On 50th Anniversary of X-Men, Our Food is in Need of a Hero
When I was young, my grandparents owned a bookstore in Philadelphia called “The Village Bookmark.” It was very small, and I’m pretty sure my grandparents sold more lottery tickets than books. But I was a burgeoning bookworm and The Village Bookmark was my favorite place in the world. After my grandfather passed away my mom helped out there. She would bring me along on weekends, and I remember spending entire days hiding in the back office with a pile of books I pulled off the shelves.
My favorite section in The Village Bookmark was the comic book aisle. I loved fairy tales; reading stories about characters that could fly, walk through walls, or sprout Adamantium claws just seemed like a natural extension of that. In particular, I became obsessed with the mutant characters of the X-Men. I imagined I was Storm and could manipulate the weather. I practiced throwing playing cards like Gambit. I wore sunglasses inside to prevent shooting energy beams from my eyes, like Cyclops. My mom wasn’t too happy about that one.
September marks the 50th anniversary of the X-Men, and I can’t help but think about my days in The Village Bookmark office reading those comic books. And I can’t help but think about where I am now, fighting against mutants of another sort. Genetically engineered food initially doesn’t appear as scary or dangerous as Lady Deathstrike or Dark Beast. But it’s certainly still a threat to people and the environment. Herbicide-tolerant GE crops, one of the most common applications of GE technology, are inadvertently creating superweeds, which are impervious to traditional weed killing methods and require hazardous levels of chemicals to fight off. What could possibly sound more like a villain in an X-Men comic book than superweeds?
In addition, genetically engineered foods present a number of safety concerns for consumers. Work is still being done to determine whether or not the consumption of GE foods is safe for people, or if it could do irreparable damage to our health. A study published in the June 2013 issue of Journal of Organic Systems found that pigs fed GE feed had heavier uteri and higher rates of stomach inflation. Could eating genetically engineered food be turning us into mutants?
When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be a mutant like the heroes in X-Men. But right now, genetically engineered villains endanger our food system. The USDA is currently allowing field testing of GE crops that could accidentally contaminate other farmers’ crops, and the FDA doesn’t require GE foods to be labeled, making consumers unsure whether or not the food they’re eating isn’t genetically engineered.
Our food is in need of a hero. Join me in taking action and tell the USDA to stop field testing genetically engineered crops.