GMO’s — Do you know what GMO means?

by Janice

GMO

GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms — combining the genes of separate organisms to engineer a new one.

According to the documentary makers of the GMO Film Project, not only are agro-chemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) feeding us genetically-modified food, GMO’s, “…tightening their grip on the world’s food supply—buying, modifying, and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat,” they are doing so without our knowledge or compliance.

Many genetically modified foods — for example, corn with modified DNA to produce its own pesticide — haven’t been fully tested and aren’t labeled.

When Leah Segedie linked to this film on her Facebook page, I was relieved to see a film being made to bring more information about GMOs to the public. If people don’t even know that there are genetically modified organisms in the food they are eating — and very often don’t even know that such foods exist and are prevalent in our food sources — how can we fight back and demand purity in our food?

While GMO’s are generally developed with positive intentions such as increasing food production and lowering costs, we worry that the risks are not being tested, handled and communicated to the public effectively enough.

Please watch this video about the GMO Film Project and join the discussion about genetically modified food.

If you found this post helpful, we would love it if you gave it a Stumble, Tweet, Pin, or Facebook Like. Thanks so much! We really appreciate your support of 5 Minutes for Mom.

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aimee June 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I’m a mom who believes in food choices. Like you, I’m learning about these issues too, and I’m disappointed you posted such a one-sided view.

Did you know GMOs were developed not to harm people but to help boost the nutritional content of crops like sweet potatoes and rice? Yep. They also help help farmers grow more food with less chemicals by warding off plant diseases, insects, and weeds.

Facts are desperately needed in this discussion rather than scare tactics. If you like, I’ll be happy to help you dig deeper, find answers, and discuss the other side of this issue.

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2 Susan June 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi Aimee,

Susan here… thank you so much for sharing your point of view. We understand that this post does only express one side of the discussion, so thank you for explaining the other side.

And yes it is true that GMO’s are developed with good intentions but the concerns are that the testing, labeling and public awareness of potential health risks are not satisfactory.

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3 Aimee June 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thanks, Susan. We share a common goal: I think most moms, myself included, would like to get facts.

Why not run another, more balanced post? Or a series of posts? Maybe talk to some farmers about why they plant or don’t plant GMOs. Speak with conventional and organic farmers. Animal rights activists and livestock farmers. People at regulatory agencies would probably talk with you about labeling, too. In light of the video you posted, there may even be some hunger relief agencies and non-profits with opposing viewpoints on this.

Couldn’t hurt to explore the issue now that you’ve opened the discussion.

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4 Susan June 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thank you for the suggestion Aimee, and yes I have been thinking of writing another post and getting more input from different points of view. It certainly is a BIG topic and unfortunately there are no easy answers.

As you may have noticed, I did slightly update this post of Janice’s because of your and others’ feedback. We really do appreciate your thoughts and when Janice and I talked about it, we agreed that we weren’t taking the other side of the debate into enough consideration.

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5 Aimee June 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

Susan, I read your post again this morning. Thank you for your updates. As you said, this is a BIG topic with no easy answers. That’s why using reason and getting all the facts on the table is so important.

I wrote a post on my blog a year ago called Milk Wars addressing our tendency as moms to overreact and throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to the topic of farming and food. Apparently, not much has changed in a year. I posted again on this topic today and hope to continue the dialog with future posts on my blog as well. I would be honored for you to come by and check out Milk Wars and today’s post Food Fright if you get a chance.

Aimee

6 Kelly M. Rivard ( June 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hi Janice,

I’ll start with this: I am 100% about food choice. We all must adhere to the food systems and choices that fit our needs, beliefs, and lifestyles most closely. I’m not trying to convert you, but maybe trying to temper your disgust a bit? I like to adhere to a certain level of open-mindedness, and I guess I’m hoping that by presenting an alternate view of the issue, one that isn’t quite so vehemently slanted against GMO’s, I’ll create a bit of balance.

“GMO” has been in existence for centuries. The technology used to generate modern-day GMO is a streamlined process of what can be done through selective breeding. There are tons of species of produce, flower, and tree that would not exist today if someone hadn’t thought to cross the genes of two different species. If you’ve ever had a Pluot, they’re amazing. They’re the cross between an apricot and a plum, and it’s like heaven in a little hand-held, juicy snack. The science behind these hybrids isn’t too far off from what happens when creating/breeding GMO varieties in other crops.

Aimee raises a few good points, too. The biggest trade-off is chemicals vs. GMO. If these plants hadn’t been bred to fight off disease and pests, farmers would have to rely more heavily on chemicals (synthetical or natural…some non-organic farmers still use products that are “organic” — this simply means they’re naturally-derived, rather than synthetic) to maintain the well-being of a crop.

