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How To Avoid Gentically Engineered Food - A Greenpeace Shoppers Guide


Check out Greenpeace has published a Canadian guide listing specific food products that contain GMOs. http://gmoguide.greenpeace.ca/shoppers_guide.pdf

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Just finished listening to an interview with Patrick Moore, ex Greenpeace scientist, that was posted on Farms.com (http://agvisiontv.farms.com/default.aspx?vid=vid_1272010153253000). He has become a poster boy for the backlash against environmentalists. Too bad he has swung too far the other way. While I agree with some of his criticisms, his arguments are simplistic. Threats from pesticides and GMOs go beyond concerns about cancer to concerns about nervous disorders, allergies, and so on.

True Greenpeace and other orgs like PETA are overly confrontational and sensationalist and end up alienating more pragmatic environmentalists. However, this guide from Greenpeace is a good indication that they are redefining themselves and engaging in practical work. It is a useful guide for people whether they are concerned about GMOs for health, ecological or ethical reasons. Whether GMOs are a real threat or not, foods containing them should be labeled. Since they are not, this guide helps people be informed. I am actually surprised by how many options there are to buy foods not containing GMOs.

Dr. Moore's support for GMOs is disappointing though. It is not unequivocal that GMOs are inherently safe. Admittedly, I am not a scientist and not up to date on all GMO related science, but there are health concerns about allergies, and the fact that GE DNA permeate the entirety of GM plants and thus are absorbed into the cells of those who consume the plants. In other words, GE DNA are persistent. This may impact the body in many unpredictable ways. Then there is the persistence in the environment which leads to resistance: Amaranthus has developed resistance to glyphosate, canola is becoming a superweed, moths may develop resistance to Bt, etc. These are real proven concerns. Of course, there is also the debate that GE is a tool for profiteering for Pharmaceutical companies. I personally don't want to make such broad accusations, but while I am sure most supporters of GE have good intentions for farmers and eaters, profiting and control may also be a driving force.

Dr. Moore talks about Golden Rice. Here is an area where I do have some knowledge as I have done research in Asian countries about traditional ag practices. Vitamin A deficiency became a problem with the Green Revolution. While the Green Rev made huge breakthroughs in increasing production of staples such as rice, in the process it destroyed very nutritionally important "uncultivated" foods. Prior to this time, farmers collected weeds and other leafy greens and even fish and frogs from rice paddies. These were significant sources of nutrition including protein and VITAMIN A. Herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers destroyed this source of food nutrition. So Golden Rice is not a solution: it treats a symptom and compounds a problem.

In term of other pesticides, again, the threat is more than just cancer but other health concerns. But there is also the toll on the environment: destroying soil life and structure which leads to erosion and pest problems, and the destroying of water quality, not just for water life, but for human use.

Of course, this discussion can go on and on, and I am not the one in a position to argue with Dr Moore as I am not a scientist, but I am not naive either.

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