Who this site is for: GMO-Free Portland! is for people in various stages of becoming no-GMO's like us as well as the curious that are sympathetic to our endeavor. You can use this site to investigate the concept for yourself, as a reference for others, or to help you with your non-GMO life - as well as connecting to the GMO-free community. Many of us felt alone but now we are finding each other online.
What our resources are: These links are the original sources of support and information that we use. We found some of them ourselves, and some with the help of friends and family and even strangers. We will be adding more now that we have you in our circle.
What this site does: The site is not written to persuade or influence people so they see the merit of what we are doing. It is a good place to send your curious friends, and people who are supporting you by finding out what you mean and/or why you don't eat GMO's. The best thing to do when changing your diet is to know what GMO's are and be familiar with the various topics/aspects such as science, activism, and support (this website, of us that connect here, and any like-minded people and supportive businesses and organizations out there.) We have information that tells you how avoid GMO’s. We also tell you why you should. Why do we do that if we’re not here to persuade? Knowing exactly why will help you accomplish your goal in many ways- ways that will vary with each person and grow in number with time. One very direct reason is that you will have to and/or want to talk to other people that are involved with what you eat in some way like markets, work (potlucks, meetings, etc), family you visit, etc.
The scary truth doesn't have to scare you. Although we both feel we know our health is at immediate risk from eating GMO's, and we truly want to support the right people while leaving the other guys flailing-then-failing, the reasons we are motivated to take action as we are are actually bigger than our health or our ethics. A growing number of us, including many renowned scholars, believe that GMO's are the biggest threat to humanity ever faced. Amidst many other aspects of the GMO situation written about here, are ways that GMO's might lead to massive epidemics and a very final collapse almost too terrible to put into words. You might consider going non-GMO nothing more than a dietary choice you make, but it is likely your choice will become more personally important to you on a very deep level because of the dangers GMO's pose to the world. Just read through knowing that we have a solution that could work in time if people act on it- and its actually enjoyable to do. Think of us- we're in it, researching, reading, confronting all of this stuff most of our waking hours and we're not depressed or overwhelmed or overcome with anger and fear (well maybe for a moment here and there but it becomes a little fire in the belly). That's because we're certain that we're on a road to avoiding these possible outcomes with this project. Our little sticker in the window- this little local website and small family of friendly businesses is not going to remain small. Portland is the idea birthplace. Starting with a quaint website and walking around the neighborhood with our eight window clings is the right way to start. And everyone that participates by reading and referring others to the site, becoming a Patron, or just being a non-GMO-friendly and aware business is paving the way for people everywhere if we do it right. The site and the other aspects of GMO-Free Portland! have only been really functional for a month and we're getting a lot of new and returning readers all the time. When we get the publicity we are expecting at the end of the month or so because one of the organizations we love is going to let their members know about us, the idea of non-GMO-friendly marketing will be established and here to stay. That's pretty confident, isn't it? To tell you the truth, the website idea which gave birth to the other aspects of the outreach came as a defense mechanism for having been suddenly blasted in school with scary stuff. Now instead of wincing, or looking worried when we hear another scary GMO thing, you'll see determined looks come on our faces right before we fly off to go do something. Sometimes I'll read something online and start furiously typing on this web page. I identify with the look Snoopy gets when he starts typing a letter. Or Calvin! My advice is to let the adrenaline rise a little, spring into action (whether you're taking care of yourself or the whole world), and then go produce shopping. Some of the stores on this website that you may never have seen are produce Nirvana. Good produce makes everything better.
The rewards of standing your ground: Does that sound, or has that been dreadful for you to try to be non-GMO when others are supplying the food? Not to worry. We show you on the Tips and FAQ pages how to coexist in a GMO world with others- to balance the need for some accommodation with the need to not be a burden on others. People understand why food choices are based on allergen-avoidance, religious observance, vegan/vegetarianism, and some health reasons such as gluten-sensitivity, high blood pressure, ulcers, cholesterol and weight loss, etc. But the general public will not understand when you attempt to screen your food for GMO's until they know more than the majority of people currently do. When you understand deeply and have these sources we provide at your fingertips should you run into curious and/or supportive people, you are moving closer the day that we will have businesses cater to us. Those businesses will be introducing others to the concept of avoiding GMO's by marketing to us. The general public will then become aware of the matter when they see the marketing, and they (the majority) will then learn about GMO’s in depth, and therefore demand law reforms such as asking for labels on GMO foods. Those labels and the public awareness they bring will inspire even more interest- including scientific. At some point, there is a scientific tipping point where the preponderance of evidence becomes scientific consensus. When that point is reached, you will see people and institutions of the government make a stand such as the Surgeon General or the Environmental Protection Agency.
