On the 15th August I posted some info about a documentary that was screening at the Labia called The Future of Food. I went to watch it last night and was appalled at some of the things I learnt. The focus of the documentary was genetically modified foodstuffs and whilst the documentary did focus mainly on the USA, it also looked at 3rd world countries and that gave a hint of how South Africa will be affected.
The scariest point to come out of the whole documentary is that huge corporations are patenting genetically modified seeds and through various means, compelling farmers to utilise these seeds. That means the farmer has to pay a fee to use the seeds and is also compelled to use the pesticides provided by the same company. Apart from the financial burden placed on the farmers and the destruction of land through the use of more and more powerful pesticides, this also destroys seed diversity. Many types of corn, etc are now extinct and if there is a disease which affects the corn, there is no hope of finding an alternative type of corn which is resistant.
Following on from this is a spine chilling court decision. Monsanto corporation sued a farmer because it found out some of the crops on his farm were GM crops of which they owned the patent. The seeds flew onto his land accidentally from lorries which passed by but the court decided he was still in breach of patent and must pay Monsanto.
The situation here in SA with respect to GM seeds is not optimistic at the moment. We have very lax regulations which means that a lot of maize, soy and cotton grown here is GM. A lot of the staple products we buy in the stores contain GM food and we don’t know which they are because there are no labelling regulations.
Labelling of GM foods should be required at least, so that we have a choice. But in the bigger picture, they need to put a freeze on the planting of GM crops until we have tested the effect of GM food on people. Once seeds have been planted, they spread and cannot be brought under control again.
It’s all very scary and definitely motivates one to want to eat organic foods. If you want to learn more or assist in some way, visit www.safeage.org