Monsanto is giant, and not a gentle one. It may feel impossible to avoid their reach, the genetically modified Frankenfoods that they pedal, and the toxic business practices which they employ. If not impossible, you might think that ditching Monsanto for healthier, and more sustainable options might seem like such a daunting task that it’s not even worth the effort. But fear not! We have a few steps that will help you avoid Monsanto, or, at the very least, cut out much of the genetically modified food in your diet.
Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the nonprofit Institute for Responsible Technology. He has dedicated his life to fighting Monsanto and the health risks that GMOs pose. In his open letter “Warning to Investors and Companies Considering Financial Ties to Monsanto Company”, Mr. Smith outlined a few reasons to avoid Monsanto.
- Sales of Roundup herbicide and Roundup Ready genetically engineered corn, soy and cotton constitute 90% of Monsanto’s revenue. Scientific evidence points to significant health impacts of these products on humans.
- For example, the World Health Organization declared Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen. Since that announcement in March 2015, several countries, cities, and retail chains worldwide have banned or severely limited the use of glyphosate products. As of October 2015, at least 700 personal injury non-Hodgkin lymphoma lawsuits were pending against Monsanto.
- Monsanto’s liability may persist long into the future. Not only can glyphosate be detected for decades in many types of soil, but GMO contamination also self-propagates in the gene pool and cannot be entirely eradicated.
- Numerous livestock farmers who switch to non-GMO feed report improved livestock health and increased profits. If these claims are validated, Monsanto could lose its biggest GMO market and become liable for extraordinary cumulative losses from an entire industry.
- Monsanto’s GMOs—designed to either kill insects or tolerate Roundup herbicide—are failing in the field; as of 2010, superbugs and superweeds are becoming resistant on over 300 million acres worldwide.
In addition to producing the genetically modified corn, which has been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in a test performed on rats, Monsanto creates various other genetically modified foods such as cotton, soy, and sugar beets. These crops form the foundation of our diets. According to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, 70 to 80 percent of American processed foods contain GMO ingredients.
You might be surprised to learn that Monsanto, a company known for producing GMO seeds and pesticide laden plant crops, has had an enormous influence on the meat industry. The majority of all genetically modified corn, roughly 60%, is used to feed cattle. Also, the recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) that Monsanto produces is used to force dairy cows to produce more milk than they should be capable of.
For over a decade Monsanto has bought out competing seed manufacturing companies around the world. The majority of the seeds in America are now patented by Monsanto, and “organic” seeds are no exception.
Unfortunately, except a few brands such as Annie’s, Lundberg Farms, and Massa Organics, it is nearly impossible to avoid Monsanto completely. To do so, you would have to speak directly to the people who grew your food. That means every single ingredient of every bite you eat.
Good First Steps
While it’s difficult to avoid Monsanto entirely, there are some steps that you can use to minimize the genetically modified organisms you consume.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Read your food labels.
- Eliminate High Fructose Corn Syrup from your diet.
- Consider going buy grass-fed beef, limiting meat consumption, or even going vegetarian.
- Buy organic dairy products to avoid recombinant bovine growth hormone.
- Buy organic cotton when you can. Even though cotton is only 2.5 percent of the world’s crops, it is drowned in 16 percent of the world’s pesticides.
It’s not an easy thing, avoiding this behemoth that controls much of our lives. However, the first step is knowing just how much of your life they have invaded. You may have noticed that the list above started from number 2. That’s because you’ve already taken the first step, which is educating yourself on the scope of Monsanto’s influence. Though there’s still so much more to learn, and if you have the time, I’d strongly encourage you to do a little research, and better prepare yourself to fight off this giant.