The immediate need for public awareness: The race is on to reach that tipping point when the US and the rest of the world decides to stop the experiment on human health and the health of all things Earth. We need to make that happen now and not after another kind of tipping point- the kind reached when everyone realizes that we cannot live with the suffering but cannot end it when we finally try. GMO’s are living, not contained and in fact uncontainable, and no one knows what consequences are to come from their presence, although we can make some good guesses at a few of the bad things to come. The environmental side of their spread is the experiment of uncontrolled cross-pollination and seed dispersal that is "genetic contamination." We can't pull it back once the genes get out there. We see how they have transferred to human gut bacteria (Updates tab, entry 05/28/10). What about soil bacteria? If they cross species barriers to bacteria, can they also get into animal cells directly or through the bacteria? We are in the camp of zero-tolerance for transgenic crops for this reason.
Knowing what is a bad idea: I believe in the Precautionary Principal. A good definition is on nanoaction.org "The Precautionary Principle,already integrated into many international conventions, has been described as follows: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” I have my own definition: "Safe until shown unsafe" is wrong if potential unacceptable consequences lurk, Something can be unforeseen yet foreseeable. Some things just strike you as a bad idea. GMO's are a great example. They are made from bacteria. Bacteria transfer DNA back and forth. A bacterium could, and now we know has, take on those DNA pieces they're putting in plants and animals that came from bacteria. Bacteria live in the soil and in us. We have no defenses against some. We absolutely depend on others. We haven't been able to contain the GMO's already out there, and companies and regulation agencies haven't acted responsibly to even try. The science is imprecise and unstable. So just because someone says they didn't foresee certain problems- they knew- everyone knew that there was a family of potential unacceptable consequences we wouldn't foresee. Only when they arrive will we know. Those were foreseeable. At any point, someone could have (and may be trying to tell others that they have) predicted them. When you use the idea of "safe until proven unsafe" as a guide for something that can harm the entire world so outstandingly, you are completely and totally at fault for anything that happens after that. Here's an example: A robber takes a gun into a store he or she has no intention of firing, yet people were murdered when a situation didn't go as planned. It was unforeseen by the robber but completely foreseeable and completely his or her fault.
Faulty (or absent) logic: Here's another very relevant example of this faulty logic: Jurassic Park. "Oh they'll never get out. They can't breed because they are sterile, and they are all female." This is what was said about the cloned dinosaurs that were created from found DNA. It is also exactly what the bio-engineers of the GM Atlantic Salmon are saying. What could be more foreseeable than a real problem played out in a movie blockbuster? Jeff Goldblum's character says Chaos Theory predicts those dinosaurs will find a way to reproduce. He may have meant that nature is built on Complexity - you can't make predictions about the details of most natural processes. But what he is really expressing overall is that the Precautionary Principle needed to be the guide of what was or wasn't sensible.
For example, the GMO Salmon: Our FDA is thinking about approving this GM Atlantic Salmon knowing full well that it would not be sensible because a likely mistake at any point could have terrible consequences. This is a great article in the Bellingham Herald about the salmon, by the way. The company creating these GMO Salmon says they think they are about to be approved. That has been the case for a long time, but they are correct that they are now actually moving along the approval process. Here's the most asinine part: fish change sex! I'm looking up whether James J. Nagler's study of Salmon sex change has been corroborated- but the point is, some fish do change sex as part of their normal life history strategy and when you put a bunch of infertile genetic mutants with no males in a tank or pond together for 18 months you can't tell us you know none will change to males- especially when you've spliced in a promoter imprecisely that might act on other genes. I link to the PSR in the Resources tab and the Campaign for Safe Food Project Director based out of the Oregon PSR, Rick North who sends a monthly newsletter. I suggest everyone ask to get on his list. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Regarding GM Salmon being up for a potential green-light in the fall, He said
"One concern with a genetic promoter in any GE food, plant or animal, is if it’s turning on other genes at the same time it’s turning on the growth hormone gene. These promoters and genes can unleash a Pandora’s box full of harmful, unintended health consequences
This applies to all GMO's.
