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ENOUGH with the GMO focus!  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I'm drowning with all of the GMO posts & news and although it is very valid, the BIGGER concern is the rampant amount of pesticides being put on every huge commercial farm, the bulk of the veggies at our friendly farmers' market is saturated with chemicals (in the part of the country anyway) , yet folks don't bother to ask "what do you do about pests" or "how do you treat your fields between crops". I don't think most people realize that a majority of sizable "truck farms" still use round-up between crops and sevin dust during growth. That soil is saturated with toxins yet, the focus has been directed to GMO crops alone and "shop local". It needs to be taken a step further.
What labeling do I want to see? Synthetic herbicides &/or pesticides were used. Seems that label would cover more than GMOs and bottom line, we all want poisons out of our food, ground water etc.
How about putting together and sharing some common questions to ask at the farmers' market unless you really know your growers.

1. If they claim to be organic, ask for their Certificate. It's a mandate that it's posted if they are organic.
2. What do you do about pests?
3. If they are a natural grower, ask how long they've been growing that way. Remember that toxins stay in the soil for years and years, and be very careful especially if you're buying root crops.
4. If you are live in "tobacco" growing county, ask when they start their berry farm. The government assisted many tobacco growers to convert from tobacco to blueberries and their dirt will be toxic for years since no cover crop was used between tobacco harvest and berry planting.

please add to this if you can think of something.
thanks
M
 
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With regard to item one on your list - only if they are certified organic, and that certification, while expensive, does not carry all that much significance in terms of how they're growing crops. Yes, it means not using synthetics - but it does not mean not using pesticides. There are growers that have not pursued the certification (for various reasons) that may well be following a stricter set of guidelines than are called for with certification.

As I see it the primary issue with GMOs is that they enable increased use of pesticide (the whole "Round-Up Ready" thing). Avoiding GMOs automatically reduces the level of exposure to Round-up, since the non GMO crop won't survive the higher levels of the herbicide.

I do see your point though. "GMO" is not the whole picture and we should not lose track of the other elements that make up the image.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Hey Peter -
Thanks for your reply. Certified Organics now allow for some synthetics. I received my "OMRI Approved" listing (our farm is certified & yes, we go much further) and there are many allowable synthetics this year. Guess the giant growers got their $$s worth out of their lobbyists. It's right up there with the "Almost all Organic" black Label the USDA is issuing offering.
 
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The other problem no one looks at is nutritional value--I can grow organic carrots that are just as bad for you as using chemicals. They may not have glyphosate in them, but they don't have any minerals either.

Local is another red herring--getting a locally grown tomato may not be any more green or carbon friendly if they are using heated greenhouses.

 
pollinator
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R Scott wrote:
Local is another red herring--getting a locally grown tomato may not be any more green or carbon friendly if they are using heated greenhouses.



And then again, it may. Maybe the greenhouse is heated by on-site compost or biomass -- we've got a lot of permies here who are heating their greenhouses with innovative 'no-outside-inputs' methods.

Paul talks about thinking "beyond organic". To me, that means minimizing off-site inputs. If you are hauling in compost, ordering inoculated biochar by mail order, buying a compost tea brewer to be delivered and set up, getting fungal plug spawn by mail order, then there may be a lot of "toxic gick" being generated back at the source that is providing you with these inputs.

Rather than being a red herring, I take "local" as the ultimate test of sustainable permaculture. If the mulch, the manure, the fungal inoculate, the compost (and its compost tea), the fuel, the building materials, etc., are all coming from within walking distance via wheelbarrow or handcart, it's going to look more like the ideal of a green, sustainable, carbon-friendly operation.
 
R Scott
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Local is a red herring the same way organic is, in that it has been corrupted and used in ways contrary to what you think it should mean. Newspeak.

You can feed poison to organic livestock, as long as it is naturally sourced and minimally processed. Coal dust as a dewormer, no problem.

The farm can use the most unsustainable practices possible and still be local.

You have to do your own homework, just trusting what .gov says will not get you where you want to be. Unless you want to be a slave to the system.
 
Marianne Cicala
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We have a lot of people asking to come check out our farm, post picture of our gardens. YES yes and yes! Know your grower and ask questions. I hope people going to farmers markets ask if they can see a growers farm. We're thrilled to have them and show them what can be done with a virtually closed system and sharing permaculture working and working well. I constantly pass along this site and several others. I hope more and more people look beyond the government labels - educate themselves and most importantly look beyond the smoke - GMOs is a big problem, but not the biggest in my opinion - it's the Gick.
 
garden master
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I think that is a very nice viewpoint Marianne. I also would like to mention that genetic modification would not be so bad if it was used to increase and protect biodiversity instead of protecting monocultures, like making species that carry out specific functions like cleaning up oil spills or making gick less gickey and into more useful forms.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Thanks Dave - wouldn't it be great if that did occur
 
John Elliott
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Dave Burton wrote: I also would like to mention that genetic modification would not be so bad if it was used to increase and protect biodiversity instead of protecting monocultures, like making species that carry out specific functions like cleaning up oil spills or making gick less gickey and into more useful forms.



It did get off on the wrong foot and now it is practically synonymous with selling more herbicide because the monoculture is herbicide resistant.
 