As far as the big businesses go…there are new ventures, new technologies, and new opportunities arising everyday. While I’m not a business buff, I do feel like there’s still some variety to be seen in the industry. I’ve strayed a bit from my roots, and am not really that well-versed in what businesses are doing what out there, but I do know that farmers (and the people who buy and use their product) do have options.

I hope my post here isn’t considered offensive or hostile; that is not my intention at all. I’m just hoping to represent a different take on the issue.

Have a great day!

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7 Susan June 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hi Kelly,

Susan here… as I said in my reply above to Aimee, we sincerely value your feedback and you presenting the other side of the story.

Yes, there are tradeoffs and while there can be huge benefits to GMO’s, we feel that testing, labeling and public awareness need to be improved.

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8 Kelly M. Rivard ( June 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I can understand those concerns; while I don’t share them, I do understand the desire to be informed. The original post doesn’t necessarily highlight those concerns, though. It’s written in very clear language that Janice is opposed to GMO’s, but I felt this issue is significantly less black-and-white than anyone could ever say. I just wanted to present an alternative angle that was not offered in the original post.

Thank you for respectfully addressing my comment! I greatly appreciate it, and I hope you ladies have a fantastic day.

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9 Diana June 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Janice, I’ve known and had the pleasure of working with you for quite some time now. I, too, am really disappointed to see you spreading the hyperbole and scare tactics. I know partnerships with brands, products and companies are important to your business model, but isn’t there any moral line in the sand? I’ve come to expect this from some bloggers, but am truly surprised and disheartened to find it here.

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10 Susan June 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Hi Diana,

Susan here… thank you for your honest feedback. As I said in reply to the comments above, we recognize that this post only presents one point of view. We appreciate others inserting their opinions here in the comments.

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11 Dawn June 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I do agree that everyone needs to research this issue and make their own decisions. However, GMO’s are not hybrids. There is a difference between cross breeding and actually transferring DNA from one species to another.

http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.1.pdf

I am glad that there are responsible bloggers taking it upon themselves to help people realize that our food source has and is changing, we should all have a right to make our own choices about what types of food we buy. I choose to feed my family Non-GMO foods as much as possible, and I will fight for the right to have that choice.

I also sometimes wish I didn’t know what GMO’s are – because with knowing comes a responsibility.

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12 Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} June 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I am so glad you posted this. People NEED to know this information.

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13 Caci June 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I like previous posters have to say that I dislike the one sided aspect of this entry. GMO’s aren’t an enemy we need to abolish. GMO’s were developed to help produce more food on less acreage. They were developed to help feed America and an ever growing population. I am all about food choices. I choose to buy fresh local produce from farmer’s markets (or grow my own) over buying produce from the grocery store, however I know that everyone can’t doesn’t have those options whether its due to location or budget. So having an abundance of food choices allows everyone to pick the food that best suits their needs and values. GMO foods have no nutrition difference than non-GMO’s and require less pesticides…personally I like the idea that the farmer didn’t need to spray my food with pesticides weekly because it was already resistance. I think everyone needs to use their best judgement but I don’t think anyone should condemn another for the food choices they make for their family or attempt to scare them into thinking they aren’t being a good provider. If we completely eradicate GMO foods then more people in my hometown and yours will go hungry.

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14 Susan June 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Hi Caci,

Thank you for presenting the other side of the discussion. Yes, we recognize that GMO’s are developed to increase food production, lower costs and reduce the need for pesticides.

But we feel that the risks are not being tested, handled and communicated to the public effectively enough.

Our goal with this post is to ignite conversation and create awareness about the issues. Thank you for joining the conversation and we apologize for only presenting one side of the argument in our post.

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15 Holly June 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Hi Janice! I’m thrilled to see people like yourself take in interest in their food supply. I’m a fifth generation farmer and am raising the sixth right here on the farm – coincidentally, right next to GM crops! And honestly, if my kids want to have a future on the farm someday, it’s going to require that consumers ask more questions and dig a little deeper.

That said, I don’t think it’s possible to adequately cover the GM debate in 5 minutes. In fact, I’ve been writing about GM crops for 14 years for a farm magazine, and I still have questions! I would love to talk with you if you’re interested in learning more. Short term, if you’re interested in a good piece, this one might be worth your time: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/06/frankenfood_debate_over_gmos_in_europe_and_the_united_states_.html. They cover some of the extensive research that’s been done on GM crops, both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Have a great day – and please know that the farmers who grow GM crops are concerned about how you feel about them!

