We talk a lot about the trouble with genetically modified foods around here, and there is no shortage of controversy surrounding GMOs. Opponents of genetic engineering in our food supply point to health concerns, the biodiversity question, and the danger of letting large corporations control our food supply. Advocates of GMOs say that we need GM crops if we’re going to feed the world (do we?) and that these organisms are not only safe but necessary.
Let’s set all of that aside for a minute, OK? Instead, let’s talk about one of the big claims that GMO proponents make: that genetically engineered foods mean fewer pesticides.
Yes, when you first plant GM crops, you may be able to get away with fewer pesticides, but that’s only until weeds get savvy. Nature is a powerful force, and weeds adapt resistance to those pesticides that farmers are spraying non-stop onto GM crops. That means they’re applying more and more pesticides and relying on more toxic ones to boot. This is bad for the soil, it’s bad for our water supply, and it’s bad for the people who live near fields containing these GM crops.
Argentina is a major soy exporter, and much of that soy is genetically modified. The “benefit” of Monsanto’s Roundup resistant soybeans is that farmers can spray the pesticide liberally, and that’s just what farmers in Argentina do.
The video below is the story of how mother Sofía Gatica stood up to Monsanto when her three day old daughter suffered kidney failure because of exposure to Roundup. As she says in the video, “when they spray the soy, they also spray us.” Gatica worked with other concerned mothers to uncover the extent of Roundup’s health impacts in her area and to start a campaign against the pesticide. It wasn’t easy.
Gatica successfully fought to stop aerial fumigation in her area, despite threats on her life and the lives of her children, and she won this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for her work. She is now fighting to stop aerial fumigation in the rest of Argentina.