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I’m Chris, and I feed my kids food made from GMO crops

Featured Article

By Chris
Information Technology

redialIn the run up to the March Against Monsanto, I, along with a few dozen of my colleagues, had our names and work phone numbers posted to the internet. Mine were probably lifted from a news release I distributed two jobs and seven years ago.

Predictably, this posting resulted in some calls.  Interestingly, the first two callers both mentioned my kids. The first asked whether I feed my kids foods made from GMO crops. Well, yeah. I eat these foods, and my kids eat these foods (and, yes, contrary to internet mythology, these foods are served in Monsanto’s cafeteria). In feeding our kids, my wife and I followed a philosophy of “all things in moderation.” We balanced processed foods (many of which contained ingredients from GM crops) with fruits and vegetables (very few of which have been genetically modified, contrary to what some of my callers believe). The kids are not only surviving, they’re thriving.

In addition to feeding my kids food made from GMO crops, one of the other things I’ve done is teach them critical thinking. When they hear a preposterous statement like “Monsanto’s products have killed millions of people,” instead of taking it at face value, they’re inclined to ask questions such as, what people were killed? When did this happen? Where did this happen?

Unfortunately, the callers I talked to seemed more interested in repeating inaccurate allegations they found on the internet than finding out the real facts about GM crops and Monsanto’s business practices. (At least the woman in Florida who was marching because she “doesn’t like capitalism” admitted that she didn’t have both sides of the issues because all she knew was what she read on the internet.)

Finally, I’ve raised my kids to be good listeners. That’s a skill that seemed to be sorely lacking in the people that I talked to. Maybe they expected to be able to harangue me via voice mail (which some did). Aside from that, why would you call someone if you assume that he’s a liar just because he works for Monsanto? (Another woman from Maryland who said, “We’re just calling to annoy you,” was refreshing in her honesty.) If that’s your assumption, you’re not going to believe me when I mention facts like: the safety of GM crops have been confirmed by hundreds of independent studies and dozens of regulatory agencies around the world, sterile “Terminator” seeds never existed, or Monsanto doesn’t sue farmers when seeds blow off a truck into their fields.

Probably the most positive conversations I had was with Angela from Connecticut, who seemed genuinely interested in learning more about the issue and comparing Monsanto’s position with what she had heard elsewhere. I extended to her the same invitation I extend to anyone who wants to find out more about GM crops and how Monsanto does business: come to one of facilities and meet our people. It’s the passion, purpose, and integrity of my colleagues that keeps me positive when a small but shrill segment of the population is directing their anger at me.

Oh, and to the guy from New Hampshire who wanted to know if my kids were proud of what I do for a living, I did a quick poll: They’re really proud of me, more than I realized. Thanks for asking.

Photograph via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

19 Responses to "I’m Chris, and I feed my kids food made from GMO crops"

  1. Great blog! Love the honesty some of the callers shared with you. It seems when you’re the largest biotech company in the world, you also have the largest target on your back. I wish folks would spend more time researching the issue, and less time indulging knee-jerk reactions.

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  2. Chris,
    You could do even more. Your local, or hometown, Rotary, Lions, PTA, or K of C, etc., are probably looking for a meeting speaker. Put together a short (~30 min) presentation on GE crops (I’ve got one if you like) and offer to talk. Those who are opposed to the technology have a well-developed grass roots organization that the ag biotech industry just hasn’t paid much attention to. The consensus from talks I’ve given is “why haven’t we heard this before?”

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    • Bill, thanks for the feedback. It’s a good reminder to all of us working in agriculture. Whether we’re experts in this area or not, we need to be more vocal and visible in advocating for the tools that farmers rely on to be productive.

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    • Bill, since this posted, I’ve already been invited to address a local Rotary club on GMO crops. Thanks for the nudge.

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  3. Chris, I support your right to choose the type of food you feed your family. I also support my right to do the same, which is why I support mandatory labeling on GMO foods. I think everyone should have a choice.

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    • Maggie, why wouldn’t the products that are GMO free just label themselves GMO free? Kind of like the “Organic” or “Antibiotic Free” labels. It would really make just as much sense.

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    • Maggie, thanks for the comment. If, for personal reasons, you prefer to avoid foods made from GMO crops, it’s easy, as this recent editorial from the LA Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-ge-food-labeling-20130524,0,7917281.story) points out: buy organic and focus on fresh produce (contrary to what some of my callers thought, there are very few genetically modified fresh fruits and vegetables). I didn’t have room to get into labeling in this post. My observation is that, for the large organizations driving the labeling movement, labeling is a means to an end: banning GMO crops and depriving farmers of the choice to plant seeds that have been proven to be safe and that are vital to their farming operations. Is there a way to label that doesn’t look like a skull and crossbones? If so, I’m from Missouri, so you’re going to have to show me.

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  4. The ability to think for oneself is among the most important of skills in today’s society… Sadly it’s a skill that is rarely taught and used even less. So many problems in today’s society and realistically be boiled down to people believing the carefully selected and spoon-fed information that whatever political lobbyist or government group has given them and no one bothered to check the information much less see what is to be said for the opposite side of the issue.

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  5. I love all three options of farming Organic, traditional and GMO farming. That’s for putting a face behind the story.

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  6. I’m honestly not too concerned about whether a crop is genetically modified or not. That part of the equation doesn’t seem harmful to me. The part that honestly scares me is that the plant is now resistant to pesticides, so more can be sprayed on them. I really haven’t done much research, but seems that pesticides kill not only the plant, but a good number of beneficials within the soil, which give the nutrition to the food. Then, GMO crops like corn are given to our livestock to eat, so they also get the pesticides… So, in my mind, it’s a much bigger problem than the few crops out there that are genetically modified.

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    • Hi Susie,

      I think doing some research might really help you. Monsanto doesn’t produce pesticide resistant crops at all. Rather, our crops containing Bt genes (Bacillus thurngiensis, which is a naturally occurring soil bacteria used by organic farmers and gardeners to control pests) mean that pesticides do not have to be repeatedly sprayed over a crop. Only the bugs that eat the plant itself ingest the bacteria’s genetic material, so only the pest insects die. It’s kind of amazing actually and it means that beneficial insects aren’t targeted. Was that what you were thinking of? Or did I misunderstand your post?

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  7. What a fantastic article Chris. As a Monsanto employee with a pretty crunchy lifestyle and circle of friends, I get asked quite a lot about whether I feel comfortable feeding GMOs to my kids. Absolutely! I do not love processed food, but with two full-time working parents, it is an inevitability at some point. I’m enthusiastic about the performance series sweet corn because of the way the biotechnology has reduced the needs for spraying both pesticides and herbicides, quite a boon for the water table and the soil! I love the organic food I buy directly from the farmers at my local farmer’s market, and I love the abundant and healthy conventional and biotech food I am able to purchase at the grocery store.

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  8. Thank you Chris for sharing your opinion. I think it’s it wonderful that you have the option to feed your children gmo and processed food. I too would like to have that choice, I wonder why Monsanto doesn’t present itself more openly. Why not label the food you contribute to? Wouldn’t it be more fair if we could choose whether or not we feed ourselves and our children GMO food. While I’m sure its safe, why not advocate for labelling. Don’t you all want to share the wonderful products you produce?

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  9. I appreciate your input and views. It is everyone’s right to eat and feed their children what they feel is best for them. It is still every consumer’s right to know what is in their food so they can make an informed decision. That is why I am an activist for labeling. I do error on the side of doctors and scientists that GM food is unhealthy, while some additives are even addicting. In addition, from my own experience of cutting out GM & processed foods I can tell you I feel much better since eating as much organic food as I’m able to find. I also prefer to support my local farmers than a corporation. I wish you continued wellness on your current path.

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  10. You have not addressed the one of the very important problems with genetically engineered crops. GE crops contaminate the non ge crops and those who choose to eat non gmo just have to suck it up because the biotech industry has arrogantly announced that it’s products are safe and “substantially equivalent” to it’s conventional counterparts. Monsanto has a patent on these “s e” products and have also sued farmers whose crops were contaminated with gmo from neighboring ge fields from blowing pollen. I fail to see why we NEED genetic engineering in our food supply, It is different, it does not produce higher yields, nor does it require less use of toxic herbicides and pesticides. Seems to me , this technology’s use is to generate wealth for the biotech industry. It’s just a business, and one that has no use. That is why they are not labeling it and pushing it on the world. IT is highly irresponsible to be using this method to grow our food, farming traditionally has done the job magnificently for hundreds of years and the genetic contamination of our environment is disastrous. The honeybees, the butterflies and other natural pollinators are affected adversely by gmo as is our climate. I call this a bad idea, just another in the loooooonnnngggg line of monsanto mistakes made in the 100 + years they have been in business. Poisoning the world for over 100 years and now they want to be in charge of our food supply! Why not make Charles Manson the secretary of state while you are at it? I am sick of monsanto and those who are defending this grand scale experiment gone bad. The world knows gmo is a mistake, as gm technology is banned in many countries worldwide.

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    • There is not a single instance of Monsanto suing any farmer for accidental contamination. Not one. Only one country has banned GM seed. and that’s Peru.

      The Monarch butterfly situation is complex, and most scientists will tell you that the destruction of their wintering grounds is likely a major cause. As for honey bees, most scientists will tell you that the biggest problem is the Varroa mite, which beekeepers have to use several pesticides inside the hive to control. The Varroa mite is not caused by GM crops.

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  11. Yes, I think labeling makes sense, if GMO would be labeled than I know to feed it to my kids and that food must be cheaper priced since it is produced by big companies. Now they put organic label on GM food and I get ripped off, overcharged.

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  12. Thank you for standing up for those of us who are proud to support GMO and the people who are helping feed all of the people in the world!

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