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16 Susan June 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Thank you Holly very much for joining this conversation and sharing your vast experience.

As you say, this is a very complicated discussion and debate that can’t be tackled in one blog post. But we are glad to be sparking more discussion so that awareness and education can improve for us all.

I just read that post you linked to about the regulations and research being done in Europe.

It’s great to hear from individual farmers like yourself. Thank you so very much for commenting.

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17 Rebecca June 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Thanks for posting this. I do agree that people need to educate themselves and make their own decisions, but you have every right to post your opinion about this. It’s an important issue, and the more light put on it, the more people talk about it, them more choices we’ll be able to make for ourselves. Kudos!

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18 Paige June 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm

The market relies fully on consumer preference, and food choice is very important to consumers. Living in the United States we have an abundance of food available at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, other countries to not have the same luxuries. GMO’s are proven to be more resistant against pests and herbicides. It is new technologies like these that are helping farmers feed the world. I encourage readers to research the topic and make their own choice before jumping on the bandwagon.

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19 Anne Burkholder June 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi Janice and other readers:

My husband and I have a farm in Central Nebraska. My husband grows crops (alfalfa, corn, wheat), and I raise cattle. I would like to take a minute to add to this discussion, and also to encourage readers to take a look at my website if you are interested in learning about “where your beef comes from”. I started my blog about a year ago when I realized that many, many folks were interested in where their food comes from. I wanted to share my story of food production from my perspective of a “city girl turned cowgirl”. The website is http://feedyardfoodie.com.

The cattle that I raise on my farm are fed some crops that are grown from GMO seeds. My husband and our neighbors that grow feed for my animals use GMO seeds because it allows them to reduce pesticide use on our farms. GMO seeds also allow our crops to produce larger yields which means that we get more crops using fewer natural resources which decreases the environmental footprint of our farm and the food that it produces.

The crops grown with GMO seeds are digested and utilized by my cattle exactly the same way that crops grown from non-GMO seeds are digested. The meat that my animals produce is exactly the same regardless of whether or not the cattle feed comes from GMO seeds. There is no difference in the quality or safety of the meat. Both of those things are critically important to me because I am feeding my children (I have three girls) the beef that I grow in addition to selling it to great people like you all.

I think that transparency in food production is very important, and I believe very passionately that the good folks that eat my beef have a right to know how I am growing it. It is my hope that through my blog site people will be able to hear first hand how I grow their food, so that they do not need to rely on sensationally produced film documentaries to make decisions about what foods to purchase.

I applaud you Janice for starting a conversation on food production, but I hope that perhaps in the future you might be able to have that conversation with farmers like me who are actually growing the food that is in the grocery store. I think that a direct conversation will allow for the sharing of truthful and factual information. It will also allow me to understand your concerns so that we can have a meaningful relationship and figure out the best way to grow the food that we both eat. I care very much about my animals and the beef that they make—I also care about my fellow Americans who eat that beef. Together we can work toward a sustainable and responsible food supply.

All the best,
Anne

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20 Susan June 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi Anne,

Susan here… Thank you for your detailed and helpful comment.

You’re right that we may have too quickly written and published this post without considering giving an explanation to the other side of the story.

We appreciate you explaining more about your farming practices.

And yes, we definitely understand that there are huge benefits to using GMO’s, but what we hope is that public awareness can be expanded. You’re right that people don’t understand the pros or the cons with GMO’s and that’s what we hope changes in the future.

Thank you again for your respectful addition to this discussion.

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21 Katie June 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Hi Janice and Susan, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and often link up for WW. I’m the first of the 5th generation to have lived and worked on our family farm in North Dakota. Today my parents operate our farm and you can read the picture filled farm and rural life posts from my mom 5 days a week: http://www.griggsdakota.com/
As a mom of three, working in agriculture in state government I have a different view on GMO’s. I personally think with a growing global population we cannot grow enough food on the land that we have with out technology advancements like GMO seeds. This first hit me when I heard the statistic from the United Nations that as we need to grow 100% more food over the next 40 years for the global population we need 70% of that growth to come from technology advances. Most of us are affluent Americans and Canadians reading this blog. We aren’t thinking about how we are going to feed our children tonight. But I will not on my watch have billions of people in my lifetime starve or societies not advance because American and Canadians farmers cannot raise enough food to feed more than just us. We cannot limit our farmers ability to raise food, not just for us but for the world. I have worked with farmers from across North America that I know would be willing to share their stories with you on why they choose to use GMO technology or those that farm organically. We all need to support farmers.
Katie Pinke
Wishek, North Dakota
http://www.pinkepost.com

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22 Susan June 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

Hi Katie,

Thank you so very much for taking the time to present the positive side of GMO use. You are very right that there is a reason that farmers choose to use GMO’s and that the technology breakthroughs have allowed increases in food production.

