by Edwin Shank, August 31, 2016
Something's been bothering me for a while. Sometimes it's just a niggling in my background consciousness. Other times it comes to the forefront and gets in the road of other important stuff. But it's always there. That something is GMOs.
Well, actually, GMOs themselves aren't what's bothersome. I know where I stand. And I know where we stand as a farm and a family. We simply don't use GMOs or have anything to do with them. Never have, never will, end of discussion, hands down. We don't need them; they don't do anything for you who source food from our farm so it's a complete non-issue. It's not even a temptation.
But I do feel I should explain what's behind our GMO objection. And I haven't. I've been neglecting, pushing off and procrastinating. And that bothers me. I'm somehow not satisfied for you to simply know THAT we object to the genetic modification of life... I think it's critical that you to understand the WHY behind it.
It might be best to start with an analogy. I've found that comprehending truth in something familiar goes a long way in shining a light on the less familiar.
Imagine if, years ago, there was a Super Master Computer Programmer. This master code writer's skill was brilliant. The complexity of his programs is beyond belief. Their sophisticated, intricate design shows supreme intelligence. In fact no code writer today can ever begin to replicate his software. And even though his code is thousands of years old, it's still so far over their heads that, no matter how intensely they analyze his work, even as whole teams of code experts, only the most basic lines of command are understood. The rest remains a mystery.
But complexity and sophistication of the code isn't the only thing that's incredible about this master programmer. The sheer volume of programs that he's authored also completely blows the mind and defies comprehension. Their diversity is so vast that today's software experts can't even count his distinct system types. Some estimate the number of the Master's programs to be in the hundreds of billions. Some say there are close to one trillion. No one knows for sure. The number is just too vast. So, give or take a few billion unique programs, either way, the volume and endless diversity of the Master's programs makes the combined code writing power of Microsoft, Apple, Android, Google, Facebook and the rest a drop in a bucket.
Are you ready for the breathtaking part? If you haven't yet felt the touch of his hand, here is the Master stroke.
The Master wrote LIFE into his codes!
His software is living! All one trillion of them! They breathe, move, eat, and have self-repairing capacity when broken. Many of them have intelligence, some are even self-aware!
Plus, get this...all of them have the capacity to make new, perfect replicas of themselves. The Master intentionally authored perpetual reproduction into every one of his trillion, marvelous, mind boggling, diverse information codes.
Hey Apple! Your technology lacks. Why won't my iPod grow a seed pod?
So I'm sure you get the point, but stick with me just a bit.
The plot thickens.
What if, since the Master Code Writer did his work so long ago...what if today's programmers began to disrespect the Master's code? Even though it is beyond their comprehension, even though they cannot reproduce it even in their wildest dreams. What if they have, by a slow process of human ego, allowed themselves to first doubt and then deny that the Master Code Writer ever existed?
What if to save face, these egotistical programmers try to convince themselves and, worse yet, teach others to believe that all of the Master's intense display of design and order arose by chance? ...as ridiculous as that should be to anyone who thoughtfully observes even one of the trillion intricate, living, reproducing systems of the Master's code.
And so, since they try to believe these super codes developed by chance... and since they adamantly deny the existence of a Master Code Writer, these deniers have no ethical obligation to respect his masterpieces, his handiwork...his art. They claim it's their right to fiddle with the Master's programs. They are in the driver's seat. They like to be in power and in control. They will be like unto the Master Code Writer!
These high-minded impostors delete formulas, they edit code, they insert information into the Master's Code growing ever bolder even as they slip down the slippery slope.
It would be funny if it wasn't sad.
"Look," they naively say as they fiddle with the code "this changes that!" I can only imagine the Master behind the scenes saying, "Of course this changes that! But stop! You're messing up a bunch of other connected things that your small minds and even smaller experience can't even begin to grasp. Please...just respect my work! Even if you don't understand why...just believe me, just trust me. I wrote the code exactly as it needs to be! It's a God thing. You won't understand."
I personally don't write computer code, but I do write some spreadsheets. One of the most disrespectful things I can imagine is for some novice, who can't understand my work (but who is proud to have learned to click the mouse and tap the keyboard) to assume he can make improvements. You know, make edits...deleting, and inserting information into my formulas just because he can.
