What is your name and field of business?
Michael Kinnaird, I’m a writer at http://habitguide.com/ (health).
How are you involved with the Genetically Modified Food issue? What inspired you to get involved?
I aim to raise awareness of GMOs in the food supply because most people don’t know what a GMO is. What motivated me to get involved was the horror I felt when I learned that DNA from one species was being fired from a gun into the DNA of another species—for example DNA from bacteria shot into corn DNA, or goat DNA modified to contain DNA from spiders so they produce spider web protein in their milk. When people become aware of GMOs they generally want to avoid them. They feel it’s not right on an instinctive and intuitive level as well as an intellectual level.
Has the experience been fulfilling to you? Why or why not?
The experience is mainly frustrating because those with an agenda twist the truth, or use diversion or downright lies to further their cause. I have connected with some great people though… people willing to give their time to help clean up our food supply are some of the nicest people around.
In general, how do you feel our food system suffers from GMOs? Do you feel there are benefits?
GMOs are sold on short-sighted benefits e.g. built in pesticide or ability to withstand herbicide. So the “benefit” is for the farmer. The consumer doesn’t get to choose what the farmer grows and because GMOs aren’t labeled, the farmer doesn’t feel any detriment to growing them.
The money made by the seed supplier comes from the farmers and the amounts of money involved are huge. When a consumer buys a product, they are not aware of how the farmer’s choices affect health of people and the environment so the whole thing easily perpetuates. The farmer’s main source of information comes from the salesmen of the seed companies, whose job it is to sell product, not discuss the health, environmental or ethics of GMOs.
The effect of GMOs are far ranging including health, environment, contamination; organic crops, farms and markets are destroyed, loss of biodiversity and seed sovereignty. There are also issues with the patenting of life and with the protection of these patents when in reality, pollen blows about everywhere. GMOs also negatively affect communities and force small family farmers out of business. In every way, industrialization of our food has bad consequences.
In your opinion, how important is educating the public on these practices?
I think education is the only way. People generally choose the lowest price in the supermarket and that causes a cascade of effects in the food supply to drive efficiency which means cost cutting. People, animals and the environment all suffer because of this. Without education and choice, people will continue to drive efficiency at any cost by choosing the cheapest products. Businesses are about profit and so decisions are made to that end.
The politicians who should protect us are heavily lobbied by industry and the regulatory organizations are infiltrated by former industry employees by the so-called revolving door tactics. Industry is highly organized and powerful in the methods it uses to further its agenda.
Are you concerned with the practice of genetically modifying organisms?
Yes. I believe the field of genetics is far too young to allow us to do this confidently. GMOs prove this as many studies have thrown up red flags and it would be impossible to predict the effect of GMOs on the environment. Some countries have been very hasty in applying this technology for fear of missing the boat in global markets. There is no ethical framework whatsoever—isn’t it crazy to have businesses creating inter-species hybrids for profit with no ethics?
Why has this practice been adopted on such a large scale?
Profit, short-sighted benefits, a “system” where surviving and thriving is about making money, a system where we are in competition with each other instead of co-operation. No right-thinking person would say that a great world to live in is one where our food is created by tampering with DNA in a lab, can poison insects directly and withstand huge doses of weedkiller.
In essence it’s an ingenious money-making scam that’s gone viral. Companies that make GMOs also sell weedkiller. Modify seed to withstand weedkiller and patent it. Sell both seed and more weedkiller on false promises. Rinse and repeat.
Do you feel that the desire for profit has ultimately taken the place of an individual’s welfare?
Absolutely, this one thing alone is at the root of billions of bad decisions every day, the decision to put profit over people or the health of our natural world. We need holistic solutions or there will be forever fire-fighting the madness the current system creates. Agricultural problems need to be solved holistically with health, social and every other problem, because everything affects everything else.
The President’s Cancer Panel and the American Academy of Pediatrics, urges us to reduce our exposure to environmental toxins, especially regarding our food. Do you feel that these groups are doing enough to educate the public?
I don’t know but see my last answer… cancer cannot be solved without addressing agriculture, and our system of competition that drives efficiency and short-term profit over ethics and long-term sustainability.
From your perspective, how do you feel GMOs could positively or negatively play a role in the future?
Why do we need them? It’s all risk and no benefit. All the arguments put forward by the industry are spin, diversion or lies. We need solutions that use natural systems to control insects. A war against nature will never be won and we will continue to inflict collateral damage to the environment and so ourselves with that approach.
What insights or opinions do you have for those trying to be better educated about what they eat?
Use nature as the guiding principle. If we eat a natural human diet (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, animal source foods) and grow it in natural ways, it will solve many problems holistically. It will improve health, happiness, animal welfare and the environment… it’s really that simple. Eat, buy and grow real food. That will change where the money is going and that will change everything. GMOs not required.
I would encourage everyone to grow some of their own food. If we choose mainly perennial edible plants, trees and shrubs and create a natural food forest environment, there isn’t much to do apart from harvest the food! These systems protect the natural ecosystem, the soil, the wildlife and don’t need expensive and damaging inputs. And they reconnect us to nature and our food in a wonderful way that feels right.