Farmer: This GMO Situation is More than an Emergency
This is the first of a two-part series about our conversation with Howard Vlieger, the president of Verity Farms. In the wake of last week’s announcement of the discovery of a potentially lethal new soil organism that may be causing miscarriage in women, SafeLawns is calling on the Obama administration, other health and environmental groups and concerned citizens to make their voices heard. The recent deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa needs to be stopped immediately.
A FARMER’S CONCERNS
Howard Vlieger said he witnessed first-hand proof that his cows were smarter than most scientists more than a dozen years ago on his cattle farm in Maurice, Iowa. In those days the owner of Verity Farms grew two types of corn, one that was genetically modified and another corn that only contained natural genetics. The scientists told him there was no difference in the two crops when harvested.
One day, when he filled half of his feeding bins with genetically modified corn and the other half with natural corn, his cows ignored the genetically modified pile and every single one of them congregated around the other side. Vlieger immediately wondered what the cows knew that he and the scientists didn’t.
“I have been a student of genetically modified crops from the beginning,” he said in a phone interview late last week. “As soon as I heard about them I started studying how they were made. As I saw them come into the food production and food chain, I witnessed the negative aspects of all GMO crops. Because of the consistency of these negative aspects, we accumulated this data, accumulated so much of this data — yet the scientists told us it was all termed anecdotal.”
Not all scientists, however. Not Don Huber. Not Andres Carrasco, or Árpád Pusztai either. These men, all working independently in three different nations thousands of miles apart, all reached the same conclusion: genetically modified crops leads to genetic mutation of the food supply and all those in the food chain including humans. Google their names next to the word Roundup and you’ll find days’ worth of information to underscore their findings and fears.
The controversy swirling around GMO crops has reached a fever pitch in many circles of the world recently because it has crept into the most sacred of places: the womb. As we reported last week, Huber — professor emeritus at Purdue University in Indiana — said his colleagues have identified a new organism that is possibly linked to overuse of Roundup, the world’s most common weed killer. That organism may be causing spontaneous miscarriage and infertility in women and livestock.
If it’s true — and all indications are that Roundup is at the root of the cause — then it’s not hyperbole to say this will be mankind’s greatest mistake and tragedy.
We called Vlieger last week to get the perspective of someone in the farm belt whose livelihood depends on healthy crops and cattle.
From the beginning of the move toward genetically modified food crops in the late 1990s, Vlieger said the problems were obvious.
“We saw more and more health concerns each year in livestock, everything from ulcers, reproductive problems, immune system problems,” he said. “As I witnessed this, I began to be more astute in the attention I paid to it. I am fortunate to be connected to a worldwide group of scientists who know how genetic modification harms plants and mammals — and, of course, humans are members of that latter group.”
Even before Don Huber’s announcement about the frightening new organism on Feb. 4 in Des Moines, Iowa, Vlieger said the situation had become critical in agriculture. In several states where the spraying of Roundup is most prevalent, livestock were suffering from increasing rates of infertility and miscarriage.
“A farmer feeding GMO corn was having difficult conception rates in the sows in Nebraska,” said Vlieger, whose company works with family farmers who raise naturally produced beef and pork in four states. “We saw the same thing happen in South Dakota and elsewhere. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. To the best of my knowledge, no third-party independent research exists that shows no negative side effects when feeding GMO to animals. There are countless studies that show a number of side effects.”
In Don Huber’s January letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, he called the situation an emergency. Vlieger said that probably doesn’t go far enough to describe the urgency.
“Emergency status is a mild way to phrase the situation of the past two weeks,” he said. “With what we have learned in the last two weeks, the far-reaching effects of this situation takes it beyond emergency status.”
He said the fact that Don Huber is the one calling for the concern should grab the government’s attention. With more than 50 years combined in academia and the military, Huber has been seen as a worldwide expert in soil science and microbiology.
“No one understands the threat of biological warfare better than Don Huber and that’s what this situation with the genetically modified crops amounts to,” said Vlieger. “That man helped negotiate bio-terrorism treaties with the Soviet Union on behalf of the U.S. government. If they trusted him then, they need to trust him now. His knowledge of the potential negative aspects of these things is unrivaled.”