by Carol Spearman, Becketwood Member
Most of us heard about the recent report that breakfast cereals and other food products contain glyphosate, including Quaker Oats. Many people consume oat products; physicians and dietitians recommend them as a good choice for breakfast, particularly for those with diabetes and heart issues. The American Heart Association certifies that Quaker Oats meets the criteria for a heart-healthy food. For over 140 years the Quaker Oats Company has claimed it has unlocked the power of oats to help people get the perfect start to each day. They must now be trembling a bit about all of their claims, as in recent tests they were identified as having one of the highest levels of glyphosate in their products.
This August a judgment of $289.2 million was announced, awarded to a former groundskeeper who was required to spray Monsanto’s Roundup® on school grounds. The major ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which the World Health Organization declared as a probable carcinogen. The court found evidence to connect Roundup to the plaintiff’s cancer and there are many more cases waiting to go to court. Roundup is now present in a multitude of common conventionally grown foods. The Executive and Legal Director of the Alliance for Natural Health USA said after a study of breakfast cereals, “We expected that trace amounts would show up in foods containing large amounts of corn and soy. However, we were unprepared for just how invasive this poison has been to our entire food chain.”
In addition to the spraying of crops, 26 million pounds of Roundup is sprayed on school grounds, public playgrounds and gardens each year. Our children are exposed to glyphosate internally and externally.
Increasingly, glyphosate is also sprayed just before harvest on wheat, barley, oats and beans. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so that it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. Now, in addition to the genetically modified crops like corn and soy that contain glyphosate that is passing through our crops and animals, we are getting the product in additional ways.
Do you wonder how we could have allowed this to happen in the United States? There has never been a lot of media coverage about the dangers involved in genetically modified crops and in the processes and chemicals used in large-scale food production in our country.
My personal interest in this lack of media coverage began several years ago. While in England, a friend gave me a book telling me I should read it. I dutifully did and found myself steeped in a non-fiction story that read like a thriller. The book was Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey Smith. The intriguing story was about the first research grant to create a model for testing genetically modified foods, to verify that they were safe to eat. This grant went to the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, under the leadership of distinguished scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai. His team, including his wife Susan Bardocz, had been working for two years on the project when their results alarmed them. I thought the drama that happened when Dr. Pusztai tried to warn the public about his findings was a story that the world needed to know. I made contact with Jeffrey Smith and suggested that he write a popular movie, like Blood Diamonds (this film alerted people to human devastation caused by the diamond trade), that would expose what happened to these competent researchers who had begun their research with great hopes for genetic modification. Alas, Jeffrey was busy on a documentary.
After some soul-searching, I determined to write the script myself. I had taken some film-writing courses in Britain and I had an idea for staging the drama. I’d write a film about a book club of older women who read Jeffrey's book and decide to take action, a kind of cross between “The Golden Girls” and “Charlie’s Angels.” I finished a draft and sent it to Jeffrey and asked him about contacting Arpad. Jeffrey encouraged me and the next thing I knew I was on email with Dr. Pusztai, who was more than happy to meet the next time I was in Scotland to review the script.
What happened next was an adventure taking us from Scotland to Hungary to meet Dr. Pusztai and his wife Susan, and to add their personal touch to the screenplay. Perhaps you are wondering why you haven’t heard of Dr. Pusztai’s research. After he tried to make his research known, he was discredited, terminated from a position he held for 34 years, and silenced by a gag order. Later, scientists from around the world supported him. During this drama, there were only seven articles written in the United States about the struggle to make his research public.
Where is the script now? It has been dormant for several years but will be read by a team of Becketwood members on October 6. Plan to attend Angels of Deception to hear the true story of Arpad Pusztai, told through fictional characters.
Research studies in Canada have shown that the chemicals used in modifying corn and soy are passing through the afterbirth in the placenta, something that was never supposed to happen. Studies in France have shown serious results of giving GMO feed to rats that miscarry, have deformed offspring and become infertile. These studies have been suppressed.
If you wish to take some action on this issue you could write letters to companies like Quaker Oats and General Mills about their need to stop selling products with glyphosate. You can post notices on Facebook about the issue and applaud companies that are producing GMO free products. Also let politicians know about the need to convert our corporate farming from GMO corn and soy to sustainable agriculture, and to stop spraying crops with glyphosate at harvest.
The chemicals that are being used in our environment are impacting the health of our children and grandchildren. We could change this if enough people knew about the heavy price we are paying for believing our products and our food are safe. In the meantime, stop buying Roundup and find another product to start your perfect day, perhaps an organic one!