SXSW Eco: God, Guns, and Greens: Forging Unlikely Allies in the Fight for Safe Food

By Marcie Barnes

Speaker: Simran Sethi – Associate Professor, University of Kansas and award-winning journalist and academic who teaches on sustainability, environmentalism, and social justice.

Sharing what she learned after moving from NYC to Kansas.

In NYC she denounced climate denialists, in Kansas she has learned to understand their concerns. In NYC she talked about farmers, in Kansas she is learning to farm. Food connects to all of us, we cherish food.

Percentage of Americans who believe the globe is warming has risen to 83%, up from last year. We don’t like to believe things that don’t coordinate with our personal perception, we have been perceiving warm.

Research shows that there is only so much we can worry about at one time. The way to make information relevent, is to work within existing cares we already have, not something new.

Environmentalism is not just about climate, grids, etc. it’s also about our relationship to the earth and our connections with others. We are stewards of God’s garden and are commanded to cultivate and care for it. We are intrinsically connected to, not separate from, our ecosystem.

The conventional farmer shopping at Wal-Mart knows a lot more about climate cycles, the environment, etc. than she does. Large-scale agribiz is the only form of farming that has grown over the last [30] years.

“If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is ‘corn’.” – Michael Pollan

Our access to food is becoming a luxury, food prices are predicted to rise without even considering the effects of global warming. For people of faith, this should be unacceptable. 9/10 of the world’s calories now come from 10 food commodities.

On genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – All the big GMO seed companies started out as chemical companies. They take the sovergnty of seeds out of the hands of farmers and into the hands of corporations. Whoever controls the world’s seeds controls the world’s food supply. Monsanto has 647 biotech patents & are the largest GMO seed producer. They are feeding the animals & the gas tanks with biofuels – most of the big NGOs who support these companies are heavily invested in them. They will supply seeds for free to farmers in need but require them to sign contracts [and buy their chemicals]. GMO seeds are a manipulation of natural DNA processes. Those traits would never naturally occur [as opposed to cross-pollination, etc.]

However the GMO seeds can cross-pollinate with heirloom or organic crops and contaminate them (and vice-versa). The smallest farmers with the fewest resources are the ones being sued by these companies for raising seeds that have been patented (due to cross-pollenation/seed drift). Terminator seeds have been genetically modified to not reproduce. Crop will grow normally but the seed does not generate.

Study on GMOs’ impact on pregnant women (gylsophate) showed that it showed up in 100% of blood/umbilical cord samples because mothers ate meat that ate the GMO corn, etc.

The saving seed tradition that farmers have relied on has been ruined by these corporations. Reference: Genesis 29-31 God is the master of all nature. We can’t tackle climate change without tackling agriculture, must reach farmers.  Take this back to your communities and make a difference, we have to try harder and do more.

Ballot initiative in California underway to label GMOs, spread the word to help them set a precedent. Obama supported labeling during campaign [Coalition asks for GM food labeling].

Start with what people love, people can meet in the middle with gardening/farming, don’t talk about politics. Don’t ambush with information. Community gardens reconnect people the source of their sustenance.

Stunned that there has not been more reporting around the fact that the Gates Foundation is heavily invested in Monsanto. Get this information out there. Do research and share the information.

Make the land we already have more efficient. There is a lot of research to show “we can feed the world” without GMOs. [Big Ag Won’t Feed the World].





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