They don't have the right My take-home news is that they are experimenting with our flora and fauna of all of Earth and its not their chance to take. A company might think its okay and are convinced they are trustworthy, infallible and can predict the unpredictable, but I don't- and they have no right to take chances with something that could mean mass-destruction of life which also means our food, although mass extinction pretty much stands on its own as upsetting. This is irreparable harm and the Supreme Court just ruled on such contamination and irreparable harm with proactive language. Be on alert for an FAQ- when the salmon is approved and its comment time, we will announce it at the top of the FAQ page.
You can shape how much safe food is out there: All the comments we make to the USDA or FDA when they deregulate may be arguments used in court by those who champion us even if the regulatory agencies themselves dismiss them. That is what happened in the case of alfalfa. The court specifically mentions a percent and volume of pro- and against- comments in the alfalfa opinion. We don't have a lot of specifics or focus on environmental impact on this site. Our focus is health and food, and general food ethics. But it is a critical component of the argument against releasing new GMO's, so it is definitely related. They are spreading like wildfire around the globe in field tests and in different fast-track approvals and the number of plants the bio-engineering companies have in their sites is staggering. On the Resources tab we look to GMO-compass. That gives you a good picture of what is out there in Europe and around the world that is legal. But the real news is what is really out there, planted illegally and found in exported food. Thanks to Greenpeace and GeneWatchUK for this amazing list
Refuse the lie. GMO's are new, and multiplying. The biotech industry outright lies when they say GMO's are nothing new, we've been doing it since we learned to make bread from yeast, blah blah LIE. That's like saying rockets to the moon were nothing new because humans have always been able to jump. I think every movie we recommend on the resources page talks about that lie. GMO's are new (1973 first created, 1986 first field test, 1996 GMO's in supermarkets, and within the last decade they have become majority of corn, cotton, and soy crops). Their high levels are a new situation we are just now facing as a planet as the number of test crops and fast-tracking crops multiplies like bacteria. For the percentages of how much seed is GMO, look at this link on "GM crop adoption" from the USDA. For major crops we went from the teens in 1997 to over half in 2001 to over 90 percent in some cases.
Landmine or Time bomb? GMO's are new, and their effects will show up piece by piece after they have infected everything if something doesn't change. GMO's could be a planet-sized landmine. Something new can become suddenly, immediately, deadly to every thing and every one. Imagine a fatal disease that was caused by not just one bacteria but any that obtained these GMO traits of antibiotic resistance and supercharged DNA replication, that were specifically bred with an ability to infect every living thing by getting around natures barriers. It only has to escape from a plant to a single bacteria before the superdisease-trait is out of the bottle because bacteria swap DNA as a means of reproductive survival.
GMO's could be a planet-sized time bomb. Something around for decades can suddenly become or become recognized as deadly also. A carcinogen can be introduced to the environment decades before it is recognized as such. How many people smoked cigarettes for decades while the government promoted tobacco use before the madness ended? People had cancer for years before it was admitted- even when there were many good studies that showed it was deadly. Its not just that it wasn't seen. It was denied. And just like GMO's, the reason for the denial is certain lawmakers and regulators feeling that the profits of giant corporations was their top priority above the well-being of the nation or its citizens who include scores of true civil servants. Remember any regulatory agency or political entity has good people doing or trying to do the right thing. Our Federal Government websites, for example, show the efforts of people acting in our interest as well as against. This is an example of something really right with our government and we need to tell them from time to time that we like it so it stays that way.
We're the government when we demand to be. Another thing about the government- these agencies are as different as night and day. They have different cultures. They listen to different people. They have different leaders. They've structured themselves uniquely. Their hands may be tied or untied, dirty or clean, hidden or reaching out, from agency to agency - and even within an agency over time. No, we don't like how things are going- but we're anything but powerless to change it. We have a number of friends on the inside just waiting for the school of thought to change. In fact, those movies we link to in the resources page are littered with people on the right side of the issue. Granted, people tend to get fired for dissent but we have a habit of cleaning house when the public finally puts it's foot down. Some of those dissenters could be tomorrows most influential leaders in those agencies. But such occurrences only take place in a US Government organization when everybody and their brother knows how badly they screwed up. Like we said, the race is on to open up they eyes of the public before they open from the catastrophe.
If they won't do it, we will! Some think GMO’s should be treated identically to prescription drugs when it comes to regulation. How they aren't even that is outstandingly flawed. But since they are made to replicate and mix with everything and cannot ever be removed from the environment because they are, by nature, completely integrated, those standards of testing and regulation don’t even scratch the surface. But amazingly they are in fact not regulated or tested by any definition of the words! You might read that they are- agencies and companies might claim that they are, but you will find out that what they are calling regulation and testing is not what anyone else would. But as simple as this is, as quiet of an individual step as it may seem, creating a demand for products that are non-GMO in a community-building and local level will move that mountain. And it will do so in time! There is no faster, more powerful, more stable force of change we have at our disposal than that of supply and demand.
