Siren (foolishship) wrote in complexquestion,
Siren
foolishship
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GMO's

I recently came across a discussion on the treatment of animals and it reminded me of my "Ecosystems & Human Activity" class from last semester. I really enjoyed that class. The teacher, who lives on Saltspring (which says a little bit about her!) was a big advocate for environmentalism and non-genetically modified foods. I agreed with her on more than one level and on innumerable points.

Of course, most people are aware that we have to consume an obscene amount of meat to get the same amount of energy from grains. By eating the grains directly, we would be saving ourselves that trouble. I'm not necessarily advocating vegetarianism here - I'm not a vegetarian myself and I don't think I could be.

But I'm also grateful for Canada's policies on genetically modified foods (specifically milk). In the United States, or so I gather, the use of GMO milk is a big thing. It has to be labelled blue on the shelf, if I remember right, but no one really knows what "genetically modified" means. The cows are injected with something that makes them produce more milk, and in the process of being so heavily milked, get infections in their udders. The pus and antibiotics, which are given to them like one would give candy to a child, wind up in the milk. This instantly sets off a red flag for me.

I'm kind of mulling over the issue of GMOs, humane animal treatment, and vegetarianism right now. There is no real question here, aside from maybe opinion or even the sharing of relative information on GMO's, vegetarianism, or what-have-you.

But I would like to say the use of pregnant mares for their urine and their absolutely horrible treatment apalls me. We use them to create PreMarin, used to treat menopausing women, but what about the horses? And the foals? They live horrible, painful lives, and die horrible, painful deaths. With synthetic versions available, why must we forgo the extra cost and instead inflict this suffering on animals? I very nearly threw something at my television when PreMarin was advertised not too long ago.

Here is a relevant link I found on the milk that sort of sums up what it is all about: http://www.mercola.com/2001/dec/12/gm_hormones.htm
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To start, while that article seems somewhat less biased than most of Mercola's work, I would not take information from his website to be very accurate. It is mostly aimed at selling his own products, and he has had several warnings from the FDA recently. I do not believe in GMO's because of the higher rate of soil degradation and other environmental destruction associated, not to mention health risks.

I am a vegan and these are issues I feel very strongly about, which is why this is such a long response. I stopped consuming animal products (more accurately I should say made the choice to avoid, since to not use any is impossible) for a lot of reasons; reduce my risk of disease, reduce my contributions to deforestation and environmental destruction, make more food available for others, and for animal rights. The modern agriculture industry disgusts me, which is why I abstain from consuming non-meat animal products (for reasons such as the connection of the veal and dairy industries). These are all beliefs that I have developed over several years, I initially gave up eating meat because someone attacked and mutilated my cat. At that point I realized that I could not longer contribution to the suffering of animals, though considered a food source in our culture, have the same capacity for pain as she or I.

I believe our culture is not living at a sustainable rate. This morning I took the "One Tonne Challenge" to reduce emissions. The average Canadian produces over 5 tonnes of emissions a year. My partner and I contribute 0.79. This is mostly because we are poor by Canadian standards, as issues like veganism were not factored in. We do recycle, and chose to stop driving, but most of the reasons our emissions are low are (not operating a car, having leisure-crafts running on fossil fuels, turning down heat or turning off lighting when not in a room, and living in an apartment) are economic. It is really not that hard to attempt to conserve fuel, but we tend to look for the easiest way to do things and not factor in the long-term impact.

Finally, this is why GMO's and animal abuse are so common. Most companies would rather produce cheaply for a higher profit. Most consumers would rather buy cheap products. I do not buy strictly organic produce because of money, though I try to. Part of why I push myself is supply and demand. If more people would make the attempt to buy organic, buy free range, it would be more readily available and cheaper. We are very spoiled in North America. We have environmental and labour laws. The people who live in the countries where many of our goods are produced do not, but it will eventually affect us. Environmental destruction does not respect political borders.
The reason I posted that link was specifically because some of the stuff he said about the milk is almost exactly what my professor told us in our class. I didn't do any background research on him because it was pretty brief and to the point. But I think if people can't avoid GMO's for the sake of animals, they need to avoid them for their own sake - there are certainly health risks associated with consuming foods that have been altered.

I didn't mention plant GMO's because I know very little about it, aside from the points you made, and such things as soil degradation, erosion, and environmental destruction I tend to attribute to intensive agriculture, not necessarily to the use of GMO's. The thing that scares me most about GMO foods is that we cannot protect other crops. If a GMO field is planted next to a non-GMO field, it is inevitable that (because of wind and such) you will wind up with intermingling and even interbreeding. The same problem of simple transfer of GMO plants and chemicals to other fields is the exact reason why organic foods cannot be 100% organic. To be organic is to be less than 15% altered/fertilized/touched by pesticide. It's impossible to actually shield plants from these kinds of outside influences. The overuse of chemicals is another big one that concerns me.

BTW, your mention of the One Tonne Challenge thing is interesting. Jay and I are in on that, too. While we do drive on occasion, we take the bus when we can, and he rollerblades when he can. Living in a townhouse we are also more energy conservative that way, and this past winter I was careful about use of heat - I just hauled a down quilt around with me everywhere. :P These are easy changes to make, and with the problems associated with electricity shortages, I wish more people would make them. (Especially given the damage additional hydroelectric dams do to our ecosystems.)

I think the bottom line is definitely dollars, and in a capitalist society, it's hard to avoid. Third world countries are the ones suffering right now, truly suffering, but if we continue at this rate, second and first world countries will not be far behind. We are digging our own grave with our planet, and eventually we will have gone so far beyond the carrying capacity that there will be no turning back.

I had a website you could use for tracking your "ecological footprint"... I'll try and find it for you. It's kind of neat like the One Tonne Challenge.

BTW, that's just plain sick about your cat - it's brutal that we do these things to animals farmed for meat, but it really hits me hard when it's someone's *pet.* It's why I could never have an outdoor cat again. If it isn't cars, dogs, other cats, or whatever, it's people that are a big threat.
Oh, and here are my (shameful!) results:
CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
FOOD 3.1
MOBILITY 0.3
SHELTER 2.2
GOODS/SERVICES 1.9
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 7.5



IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 8.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.



IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 4.2 PLANETS.
Our's is:



CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
FOOD 0.4
MOBILITY 0.1
SHELTER 0.8
GOODS/SERVICES 0.7
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 1.8



IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 8.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.



IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 1.0 PLANETS.

Veganism is the only real active choice for me, most of the rest is just being poor. It really shows how much of the damage is being done by our afluent, "western", society alone. Though in my case being able to choose to have a very exclusive diet is a sign of wealth.
While we are on this topic (I know, I know, I just do not shut up); I found this link: US sent banned corn to Europe for four years.

Another reason why I love western Europe and plan to live abroad when I can; most groceries sell organic, non-gmo produce as the regular (and regular priced) produce. The issue of enviromental sustainability is taken more seriously, arguably because of higher populations and more limited resources.
Updated version of our global footprint.

- Changed the size of our house.

CATEGORY GLOBAL HECTARES
FOOD 3.1
MOBILITY 0.4
SHELTER 1.7
GOODS/SERVICES 1.6
TOTAL FOOTPRINT 6.8


IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 8.8 GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 1.8 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE GLOBAL HECTARES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 3.8 PLANETS.
This might be a relavant link.

If you can't open it up it explains the lastest assessment of products obtained from cloned animals.

http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050411/full/050411-2.html

It disgusts me when scientists willfully blind themselves with numbers. Hiding behind a veil of abstraction they make recommendations based on half - truths.