As many of you know, I started an organic children's clothing line , Coco & Leelee. I also have a blog on that website. Because my audience here has a lot of the same concerns as my audience over at Coco & Leelee, I will be sharing some blog posts on both blogs. I can't help myself. While I'm typing certain post, like this one on GMO cotton, I think about how my other audience, in this case you, would appreciate it as well. So you may find some post that are on both sites. Now you know why. Gotta share the love!
And now to GMO cotton.
Cotton is everywhere; our clothes, cotton balls, swabs and pads, feminine products, dish and bath towels, curtains, yarn, place-mats, hats, bedding, quilts.....and on and on. Cotton is a versatile and useful product. It's easy to care for and the softness, can't forget that. GMO cotton, however, has a some scary secrets.
1. Cotton is One of the Top 3 Genetically Modified Crops
94% of the cotton grown in the US is genetically modified. Worldwide it is grown on over 70 million acres! What kind of affect does this have on the farmers?
In India, the second largest producer of cotton, farmers are committing suicide at alarming rates. 200, 000 thousand farmers have committed suicide since 1997. The problem began when the World Bank forced India to open up their seed sector. Farmers had always saved their seeds, bred them using traditional methods. Saving the seeds, improving their qualities each year. When the seed sector opened up and giant agri businesses like Monsanto and Cargill came in they were promised higher yields and more profit.
What Monsanto and the other companies didn't tell the farmers is that they would need to use expensive fertilizers and pesticides. Because these new seeds are patented they can not be saved.Each year they have to be purchased from the giant agri companies. The higher cost to produce the crop resulted in large debt for the farmers as stated by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a well know activist for pure-food and seed sovereignty:
"Corporations prevent seed savings through patents and by engineering seeds with non-renewable traits. As a result, poor peasants have to buy new seeds for every planting season and what was traditionally a free resource, available by putting aside a small portion of the crop, becomes a commodity. This new expense increases poverty and leads to indebtness."
The promises of higher yields were nothing but promises. Farmers are actually experiencing less profit.
"The region in India with the highest level of farmers suicides is the Vidharbha region in Maharashtra — 4000 suicides per year, 10 per day. This is also the region with the highest acreage of Monsanto’s GMO Bt cotton. Monsanto’s GM seeds create a suicide economy by transforming seed from a renewable resource to a non-renewable input which must be bought every year at high prices. " Dr. Vandana Shiva
It is the stress of indebtedness that is believed to be leading so many farmer to commit suicide. They feel trapped. Not only are they in debt but the insecticide and pesticides destroy the farmland and make it nearly impossible to go back their traditional way of farming. The soils is now dead and infertile. Hardly anything will grow without the use of synthetic fertilizers produced by the same companies selling the GM seed. It is a viscous cycle. Which leads to my next point.
P.S. Just in case you are wondering, corn and soy are the other two top genetically modified crops.
2. GMO Cotton is Responsible for 25% of Global Insecticide Use
Why are seeds genetically modified in the first place- to be able to be sprayed with glyphosate and other chemicals without dying. If they weren't genetically modified they would shrivel up and die once theses chemicals made contact with them. And they want us to eat this and cover our bodies in it. Doesn't that seem a bit insane?
Glyphosate is the chemical of choice for GM cotton. Not only is it a insecticide but it is also an herbicide. It is systemic meaning that it isn't merely on the outside layer of the plant which would be bad enough, but it is taken up into the plant and is then in every cell of the plant. There is no washing this stuff off people. Which makes it of no surprise that it is showing up in breast milk and urine samples.
'Glyphosate, the most used herbicide in the world, has been found in the urine of 93 percent of the American public during a unique testing project that started in 2015" Organic Consumers Association
In 2015 the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen and last year California went a step further and labeled it not as a probable carcinogen, but as an outright carcinogen.
Glyphosate has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma ( there is an on-going lawsuit against Monsanto with over 800 complainants and gowing) as well a a host of other issues such as, birth defects, allergies, tumors, heart disease, autism, celiac disease, Parkinson, reproductive/ pregnancy problems, and colitis to name a few.
The use of GM crops has increased mono-culture farming practices and is depleting soil fertility. This is a scary problem. Vast tracts of mono-culture crops set the stage to easily plow and plant in a timely fashion. Farm equipment is getting bigger and bigger to cover more area quicker but all that tilling is killing the soil.
