While US consumers still do not have the right to know which of their foods contain genetically modified organisms, Europe has banned them completely for 2 years and Russia is willing to go to war over their use abroad because of widespread effects on birds and bees. Why are most US citizens unaware of these things? It is because Monsanto has political power that it is exercising and US citizens are not exercising their political power. Here is what citizens can do: first educate themselves about the issue, second, make their views known to their elected representatives, and third, modify their diet to avoid GMO foods (almost all soy is GMO, as is most corn).
GMO’s have genes inserted into the genetic material of the plant so that every cell contains substances that are poisonous, not only to the target insects, but also to beneficial birds and bees, as well as humans. Thanks to decisions made in various courts, when pollen from these plants drifts into neighboring fields and contaminates un-adulterated plants, some of the seeds that result are also genetically modified. Having such genes in some seeds has been found by the US Supreme Court to be an infringement of the patents for the GMO’s. Monsanto has been trespassing on the land of farmers who do not buy their seeds, taking samples, and suing farmers for infringement of their patents. These cases are settled out of court because farmers cannot afford to go to trial. Out of court settlements have records unavailable to others who are sued by Monsanto, thus making it easy for Monsanto to continue this practice.
When farmers are forced to buy GMO seeds to avoid the infringement described above (saving seeds and replanting also infringes GMO patents), they have increased operating costs, as well as vulnerability to the supply chain. GMO farming tends to involve less diversity of crops, eventually leading to the extinction of species that may be more drought tolerant, cold tolerant, heat tolerant, or tastier than their GMO counterparts. Already the gene pool is loosing diversity.
The long term consequences have another implication. Will Monsanto eventually own the world’s food supply? Will birds and bees disappear from the planet, along with the invaluable services they supply to the ecosystem? One possible cause of widespread Lyme disease is the loss of bird populations that eat the ticks that carry Lyme disease. This pales in comparison to the number of foods that require insect pollination to grow, a service provided by bees. There is increasing evidence that the shrinking bee population is partly or entirely due to the increasing use of GMOs. What can you do? Number one is get engaged with your political representatives. Number two is help others do the same. Number three, contribute time or money to one of the many organizations that are working to stop these practices.