST that the foods that you’re buying at the store are not tainted by being fed substances that are incorporated into their bodies. Like, for example, pesticides that have been incorporated into the genetic make-up of the silage and the grains that are fed to cattle, hogs, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, sheep, goats – pretty much EVERY factory-farmed animal and plant out there. What the people at Monsanto and other chemical companies don’t take into account is that even if the GMOs are supposedly bioengineered to be sterile, they don’t stay that way. Because Earth has a high level of naturally occurring radioactivity, EVERYTHING that grows eventually mutates to a different form (which, incidentally, where biologically viable “sports” come from) to suit its environment. According to EuropaBio, all GMOs eventually become as fertile as the seeds that are NOT GMOs. Which makes cross-pollination possible – and a real problem if natural seeds, heirloom seeds and GMOs are being grown in close proximity to each other.

Most family farms won’t grow GMOs even when it’s lucrative for them to do so. So, the family farms have to start selling off their land to pay for upgrades in equipment and for taxes. There are a lot of family farms here in Texas that are going out of business because there are housing developments going in around them and they can’t afford to pay the taxes on their land. The ones that are surviving are all part of a co-op movement like Local Harvest. The food is a bit more expensive, yes, but it’s clean, it tastes better and by buying from the co-op farms, you are helping save farmland. If you’re a farmer or you’re thinking about becoming one, just click on the text here and you'll be able to find out how to do it.

Speaking of which, see y’all later – it’s time for me to go hit the weekly Farmer’s Market at Rice University. AND, if you’re interested in helping save American farmers’ land, here’s a link to American Farmland Trust: