The more time that you spend in the organic industry, the more you learn about what is truly going on and what you find is pretty scary.
While I try to remain as optimistic as possible, the reality is that the organic industry is under a constant existential threat from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
Even though organic food has never been more popular, nearly 80% of the food on supermarket shelves contains GMOs and organic remains less than 1% of all farmland acreage in the U.S. While 64 nations around the world require GMOs to be labeled, the U.S. does not. Why?
Because the ag-biotech industry has “purchased” agricultural policy in our country, by spending $572 million on campaign contributions and lobbying from 1999-2010.
Furthermore, we have a President who is fully on board the GMO-train, despite having made a campaign promise in 2007 to label GMOs.
Yet, if you think the ag-biotech industry is solely concerned with controlling the world’s food supply, think again. As I wrote about a while ago, there is now genetically-engineered grass.
But what should really frighten all of us, because of the huge ecological risks, is the emergence of genetically-engineered trees. Yes, genetically-engineered trees.
Genetically-engineered trees are very different than GM-crops, such as soybeans or corn, because they can last for decades or centuries in the wild. Furthermore, they have the potential to spoil native forests, destroy organic ecosystems, are very flammable, and will further deplete our already small and precious water supply. (The U.S. Forest Service has released findings that certain GE-trees would use twice the water of native forests.)
Humanity relies on these native forests to serve as the “lungs of the Earth,” by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. If this were somehow jeopardized, how would we survive?
ArborGen, the leading company in this space who has a request pending with the USDA to commercialize genetically-engineered, freeze-tolerant eucalyptus seedlings and is run by ex-Monsanto executives, doesn’t seem concerned at all about any potential side effects or risks. They see GE-trees as a way to produce paper in a more cost-effective manner, regardless of the dire environmental consequences.
To learn more about what is going on with genetically-engineered trees, please read my Organic Insider story about the frightening movement to approve genetically-engineered American chestnut trees.
And also be sure to check out the site Campaign to Stop GE-Trees.