You can’t turn on the TV these days without hearing about Monsanto, GMOs, vanishing honeybees or the collapse of family farms. But what do these all have to do with the security of our food supply, and what can we do to guard against it?
Each one of these issues is intricately complicated, but in the interest of brevity, here is a quick run-down:
- Monsanto, DuPont, and other companies like them produce hybrids. They own the patent on these hybrids and do not allow farmers to plant the seeds that are produced from their patent-protected hybrid crops. Whether right or wrong, this results in the potential for one or two companies to control almost all the seeds for certain types of crops.
- GMOs, or genetically-modified organisms, are unnatural. We don’t know the full extent of potential harm they may cause years down the road, but we do know some things. 1) They may cross-pollinate with other non-GMO crops, resulting in more GMO crops. If these thrive, they could wipe out natural populations and change entire ecosystems. 2) They generally result in the use of higher amounts of herbicides and pesticides than non-GMO crops, which is detrimental to farmland. 3) They can kill non-target species like butterflies and bees that we need to pollinate crops.
- Vanishing honeybees have been a mystery for several years now. Several times along the way scientists have made breakthroughs they thought had solved the mystery, yet honeybee colonies are still collapsing. Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that more than one quarter of the world’s food supply is pollinated by honeybees.
- Every day, family farms across the country are going bankrupt. They are being replaced by high-tech factory farms whose farming practices devastate our environment and threaten human health.
When you take all these issues into account, the security of our future food supply seriously comes into question. Vandana Shiva, activist and author of “Stolen Harvest” tells us, “[Industrial farming] is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient.”
Here’s what every family can and should do:
* Vote to keep food supplies plentiful and safe.
* Frequently communicate with your elected officials to let them know how you feel.
* Patronize family farms at your local Farmers Market.
* Buy organic and non-GMO food when you can.
* Grow your own vegetables, even if it’s nothing more than one tomato plant in a pot on the porch and some radishes on a window sill. Check out these cool ideas for gardening in an apartment.
* Keep a chicken for eggs and feed it organic, non GMO food.
* Place a beehive on your property and plant non-GMO flowering plants for them to forage from.