I am not Catholic. I am pissed off. I am giving up Monsanto for Lent.
Today is Day 1.
It’s such a huge topic that I scarcely know where to begin. And so, I will begin with an assumption:
I will assume that you know Monsanto is a massive, politically influential company that sells agrochemicals while engineering and selling genetically modified organisms to tolerate heavy application of said chemicals prior to their unlabeled distribution to the public.
This series will consider Monsanto from as many angles as possible, in no particular order. Gather them as you would puzzle pieces. The picture will assemble itself in your mind.
Because crops influenced by Monsanto have found their way into amost every crevice of the modern American grocery store, food will be my most immediate concern during this 46-day Monsanto fast. Fortunately, my paleo way of eating has already nixed many of the major concerns:
- Processed foods (nearly all of which contain GM corn, soy, artificial sweeteners, or GM additives such as amalyse, catalase, and lactase),
- Conventional animal products (livestock is fed GM grain & soy, and dairy contains BGH and/or chymosin, a GM rennet used in most cheeses), and
- Conventional produce (often GM, and not labeled as such).
Instead, I eat local, organic, grass-fed meats; wild fish; organic dairy (if any); and organic produce (preferably locally grown from heirloom seed).
There are a few items I’ll need to remove from my diet in order to avoid supporting Monsanto. Canned tuna comes to mind, because it contains soy (often GM, courtesy of Monsanto) as part of the vegetable broth. I’ll need to double-check the labels on miscellaneous items like hot sauce and vinegars. Canned tomatoes will have to go organic, pricetag notwithstanding. And nuts? I wonder if they’re sprayed with Monsanto’s pesticides. Better check.
So far, this looks a lot like a Whole 30. Fair enough. I was going to do one in April anyway.
Unfortunately, the food is the easy part. Avoiding Monsanto means doing more than taking extra care about what goes into my refrigerator.
For example, I hope I don’t have any need to withdraw cash. Dollar bills are made of cotton. And cotton is GM.
Clear back in 2003, 73% of the U.S. cotton crop was GM. By 2007, 43% of the worldwide cotton crop was GM. I’m almost glad I can’t find a more recent statistic. Monsanto, of course, is happy to provide plenty of seed — supposedly to reduce pesticide use (1/3 pound of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is required to grow enough cotton for a single T-shirt) — but introducing a variety of new hazards, such as overpopulation of insects not targeted by the GM crops.
I wish I knew more about the health consequences of GM cotton, because we eat the stuff. Despite being a “non-food crop,” cotton permeates our food supply. It is used as a filler in livestock feeds. Cottonseed oil appears in myriad processed foods. And ‘linters,’ short cotton fibers, are used in a variety of emuslifiers, thickening agents, and fillers.
How about textiles? Good thing I’m not a fashionista, because it looks like I won’t be buying any cotton clothing during Lent. Unless I want to go naked, however, I’ll need to wear the cotton I already have.
Back to the cash. I wonder how I’ll pay at the farmer’s market. How will In the Night Farm’s customers pay for their duck eggs and strawberry plants? Are Craigslist purchases out of the question for the next 6 weeks?
Is it impossible to navigate modern America Monsanto-free?
We shall see. So far, it doesn’t look good.
Resource du Jour: GMO Database, courtesy of GMO Compass. Type a food into the search box on the left (scroll down to find it) and check for updates on its genetic status.
See all posts in the Monsanto Project Series.