Tag Archives: GMO

Organic Junk Food is still… junk food

I came across this photo and had to laugh, pretty hard. Because it’s the truth. I was in the middle of a conversation via twitter about GMO foods when this question came my way:

“Do you think people complaining about #GMOs have a doublespeak, consuming unhealthily over-processed food?”

My response? Yes, from my experience, I think some do. Organic junk food is still… junk food.

Case in point:

organic junk food macaroni and cheese
via Eat This, Not That! MensHealth.com

The Claim: “USDA organic”

The Truth: It’s organic so it must be healthy, right? Not so much. For an extra 60 cents per box, consumers save 20 calories and 1 gram of fat. They also gain 2 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 50 milligrams of sodium and they lose 6 percent of their daily iron. The point is, even organic junk food is still junk food. Your body processes organic refined flour and powdered cheese the same way it does conventional, so at the end of the day it’s still a high-calorie, low-nutrient letdown.

I had my fair share of Kraft Mac and Cheese as a kid, but the fact that it wasn’t “USDA Organic” isn’t what made it a less-than-healthy food option. We can argue our points all day about labels, and production methods, and size of farms, but when it comes down to it, highly processed foods, are still highly processed foods. That package of almost-vegan, organic oreos is still a box of sugar. Sorry PETA, this includes your list of vegan snacks too.

Don’t let labels dictate what you perceive as better food choices. Junk foods in any form are not the best food options when aiming for a healthy diet.  Maybe it’s not things like Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in our plants, or antibiotics, hormones, or feed additives given to our animals that are our biggest concerns. More often than not, maybe we just need to get back to the kitchen, learn how to cook again, and take a little more personal responsibility in our food choices. Labels make us lazy.

Now, who’s up for a boneless banana?

Science Resources that support Biotechnology and GMO in food

knowledge is power science research gmo biotechnology genetically modified foodWhere can I find solid information resources on biotechnology, genetically modified organisms, and the seemingly endless list of science issues that arise in discussions centered around food today?

This is a big question I receive when folks are involved in discussions about hot topics related to our food supply. Folks against GMOs have a seemingly endless supply of news links and articles damning biotechnology and threatening an endless list of harm to our bodies if we consume anything but naturally selected foods. To make this even more frustrating, many of these studies supporting the anti-GMO argument have been proved as “bad science” by the academic and research worlds, which makes the conversation even more frustrating.

Where can we find solid, academic, unbiased peer-reviewed science centered around the biotechnology debate? It’s difficult in a society that is increasingly illiterate when it comes to science and when emotion outsells logic by a long-shot, but there are resources available.

Search engines for scientific literature

My first and most accessible recommendation would be Google Scholar. It’s just like Google, but directs your search to research literature. There are also online databases like PubMed which search multitudes of research journals. If you run into a road block with paid-access journals, check with your local library or University. Those places usually have subscriptions to information sources like these. However not all journals are created equal. I’m leery of journals where someone can pay to have their material published and trust the process more when a panel of peer reviewers must accept the research. The impact factor is a good way to measure the relative importance of the journal.

I have found a few pages with in-depth reviews of the science literature surrounding the safety of GMOs and biotechnology in our food supply. Continue reading

GMO Activists March Against Monsanto – Farmers’ Perspective

What’s that you say? There’s a rally on Market Square today? What’s the cause? Oh, they are marching against GMO foods…

march against monsanto gmo food biotechnology
Image via March Against Monsanto

Today, Saturday, May 25, thousands of people across the globe are organizing a March Against Monsanto. The group claims in a mission statement that GMO foods are not sustainable and cause harm through increased risk of cancers, infertility, and birth defects. The group believes that chemicals produced by Monsanto, like glyphosphate (Roundup), are poisoning our environment. This group strongly dislikes government and FDA support and approval of GMO foods and the recent, as they call it, Monsanto Protection Act. This groups wants to unveil the truth about GMOs, boycott Monsanto, and increase research on the harm caused by consuming GMO foods. You can read more about the desires of this event on the March Against Monsanto page. I’ve included the links to the MAM page, because you’ll find it through an easy google search and we might as well learn what everyone has to say about it.

I think that it is great that we have the freedom of speech and choice in this country. But at the same time I believe that activists rallying against Monsanto would be  better off to direct their attention to better efforts. Monsanto is a company that has responded to the demands of consumer markets. They are one of many companies supplying seeds through the use of biotechnology to help farmers produce more crops with fewer inputs and have a smaller impact on the environment per unit produced.

If these concerned folks really want to make a stronger impact against GMO, there are a few more productive steps that could be taken: stop purchasing food and products from organizations that do not support your beliefs, support local food sources, grow your own food, and take time to have an open mind and respect others’ choices. Most of us could benefit from doing a little more research and hear out both sides of the issues. There’s good science and there’s bad science, we need to learn how to identify both.

What do farmers and agriculture have to say on the issue? Here is a run-down of a few topics and several perspectives that have been shared with me this week. I trust these individuals for information and I hope you’ll take time to hear out their $0.02. Continue reading

Ruminations from behind #ThePile

If you’ll recall, last year I began affectionately referring to my stack of work related to graduate school as #ThePile. It is a never-ending list of things to do, papers to digest, and imitating statistics to encounter. I don’t have the time I would like to share my thoughts on everything, but I have been ruminating on a few concepts that are worth sharing. They’re not enough for full blog posts, but I figured they’d make a list. Here’s what I’m ruminating on from behind #ThePile this week…

  1. A lack of perspective for the bigger picture is hampering our ability to truly make progress. Sure, when we are in our environment, we may know quite a bit about our current situation, but don’t take that as a sign that you’re an expert outstanding in the field. Survey the landscape outside your bubble and realize that every situation is different. A lack of perspective is so very evident in so many people I interact with, myself included. The more you are open to the opinions of others and take time to experience new things, the more you will realize and learn about your own foundation.
  2. “Your constant barrage of statistics and articles have completely changed my mind on the subject.” Pretty sure I’ll never actually say that in response to the flood of links and numbers that sometimes fill my inbox, Twitter mentions, and Facebook messenger from anti-GMO folks. I imagine the same would pertain to folks on the receiving end of a constant stream of statistics and articles about how farmers are the best people in the world and improving our production ___% each year.
    Those numbers and pieces of information are great. I don’t want to discount the value of hard data, but the flood of sound bites does nothing if you’re not practicing what you preach. Share the story of HOW conservation practices are improving your farm along with WHY you do employ them. Share what the improvements LOOK like when you are applying new technologies on the farm. Share how it impacts YOU when you utilize these resources. Then, use those pieces of hard information as a part of your message, not the entire tale. Then when you are involved in conversations on the topics, refer back to number 1 on this list of thoughts.
  3. Many folks would rather blame the unknown or foreign than be accountable for their actions.
  4. And on a brighter note, I love the Kansas Flint Hills. Spending 2 days there last week was the best and worst thing I’ve done in a while. Best because it was great to clear my mind and get away for a few days. Worst because… well… How can I stay away from scenes like these?
Kansas Flint hills Horseback There's something about the outside of a horse that is good  for the inside of a man
There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.

Kansas Flint hills

Kansas Pork K-State Beef
My desk has some new Beef and Pork swag thanks to Kansas Pork Association and the Kansas State Beef Stocker Cattle farm.

A big thanks to Kelly Rivard for inviting me out to Kansas City for a few days and to Brandon and Jodi Oleen for hosting us and showing me around Manhattan, Kansas.

Kansas State University
And yeah… While I was on campus, I had to give a shout out to my Oklahoma State Cowboys. Go Pokes!