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Bookworm author event explores question: Are GMOs good for us?

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"Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet," by McKay Jenkins.
Special to the Daily |

If you go …

What: McKay Jenkins, author of “Food Fight.”

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 16.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards.

Cost: $10; includes appetizers.

More information: Call 970-926-READ, or visit http://www.bookwormofedwards.com.

Throughout human history, communities have modified seeds to create faster-growing, larger and tastier food. After the agriculture revolution, community leaders, scientists, engineers and farmers began manipulated planting, growing, feeding and seeding techniques.

Within the past two decades, the world has created industries around the focus of modified food. Some of these techniques came at the cost of our land and our bodies.

McKay Jenkins, author of “Food Fight,” will come to The Bookworm of Edwards today, for a presentation on the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the food industry and their effects on our lives.

Jenkins’ previous book, “ContamiNation,” was inspired by a health scare that forced him to look at the materials that surrounded his life. This investigation, in turn, inspired the journalist to focus on GMOs and their roles — for better and worse.

This most recent work dives deep into the controversy, asking the question: Are GMOs good for us?

“Everyone asks, are GMOs bad for me, but is that the right question?” Jenkins said. “The common conscious among scientists is that a modified kernel of corn is not more dangerous than a normal seed. The issue is the GMO seeds are planted on several hundred million acres, creating deforestation. And if 200 million acres are sprayed with chemicals, this just begins to touch on the problems it creates.”

According to Jenkins, food production changed as the new American system got started on the East Coast after World War II.

“We built the system of interstate highways,” he said. “This started the birth of suburbia, allowing families to commute on intensive highway networks.”

The connection of people, goods and ideas came at a cost of small family farms. Since the 1940s, America has lost 4 million family farms, making way for mass-produced crops and animals.

“The interstate was built on top of family farms. First came the highways, then the network of houses and then the farms disappeared,” Jenkins said. “With all that growth, farm production had to relocate to the Midwest. America now had to feed massive populations from Boston to, say, Richmond, forcing food production to move and grow.”

The new production of food created the idea of cheap food in America. While other countries buy foods for their tastes or traditions, Americans buy based on price. Our new food production created fast and inexpensive food with newly modified ways to produce and grow.

However, Jenkins is quick to remind readers that his research is not anti-GMO.

“To be able to genetically modify something is a tool. It all depends how we use the tool,” he said.

GMOs are often used for good. The technology can produce food that increases vitamin A in the consumer, reversing the odds of blindness in young children. It has also created drought-resistant crops, among other life-changing attributes to new seeds.

These developments are happening across the world, but less so in the United States.

“The good technology in GMOs is not profitable,” he said. “The products that our global chemical companies are producing at home have a direct relationship between the health of our families and our land.”


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