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GMO Wars Across the Dinner Table | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

GMO Wars Across the Dinner Table

I'm here with you.photo © 2009 Kevin Lallier | more info (via: Wylio)
When I decided my daughter’s first birthday cake would be a carrot cake made with whole wheat flour, I should have known God’s humor would one day smack me.

Though I have relaxed, when my children were babies, I was a nutrition Nazi. Processed foods didn’t touch our table. When my daughter was three and ate her first Twinkie, she buzzed for 3 hours like she was on a drug-induced high.

I have relaxed but still grind my own wheat when I bake bread and buy the no corn syrup, no additives wheat varieties when I buy bread.  We grow a garden, and I preserve as much as I can.  When we have enough produce, I’ll make our own pizza and tomato sauce, applesauce, pearsauce, and more to last through the next year. We have backyard chickens so our eggs have a higher nutrition content and better flavor. 

So how will God show humor to the mother who cringes at lunch meat and refused to allow her children to ingest any artificial sweeteners before they were 10?

  • My son loves junk food, especially white bread and ravioli out of a can. His favorite food is hot dogs, and he could host Teen Boy Versus Food, with weekly dares on how much junk he can ingest in a single sitting.
  • My 17-year-old daughter likes nutritious foods, but her interests took a different tack. She is passionate about food production and agriculture and plans to spend her life working in the marketing/business end of food and agriculture. In the farm to fork spectrum, she’s more interested in the farm.

Now the clincher:

My daughter loves GMO foods and wants to help create more of them. She’s opposed to the introduction of any animal or human strains in plant breeding but passionately believes that GMO can reduce world hunger in a world of increased populations and decreased land availability to grow foods.

How can I argue with a teen who tells me she wants to find ways to feed starving people in third world countries? She’s researched agriculture business and GMO foods for school research papers. I made sure she read the naturalist point of view. Her mind hasn’t changed.

My mind hasn’t changed either. So we agree to disagree. When I unload our produce from our CSA, community supported agriculture, which only raises non-genetically modified or chemically treated seed raised in a sustainable manner, she looks at the produce and sniffs, “You’re just one of those NON-CHEMICAL people.”

Yesterday, as we ate corn on the cob at lunch, I told her it was from the CSA, and her reply was: “I knew something was wrong with it. Look at the smaller ears and the smaller kernels of corn. Imagine if you raised a hybrid how much more productive the land would be and how many more people it would feed.”

I agree with her that I’m a non-chemical person. And I have chosen not to argue with her point of view. She’s on her own journey.

And I count my blessings: there are worse ways a 17-year-old could rebel than to support GMO foods.

Her family’s lifestyle will always be in her heart – I know that every time I see her feeding our vegetable peelings to her chickens in our backyard.

As she journeys on her path to feed the world, I’ll always be proud of her.

 


7 Responses to “GMO Wars Across the Dinner Table”

  1. Wayne McEvilly July 14, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Mary –
    I always love reading your posts –
    ‘She’s on her own journey.’ – so much wisdom in 6 syllables.
    Wayne
    and Thank You

  2. Leah September 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Three clicks from a random twitter search looking for an old friend… and I found your blog. We’ve got a similar debate at my house. I’m the non-GMO, raw Jersey milk, raw goat milk type… my family… not so much. Glad to see the young people are actually taking an interest in this stuff. I think my issue is the patent-ability of seeds!? When our non-GMO feed provider is neighbored by a Monsanto corn field… he can no longer save seeds. That just seems wrong to me.

    • Janice September 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

      Hey Leah, I’m not sure of the details but would like to hope most neighbors would work things out so that if one wants non-GMO corn, they can place it in a field next to soybeans or something, or the neighbor could rotate to another crop. Continuing the conversation is the best possibility for handling a situation like this.

  3. Crystal Cattle September 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    What an amazing post. I think the biggest take away from your story is that we can have different opinions and still respect each other, and in your sake even live under one roof. I think it is awesome that you support your daughters and sons decisions. Having trust in them is pretty cool. I’ll be honest I agree with your daughter, and it makes me really excited that there are young people like her that want to be involved in agriculture.
    crystalcattle.com

  4. Janice September 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    I hope it really isn’t food wars! There is plenty of room at the table and I don’t know that anyone needs to make it all or nothing. But I do know that I think it is awesome your daughter wants to go into agriculture! Sounds like you raised a smart daughter who is willing to look at a wide variety of things in determining her course. Congrats for a job well done!

    We need a lot more young minds with a commitment to make the world a better place. That is a commitment and mindset I’ve had my whole life and as I’ve traveled to different parts of the world, that commitment has strengthened.

  5. Ray September 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Your daughter knows what she is talking about (although the current GM crops have genes from microorganisms – not sure if she thinks that’s okay or not). Now, GM crops will not save starving Africans in war-torn regions, because their problem is an access/infrastructure one. But GM crops have the potential to improve the lives of the over one billion people who live in poverty and go hungry but not necessarily starving. Here’s why.

    Unlike Americans, poor people in developing nations buy grain at market prices and take that home to make into food themselves. Grain market prices are determined by grain commodity futures prices, which in turn are determined by grain production. Even if grain production is high enough to make food affordable to Americans, it must produce MORE than the minimum world food supply requirements in order to drive grain commodity futures prices, and consequently grain market prices, low enough for people in poverty to afford.

    This is exactly why organic will never be enough on its own. American organic farming could produce enough to feed just America, because we have so much arable land to farm on. But the developing world would suffer greatly. Eventually, as rising consumption in nations like China and India drive up grain prices, American pocketbooks would be hurt as well (unless you’re a farmer).

    Simply put, the economics is on your daughter’s side. You can argue all you want about why “natural” is better, but at the end of the day, economics drives the world. The world needs food at low prices, and farmers can earn more money by increasing their yield, so GM is here to stay. Just be thankful that you can afford organic food, because half the world can’t.

    • Ray September 14, 2011 at 3:36 am #

      Sorry if I was a bit harsh there. I guess I just read too many anti-GM posts in a row…

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