Like many people who have seen the documentary Food, Inc., April Dávila left the theater feeling pretty pissed off at Monsanto, the St. Louis-based agricultural company that has the distinction of being the very, very worst of the film's many villains.
Unlike many Food, Inc. viewers, Dávila continued to read up on Monsanto and after she learned that the company's genetically-modified corn was possibly harmful to the liver and kidneys, vowed to boycott Monsanto for a month. Since she is a writer and editor of the Southern California Review, she decided she would blog and tweet the entire experience.
Giving up Monsanto, it turns out, is a lot easier said than done.
Monsanto, you see, doesn't just affect what we eat. It also affects what we wear and how we keep ourselves clean. It has many, many hidden subsidiaries, like the company that grows 55 percent of the nation's lettuce and even a few companies that grow organic crops. Its sugar is, in Dávila's words, "ubiquitous." And it owns Round Up, a commonly-used weed-killer.
Just to make things harder for herself, Dávila chose the month of March -- rather than, say, February -- to go Monsanto-free.
First of all, I'd like to reiterate that I am vilifying no one. I am simply testing to see if it's possible to remove genetically modified organisms from my life. I am picking on Monsanto only because the vast majority of GMOs originate with them.
Second, my only problem with Monsanto's patents are that they don't seem to have control of their product. Genetically modified crops cross-breed with those planted by organic farmers who never signed up to grow Monsanto product, and Monsanto gets to call foul. If a flat-screen TV literally walked into my house and wouldn't leave, I would be pretty upset when the cops showed up on my doorstep to arrest me for larceny.
Third, genetic engineering is different then breeding. Just try to imagine a little tiny bacteria molecule trying to seduce a stalk of corn. I don't care how much Al Green you play, those two are never going to get it on. However, my main concern on this front is actually the questionable safety of GMO foods.
About two days in, when she discovered how far Monsanto's reach truly extended (organics?!?) and that she might possibly have to limit her diet to wild-caught fish, free-range chickens (the kind that eat only grass and bugs), organic dried fruit, coconuts, maple syrup and seaweed, she was ready to abandon the project in despair.