Of course he'll mess it up. He'll not understand how cell connects to cell and formulas calculates off formulas and how changing even one single symbol, letter or digit in a formula like this: =(((Q478+R478)/2)/(D478+V478)*W478) (which I just copied off our dairy herd milk production tracking spreadsheet) would be disastrous with long range consequences. Even though the spreadsheet would look deceptively unchanged at first, disaster would be inevitable.
Folks, DNA is the building blocks of all life on this earth. It is the code of life that has been written by God himself. DNA is remarkably similar to computer code. It is information, genetic information - data, big data. God is the Master Code Writer of all living, reproducing things. He has no equal, and never will. He is God. It's unethical and dangerous to disrespect his work. This is the Master's doings and it is marvelous in our eyes.
I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir here among The Family Cow Tribe. But I also know that some subscribers to this Fresh Thoughts on Real Food newsletter may be thinking some of this through for the first time. It is for you I write.
Think about the classic masters; artists, authors, painters, musicians and sculptors. Think of Michelangelo, Mozart, Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Bach, and Handel. Think of the outcry if someone, even a modern expert, were to try to edit and modify say, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the 9th Symphony, the Messiah, A Tale of Two Cities, or War and Peace.
Even if the 'expert' insisted that he was improving the classical work, folks the world over would unanimously cry foul and declare it unethical and disrespectful to mess with the masterpiece.
Ardent students of the master would understandably be the most passionate and would rise to defend their Master's work. They would plead that it be respected, protected and preserved.
This is serious, folks.
If a society cannot or will not respect and honor the masterpiece works of our great God on at least an equal level with the work of Michelangelo, this... is a very bad sign. Is it possible that the GMO issue may be more of an ethical, moral issue than some people care to admit?
Think about it.
The GMO Industry's Weasel Words
The GMO publicists incessantly soothe that, really, all food is genetically modified since normal mating, pollinating and reproducing are a mixing of genes and a changing of DNA. They comfortingly purport that GMO bioengineering is the same thing as hybrids and crossbreeding, only done in a faster way.
Beware! This is the very, very intentionally crafty weasel-speak of an industry that full well knows better!
They very idea that a multibillion dollar bioengineering corporation would not know the difference between hybrids and gene splicing cross species!
Hybrids, crossbreeding, selecting for the strongest, best, highest yielding corn, grass, cows, chickens, pigs, horses to produce offspring that is stronger in desired areas is as old as civilization. That much is true and is perfectly within the realm of what God allows man to manage and places under his dominion; kind (species) reproducing within the realm of kind.
But, by the same design of God, all of the crossbreeding, mating and hybrids in the world can never cross the species/kind line. It simply cannot happen. The genetics will not work. That line was established at creation by God.
Genesis 1:25 says, "And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."
Kind must mate with kind. Species cannot share genes outside the species. The inability to exchange genes outside of the species group is well known. In fact, that measurement is what scientist use to define a species. A species is "a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding."
So to claim GMO bioengineering in a laboratory is just like cross breeding on a farm is dead wrong. It is an ignorant claim. One cannot help but believe that those muddying the waters with the claim just might be willingly ignorant. See 2 Peter 3:5.
GMO Pigs with Mouse Gene:
GMO technology definitely crosses the species line. GMO scientist have inserted mouse DNA into GMO pigs to make the pigs digest their food more efficiently. Bacillus thuringiensis bacterial toxin is inserted into a GMO corn called BT corn so that every cell in the plant now carries the BT toxin which ruptures the guts of worms and insects that try to feed on the corn plant. Ever wonder why the rate of leaky gut syndrome has skyrocketed in the last 20 years? Hmm. Monsanto is puzzled... More research is needed, I'm sure.
These are only a small sample of what is being done and what is on the GMO drawing board. Do your research.
These crossing-of-the-species-lines could never happen without GMO scientists doing it in a laboratory. Mice do not mate with pigs. A corn plant does not mate with bacteria. Outside of a deliberate, expensive, highly technical team of scientists who have chosen to delete parts of the Master's Code and insert DNA code from another species in its place, these GMO Franken Foods would never exist.
IMPORTANT: Don't blame the farmers!
Sometimes organic folks wonder why so many non-organic farmers plant GMO crops. Sometimes they conclude that non-organic farmers must be bad actors. I'd like to say, "give the farmers a break." I personally know hundreds of non-organic farmers. A lot of them plant GMOs and they are not bad people.
They are mostly humble folks just doing the work they love. They are not consciously disrespecting the Creator. They probably just never sat down and thought of it this way. They are just trusting and doing as they are advised by the universities (research funded by guess who), free farming magazines (paid for by ads by guess who) and the friendly GMO company representatives.
