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What we don't know CAN hurt us!

As the River Journal goes to press, voters in Washington State have the opportunity to decide on a ground-breaking food labeling initiative, I522, which would require genetically engineered food items to prominently display this valuable information on the front of food packages.  Opponents of this measure, including Monsanto—the creator of the genetically engineered Roundup Ready “miracle seed”—have doled out over $22 million to try to stop consumers from having this health information available to them. These food giants, including General Mills, Kellogg, Con-Agra, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle, change and re-design food packages quite frequently with “New & Improved”  colors and slogans to market them in different ways… even pictures of the latest Olympic athlete. So the $22 million dollar question is: “What is it they Do NOT want you to know about the food you are consuming?”

This very same week, new research was published in the journal of BMC Medicine documenting pesticides, fungicides and dioxins are contributing to higher rates of obesity, kidney disease and ovarian disease three generations later in research animals. Only the first generation of pregnant lab rats were injected with DDT by Washington State University researcher and professor, Michael Skinner. And even though the third generation of lab rats had no exposure to the chemical DDT, the contaminants changed the molecular processes of their “grandmother’s” DNA, which was passed on to make them more vulnerable. DDT was first used in 1940s,  also thought to be safe by the EPA and was one of the most widely used pesticides in the US. Children danced behind the foggers applying it through the streets of America. In 1972 DDT was banned after nearly wiping out the Bald Eagle and research pointed to long term distress and health effects in other birds, fish, mammals and humans. It took the U.S. almost 30 years to realize our error and yet still today the World Health Organization is kicking around continued use of DDT to keep down the mosquito population in countries with high rates of malaria. 

Likewise, Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, is widely used in agriculture and touted as safe right now because short term toxicity levels in rats appears low at first. However, other studies indicate life-long exposure to the herbicide glyphosate greatly increases liver and kidney problems and higher incidence of cancer. Roundup Ready soybean seed was only first introduced in 1996, a newcomer to food production that took the world by storm, when you consider some of the best Heirloom food crop seeds have been studied, documented, saved and replanted since the times of Ancient Egypt. The Roundup Ready plant that grows still naturally get weeds, but can only be sprayed with Roundup’s Glyphosate to keep the weeds down without destroying the crops. Corn, canola, sugar beets, cotton, and sorghum seed are all sold Roundup Ready. 

Genetically modified seed is sterile. You cannot collect the seed and use it for a second year. Farmers must purchase new seed every year, an additional expense in the food chain. Most research indicates that genetically modified seed does not produce higher yields for the growers than Heirloom seeds that have been saved and prized for their higher yields and disease resistance. 

In your own garden you get the deciding vote. No matter what happens on election day in Washington, everyone wins when we learn more about how our food is grown and how to grow your own. Winter is approaching; mulching with leaves, straw, bark or cardboard are all natural weed inhibitors that will keep your plants toasty and beds free of weeds until you peel them back to grow again when spring returns.

Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+-acre farm and now is co-owner of All Seasons Garden and Floral in Sandpoint. She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 16 years in North Idaho. You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes at allseasonsgardenandfloral (at)gmail.com.

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Nancy Hastings Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+ acre farm and is co-owner of All Seasons Garden and Floral in Sandpoint, She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 15 years in North Idaho. You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes atllseasonsgardenandfloral(at)gmail.com.

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Get Growing, GMO, GMO labeling, herbicides

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