You may be hearing a lot about GMOs. Monsanto, with the support of many businesses, organizations, and agencies, has been steadily increasing its use of GMOs since the first GMO tomato was introduced about 15 years ago. It’s gotten out of control. Ever eat a product containing soy or corn products? Most likely—they’re in huge numbers of packaged food products. What the small print won’t tell you is that most of that soy and corn is GMO. Canola oil, alfalfa, beet sugar…all taken over by GMOs. Even some varieties of zucchini and crookneck squash in supermarkets are GMO products. Aspartame, America’s current favorite alternative to sugar? You’ve got it—GMO.
What is Big Deal GMOs?
The acronym GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.” Other related terms are GEO (genetically engineered organism) and GMF (genetically modified food). GMOs are created in science labs, where genes of plants and animals are manipulated to increase their resistance to certain organisms, to initiate the production of specific products, or to provide some other perceived benefit. This all sounds well and good if the results are desirable to all who choose to make use of them.
The trouble is, GMO products have invaded the United States food system, and the majority of American people have ingested them for years without knowledge of their effects. Not only are GMO foods rampant in our grocery stores, but GMO seeds are sold for use not only in commercial fields but now in home gardens as well.
What’s more, any farmer or even backyard gardener is at risk of being sued by Monsanto for unintentional use of the company’s GMO tainted products. In a process of nature called “drift,” pollen can be carried by wind or pollinating insects into neighboring—even distant—fields and gardens. Monsanto has had the nerve to sue people for having these GMO-pollinated plants in their possession and reusing the seed. And the disgusting thing is, Monsanto has won, stripping innocent farmers of all their assets. Of course, a lawsuit against Monsanto brought by a large group of organic farmers was thrown out of court. Frankly, it’s hard to find accurate information on GMOs and their effect on our food supply. Monsanto, the originator and perpetrator of GMOs, says there is no danger to people. The government doesn’t seem to be saying much.
But one anti-GMO organization after another cites research indicating that GMOs are harmful to humans. Many modern-day illnesses and afflictions are considered to be tied to GMOs in our food and environment. Even our own family exhibits indication that this may be true. We lived in Europe from 1986 to 1991, eating food from European stores and farms. (We were not in the military, so we did not have access to U.S. commissaries.) After returning to the U.S., some of our family members developed health issues which have never been resolved despite treatment. Recently some of those ailments have come under suspicion as GMO-induced. Is it a coincidence that GMOs were introduced to our U.S. food system in the 1990s? Other countries in the world are not only refraining from creating GMO products, but are refusing to purchase them from the United States. GMO products are illegal in many parts of the world.
So what’s the real scoop?
We can’t even get close to guaranteeing any one source as an accurate description of GMOs and their effect on our food and our bodies. For that reason, we encourage you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions about GMOs and how they may affect you and your family.
But here is a definition offered by Encyclopaedia Brittanica.
genetically modified organism (GMO), organism whose genome has been engineered in the laboratory in order to favour the expression of desired physiological traits or the production of desired biological products. In conventional livestock production, crop farming, and even pet breeding, it has long been the practice to breed select individuals of a species in order to produce offspring that have desirable traits. In genetic modification, however, recombinant genetic technologies are employed to produce organisms whose genomes have been precisely altered at the molecular level, usually by the inclusion of genes from unrelated species of organisms that code for traits that would not be obtained easily through conventional selective breeding.
Interspecies gene transfers
With GMO technology, both livestock and plants have been modified to provide something that someone considers a benefit.
- Dairy cows have been bred with human genes in order to produce milk that is similar to human breast milk.
- A new variation of pig produces Omega-3 fatty acids due to the introduction of a roundworm gene.
- Plants have been engineered not only to resist pesticides but to produce their own insecticides and other pesticides.
The question is: What happens to our bodies when we ingest these abnormal and unnatural products? Can our bodies, designed to digest and use foods that God created, process these test-tube concoctions without harm?
Our right to know, our right to choose
Here at Rural Living Today, we’re not alarmists. We’re not radicals. We’re not very vocal about political or social opinions. But there are a few topics that we feel we must speak out about. Recently we discussed the need for being prepared for challenges that are coming down the pike. Today we are urging you to become knowledgeable about GMOs in the U.S. food system.
What can we do about the production of GMOs? Probably not a whole lot. But we can continue to fight for our right as human beings—as Americans—to access wholesome unadulterated food that was created for the use of our human bodies. So, though we are very much against the use of GMOs in general, what we’re really advocating is mandatory labeling of GMO-containing products. It’s our right to know what we’re eating. Many of us are growing much of our own food or getting it from local sources that we trust. Unfortunately that option is not available to everyone. But everyone has a right to choose whether or not to ingest GMO-containing products.
