Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Post: "[Guilford] County Commission's GMO Green Thumb," By Michael Norbury

Guilford County Commission's 7-4 Property Tax Increase Vote captured most of the attention last Thursday, but something important slipped by with little notice.

Budget Amendment # 3 - Approve increase in the FY 2010-2011 budget for Cooperative Extension to accept a grant for FY 2011 in the amount of $6500 from Syngenta for the purpose of developing a youth gardening program in elementary schools.

Syngenta is the 3rd largest genetically modified (GMO) seed producer in the world based in Switzerland with an office here in Greensboro.

GMO is touted as the agricultural technology of the future because it can deliver more nutritious and higher yield crops capable of feeding millions saving them from starvation.

What is left out is that GMO seeds more and more come in one of two types:

"Traitor" or "Terminator"

- Traitor seeds only "turn on" and grow as intended with the addition of specific chemicals and can be "turned off" in much the same way.

- Terminator seeds are engineered to bare sterile seeds so they are only good for one crop cycle.

This makes farmers perpetually dependent on BigAgra companies for their annual seed supplies as opposed to traditional farming where farmers can go on for years using seeds from their previous year's harvest.

Making matters worse, some farmers have resorted to a class action lawsuit to prevent seed contamination from GMO seeds that occur when GMO pollen is picked up by the wind and pollinates nearby traditionally seeded fields transforming their crops into GMO.

Monsanto, the world's largest genetic seed company, has gone so far as to sue for product theft the very farms they contaminate.

Research is beginning to show that GMO is in fact dangerous to both the animals and humans that consume it. One recent study by the University of Sherborne in Canada found troubling amounts of Bt Toxin in human blood samples contradicting BigAgra's claim that the built in seed pesticide breaks down in the digestive system.

Despite all this, one would think that the FDA would not allow Genetically Modified seeds into the marketplace if they were not safe. However, the FDA is currently run by former Monsanto lobbyist and attorney Michael Taylor.

One need look no further than the SEC during the 2008 market crash for reason to be suspicious of Monsanto's cozy relationship with the FDA citing former Goldman Sachs employees at the SEC who were empowered to decide the fate of their long time rivals Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, and Merrill Lynch.

Bringing it back to Guilford County, the approved Youth Garden funds for elementary schools will most likely be used as a propaganda tool to spread the use of GMO further.

The majority of Guilford County's Commissioners justified their 4.5 cent tax increase as necessity to protect citizens.

This Syngenta episode highlights that the Board's good intentions to encourage green thumbs among our students may in fact be putting them further in harms way.

Five Things You Need To Know About GMO:

Michael Norbury

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