by Elena Greco
Typical reading time: 4 minutes
December 30, 2015
Every year I choose a cause or topic to focus on, one which is urgent or important to our culture and our planet. I learn as much as I can about it, post about it on social media, and write about it. That’s part of my activism, something I think is particularly important for creative artists, and really for everyone—that we contribute in some way to make the world better. It makes the world better, and it makes us better. Activism can take many forms, and most of them take only a few minutes a day and don’t require that we “do” anything, other than learning about and speaking about these issues in whatever form is natural to us.
Recently my issue was GMOs and the threat posed to our planet by Monsanto. I believe an awful lot of people in our country don’t see how this company and what they do to our farmers and our food contribute so much to a decline in our health and to the potential destruction of our planet and our way of life, as well as to how the politics and politicians paid for by Monsanto now govern our country. These Monsanto supporters in our government increase the wealth and power of themselves and of Monsanto, and prevent those who protest Monsanto’s actions from being heard or being successful in their attempts to protect our food supply and our health.
For example, did you know that family farmers in most areas of our country are no longer allowed to re-plant their own seed? If they’re caught doing so, Monsanto fines them huge amounts of money and sues them, running up thousands of dollars in legal fees that the farmers must borrow to pay, ultimately bankrupting many of them. Because Monsanto requires that the farmers pay them for Monsanto’s seed and prohibits them from using their own, most farmers are barely making ends meet now and increasing numbers go out of business every year. That is but one of the many unsavory things this corporation does in its mission to take over our food supply.
And did you ever stop to think that flying food products in from all over the country and all over the world contributes to enormous amounts of our planet’s resources being wasted? Where we get our food matters. Monsanto wants us to get it from them, flying or trucking it in from their factory farms, and not from local farmers, who provide healthier food for us and do not tax our planet’s resources to get the food to us.
Here’s something I wrote when I first began to commit to this issue:
“I consider these issues to be crucial to our ability to sustain life. If we do not have free access to clean water (a separate but related issue) and healthy food, all of the other important issues we now face are irrelevant, because we will not survive and thrive. I know absolutely that we can overcome this threat if we are all informed and commit to safeguarding our food and water. What concerns me is that everyone does not seem to be aware of the threat that exists. And destruction of our supply of clean water and safe, healthy food is something that cannot be undone if we do nothing and allow Monsanto, Nestlé and those who are hell-bent on fracking to continue on their destructive course.
Sound ridiculous? Nestlé’s CEO Peter Brabreck has publicly stated that he thinks water is not a right and should not be freely available to everyone; he wants to commercialize all the water in the world. (Do a Google search of “Nestle CEO water” to find a video of his speeches.) As far-fetched as that sounds, look at the companies Nestlé now owns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nestl%C3%A9_brands#Water. Notice that Perrier and San Pellegrino are both owned by Nestlé, along with about a hundred other bottled water companies. But we still have our local water, right? Well, not exactly. Many local water sources are now owned by corporations. And if fracking is allowed to proliferate—another extremely important issue pertaining to this subject—a lot of groundwater will be contaminated and unfit for public consumption for years to come.
As for Monsanto, it is intent on inflicting GMOs on Americans, and they cause undue hardship to a lot of farmers, forcing them to use their products or pay a penalty. Plenty of existing data indicates that genetically modified organisms are dangerous to our bodies and to the crops that sustain us. Once a genetically modified crop is grown in a field, nearby crops, including organic ones, are contaminated with the GMO seed the wind blows them. Eventually GMO crops will contaminate all fields so that there are no more organic crops. Daily we see new tests that show the profound damage that these crops do to the human body. If the food we eat harms us and does not sustain us, our quality of life will decrease enormously and many of us will die. Food is what creates the body we live in, so it’s good to choose food carefully and make sure healthy food continues to be available to us!
I don’t mean to be discouraging, as I believe we can turn this trend around if enough people realize what is at stake and take simple actions to prevent this from happening. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about these issues, and to take whatever action feels appropriate to them, even simple things such as sharing articles on social media or signing a petition. Or vote with your pocketbook and don’t buy GMO products, or boycott all products made by these corporations. And most of all, don’t vote for politicians who won’t stand up for our right to clean water and healthy food. All of our lives, and those of future generations, depend on it.”
I do see some progress in this area. First, there’s a growing awareness of the dangers of allowing companies like Monsanto and Nestlé to control our food and water supply. I’ve also been heartened to see the growing resistance to having genetically modified seed and food inflicted on us without our permission or knowledge. Second, I think there’s a little more awareness that allowing GMOs to proliferate means that shortly we will have no more organic crops, since the GMOs contaminate neighboring fields. Third, I see more awareness of the danger of the huge amounts of pesticides required to grow these GMOs. And last—and I hope this is true—it seems that at least a few people are coming to realize the hold that Monsanto has on all farmers, and that they are contributing to the death of family farms. You might not care about family farms, but if Monsanto controls all of the crops in our country—which you can rest assured is their goal—we will lose control of our health, our choice over the foods we eat, and ultimately our own survival, being at the mercy of this Orwellian corporation.
If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch the Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” It’s a truly great documentary about our food supply. Information about the documentary and the producers can be found at www.takepart.com/foodinc/film.
Before I watched it the first time, I was wary that it might be one of those films that show horrifying pictures of animals being tortured during food production, and I wasn’t sure I could stand another one. Fortunately, it’s not that. Although there are a few images of that nature, they are woven into the important story which is the purpose of the film—to show us where our food really comes from, and to understand the path we’re taking in surrendering the production of our food to the wealth and might of Monsanto. It showed me the power that Monsanto has bought in our government. Rather than horrifying, I found it inspiring. It reminded me that our food supply and those who support it carefully are crucial to our planet. It made me vow to support local farmers and organic growers by purchasing most of my food from them.
The only vote we truly have in the future of our food supply and production is with our purchasing. Every time we buy a food item, we are voting for the way in which it was produced and for the person or farm or company that produced it. In government and in corporations, money is power. The money comes from us! So remember, every purchase you make is a vote. Every purchase you make determines our future. May it be a safe and healthy future in which we all thrive and prosper!
See Elena’s bios for more information about the author.