What can you do?
- Educate yourself. An Internet search for “GMO” filtered by the “news” category is a good place to start.
- Support the movement to require clear labeling of products containing GMOs. There are currently numerous national and state initiatives to require GMO labeling. These bills have huge support from small farmers and consumers, but equally huge resistance is coming from big businesses and lawmakers. See JustLabelIt.org for more info.
- Know what you’re buying and eating. Investigate GMO use in your favorite manufactured and prepared foods. Ask local farmers and food producers if they use GMO-free ingredients, seeds, livestock, and feed. “Certified Organic” products are raised without GMOs, and many uncertified organic growers follow the same guidelines.
- Purchase garden seeds and plants from companies that guarantee the absence of GMOs in their stock. Most non-GMO companies will probably have notations in their 2013 catalogs and websites.
- Don’t panic. Change what you can–what you buy and what you eat–and do your best to provide a healthy food supply system for yourself and your family. That’s all any of us can do.
Here at Rural Living Today our focus is on rural life, moving to the country, and making the urban-to-rural transition.
But once in a while we feel compelled to write an “editorial” on a topic that’s a bit off the subject because it affects those of us who want to live a more sustainable life.
Recently we’ve shared how we feel about Preparing for Challenges Coming Our Way and What’s the Big Deal About GMOs. Today Jim, who closely watches global economics, has some words on what he sees coming around the pike.
Our purpose is to approach an uncomfortable topic in a comfortable way, and to talk about a challenging situation while presenting some practical ways to prepare and move through it. As always, we want to focus not on the problems themselves, but on the steps each of us can take as we prepare to face the challenges.
I want to encourage you to understand the current global and national economic situation that we live in and how decisions being made will affect our families. But more than that, I want to share some important recommendations for actions in the future. I’m doing this because we are indeed in a very critical time in history. Many of the personal decisions we make in the coming months have the potential to impact our lives seriously–either positively or negatively. I love my country. America has been a great country to grow up in. I lived overseas for part of my life, and each time I came home, I would kiss the ground, as I was so thankful to be back.
Yet something is wrong. What we hear from Washington and New York is not what we see happening. Things are NOT getting better. In fact, there is really no possible way for things to get better without a major reset. Government statistics don’t make sense. Sadly, I no longer can trust much of what the media reports, what our political leaders say, and especially comments from Wall Street (too big to fail banks). As I follow through on my own research, most of it in the global and national economic news arena, I have come to conclude that we are on the verge of a global economic crisis. I don’t say this lightly.
It’s a crisis that may be uncontrollable, depending on how our leaders ultimately address it. It may even cause or precipitate another major war.
We live in extraordinary times.
It took me a while, but I now see and understand that what is happening right now is not normal. Things that have happened in recent months and years have NEVER happened before. We aren’t just experiencing a little negative blip in our economy. In fact, because the global economies are so connected together, we cannot separate the issues that are happening in other nations and believe they will not affect us. They will. The U.S. economy is connected at the hip with the economies of Europe, Japan, and China. What affects one, affects all. This is a very negative topic, because we do want things to get better. But I have concluded that they won’t. We have to get our heads out of the sand so we can take personal responsibility and formulate appropriate action plans for our families. These plans must deal with the direct issues that we will be facing.
If you think everything is fine and don’t care to really look at these issues I am about to bring up, you may want to just stop reading this post and move on.
My point is not to convince anyone of anything. I only hope to educate you by giving some starting points for your own research so you can come to your own conclusions about how your family might be affected. Most likely you will want to make some changes in your lifestyle. You may want to pick up the pace of your personal food production, food storage, or skill development. Some of you who live in urban settings might even accelerate your plans for a move to the country or rural area.
For many of us, the Big Hurdle to overcome is “The Normalcy Bias.”
Many of us are victims of what is commonly referred to as “normalcy bias,” which causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. In fact, this bias wants to stop us from even reading about, researching, or concluding that there are some potential disasters and issues that must be faced. We assume that since a specific disaster never has occurred, it never will. Consider these examples of the normalcy bias:
- During World War II, millions of Jewish people went on with a “normal” life even with the knowledge that friends and family were being taken against their will and that something was “wrong.” Understandable, as the situation was too horrific to admit, yet these people paid for this mistake with their lives.
- Many Titanic passengers and crew members, including the captain, lost their lives because they couldn’t accept or believe that “the unsinkable ship” …could actually sink. Thus they made no effort to evacuate until it was too late.
