Shrugged Collective

A farmer’s view: What to know about GMO

First things first, what the hell is a GMO? 

“A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.”  In layman’s terms, corporate agriculture companies are trying to use science to make it easier and more profitable to mass produce food, while creating a monopoly on their products.

The first genetically modified DNA organism was created in 1974.  Mother nature has been busy creating ideal food for human beings for millions of years. Isn’t it a bit naive of us to think we can perfect it in just 40, without real evidence of safety no less? Foods containing engineered foods currently make up over 80% of North Americas food supply. If you are eating processed foods or non-organic produce, chances are that you are eating GMOs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Our food system was infiltrated in 1994 when the first genetically modified tomato, the “Flavr Savr” was approved by the FDA for sale on grocery store shelves. This tomato was engineered for delayed ripening, which increased shelf life. Technologies soon advanced supporting plants capable of resisting pesticides and herbicides. Simply put, these plants can survive being sprayed with chemicals that kill all other plant life around them. Other crops are engineered to produce pesticides as they grow, killing any insects that try to feed on them and quickly eradicating the pests.

This seems like a great idea on paper – No more weeding, less pesticide spraying, higher yield per acre, and a significant bottom line improvement for big agriculture. But that’s just it. What is the obvious bias? You should know that the most well-known GMO crops are called  “Round Up ready,” for a reason. Round Up is the chemical product counterpart of the resistant plants.  Together they have dominated North American Agriculture.  Do you think it is coincidence that the creator of these GMO seeds also manufactures and sells the chemicals that you spray on them?

It’s great business, I’ll give you that. But is this wise for the food supply? Should a profit motive drive what goes into your mouth?  

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 10.11.02 AM


Today the largest crop grown in the US is corn, 88% of which is genetically modified.  I probably don’t have to tell you, but corn has become a staple in the American diet. You can find some sort of engineered corn in the majority of processed food on the shelves, as well as almost every sweetened beverage you can imagine. Even when you eat conventionally raised meats you are essentially eating modified Corn. It’s a main ingredient in cheap animal feed. 

Soy is another of the GMO giants. Around 93% of the domestically grown soy is modified. Just like corn, soy is also used under a variety of names found in….you guessed it, countless processed foods.     

Ok, so why do we think that these GM crops are so bad? Our trusty government, represented by the FDA, has permitted the use of these techniques in raising field crops across the nation.  These products have been approved based upon research gathered during studies funded by the companies that have created, patented, and profit off of these GM technologies.  Seems a little biased doesn’t it?  How about if I tell you that 61 countries around the world including Austrailia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European union have major restrictions, or outright bans on the production and sales of GMOs.   

Real food. A photo posted by Sweet Georgia P’s CSA (@sweetgeorgiap) on


The simple fact is that it is just to early to tell what the long term effects of GMOs in our food supply will be. But in the absence of strong safety evidence the emerging health trends are disturbing.

Is it a coincidence that food allergies in children increased 50% from 1997-2011?  That’s one possible effect proposed by anti-GMO campaigner Robyn O’Brien. Check out her excellent TED talk below.

Here is what I know…There is no money to be made in healthy people, and there is no money in dead people.  Big Agriculture and Big Pharma are subject to an inherant, huge profit bias. There are billions of dollars in profits to be made in feeding our society GMO foods and prescription drugs. That should be enough to give us pause.

There are certainly supply benefits to GMO technologies. But is this really the only answer? Of course not! Why would we not first choose to drive supply AND quality through programs like Community Supported Agriculture?

I have a simple belief – A whole food diet makes for a healthier, happier society. When in doubt, trust real food! Find a local farm feed CSA program and give them your support. Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. That’s how we’ll save our food.

If you’ve got questions, just leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to get to them all.

Eat responsibly,

Farmer Joe


For more

Mike Bledsoe


  • All, GMO is a hot button topic. It’s pretty easy to find loads of articles punching from both sides. As always, look into all vantage points and make a choice that you yourself are comfortable with. If we have a bias, it’s that local, farm fresh food is probably best. Dig around for yourself.

