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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher: A weed is but an unloved flower. ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Jun 30, 2015 02:58PM

In March, the highly respected International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced that glyphosate “probably” causes cancer in people. Glyphosate, better known by the trade name Roundup, is the most widely used, broad-spectrum, systemic weed killer in the world. Its use soared in the last two decades because its leading producer, Monsanto, developed genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops, which were first introduced in 1996 and now account for most corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States. The seeds were genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate the herbicide, allowing farmers to spray it across entire fields to kill most weed varieties without killing the crops.

Monsanto subsequently accused the agency of having an agenda and cherry-picking the data to support its case. The IARC, which looks at the simple question of whether a substance might cause cancer under some circumstances, replied that it had no agenda other than to inform the WHO of the conclusions of its studies of people and laboratory animals. The research produced evidence of DNA and chromosomal damage in animal and human cells and increased rates of rare forms of cancerous tumors in mice and rats exposed to glyphosate.

With Monsanto likely planning to sponsor future research to support its proposition that Roundup and GM crops are safe, the question we all need to ask ourselves is whether allowing these foods into our body and environment is worth the risk. The good news is that as consumers we have a choice.

As Jeffrey Smith says in this month’s interview with Linda Sechrist, we, the people, are in control, not government agencies. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and director of the documentary Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives, points to the statistics and trends resulting from our individual decisions to banish products with GM or GE ingredients, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), from our lives. It can be tricky in the face of big business’ overwhelming practices, but it’s possible.

We can personally make a difference in reducing the amount of glyphosate and other chemicals in our environment by supporting organic food producers and choosing organic methods of maintaining our own lawns and gardens, which is especially critical for minimizing the exposure of those most vulnerable—young children and pets. Converting part of a lawn into a haven for native plants and wildflowers makes the task of maintenance easier, while we also learn to appreciate the beauty of less than picture-perfect but safer, healthier yards.

Wishing our readers a healthy and fun-filled barefoot summer,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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