It is a complicated debate and we admit that Janice didn’t consider the other side of the argument enough before sharing her opinion. We did edit the post to remove some comments that she realizes she shouldn’t have said.

We are considering preparing a follow up post and we’d like to know if you’d be interested in providing input into such a post?

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23 Katie June 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you Susan. I appreciate your reply and the consideration to a follow up post. I would be happy to contribute. Please email me and we can connect with details. Also I will be at Blogher for the first time and hope to meet in person there? Thanks again.
Katie

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24 Kerry Sauriol June 21, 2012 at 12:30 am

I have been aware of the concerns about GMO’s and monsters like Monsanto for quite a while now. However I didn’t really focus on it until I was asked to review a ‘healthy’ cereal.

I started to wonder about the concept of healthy…how healthy was it? Was it made from organics …were they aware of where their raw materials came from?

How natural is something labelled natural?

I think the broader concern is looking at the corn industry alone and how much corn is in our diet compared to past generations..that alone beyond genetically modified products…..we have been modifying our food sources for centuries….but we need to realize how all these products affect our health.

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25 Forgetfulone June 21, 2012 at 1:55 am

I may be the oddball out here, but I really DON’T want to know too many details about how my food is grown and/or raised. I don’t intentionally want to put something in my body that is going to harm it, and maybe I have too much trust in the farmers here in America and the FDA, but I seriously don’t want to know. One thing that has been a part of my develping that attitude is a friend who is obsessed with GMO’s, organic produce, local meats, etc. Her obsession rubs me the wrong day.

You may call me ignorant, but I am actually a well-educated individual. I am exposed to “risks” of all kinds every day, and I truly believe I have more important things to worry about than my food.

I also believe that the less government is involved, the better. I don’t mind the FDA guidelines, but the more we “demand” to know certain things, the more the government thinks it is their responsibility to tell me what I can and can’t eat. Everyone has choices, and everyone can do whatever research is necessary to help them feel comfortable in those choices. I choose to select my food based on taste, availability, and price. I choose to believe that GMO’s are not going to significantly decrease the quality of my life or my lifespan.

Freedom is about choice. My choice may not be the same as yours, just like my political views may be different. But the best thing about freedom is that we are ALL entitled to our own opinions.

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26 Forgetfulone June 21, 2012 at 1:56 am

*way* not day! LOL

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27 Mothering From Scratch June 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

{Melinda} You have to be so careful because even so called “natural” foods often contain GMOs. For example, I’m sure you’ve heard about the big flap with Kashi misleading consumers to believe they contained no GMOs when they actually do. They’ve since addressed these concerns. But it did raise my awareness that I can’t make assumptions about so called trusted natural brands.

So many of these companies, like Horizon and Kashi and others have been bought by big food companies, like Kelloggs, etc. who do not have the commitment to organic, pure food that their original owners did.

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28 Leah Segedie June 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Hey Janice & Susan I’m officially heading up the blogger team for LabelGMOs.org which will force packaged goods to Label GMOs in CAlifornia. WE NEED THE HELP OF BLOGGERS to amplify our message because the opposing side is going to dump anywhere from $60-100 million in this to fight us. I would LOVE for you guys to join us! PLEASE ask your readers to join us as well. Anyone who would like to join the team and become an Evangelist and educate their readers about this subject can fill out this form to get everything they need for their blogs/twitter/facebook, etc, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHdKOHp6THNyWmlpbkNwRWtPYWRsVnc6MQ#gid=0. Bloggers can make a BIG difference with this issue!!!

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29 Joyness Sparkles June 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

He who controls the food source/supply has the power…

I see most of the comments blast this post for being one sided about GMO’s, but those comments are one sided. Obviously they would never open their mind to studies that indicate organic grown or permaculture grown food could yeild more along with all of the other benefits. There is just so much information out there that is beneficial to humans, plants, animals, insects, soil, water sources, etc. But I think it is being overlooked as GMO planting is “easier, faster, and cheaper.” (indicating where peoples priorities really lie)

Be prepared for these same people to blast anymore anti-GMO ideas.
I have no doubt that these people will control the outcome of the views expressed in the future posts on this blog and will have nothing but praise for the seeds which contain harmful pesticides within their DNA (along with a multitude of other problems that people are not willing to face).

That of course does not indicate appreciation for food choice, but rather control.

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