Hi there local food eaters,
Thanks to everyone who read our email last week about glyphosate, part 1. We heard back from a few of you, and we are glad to be generating thoughts and conversation about this important aspect of our modern food system.
Today I'm going to continue down this road of exploring what is up with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate in our foods. This is the one with the bad news. (But next week we're going to talk about what we can all do about it!)
For years, we didn't think GMOs (in animal feed) and roundup were all that bad, but over time our opinion has changed as we learn more.
First: Our Intent
Our intention with these emails is to inform and inspire you. We want you to be empowered with the knowledge to make decisions. We want you to believe that your choices matter. What we choose to spend money on as individuals determines what is produced - consumer demand for organic and non-GMO has driven the growth of organic foods.
I want you to understand the motivation driving our actions as farmers: to follow the ancient medical principle of "first do no harm". The type of agriculture that we practice is to use that as a basis, but go beyond it and actually improve the state of health of ourselves, our soils, and our food system. If we didn't believe that we can make a difference, it would be very hard for us to get up in the morning and keep doing what we're doing.
Next: A Disclaimer
There is a LOT of information - good, bad, and otherwise - out there about GMOs. Much of it is hard to interpret, using questionable science and scare tactics and sensationalism on both sides. It is also often contradictory, as it is in many realms of science.
We are in seriously muddy water here, but doing our best to expose the truth as we see it, in a way that distills things down as simply as possible so that people can understand the facts and make an informed choice.
The point of these emails is to educate, not induce fear.
There's a lot of information on the internet claiming to report THE TRUTH about GMOs, and to make matters worse, much of it is contradictory.
We are not claiming that we are the be-all, end-all source of truth about GMOs. We are just stating OUR truth:
From our perspective as farmers, animal growers, and parents, there is legitimate cause for concern when it comes to genetically modified food and feed crops and their associated chemical use.
The fact is that the jury is still out about the actual long term effects of GMOs in food and feed.
When it comes to chemicals and synthetic agricultural inputs,
We stand on the side of caution.
We do not believe that there has been sufficient application of the Precautionary Principle when it comes to the widespread use of GMOs and increasing chemical use in our food supply. Which means that now, individuals must choose for themselves.
To be clear: we are not saying that modern technology is bad, or that conventional farmers are bad, or really any kind of judgement at all. We believe that people are generally doing the best they can with the information that they have. That is why we want to give you the clearest story possible, so that you can make an informed decision one way or the other.
The truth is that there may be some beneficial and even life-saving uses of genetic engineering, and we don't want to make broad generalities on an entire scientific field. Genetic engineering has been used to mass-produce insulin, produce human growth hormones, and has even been used by students in an attempt to bring back the American chestnut!
Our issue is not with the synthetic genetic alteration in general, far from it. Our issue is what we are learning about the dangers of increased use of glyphosate in particular. Growing genetically engineered food and feed crops today entails a massive increase in the use of glyphosate herbicide. To that end, I will go over my understanding of the specific effects of glyphosate in the food supply, as it is currently used with roundup-ready and Bt crops.
If you didn't read part 1 about the basics of Glyphosate and the Bt toxin, which are the two most prevalent uses of GMOs, consider checking it out first. The main takeaway was that when we talk about GMOs in food and feed, we are talking about glyphosate.
HERE WE GO.
On to more science.