Imagine farming for your whole life. Each year planting a crop and saving seed to sow next year. Eventually developing a valuable local variety adapted to your local climate. Then one day a large multinational corporation sues you for infringing on their patent even though you have never used their products. To make matters worse the supreme court in your country finds in favor of the large corporation. This is exactly what happened to Percy Schmeiser.
Corporations Patent Life
How did this situation come about? The story is explained in the documentary film, The Corporation. Initially the U.S. patent office rejected attempts to patent life. Eventually corporations were granted the ability to patent living organisms paving the way for GMOs. The patents granted to Monsanto led to Schmeiser’s predicament.
You see, despite the corporation’s best efforts to control nature, ultimately nature takes its course. Many plants are open pollinated via the wind. Thus patented genes end up in a farmer’s field even though he has never used GMO seed.
Toxic Build Up
One of the most prevalent uses of GMO crops is to create herbicide resistance. This enables a farmer to broadcast spray a crop with an herbicide. The herbicide kills weeds and the herbicide resistant crop continues to grow. The spraying encourages the growth of herbicide resistant super weeds. The existence of these weeds leads to more spraying. Meanwhile the crop takes up the herbicide as it grows. If the crop is fed to livestock, the livestock accumulate the herbicide in their tissue. When the meat from these animals is consumed by people, they get a dose of chemical toxins included with their meal.
The Corporation also touches on the development of “terminator genes.” When a farmer contracts with a chemical company to use their GMO seeds he is forbidden to save his own seed. New seed must be purchased every year. Companies like Monsanto hire teams of investigators and lawyers to go after farmers suspected of saving their own seed.
Unfortunately, threatening their customers with lawsuits isn’t a good enough solution. Corporations have developed “terminator genes” that destroy the ability of the second generation of a crop to reproduce itself. This technological solution prevents farmers from saving seed. What could go wrong with such a scheme?
If terminator genes are released into the biosphere they could cross pollinate with existing crops leading to the eventual destruction of the crop.
It is best to avoid toxic foods by opting out of the industrial food supply. Don’t buy processed foods made with corn or high fructose corn syrup because they are tainted with GMO corn. Consider growing a portion of your own food. Shop at farmer’s markets where you can shake the hand of the person that grew the food.
Do you think GMOs are a problem? If you take action to avoid GMOs in the food you consume, please tell me about it in the comments section.