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Bad News For Big Ag — GMO Crops Don’t Increase Yields

You’ve heard of GMO crops, haven’t you? GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are crops which have been substantially altered using genetic engineering. They’re unnaturally modified foods whose safety is dubious at best. (Many European countries have banned their use completely.)

And unfortunately, they’re quite pervasive here in America. 90% of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are GMOs, as is 63% of the corn.  These expensive crops were sold to farmers around the world by a handful of mammoth biotech corporations with promises of radical yield increases.

According to a recent report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, those were empty promises.

While it’s true that we’ve seen crop yield increases in the fifteen years since the use of GMOs became widespread, the report argues that other factors led to those increases. In fact, when they contrasted yields of genetically engineered soybeans to low-input, organic yields for soybeans, the low-input crop outperformed the GE crop by 13%.

Why should you care?

Because if you’re an American and you consume corn and soy products that are not explicitly labeled “organic” or “GMO-free,” chances are you’re eating these foods!

Not only is that potentially hazardous for your health (for reasons we’ll be going into over the next month), it’s downright nasty for the environment.  GMO crops rely heavily on pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other high-energy inputs that not only decimate the soil, but also drown farmers in a sea of debt as they struggle to pay for these costly inputs.\n\nThere are a host of reasons to avoid GMOs, and over the next month we’ll be looking at them.

Why? Because next Wednesday, April 22nd (Earth Day), the folks at Real Food Media will officially be launching a No-GMO Challenge.

Our goal? To go 30 days without consuming any GMOs!

It’s an Earth Day Challenge worth taking, and it shouldn’t be terribly difficult for any of us to do. But if we do it — and we encourage enough other people to join us — we may actually turn the tide for GMOs in this country and spell their doom.

How do I know this?

Because in the parts of the world where GMO crops are a marketing liability, they’re not used. Period. Just last week, Germany became the latest country to ban GMO crops completely. If they can do it, so can we!

Here in the U.S., our biggest problem is awareness.

Anne Marie at Cheeseslave had this to say:

According to Jeffrey Smith, leading expert on GMOs and bestselling author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, GMOs or genetically modified organisms are in about 75% of the foods at the supermarket. Most processed foods contain either soybean oil or soy lecithin, or high fructose corn syrup.

According to a 2001 poll:

  • 52% believe GM foods are unsafe
  • 13% are unsure about them
  • 93% say the government should require labels on food saying whether it’s been genetically modified


The majority of Americans don’t trust GM foods and we want labels on our food. The sad thing is, there’s so little information about genetically modified food. Most of us are eating it every day and we don’t even know it.

That’s why we’re launching the No GMO Challenge!

We believe that if we can get just 5% of consumers to avoid purchasing GMO foods, the food industry will buckle and GMOs will effectively be purged from our food supply.

Guys, this is going to be HUGE.

I could say more, but I’ll save it for our official launch date. I just wanted to whet your appetites and encourage you to get ready to join us.

This is our chance to UNITE, to fight back against the dominant food culture with every forkful of food we eat, to say NO to GMOs, and to make real and lasting change!

(photo by thomas.merton)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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11 Responses to Bad News For Big Ag — GMO Crops Don’t Increase Yields
  1. Lisa Imerman
    April 20, 2009 | 9:44 am

    Thanks for pointing this info out. I have tried to avoid GMO’s as much as possible for several years, but it is getting harder and harder to do as they become more pervasive. Since there are no labeling requirements it is even harder to know what you are getting. We eat almost all locally produced foods and make meals at home but even with the groceries we do buy at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s it is hard to make sure you aren’t getting GMO’s or other unwanted ingredients.

    The latest is that this year beet sugar is most likely to be GMO. So most items if not labeled as cane sugar or as organic or non-GMO will have GMO sugar. So not only Soy and corn as the big issues but sugar.

    Can’t wait till your launch!!

  2. lo
    April 20, 2009 | 1:22 pm

    Totally RT’d this. It’s important news… especially with the prevalence of GMO’d crops. We’ve been good with buying organic, simply to avoid the GMO game.

    We’re TOTALLY IN when you launch! Keep us posted.


  3. KristenM
    April 20, 2009 | 4:17 pm

    Lisa — Yes, that is one of the things we’ll be talking about. Even if you WANT to avoid GMO foods, the subject is so confusing! Because we don’t require GMO foods to be labeled here in the U.S., it’s hard to tell which foods contain GMOs and which ones don’t.

    Lo — Glad you’re on board. It’s going to be so cool! Contests, prizes, & lots of opportunities to spread the word.

  4. peg
    April 20, 2009 | 6:15 pm

    Thank you for this post, I sent out several letters this morning with links to this and the one at about autism. Both are such good information that people need to be made aware of.


  5. KristenM
    April 20, 2009 | 9:43 pm

    peg — You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing our posts! It’s the reason I blog. I want to get the word out to as many people as possible, and readers like you make it worthwhile.

  6. Kyle
    April 21, 2009 | 11:05 am

    Supposedly four digits means it’s conventionally grown,
    five digits starting with 8 means it’s gm,
    and five digits starting with 9 means it’s organic.

    But I don’t think that rule is always followed.


  7. KristenM
    April 21, 2009 | 2:40 pm

    Kyle — I’ve heard that, too. That’s helpful as far as buying produce at the grocery store, but it doesn’t help you know about the ingredients in prepared foods.

  8. Teresa
    April 21, 2009 | 4:02 pm

    Worse yet, heritage crops are being cross-contaminated by the GMOs being grown close by. Even the non-GMO foods are questionable due to the nearby GMO crops. Permanent damage has been done … how much worse it gets is still in question.

    Looking forward to reading more from you on this topic!!!

  9. Kyle
    April 21, 2009 | 11:49 pm

    That’s true too, that it won’t tell you on prepared foods.

    I read somewhere that companies don’t even have to do it anyways.

  10. Elisabeth
    April 22, 2009 | 2:52 am

    Well done. This is easier to apply in the UK where a concerned public plus campaigners have managed to keep GMOs largely out of food. We were forewarned thanks to America’s experience…However GMOS have sneaked into the food chain through animal feed…(another good reason to eat organic).

    I have just joined The UK Food Bloggers Association and spontaneously used the ‘I’m a Food Renegade’ icon as my atavar (I do love it). Can you tell me if that is OK? Otherwise I will replace with a pic of yours truly as soon as…


  11. Vanessa Hill
    July 17, 2011 | 7:49 pm

    Easy ways to avoid GMO’s are:

    – Eat organic. If foods are organic, they can’t be GMO’s (i believe this is true, someone correct me if I’m not)

    -Cut out most processed foods from your diet. Most are bad for you and contain too many preservatives, sugar and simple carbs. Most of these include GMO’s like corn syrup, etc. Did you know aspartame uses GMO’s?

    Doing this you will not only support local, healthy, non GMO food, but you will be healthier in the long run!

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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