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Do you know who Monsanto is?

If you haven’t heard of Monsanto before, here are some things you should know as an educated citizen. Monsanto is an enormous corporation responsible for RoundUp pesticide and a variety of patented vegetable products. Read that again: patented vegetable products. Monsanto is a purveyor of genetically modified organisms (GMO), which the US government allows them to patent. (For those of you not picking up on what I’m trying to say, I’ll make it clear: when you patent a food plant, you are allowing the owner of that food to make it as expensive or as hard-to-come-by as they want. You allow monopoly. ON FOOD.)

Monsanto has a history of buying up seed companies and getting farmers to throw away their own hard-collected seeds by suing them when Monsanto’s GMO products are found randomly growing in their fields. Again: Monsanto is creating a monopoly on vegetable seeds. That we eat. Right now.

“Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, some 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugar beets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes.” (FDN) Which means that you’re eating GMO corn and soy every single day of your life. GMOs are created by inserting genes from other things (and by ‘other things’ I mean non-plant items like fish) into the cells of the vegetable plant. These genes also include things like genes from antibiotic-resistant E. coli, and there hasn’t been enough testing to determine if any of these GMOs cause health complications in humans like an increase in antibiotic resistance (which is the last thing we need).

 

RoundUp Ready corn is resistant to RoundUp pesticide, so farmers can dump all the pesticide they want on these bad boys.

Monsanto and other GMO producers have slipped people right into Congress and the EPA to fight their battles for them. GMO companies, despite huge public outcry, have stifled any laws that would force GMOs to appear on food labels. If it’s on the label and it causes an illness or reaction, the GMO company can be held responsible; if it’s not on the label and you have some reaction, there’s no one to blame, so GMO companies get off scott-free.

The GMO industry is insidious, and Monsanto is their king. In the film Future of Food, GMOs are explained in greater detail and Monsanto’s offenses are better described. I highly recommend this documentary – it’s presented in a down-to-earth way and it’s critical information for the informed person to have. In fact, everyone has the right to know this information, and the GMO companies don’t want you to know it because they’re making a shit ton of money off of our uninformed selves.

Besides that, Monsanto is involved in Terminator gene technology. Terminator genes disallow the plant containing them to make viable seeds. Which means if you want to grow corn, you have to buy the seed every single season; you can never harvest your own.

Moreover, these plants can interbreed with other plants, passing on the Terminator gene and destroying viable seed worldwide.

Ethical Investing has rightfully called this technology one of the greatest “threats to humanity” and stands against investing in Monsanto.

Look, I can’t make you care, or watch this film, but you should care, and you should watch this film. Why? Because you eat food every day. Because it’s unconscionable to allow corporations to own our food and seed supply. Because it’s unconscionable to allow these companies to load our foods with unknown-entities, without proper research, and to disallow us to force labeling restrictions. What could possibly be more basic than having equal access to food?

If you’re as impassioned as I am about this battle for equal food access, you can go to Food Democracy Now to sign a petition telling the Department of Justice that it’s time to break up the megalith that is the Monsanto Corporation. It will only take a minute to take a stand for our food supply. Spread the word and if you can take a couple hours to watch Future of Food, I highly recommend it. As always, the strongest voice can be heard through actions: talk to your local grocers about GMO labeling, contact food companies about GMO labeling, educate others you know, and if nothing else, make an effort to support non-GMO foods. You may pay a little more, but it’s worth it for the sake of our children’s future on this planet. (Whole Foods and other natural food stores sell lots of products with voluntary GMO labeling.)

Thanks for reading everyone.

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Evolution and Natural Selection

I believe in evolution. Or, at least, that’s it the best theory we have so far for how life came to be what it is today, and all the evidence (if correctly interpreted) is pretty convincing. I also just think it’s plain amazing: that, based on environmental stimulus, a species can change and adapt unwittingly over time.

Let’s take a quick look at what evolution really means.

The word itself comes from the Latin evolutionem, meaning “to unroll a book,” which I think is pretty cool. (I’m a total word nerd, so you’ll be getting a lot of etymological references around here.) The first widely-published ideas about natural selection are attributed by the well-known Charles Darwin, and a whole bunch of lesser-known men such as Alfred Wallace. A lot of other brains contributed and even originated important ideas around the articulation of evolution: writers were talking about the environment’s effects on species as early as the Greek and Roman times. The 1800s saw a rush of publishing and networking between researchers, and the broad dissemination of the information.

Darwin (LEFT) is best known for studying fossils, and later, the varying species living on the Galapagos Islands. Wallace (RIGHT) noticed a division in life on the island of Indonesia: on one side, things more closely resembled species in Australia. On the other side, things more closely resembled those found in Asia.

Evolution describes the changing of inherited traits of a population of organisms over successive generations. So a population can follow paths of new traits and eventually develop into a new species altogether. “Natural selection” describes the result of the process by which random mutations occur in a species’ inheritable traits (genes) and affect survival. Mutations can be negative and interfere with survival, but these traits are typically weeded out because individuals possessing them therefore kind of suck at surviving or procreating. Positive mutations actually aid in survival and so those individuals containing them survive to reproduce, passing those traits on to the next generation. Neutral mutations may be passed on or lost without great consequence.

Evolution is a process that theoretically takes an enormous amount of time, but the more generations a species produces, the faster it evolves. For instance, bacteria can evolve new traits – such as antibiotic resistance – in just weeks. This is the problem with commonly-used drugs both in hospitals and households.

For the next few days I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite examples of evolution. You’ll learn about toxic creatures, twins on opposite sides of the planet, triclosan, and goosebumps!