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I don't see a way that GMO (splicing genes from dissimilar species) could ever be good even if it in the name of biodiversity or polyculture, etc. I can think of nothing that screams "Mother nature is my personal bitch" more than creating new species in test tubes. I agree that the biggest problem with GMO is the overuse of synthetic chemicals on those "plants", but the issues go further. Time and Time again natural systems have proven their resilience and propensity to "make things right" by reversing all of the hard work of man and returning to those natural systems. The GMO discussion is just a starting point for folks to rally around to gain momentum and mainstream recognition for doing away with this unsustainable system of production we have in place now.
 
John Elliott
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Dave Redvalley wrote:I don't see a way that GMO (splicing genes from dissimilar species) could ever be good even if it in the name of biodiversity or polyculture, etc. I can think of nothing that screams "Mother nature is my personal bitch" more than creating new species in test tubes.



I can think of a few positive lines of inquiry. Like finding a gene for frost tolerance and moving it to a tomato. Or at least locating the genes in the tomato itself and figuring out how to turn them on. But I haven't seen where anyone has tried that. If you look at the scientific literature on transgenic tomatoes, there is work looking for genes for disease resistance. That's probably of value, it would be nice to have tomatoes that are resistant to fusarium, but in a well tended permaculture garden, there isn't much fusarium because it has too much competition. It might be nice to have a tomato that is resistant to mosaic virus, but in a well tended permaculture garden, the compost teas provide enough bacteria for the tomato leaves to be able to fight off the virus. And there is a lot of work trying to splice a Bacillus thurigensis gene into a tomato. That seems to be a standby in the gene labs, splicing a Bacillus thurigensis gene. I wonder if they have spliced a seat cushion with BT genes; that way you wouldn't have to worry about mosquitoes biting you on the bum.
 
steward
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I can think of nothing that screams "Mother nature is my personal bitch" more than creating new species in test tubes.


So true. To a certain extent, most of us are "trying to fool Mother Nature".
If I live in a zone 5 climate, I want to figure out how to grow zone 7 plants.
This can range from creating mini micro-climates, to wrapping plants with discarded carpet remnants each autumn. IMO, either of these extremes is acceptable. But splicing genes from another species is (IMO) like me telling God that I am smarter than He. "I am more capable than you! I know what is best for the planet. Your version sucks! You're a fucking idiot, and I'm a genius."

A slap in the face for God/Mother Nature/Gaia, or whatever you want to call it.

If we can produce better species through selective breeding, that still falls within the realm of Nature. More power to us. Creating entirely new species is treading on dangerous grounds.



 
Marianne Cicala
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Not to beat my own horn, but why is this same passion not blasted on websites, pop up ads, committees, international marches, radio etc., etc., etc about ANY veggie or fruit grown in round-up laced sterile fields then pelted with toxic pesticides and Happily promoted as "BUY LOCAL". They aren't planting GMOs but still gifting unsuspected local shoppers with a bag full of poison. I wish regardless of whether a crop is a GMO or an heirloom, if there are poisons added to the crop or the dirt it should be labeled. If that were the case, it would be such an incredible win for soil aka the earth.
 
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2 articles showing the cracks in the GMO monolith


http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/08/30/nestle-and-gmos

In a Surprising Contradiction, Nestlé Official Says GMOs Aren’t Necessary
Though the corporate giant has donated more than $1M to fight GMO labeling, a senior exec says we don’t need modified foods.

"Overhearing someone say genetically modified crops aren’t the solution for feeding a planet ready to burst with 9 billion hungry mouths by 2050 isn’t surprising if it comes from a leader in the organics crowd. But it’s positively jaw-dropping when you hear it coming from a high-ranking corporate executive at Nestlé.

“Genetically modified (GM) food is unnecessary to feed the world and the food industry would reap more benefits from using resources more sustainably and employing other techniques. That’s the view of Hans Jöhr, corporate head of sustainable agriculture at Nestlé and honorary president of SAI Platform, a group of top global food and drink manufacturers working to improve supply chain sustainability,” writes Rod Addy for Food Navigator."


http://rt.com/politics/181244-russian-gmo-food-fines/

(Russian)Govt approves fines for improper GMO labeling

"The Russian cabinet has approved the bill introducing heavy fines for businessmen who violate the rules on obligatory marking of foodstuffs containing genetically-modified products."

.........

"Other government agencies, including Rospotrebnadzor argued that since Russia joined the WTO in 2012, trade restrictions can be imposed only after the hazardous effects of the banned goods are scientifically proven. They also quoted the statistics reading that the share of GMO in Russian food industry had declined from 12 percent to just 0.01 percent over the past 10 years and currently there are just 57 registered food products containing GMO in the country.

Nevertheless, most of the Russian lawmakers are pushing for changing the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products by introducing a norm set for the maximum allowed content of transgenic and genetically modified components. The motion’s initiators want to make this norm zero for all foodstuffs produced in Russia."

 
steward
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As a plant breeder, I'm not much worried about "species". Life is complicated, and constantly in flux. It seems to me, that when we start trying to categorize life that it leads to thinking that things are separate when they may not really be separate. Consider the case of a peninsula with a 1000 mile long shoreline, and a plant that only grows within a mile or so of the shoreline. Science might call the plants near the mainland on one side of the peninsula a different species than those on the other side near the mainland. And yet, at every point along the shoreline, any particular plant can fully interbreed with it's neighbors on either side. It's only in the extremes that the plants are no longer capable of interbreeding.

From time to time I find naturally occurring inter-species crosses in my garden. I am even working on creating new species though purely natural means. It's hard for me to consider myself separate from nature, so I consider my work to be the most natural thing in the world.

For example: This squash looks like an inter-species hybrid to me. It has traits half-way in-between the traits of the presumed parent species.
 
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