- During Hurricane Katrina, many thousands of citizens refused to evacuate, as they had the opinion and bias that the levees could not fail. But they did fail, and the people paid the consequences of this bias operating in their own lives. This has happened during countless natural disasters and weather events all over the world.
Evidence of the normalcy bias is all around us, throughout history and in today’s news. The good news is, you can disarm the normalcy bias in your own life! Go ahead…do it…and move on from here. Learn and find out what is happening around you! To many of you, what I present here is not new. To others it is eye opening, an “oh my gosh” experience, a denial. I care about our readers and others who are transitioning their lives from a urban/suburban to rural lifestyle. That is why I have written this. I am not trying to convince anyone, but rather bring awareness of the critical nature of what is happening all around us.
My first recommendation to anyone wanting to investigate further is to take a FREE crash course from Chris Martenson. I have no connection to him whatsoever, but I highly recommend the course he put together to help people understand what is happening around them. You can find it here: Peak Prosperity Crash Course. Start from the beginning. You can do it all online, chapter by chapter. It is simple, clear, and full of content. When you’ve finished the course, you will feel like you have a much better grasp of current events. Go do it!! In addition to that, there are some concrete practical steps we recommend that everyone take to ensure a smoother ride on the upcoming rocky roads.
If you’re interested in more details about what we see coming around the corner, read his article “7 Reasons to Be Concerned About the Future.”
Even when skies are stormy, we can find rainbows.
Practical steps: preparing for an uncertain future
Establish your home base
Too many people look at their existing living situations as temporary but have no concrete plans to change that. Many a homeowner will hold onto a current residence because it’s seen as an investment. It isn’t. It is your family’s home, which should be a place of security and serenity. It’s time to move forward, to find your place and start to homestead it. It may take a bit of time but make a start–and get it done. You have time now, but our movement in the future may be restricted. Put your effort into your future, not your past. Stop thinking about it and talking about it, and start building your family’s permanent future home now. This will last for generations. If you’ve been receiving our Rural Living Insider, you’ve seen Jim’s recommendations for finding and purchasing both raw land and existing farms. In any case, make a plan and start moving on it!
Figure out your finances
On paper or in your head, get a grasp on your financial situation and know where your money and your future income are. Stop living above your existing income. Do what you must do to start living below your means. Stop buying ANYTHING on credit, and start a savings cushion. Where are your existing assets? Do you have all your eggs in one basket, or are your assets in a variety of forms like cash, gold, silver, and farm/ranch property that will sustain their value even with a hard economic crises or collapse? Are you relying on one source of income, or do you have potential for multiple smaller income streams? Here are some ideas for Getting By in the New Normal.
Plan for feeding your family
It’s crucial to develop the capacity to feed your family, swap, and barter without relying on grocery stores and other commercial sources. Many of us have seen stores emptied as a result local emergencies. So how would we eat if there was an extended emergency? We would highly recommended a very balanced and clear plan that fits your family. This includes stored food and water, the ability to raise food from year to year, and a backup of local resources for swap and barter. Do you know how to raise a variety of vegetables, fruits, and livestock for eggs and meat? Do you have a food storage system? Do you know how to preserve food by canning, dehydrating, and freezing? Have you talked to your neighbors to find out who can provide what items in a time of need? And if you don’t feel confident in your cooking skills, this is the time to learn. There will come a time when no one will be able to rely on restaurants and deli departments. At RLT we’re excited about cooking from scratch and eating good fresh food.
Inventory your non-food household needs
Have a good supply of equipment, tools, and supplies for your home, personal needs, garden, and livestock care. What do you have? What do you need? What can you borrow from neighbors or use for barter? What can you make from scratch that you might normally buy? Check out ideas for lots of homemade products at Frugally Sustainable.
Hone a hefty skillset
Know how to do a lot of useful things and be a perpetual learner of new skills. Not only will you need to do things for yourself, but services are great for bartering. What can you already do well? What would you like to learn to do? What can you learn from a friend or neighbor? Peruse Mother Earth News and GRIT for tons of how-tos and tutorials. At our RLT site, we’re aiming to amass a lot of instructional info too.
This can’t be stressed enough. Whether it’s family members, friends, or neighbors, everyone needs the support of a community of some kind. Look around you. Who are you drawn to? Who has expressed interest in working with you? Who has a skillset or expertise that complements yours?
Rural Living Today is part of YOUR support community. Our contributors and our readers are real people that are of like mind–kindred spirits. We’re all on a similar path toward self-sufficiency and sustainable living that will serve us well in the coming years.