Oh My Goodness! I am amazed at the flurry of GMO conversation in social and news media. If you are blissfully unaware of what I am talking about, GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO, my definition, is the code word for everything that is bad in the food chain right now.
I read almost everything I see about GMO’s and am acutely aware of my emotionally reactions. Sometimes I am hopeful for new findings, disgusted with the amount of energy it takes to discern accurate information, terrified by extreme words and behaviors. Sometimes I develop new fears of my food. I don’t want to be afraid of my food. I don’t want to be afraid of my social media ‘friends’. I don’t want to be afraid of asking questions about GMO for fear someone will ‘peg’ me in one ‘camp’ or the other. Food is critical to our survival so anything that seems threatens the safety, quality or supply triggers strong emotion in people.
When we decided to put Food and Genetic Engineering on the docket for the Eco Family Virtual Conference, I was optimistic that we could find some credible information and have a calm conversation about it. I listened to geneticists, biology professors, interviewed food scientists, organic farmers and researchers. I read reams of scientific studies that were over my head scholastically. I scoured the web for opinions and thoughtful dissertations. I cut out every newspaper and magazine article I ran across. I asked my university colleagues for information. I submitted Ask an Expert questions through www.eXtension.org . I visited a corporate research farm and talked with the seed scientist. I watched GMO OMG movie. I ate meals with folks in industrial agriculture and in organic agriculture. I listened to public health experts and alternative medicine practitioners. And I tried to listen to my own head and heart.
I discovered that this is a complex issue. There are real issues with environmental factors, human factors and the economic factors of genetic engineering and food. These three domains or factors are the foundation of sustainability. Sustainable communities, food systems, economic systems, and social systems are interdependent. The GMO discussion is more than decision making, it is discernment. Discernment is considering the sustainability factors of environmental health, human health and economic health.
If this were a pregnancy, I would say we are having contractions. Painful contractions. And although I am not sure the science nor discussion of it has developed ‘full term’ I think it is getting close. I know I am ready to talk about finding common grounds and values. I am ready for my social media feed to stop the flow of denial, blame and shame. I am ready to have some real conversations with real people about the concerns we have, what we really know, and don’t know about genetic engineering and our food. I am ready to not be afraid of my food.
Sign up for the Eco Family Virtual Conference Food & Genetic Engineering module. View the resources we have gathered so you can learn what I have learned. Then join us for the online conversation on Thursday, March 6, 6:30-8:00 pm.