Don't take my word for it- check the facts yourself! I am making sweeping statements because this is an essay. But if you want back-up to what I'm saying where I'm not inserting links or naming sources in this page, it's still here. You will find what I say here on this site in the resources we use and link to. Once you investigate for yourself, we are able to help you get find the rest. Consider the links we put here my citations, and they have citations, and they have citations. Some of the resources are even made to pull all of this together. This is my own writing but I am not the only one out there saying these things by any means. There are hugely qualified experts we are sending you to with powerful information-providing structures. Some tell like I do in this essay but you will discover that some absolutely SHOW. And there are more to come on this page very soon and hereafter.
Arguments and stances serve an informational purpose. Regarding the tone of what you will read, all of these resources give a one-sided presentation, because this is a cause. But the groups presenting them have facts and expertise- and what today is an opinion may soon be accepted as fact. You still have access to- and many of these resources help you directly see the opposing viewpoints. Where you draw the line for what you need to see for yourself versus taking someone else’s word for it is a personal choice. You can go all the way to the base using this site and the resources (including emailing us) if you like. Ernie and I research and won’t stop finding current information and the new things coming out. We have just begun to get basics covered in this site.
We all can make more "good guys." Many people who are anti-GMO politically are at odds with food regulators right now and the bio-engineering corporations. It is true that this change we will bring will not be welcome at first- but did you know that some GMO producers own organics too? Right now, in some cases it is undoubtedly only to own the competition because the real breadwinner is the mass-produced GMO’s. If, however, the dollar follows organics and other non-GMO food as the main source of revenue, so will the companies. You may not like them- but count on everyone to follow the money to the point of becoming significantly different in nature, because their nature is defined by… money! If people demand "good guys" that is who we will get. Don't believe it? What we demand with our votes and our dollars is what a company is- and that determines who is in charge. No CEO or Government official can act against the people overtly for long. The scary truth is that the general public is for GMO's. Perhaps the spin is the reason, coupled with ignorance, and slanted by who is in charge of GMO’s being in our food- but that simply means this is what is working for the general public. People like it this way. And we here at GMOFreePortland believe they would absolutely NOT like GMO’s if they knew even some of what we do about them. So wherever you are in this spectrum that ranges from wanting to reduce GMO's in your diet to completely eliminating them from the food supply and environment of the world, your participation which requires some knowledge and support is what we are about here at GMOFreePortland.com. There are plenty of sites to find venting and constructive ways to use the outrage, and even the fear and sadness some of us feel. But this site is where you go to have a happier, healthier, and easier GMO-free life, not more strife.
Knowing difficult truths will make you happier. One doesn't have to be harmed by acknowledging difficult things. Yes, the facts are hard to swallow and the rabbit hole is deep. But you will ultimately find empowerment. It is a necessary unpleasantry if you want to keep this stuff out of your body- a reward worth every moment of staring the truth dead-on. You can set it all aside at will and go have fun in your reclaimed healthy body (temple) much easier than you can live with poison in attempted ignorance. Maybe it wasn't okay to do so before when all you had was freaky scary upsetting stuff- but now you have the power and others to help you exorcise these abominations.
What angry people can do: Many people we link to ARE outraged at agencies and companies. We utilize and support groups and their resources that help us not eat GMO's and many of those groups, just like many of us, are livid. These fed-up people are the ones inspired to be the most vocal. They disseminate the information and fight in court. They get the email campaigns going that result in legislators becoming advocates for our cause, petitioning each other before votes are cast. We need constructively angry people as long as anger is what is responded to. We mention the Center for Food Safety (CFS) a lot here. They represented farmers and other concerned parties in the Supreme Court case Monsanto vs. Geerston Farms. AgProfessional.com summarizes the court ruling as a victory for the CFS, as does the CFS itself, yet the media reported Monsanto victorious. The SC ruled that 1. the ban on planting GE Alfalfa is lifted because there is currently a prior ban on planting that already was in effect and remains in effect. All the media heard was handed to them in a spin, and they didn't look at the Supreme Court decision themselves. What kind of reporter doesn't fact-check a Supreme Court decision?! They heard this: The ban on alfalfa is lifted. Compare that with this: The ban on alfalfa is lifted because there is currently a prior ban on planting that already was in effect and remains in effect. But there were two other important things Monsanto asked for and were ruled against. The SC denied them the right to sell the GE alfalfa seeds, and they denied the request to consider the product not a cause of irreparable harm. Now, that damning language is set in stone and there as a precedent for others to use if they have harm done to them by some potential future release of GE alfalfa. This is what a group of really angry people and their allies can do.
