In 1994, the first genetically modified plants entered into the mainstream grocery stores. Many people believed that they would change our lives for the better. (Now we know differently, of course.) In the beginning, the development of GMOs was an honest mistake that was supposed to help us feed the world. Now that we know more about them, it’s hard to see this truth and we find ourselves asking: why were GMOs even created in the first place?
Feeding A Big World
The world’s population is growing—fast. The desire to keep food production high so everyone can be fed properly weighs heavily on our hearts. Many thought that GMOs would present the agriculture with fabulous new opportunities. (Not everyone was so convinced.)
So when we start looking at nature’s boundaries of protection, the idea of moving DNA within different species, it moves through a boundary that nature has established as a natural template. The other side says, “Oh this is just the permutation of Mendel’s peas!” Yes, Mendel was hybridizing peas, but he was doing peas on peas on peas. He wasn’t doing peas on peppers on tomatoes on salmon on pigs on people. One of the ways I’ve described it is that if the sexual plumbing doesn’t match up, you need to assume that there’s some pretty major protective boundaries being circumvented. – Joel Salatin
If we look back a little bit farther than 1994, the technology had been in progress for quite awhile before the 90s. By 1982, the actual first GMO was made and approved by the FDA—an insulin. A little later we realized that we could increase our crop yields by killing off the pests and weeds that destroy them—or so we thought.
We Know A Bit More About GMOs Today
Today, there’s no evidence that crop yields have increased as a result of GMO seeds; in fact, the only thing that has increased is the use of pesticides and herbicides in agriculture. We traded in traditional means of keeping the pests away for a chemical to control them, but the end result has actually been decreased biodiversity and super weeds that are more and more tolerant to everything we throw their way. More problems are being created than solutions.
The laser focus on genetically modified organisms has clouded our vision toward the development of more natural processes and solutions that maintain sustainable farming and that empower the backyard farmer.
A Worthy Alternative
While farming more closely aligned to natural processes is a fantastic strategy, there’s another important thing we seem to forget. Jeff Mattocks enlightens us:
There’s two significant thought processes to this whole thing. First, commercial agriculture looks at making as much as they can per acre. As long as we continue to do that and to outproduce the demand for the human populace on the planet, that will continue to make farmland available for housing development, for new houses to grow, for land to go toward uses other than farming. That’s the downside of big commercial agriculture, and they’re also trying to keep and hold the prices of our food commodities down, and that’s not necessarily a good thing because it’s contributed greatly to the obesity in the United States because our food system is that cheap. We spend the least amount of any nation in the world on food. The two go hand in hand. It’s crazy. Only about 17% of our income goes to food and everybody else is at 22% and 30%.
While it’s terrible that many people go hungry everyday, they aren’t going hungry because there isn’t enough food to go around. We often forget that. Sustainable farming is more than a worthy alternative to industrial farming, it will help us keep prices at an appropriate level while feeding the local community both nutritionally and financially.
Non-GMO For A Better Tomorrow
It’s now becoming apparent that the GMO experiment hasn’t really worked out and eating natural is starting to become the norm for people in America. It’s going to be a long, slow process, but we will get there through sustainable farming and community awareness. GMOs haven’t served their purpose and it’s time to get back to our roots.