I know what it's like. Remember, Dawn and I and the family used to be non-organic farmers too. Even though that is close to 11 years ago and even though I never used GMOs even back then, I do remember the pressure from the Monsanto reps. I'm sure the pressure is much worse now. Back then it was still new technology... Now everybody does it!
One time particularly I remember two very high-up reps together basically ganging up on me. When I insisted that I wasn't buying it, (I did not want to use their product and I wasn't going to) they tried shaming me with something like, "Well you might as well quit farming then because this is what you'll have to do to survive. If you can't run with the big dogs, you better stay on the porch."
That was 15 years ago. Today we are still here and Monsanto no longer sells the product they were sure was the silver bullet. Turns out, I was one of the first of many farmers who finally said 'no' to that product. :)
So here are three pressing questions:
- What can I do to avoid feeding GMOs to my family?
- I want to help... What can we do to STOP GMO corporations?
- What can I do to encourage more farmers to switch to non-GMO?
Amazingly, the answer to all three questions is the same. Simply stop buying GMO foods!
"But, Labeling is the Big Problem" I hear you say. "We don't know which foods are GMO because GMO corporations keep us in the dark! They do not want to label GMO foods! And when they are forced to label, they do it in such a way that it is still hard to decipher."
You are partly right. Food made with GMOs is not clearly labeled. Even though Monsanto and friends insisted they are proud of their accomplishment and there is nothing at all to hide, their hiding actions speak so loud that we can't believe what their mouth is saying.
But Transparency in labeling is not as hard as you think! There is another way of labeling! Almost all foods which are NON-GMO are very clearly labeled. So there, Monsanto, you can refuse 'GMO presence labeling' all you want to but we organic and sustainable farmers can always do 'GMO absence labeling.' It gets the same message communicated either way! :)
So here are three 'GMO absence labels' to look for:
- Look for CERTIFIED ORGANIC: Every food that is USDA certified organic is non-GMO. That is part of the organic regulations / inspection along with no antibiotic, no synthetic pesticides and herbicides, no hormones, no cloning and no chemical fertilizer. So, buy organic. It's a very trusted standard of pure foods including 100% non-GMOs. And it will put the GMO corporations out of business.
- Look for NON-GMO PROJECT VERIFIED: This is a group of folks that have made it their special mission to label foods that are non-GMO. They do a very thorough job and are sticklers for detail. At The Family Cow, we are certified organic as well as Non-GMO Project Verified. A little redundant, I know, but Trickling Springs Creamery requires both to sell organic milk to them. I guess they want to cover all bases. So again, to avoid GMO even if you don't buy 100% organic, just make sure the balance is at least Non-GMO Project Verified. You'll feel good knowing that your food dollars are helping to dry up demand for GMO foods.
- Look for THE FAMILY COW label... or buy your food directly from another farmer that you know well enough to ask the GMO question directly and can trust what he tells you: This ultimately might be the best way. It certainly is the most personal. But be sure that you really do ask the questions. Take special note of his reaction: A trustworthy farmer will not get defensive with your questions. It always pays to ask.
One of our customers recently told of a conversation she had with her chicken farmer. (She admitted that she was buying from him since his chicken was a bit cheaper than Family Cow Chicken.) Since he was a local farmer and she was buying directly from his farm store and she knew him as a person and he seemed like a natural, down to earth kind of fellow she assumed that the chicken and eggs were GMO free. When she finally did ask him directly one day he got very defensive and declared there was "nothing wrong with GMOs" and no his chickens were not GMO free but no he was "not going to mark them as such because then no one would buy them because of the great misconceptions and silly fears that ignorant folks have about GMOs."
You can guess the outcome of that charming sales pitch!
And in case anyone is still not sure... All Family Cow Foods are GMO free to the best of our knowledge and ability. Thank you for helping us respect our Creator, God. Your efforts are fully appreciated by our whole farm team every day, week, month and year.
Also know that folks like you are making a difference nationwide too! In the last week I heard two separate accounts of large grain farmers who are abandoning GMO crops. One of the reasons they give is that there is just not as much market demand for GMO as there used to be!
Farmers will grow what moms and dads buy! The power still resides in the people!
All the Best of Food and Blessings,
Your Farmer ~ Edwin Shank
For the Shank Family and The Family Cow Team