The media only works when we participate. This brings us to the media. See the Updates tab entry for 06/28/10 for important links to this story and then read what your hometown's newspaper said in comparison. For those of you that don't live in Oregon, we here have A LOT of alfalfa. And we almost had a lot of GMO alfalfa pollen and little tiny seeds everywhere- and all those farmers trying to grow clean crops, and protect themselves from being called GE seed-stealers, or from losing their organic certifications because they were infected by someone else's GMO alfalfa crop would have been in real trouble. For everyone that read the papers saying Monsanto won, there are people they told this means GMO's must be safe per the Supreme Court which they absolutely did not. Read your paper and then call them to give them a grade. If they said "Monsanto won" that grade is Flunk. I see room for a little constructive venting- with a newspaper, radio station, or television news executive on the other end of the line. In fact, Question 7 in the FAQ page gives more information on the ruling plus contact information for the Public Editor of our only statewide newspaper, The Oregonian, which advertises that they rely on us to alert them of errors. If all you're concerned about is eating non-GMO, (and we support your choice!), remember that it is public opinion that determines what we have for food choices from what the grocers and restaurants sell, all the way down to what the farmers grow. Organics cost more to grow and if it isn't profitable we'll stop seeing them fast as lightning. Any news article that doesn't first and foremost report on the portion of the court ruling that protects non-GMO growers is just plain wrong- and that harms all of us, politically involved or not. You're only helping the paper's reputation by giving this feedback.
The methods we use here together are peaceful and positive. Unlike some websites, a powerful political stance is not a prerequisite here. We are having to fight for our right to have non-GMO food, yes. But you don't have to desire to influence others to participate in this project. We are at your service and you can choose what that means for you and what to turn to this project for. There is more than a little discontent in this essay! But what we suggest we do about it, what we are in fact facilitating as a cooperative effort is purely positive. Its all about rewarding and therefore encouraging good behavior and making friends.
Don't take anyone's word for anything GMO-related until you know you can. You’ll see references that are purely informative (including objective analysis), purely market-driven, political activism, and journalistic. And among all of these, there are a variety of tones taken. But one thing in common with the ones we link to here is that you never have to take someone else’s word for it. I'm going to give an example and if you know who I am talking about, please don't guess when discussing our page because it is intentional we are not naming names. Its just a great example of a problem we have to iron out together, and how you don't have to discard everything just because there are flaws. Cut the bruise off the organic apple and eat it :)
Recognizing reliable sources of information There is one scientist that makes you pay to find out the name of one of the most clear studies other scientists conducted showing the health risks of GMO’s out there. The study was made available online for free by those researchers. What the heck is this lady doing to lock it up when she is purporting to be a non-GMO advocate and what right does she have? She is quoted in some of the sources we refer people to amongst many other people that do give references. She never lists her sources in her articles and she doesn't link to anyone but her own money-making website. She is obviously capable of giving references to us - I've run down a number of her statements and found them to be based on fact by looking at other non-GMO sites that back up what they say. But no one else can use her arguments for anything! She's only actively helping herself. That does not make her work not useful, however, because she synthesizes information very well and you can find the back-up elsewhere. In fact, if you read something and need the source or back-up behind a statement, request it in an email with a link and quote plus your question. But it is much easier to get in the habit of reading material that welcomes fact-checking. We skip her stuff in our own research - I don't even remember her name right now- but I have sometimes only found her on certain subjects in a general search and then as a last resort I have been able to use her to find information. There are information synthesizers in our resources page that are the best of the best. Go to their websites. Read the reviews of their books and look who is quoting them. Use them and the references they used to find information instead of trying to find stuff in a search engine. It's the equivalent of networking within your trade versus asking for jobs door to door.
We're nothing without you. Please write us. Please make suggestions, ask questions, give us your feedback, and if you are feeling the kinship with us, tell us that too! We are meeting new friends here- people that want to be a part of this project whether it is becoming a no-GMO or taking it to the streets. We are even looking for "reporters" across the nation so that we can expand the directory to other regions as individual but connected websites- we reserved such a domain in preparation. Enjoy these resources and tell us about more so we can add to what GMOFreePortland.com has to offer.