  • Out of curiosity, does this line of thinking take into account that the country may not have enough food if we don’t find ways to enhance production and shelf life? Just curious and not trying to start an argument. I’m a Kinesiology major at Penn State and not a nutritionist or farmer so this is just interesting to me.

    Thanks for all the reading material while at work!

    • Check out the current status of corn supply in this country …. We are currently producing and storing so much GMO corn that the government doesn’t know what to do with it . Also would love to see the research in the “health benefits of GMO foods ” please post IF they are out there

  • perfect timing around the holidays ! But with crossfit and a set of new weights I’ll be ok . Here’s my question: what does a person on a budget do when organic food is just too expensive?!

  • It’s hard to fathom that the human body would not have long-term adverse effects to “protein modifications” found in their nutrition sources, although I cannot claim to be an expert.
    Look at what has happened to the animals who are the “guinea-pigs” for this experiment, the bovine population has seen serious side-effects caused by their eating corn feed and not pasture raised on good ol’ mother nature’s green grass.
    I’d like to know differences in hybrid crop modifications versus “scientific protein creations”.
    There are so many benefits to the Community Supported Agriculture, helping local Farmers, reducing the transportation carbon footprint and eating foods that are cleaner and healthier all around.

  • I expected much more from barbell shrugged. You guys have been in the past a good source of sound science backed information. Now it just looks like you are trying to fill column space. Anytime you use the words “big pharma” or “big agriculture” you are inherently biasing your argument, towards fear and doubt. At least talk about the science of GMO and not some touchy feely junk that has no basis in reality.

    • Mal,

      The opportunity to open up your mind lies within you, find out more info on GMO’s. Fear and doubt isn’t what many of us know already; some unethical meddling in the cattle industry has caused serious issues i.e. Mad Cow Disease (BSE).
      I love National Geographic, their position seems a little sympathetic to Monsanto, but I read this article and devour the information without bias. I have also heard about Monsantos practices that have been anti Farmer and to me a bit monopolistic.
      Would love to see you add something to the conversation tho?

  • Christopher

    I’m not trying to argue just for the sake of arguing. All I wanted to point out originally was that there is 2 sides to every argument, and this article is heavily biased towards one side. There is plenty of research peer reviewed – that comes to the opposite side of this discussion about GMO.
    Ethics is subjective. Everyone will have their own perspective. If there’s solid evidence that is backed up by repeated experiments that GMO is bad, I’ll go that way. Likewise if there is repeated experiments that says GMO is harmless and is beneficial, I’ll support that argument. The scientific method is the only one that gets us to the bottom of this debate. Not arguments about profit motives or what feels right

    • No argument here, just wanted to kno if you can give me some other leads to balance the discussion. I am looking for more POV

  • @Mal
    It’s funny there is no science because Monsanto wont release their product to 3rd party research. We’re just supposed to trust them that they did their research!

      • That article has all the same flaws that this article has… a bunch of insinuation but without presenting any substantive argument. The first figure has nothing to do with the health effects of GMOs. The second figure addresses Monsanto’s financial which, believe it or not, has nothing to do with the health effects of GMOs in general. I think two main issues contribute to irrational fear of GMOs: 1) naturalistic fallacy and 2) Association of GMOs with a disreputable business (Monsanto).

        People want to believe that they can associate some conception of natural with good or healthy. This is completely illogical. It is pleasing and comforting to think that one way of eating is in some way morally or healthfully superior to another, but the truth is that this is not the case. This is a hard but necessary pill to swallow.

        People should be focused on the facts relating to these issues, not their ideological assumptions. Nutritive content, macronutrient ratios, and caloric density are all pieces of information that could be considered beyond the inherent bias of our subjective judgement. The interesting thing about GMOs is they actually modify existing biological structures in a novel way to produce or enhance traits in organisms. Often, this actually allows farmers to use less external chemicals. But, I digress, as this is more of a philosophical argument than a physical one.

        Is it necessary to conduct the proper scientific testing to ensure that GMOs pose no significant health risks? Yes. Should GMO products be labeled? Yes. But none of these questions actually indicate that GMOs in and of their own right are innately bad. So stop acting like GMOs are a government conspiracy to kill you.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.