A Month Without Monsanto

In January of this year, while procrastinating on Facebook, I followed a link to an article reporting on the negative health effects related to consuming Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. Clicking on that link was one of those moments on which I look back and laugh. I had no idea how my life was about to change.

Monsanto’s Reach

The article I stumbled onto concerned a study done in 2009 by a group of French scientists investigating the safety of genetically modified food. Their results, as published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, pointed toward significant kidney and liver damage in rats fed Monsanto corn.

Concerned for the health of my daughter, who was just a tender and trusting two-year-old at the time, I began to research where exactly Monsanto corn appeared in my family’s diet. With a little online sleuthing, I learned that in addition to producing the purportedly dangerous corn, Monsanto produces several other genetically modified crops such as soy, sugar beets, and cotton. In fact, 70 percent of American processed foods contain ingredients originating with Monsanto’s products and 50 percent of cotton begins in their labs.

Probing a little deeper, I was surprised to learn that a company specializing in genetically modified plant crops also had an enormous influence on America’s meat industry. Sixty percent of genetically modified corn goes to feed America’s beef cattle. Additionally, Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is used to increase milk production in cows.

Tracing Foods Back to their Source

I decided to see if I could go the entire month of March without consuming any Monsanto products. I committed to an all organic, vegan diet, and reluctantly invested in a small organic cotton wardrobe. It was an experiment born of curiosity: I wanted to know just how deeply my life was influenced by Monsanto, a company I knew little about before that click of my mouse in January.

By day two of my attempt to remove Monsanto from my life, I realized I was in way over my head. For the past 10 years Monsanto has bought up seed companies around the globe. They own an estimated 85 percent of the seeds in America, including a large percentage of organic seeds. For everyday purposes, a Monsanto seed that is grown organically is still organic, but in my attempt to avoid Monsanto, I was left without any easy way of knowing what foods were “safe” to eat. I retreated to subsisting on wild-caught fish while I dug deep to try to figure out where exactly my foods came from.

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