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Organic Consumers Association

A Month Without Monsanto

[Editor's Note: This article is from our friends at Yes! Magazine. To subscribe to Yes Magazine click here.]


In January of this year, while procrastinating on Facebook, I followed a link to an article reporting on evidence that there may be health effects associated with consuming Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn. Clicking on that link was one of those moments on which I look back and laugh. I had no idea how my life was about to change.

Monsanto’s Reach

The article I stumbled onto concerned a study done in 2009 by a group of French scientists investigating the safety of genetically modified food. Their results, as published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, pointed toward kidney and liver damage in rats fed GM corn.

I began to research where exactly Monsanto corn appeared in my family’s diet. With a little online sleuthing, I learned that in addition to producing the genetically modified corn, Monsanto produces several other genetically modified crops such as soy, sugar beets, and cotton. Many of these crops form the foundation of our diets: 70 to 80 percent of American processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers of America. A large percentage of the cotton in our clothes and homes begins in Monsanto's labs.

Probing a little deeper, I was surprised to learn that a company specializing in genetically modified plant crops also had an enormous influence on America’s meat industry. Sixty percent of genetically modified corn goes to feed America’s beef cattle. Additionally, Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is used to increase milk production in many dairy cows.

Tracing Foods Back to their Source

I decided to see if I could go the entire month of March without consuming any Monsanto products. I committed to an all organic, vegan diet, and reluctantly invested in a small organic cotton wardrobe. It was an experiment born of curiosity: I wanted to know just how deeply my life was influenced by Monsanto, a company I knew little about before that click of my mouse in January.

By day two of my attempt to remove Monsanto from my life, I realized I was in way over my head. For the past 10 years Monsanto has bought up seed companies around the globe. They now own a majority of the seed lines in America, including a large percentage of organic seeds. For everyday purposes, a Monsanto seed that is grown organically is still organic, but in my attempt to avoid Monsanto, I was left without any easy way of knowing what foods fit my experiment. I retreated to subsisting on wild-caught fish while I dug deep to try to figure out where exactly my foods came from.


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