FOOD FOR THOUGHT AT THANKSGIVING

My favorite time of the year is coming around again—Thanksgiving.  Not only do I get to spend time with the family and watch some football, I get to eat my favorite food.  Some of my earliest memories include eating Thanksgiving food…the delicious turkey, steamed asparagus, mashed potatoes and gravy, and my Grandmother’s infamous Jell-O made with sparkling grape juice and whole grapes. ­­­Though years have passed, I appreciate the traditions that remain, especially since my life as a college student is constantly evolving.

However, something has recently been popping up in the news and will now be making a known appearance on my table.  This guest has been served as food since I was a young child. But until recently, I never knew their presence really mattered… or does it? The special guest:

GMO’s, otherwise known as genetically modified organisms.

While some consumers are worried about their food containing GMO’s, I personally am not.  A complicated science, I can see why society is uneasy about biotechnology—it is hard to understand. However, the portrayal from the media has blown concerns out of proportion.  GMO’s have even been coined the nickname “Frankenfood” — an inaccurate name for consumers to hear. Recently, Proposition 37 was voted on by the California citizens. This initiative proposed on the ballot and if passed, labeling of GMO products would have been mandatory on products sold in the state.  The initiative did not pass, but leaves people feeling distrust with the food industry and the FDA. For more information on this, check out California Fails to Pass Genetically Modified Foods Labeling Initiative.

The intent of food companies who use and create GM food and the US government is not to feed their people potentially harmful food, but to improve performance of food safely. According to GMO Food Debate In The National Spotlight, the FDA “recognizes the desirability of establishing consensus within the industry, the scientific community, and the public on the agency’s scientific assessment approach to food safety presented in this guidance section. For this reason, FDA plans to announce, in a future Federal Register notice, a workshop to discuss specific scientific issues.”

I think this is a good step to take rather than slapping a label that could potentially cause a panic and distrust amongst consumers. A label, mind you, that does not include food bought at restaurants or fast food joints and excludes meat and poultry. There is a better solution than to cause further distrust and panic.  The FDA has the consumer’s interest at heart, as do the companies who use and create GM foods.  It will be interesting to see what materializes in the years to come, but until then, I will enjoy my Thanksgiving dinners just the same—GMO’s or not.

Lauren M Smith
University of Illinois Food Science student

ELECTION UPDATE: WHAT’S NEXT? CONTINUED GRIDLOCK?

This election cycle did not disappoint, it was full of ups and down and the occasional surprise. I, like probably most of America, was up late Tuesday night frantically following the vote totals waiting to see who would be the next President. It was a close hard fought campaign and I feel that both men gave it their all, unfortunately there had to be a winner and a loser like always. President Obama will take the victory and highlighted his goals for the next 4 years in his speech last night.

Though the presidential race was the most televised and it was not the only race as you know. A big story was the battle over which party would control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as you know the Republicans held a majority in House while the Democrats had a slim majority in the Senate. Both parties waged massive and expensive campaigns in attempted to gain more seats in this election. Here in Illinois there were 6 highlighted congressional races that Democrats’set their sights on picking up, in hopes of gaining a majority in the House. They fell short on Tuesday and were only able to swing 4 of the 6, yet there was no change in the balance of power in Washington D.C.

So, just over 4 billion dollars later nothing has changed in government except maybe the sentiment. The Democrats retain the Presidency and majority in the Senate while the Republicans keep control of the House. The questions I find myself asking now following the election is “What is going to happen now?” and “How will the next congress work together to fix the issues facing the nation?”

When I woke up yesterday and turned on the news all I have been hearing about in the election aftermath and the looming“Fiscal Cliff”. The Fiscal Cliff is the compilation of Bush Era Tax Cuts that are set to expire at the same time as $100 billion Spending Cuts go into effect January 1st. Many economic experts fear that these both will cause the US to fall into another recession. Legislators are on record calling for the needed action to prevent the Fiscal Cliff as soon as possible, yet nothing has been done. Now it’s up to the lame-duck Congress to sort out that along with other crucial legislation such as the Farm Bill, Budget Reform as well as issues with the Debt Ceiling.

Although these issues have been sitting on the back burner for so long I am optimistic that they will be addressed soon. Yesterday, both the Majority Leader of the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid (D), and the Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R), made public statements on the election outcomes and the future path that this nation. Both addressed the major issues that are facing our country and talked about the importance of working together to break the gridlock. This is a step in the right direction, but, there are still more questions to be asked and more debates to be had as we work to fix the issues that have plagued us for so long.

Through all of this I am optimistic that a change for the better is on the horizon. I believe that today is a new day in Washington D.C. and truly hope that our elected officials begin to work with each other again to put our country back on the path to success and prosperity.

Ed Gallagher
Go Beyond the Spin

IN CASE YOU AREN’T TIRED OF BEING TOLD TO VOTE…

Over the past several days, the media has been bombarding us with “GO VOTE!” messages. While I agree that this is an important message, I also think that those Americans who were not going to vote in the first place will not be affected by these messages.

If you ask me, this can be attributed to our tendencies to take things (such as the right to vote) for granted. We see this tendency often within the agriculture industry. In the U.S., consumers have the privilege of being able to be picky at the grocery store. Many people look for food that was produced organically, without sub-therapeutic antibiotics or hormones, grass-fed, etc. All of these production methods are great– except for one thing: they often don’t produce the high yields that we can achieve with the use of modern farming practices. This abundance of food in turn gives us the ability to be picky at the grocery store.

The problem is that most of us have had the privilege of an abundant food supply for our entire lives. We have not experienced anything different, so it is easy for us to take it for granted. This same idea applies to our right to vote. Obtaining this right took years of fighting and sacrifice, and yet so many of us choose not to take advantage of it.

No one can force you to vote, but if you take a step back and try to realize what you are giving up by not voting, it may change your mind. Billions of people around the world are still fighting today for the rights that you have always had as an American; don’t take that for granted.

Everyone together now… GO VOTE!!!

Rosalie Sanderson

Membership Administrative Assistant

 

HOW DO ILLINOIS FARMERS APPLY CHEMICALS?

If you’ve always wanted to know, you’ve come to the right place. Watch this video of the Illinois Farm Families “Field Moms” on a soybean farm in Illinois as they learn about chemical application, how its done, and why Illinois farmers apply chemicals with care.

You might be interested to know that:

1. Farmers “know what they don’t know.” If they don’t understand how to apply chemicals the safest way, they hire someone that DOES know and allow them to manage the chemical application.

2. Farmers want to swim in the rivers and fish in the nearby streams. They do not want to risk that their crop management practice would jeopardize those activities.

3. New technologies in tractors and sprayers allow farmers to manage the droplet size, minimize overlap (spraying too much on one row), and prevent the booms from becoming unlevel. These factors all minimize the opportunity for chemicals to leave the farm.

4. Farmers are very motivated to be sure that the chemicals they apply are the least amount needed to be effective and stay right on the plant. Chemicals are expensive. There is no economic incentive for a farmer to overapply or allow drifting.

Find out more at www.watchusgrow.org!