"According to an article in Time World5, soil erosion and degradation rates suggest we have only about 60 remaining years of topsoil. Forty percent of the world's agricultural soil is now classified as either degraded or seriously degraded; the latter means that 70 percent of the topsoil is gone. Our soil is being lost at 10 to 40 times the rate it can be replenished, and our food production systems are to blame, which epitomizes the term "unsustainable." It takes decades or even centuries to regenerate significant levels of soil." Dr Mercola
Furthermore, vector DNA, which are present in all GE plants, are responsible for allowing different microorganism species to mate, crossing the specie barrier that God put in place. This in turn reduces the diversity of soil microbes which are the foundation of soil fertility.
I'm sure, if you have spent anytime around an organic farmer, or asked a few questions at a farmers market, they would tell you that microbial diversity in the soil is key to productive plant growth and higher nutrient contents of the crop. As an organic farmer myself, we totally forgo tilling in order to preserve this diversity and work to build upon it by adding compost (which is filled with microbes).
Soil diversity enables the soil to hold more water and allows plants to reach nutrient it would otherwise not be able to reach through symbiotic relationships between the plants and soil microbes.
"Soil degradation is projected to cause 30 percent loss in food production over the next 20 to 50 years—while our global food demands are expected to increase by 50 percent over this span of time." Dr Mercola
3. GM Cotton Goes Right Into Our Foods
By weight, 60% of what is harvested from cotton ends up in the food chain. There are several ways this happens. The first is through vegetable oil. Cotton seed oil is used as is, or added to other vegetables oils. Sold simple as vegetable oil on the grocery store shelves or used to fry food. This includes packaged foods such as chip and also food in restaurants. Have you ever read a label to find "vegetable oil" ? It doesn't tell you exactly what kind, just vegetable oil. Most likely there is some cotton seed, and perhaps corn, soy or canola oil. Notice all of these are within the top 5 genetically modified crops. The cheapest oils to produce, but as you know, that comes at a price as mentioned above.
The second way that GM cotton enters the food system is through dairy feed. Cotton gin trash is used as feed in dairy cows. The pesticides in the cotton accumulate in the fatty tissue of the cow. The pesticides are then passed on to the consumer through the milk and other dairy products.
4. Who Wants to Support Monsanto and Their Cronies?
It use to be that everyone had a garden. Our ancestors saved their seeds and passed them on to the next generation. Crops were improved by selecting seeds from the best performing plants. This practiced continued with commercial farmers into the 20th century. It wasn't until Monsanto started patenting seeds that there was a major decline in this practice.
Monsanto convinced farmers that their new patented seeds were going to save the world, end hunger, and increase their profits. Farmers weren't going to have to deal with weeds and pests anymore, Mosanto had solved all of that with there GM seeds.
Farmers weren't the only one to buy into these lies. Consumers hopped on the band wagon because of course, they support the American farmers and want to end world hunger.
It's been several decades since the first GM food product, Flavr Savr tomatoes, were introduced to grocery store shelves. Since then we have learned that Monsanto has been lying to us about the effects of glyphosate as revealed in leaked emails between Monsanto and EPA officials leading thousands to fall ill, developing cancers, food allergies and other ailments. Their patented seeds have contaminated countless farms which Monsanto turned around and sued, bringing the farmers to financial ruin when it was there farm that was contaminated by Monsanto's seeds. They didn't plant them, they were spread from trucks carrying the seed which blew onto their farmland as it past. We can't forget what they have done to the farmers in India. They have infiltrated the government getting their long time lawyer Micheal Taylor, placed as Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA. Millions of acres of crops have been destroyed by the use of Monsanto's Dicamba and wind drift. American exports are being turned away from foreign countries because they are testing positive for GMOs. This is only a brief summary. The rat hole is deep!
GMO crops are banned in 38 countries. What is America waiting for? We may not be able to match the wallets of Monsanto and it's cronies at the ballot box but we can sure do it when we are shopping. Whether you are at the grocery store or picking out a new top choose organic. Then choose organic again, and again. Tell your friends and educate your children.
Hello, I'm Jaci. I love gardening and being outside in God's amazing creation. I'm passionate about whole foods and clean eating. I look forward to sharing my farming adventures and helping you reach your gardening goals!