10/10/10 stands for so many things: Some people are choosing to get married, some are choosing to celebrate being cancer-free or the lives of those they lost to cancer (October is Breast Cancer Awareness month), some people are deciding for whom to cast their vote for governor and other state or local candidates, and still others are joining forces to demand non-genetically modified foods be available today and in the future. Interestingly, all of these represent decisions -- choices -- that we as individuals make, but have impact on the global level. When we make these seemingly individual choices (or when we fail to make choices) we affect the future health of our partners, our children, our pets; the prevalence of cancer and other diseases, allergies and syndromes; the future of the U.S. health care system and the food production system (and their inextricable link); our (U.S.) relationship with our global partners (i.e. other countries).
Amidst all these decisions and choices we have to make, one stands out on 10/10/10 that may not have the awareness of breast cancer, or political candidates, or the financial and health care crisis in the U.S. But it should, because GM foods (genetically modified) act as a thread that pulls all of these and many other issues together for us all, thus it should demand our attention.
What are GM foods? Where are they found? Why have they received an assumption of being safe for us all without scientific evidence? These are questions that I have had and that I am grateful to the Non-GMO project http://www.nongmoproject.org for providing us answers and for developing resources for us consumers.
But my job here isn't to educate, it's to raise your awareness that you have a choice to make. Part of that choice requires you to be informed so I refer you to the above referenced website. Another part of that choice asks you to think about the affect of your actions -- for in this instance, every Action or Inaction has a Reaction -- and it's one that can alter your life by increasing risk of disease, allergy, or a syndrome in your body or in someone close to you (physically or emotionally).
You see, in my opinion, GM foods are the second and third hand smoke of this century. The marketing force behind cigarettes spent a long time convincing us it was okay and perhaps hiding how not OK it was for an equally long time. GM foods came into our world with the promise of feeding the world, of helping farmers be more productive and as a result better off financially, and of being just as safe as their non-GMO relative. And like cigarettes, we believed them. But when it got tricky when we learned that smoking hurt others -- that one's enjoyment or addiction actually made others (often their kids or partners or colleagues who spent time close to them) sick -- that woke people up and we saw action. Today we have non-smoking policies not because we know smoking is bad for us (because for many they still choose to do things that are bad for them) but because it's unfair to force others to exist in a space where something that's a known bad is being done to them. It robs them of their choice; it harms people who want to choose to not do the unhealthy thing.
I present the case that GM foods are the same as second and third hand smoke. You see, when even one farm of GM seeds are planted, these seeds can't help but go blowin' in the wind and no fence, no matter how high or how wide can protect other land against GM seed infiltration. So, whether that means it blows over to your neighbor's farm up the street in Ohio or your neighbor over the ocean in England -- if we allow GM seeds here, we keep them going everywhere else in the world. Thus, as the EU and other countries around the world ban GM foods and seeds, we act as a rogue entity passively bringing the very thing they seek to ban to their lands via birds, the wind and the ocean. Not so neighborly of us, agreed?
Perhaps the fact that other countries around the world ban these seeds should raise a flag for us. Perhaps the increase rates of diseases of unknown origin or treatment should give us pause to question the need for anything other than plain old food going into our systems. Perhaps a desire to see the world evolve as opposed to man-made-changed should propel us to reject laboratory experiments without scientifically proven safety.
Perhaps it's time for us to make a choice. To recognize that for every Inaction we are creating Reactions and ones that may not favor our healthy survival. I support the Non-GMO Project because I believe my responsibility to myself and to others isn't perhaps an option but rather a matter of global survival.
Follow Ashley Koff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ashleykoff