Boulder is embroiled in a GMO debate. Scientists, farmers and manufacturers on both sides of the fence are duking it out over a proposal before city commissioners to allow the planting of GM sugar beets on taxpayer-owned land.
Those opposed cite cross pollination, health concerns and negative environmental impact as key reasons to steer clear of these questionable crops. Agribusiness giant Monsanto and those brainwashed by the company's propaganda believe increased yields through genetic engineering could be the answer to world hunger.
Let's just nip that argument in the bud right now, shall we?
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads efforts to defeat world hunger, came out with a policy blueprint this year on how best to address the issue. While monocrops, synthetic fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds have increased yields in the short term, these methods ultimately "cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium," the organization's report states. Instead, the FAO suggests an approach that would be unpopular with agribusiness giants--minimized fertilzer use, increasing the organic matter in soil and cultivation of several plants on one farm rather than just a single crop.
Also consider that more than 350,000 families regularly go hungry in the state of Missouri, where Monsanto is headquartered. The state is number 6 in the top ten with the lowest food security according to Feeding America, a non-profit hunger-relief charity. If Monsanto was truly committed to addressing world hunger, why wouldn't the company start in its own backyard?
I recently spoke with Jeremy Seifert, documentarian and organic advocate, whose film Dive examines a real approach toward solving the issue—a better system for food waste. "Every year in America we throw away 96 billion pounds of food. That's 263 million pounds a day. Eleven million pounds an hour. Three thousand pounds a second," he said. In the film, Seifert feeds not only himself but his pregnant wife and young son, Finn, on food including eggs, bread, meat and produce scavenged from nearby Trader Joe's dumpsters.
Jeremy approached his local grocers to see if they would let him pick up the food before it hit the trash, and only one store agreed. He later checked the dumpsters of stores that had declined and found a trove of perfectly edible food including, in one, a sack full of free-range organic chicken a day shy of its expiration date.
"With 850 million people suffering from hunger every day, how is it our trash cans are brimming with food?" he asked. "There is a problem, the system is broken. What I want retailers to do is adopt corporate-wide policies to end food waste."
Stemming from his research on Dive, Seifert is currently working on a yet-to-be-named GMO film project that examines Americans' lack of awareness surrounding genetically modified crops. Check out my Q&A with Jeremy in time for Non-GMO Month in the October issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser.