This past November, five Minnesota school districts held a GMO Awareness Day. The Minnesota schools are Hopkins, Minneapolis, Orono, Shakopee and Westonka. Unfortunately, the GMO Awareness Day was more of a “Fear” GMO Day than an “Awareness” Day.
The back of the Westonka school’s student menu included this statement, “Though the corporations that sell GMO chemicals and seeds have concluded that GMOs are safe to eat, independently funded research has repeatedly linked GMO consumption to cancers, organ damage, allergies, infertility and more. (For more on safety research, see the Non-GMO Project)”
Are you kidding me? The Non-GMO Project?
The Non-GMO project is nothing more than fear-mongering propaganda.
Only anti-GMO organizations make this claim. The vast majority of plant scientists/geneticists disagree with this statement. There are over 2000 studies and all the major scientific societies that agree there is no negative health effects on humans. Jim Cooper of the Examiner.com wrote a great article, Minnesota Schools Teach Bad Science and then Cover it up, which goes into detail about what we know (or lack thereof). I will also add that I, too, tried to make contact with these individuals. And while Jim finally was able to talk with someone after many tries, no one contacted me. It appears they were trying to keep a very low profile.
Even though this propaganda stint happened a few months ago and we don’t know exactly who or what was behind it, there is a bigger concern that comes to mind. How do we know what is taught in our schools? Who or what organizations are influencing our schools? Do you know your Food Service Director in your school district? Are our schools teaching science or propaganda? The solution?
We need to be vigilant in what is taught in our schools. We need to know who is running our schools. Ask questions. Be aware of what is happening in your local schools. And it’s going to take each one of us. As parents and tax-paying citizens, we need to take this seriously and ask questions. Be assertive, or a pain if you must.
And what should the schools do?
Teach science and critical thinking skills. What a better place and time to learn the skills needed to make good food choices than a learning environment such as our schools. There is no question that our society is generally weak in using science and critical thinking skills. Too many of us either don’t want to take the time or don’t know how to use critical thinking skills. And what a better time and place to learn these skills than in our schools? Our society, in general, has become too dependent on easy information access through simple searches on the internet. I personally don’t want our students (or the general public) to learn about GMOs through a simple google search where the top, non-sponsored search results are outright lies and propaganda. Teach the science. Let’s demand the propaganda and biases, wherever they are coming from, be left at the school’s front door.
As a farmer, it’s eye opening to see the vast amounts of agricultural misinformation that is filtering into our society. People are taking too much of this misinformation at face value as being the truth. And that is just plain scary.
I believe we need all types of farmers to feed our growing population, both GMO and non-GMO crops. But I am against spreading misinformation and vilifying agricultural practices that are different from another’s beliefs. The food we produce in the United States is one of the safest in the world. Let us not forget that. So let’s support farmers – all farmers.
So, again, what is your school lunch serving? It’s time to find out.
Here is another perspective on this issue: GMO Awareness Day
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