calanque & bilingual post, by Jean-Marc
se chamailler

OGM + organic seed giveaway!

An artichoke plant grown from seed. Once it flowered, more graines were collected; with them I hope to grow a new plant in our garden. Is it true that seed collection--from our own gardens--may one day be illegal? Or is this just one of those conspiracy-theory rumors? By the way (and not in the same breath as conspiracy!), the film Genetic Roulette is free for viewing today (Friday), after which you will have to pay to see it! 

For those waiting to read the English translation to Jean-Marc's story, click here.

OGM (oh-zhay-em)

    : un organisme génétiquement modifié
    : a genetically modified organism (a "GMO"); a plant, such as corn, that has been genetically modified 


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

In the past month, apart from enjoying every moment with my dear mom (Jules left yesterday...), I have been learning about food, specifically genetically modified food--something that is banned here in France (due to the need for further testing regarding health risks...).

In the United States, genetically modified foods are prevalent, having been silently introduced into the market place in the 1990s. Found in fruits and vegetables, GMOs are in everything from ketchup to peanut butter to kids' breakfast cereal, and are served in restaurants, on airplanes, and in school cafeterias. Currently genetically modified foods do not require labelling (in the States) so there's no knowing whether or not an apple or a cookie or a jar of peanut butter contains them. 

Because the following topic could be a touchy or emotional one... I'm going to play it safe and assign myself the role of debate moderator--rather than debate participant! (go ahead and call me une poule mouillée or wet chicken--anything in order to hear your personal view on this GMO topic!)

So please share with us now your opinion on GMOs: would you eat a fruit or a vegetable that has been genetically modified? Yes or no--and why? 

Thanks for adding any related links (to documentaries, websites, books) that might persuade some of us to agree with you!

Share your view here, and enter to win seeds from this amazing artichoke plant, grown in my garden in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes... and soon to be planted here in our new garden near Bandol.

Click here to enter the discussion: "For or against GMOs".


One of the most exciting days of my life was seeing this gorgeous artichoke plant arise... from a single seed!

Thanks for forwarding this post to a friend!



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No GMO's for me...though I suppose I've eaten them without knowing. I'm a big label reader now. I think that we are playing russian roulette with GMO's and pesticides. I've gotten over finding an occasional worm in my fruits and veggies. I'd rather have that then a ton of chemicals or modified genes.

Marika Ujvari

I'm very much against GMO-s!!! I agree with Meredith. Messing with Nature is inviting trouble that may have irreversable and damaging results to our health. I also read labels, and it is amazing what is put in our food. I love gardening, but I would never use pesticides or herbicides in my garden.

Angela Sargent

I'm with Meredith and Marika on this.When you realise that "we are what we eat"it becomes important to keep food natural. We shouldn't meddle with nature.
Not sure I'm ok with the worms though Meredith!but I know what you mean.

Gayle Markow

I agree with Meredith and the French. GMOs are not for me, and as far as I'm concerned need a lot more testing, though in the long run even if the tests "prove" them safe, I'd rather stick with what nature has provided us -- without the extra pesticides, antibiotics, and/or other manipulations. btw, I'm voting this election (in California) to have GMO foods labeled as such. Voting YES on Prop 37. Thanks Kristin for your courage to post and request feedback on this. Food is essential and important to all of us - esp. us francophiles. :-) I grew up in Phoenix, Az. on slices of so-called American cheese. At age 21, while backpacking (and "auto-stopping") my way through Europe, French friends offered me raw milk camembert. i thought i'd gone to heaven. Since then, I'm a real appreciator of simple, real, profoundly delicious and healthful food.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, ladies, for jumpstarting this debate! And LOL Meredith and Angela -- while at the farmers market this morning, I picked up a gorgeous tomatoe... only to find a big wormhole on its underside. While reaching to put it back, it occured to me that I could just cut that part out. Back into my basket it went!


Nope. Real food for me!

Kris,  St Nicolas du Pelem 22

I inadvertently ate GM products for around ten years, though I do not feel any different and my health is good, I am very sceptical of the value of GM products. But I am afraid it is the way of the future, it is about making money and nothing to do with our health.

Ann Deane

I'm about to try harvesting tomato seeds for next year from the 2 plants I was given at a Connect meeting here in Saint Yrieix la Perche. I only moved here in may, from Scotland and have been stunned by the fruitful garden I bought. No herbicides, though my neighbour tells me that the local farmers use them on the fruit trees and that's why my mirabelles and peaches were not attacked by birds, as they would have been in Scotland. The farmers still lost a lot of fruit in the frost this winter.

Cynthia B

I was not aware of this until this past year and am not surprised that our government does this to us.
I think scientists and the government have gone too far. They need to find something else to play with, not our lives!
God has done a good job,leave it to him.....................


GMOs are safe to eat.


I'm the same, I go along with the majority view, I don't eat or want GM for anyone really, because of the unknown risks. I wish our PM would ban GM's, but no chance, whilst there's greater chance of profit from them!

teresa bittle

No, I absolutely do NOT believe any good could come from GMOs. That is, except for those who profit from it. We already have enough self inflicted illnesses and deaths attributable to our "brilliance" in altering foods and other products with carcinogens. Why create a potential for more??


I understand that feeding the world is a tremendous task, but I think they are playing with fire by modifying the foods we eat.....I don't want GMO foods and I believe foods that ave modified or contain fods that ave been should be labeled as such so we can knowingly choose wether we want to purchase and consume them instead of eating like a lab rat.


I believe we have been eating a form of Genetically modified foods for centuries. Each time we hybridize plants or cross pollinate to bring out a specific trait we are manipulating the genetics of that plant. Without it, our corn would be tiny, the apples you eat today would look and taste more like crab-apples and the wine industry would not be where it is today. More genuine discussion is needed without inserting emotion or unfounded fear.
Today's GMOs are the same thing on a much shorter timeline, I don't believe they are the "Frankenfoods" they are made out to be in the press.

Finnbar Owens

I don't even eat from a microwave, so it is unlikely that I will be seduced into eating GisMO food. But I am a vegetarian and only organic at that, so perhaps I am too health orientated for this debate.

Karen Whitcome (in warm and rainy Towson, Md)

It does help with some big world problems. If poorer countries rely on one stock, like rice for feeding their people, more nutrients can be introduced to that grain. It also helps reduce our carbon footprint.

"It’s been estimated that the carbon emission savings from introduction of genetically engineered crops that encourage no-till farming are equivalent to removing 19.4 bn kilogram of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere worldwide. This is equal to the carbon emissions savings from removing 8.6 million cars from the road for one year.
Minimal tillage farming also has several other benefits, such as better moisture retention in the soil and reduction in soil erosion." Richard Rousch, Univ of Melbourne

I sure hope that this is less about big business (like the hormone fed crops are) but I'm not naive.

susan standke

why do corporations need to recreate that which is already perfect??????do they need to control EVERYTHING? do they not understand that mother nature will eventually win out ? industry has a very poor record with the environment,,,,,and is scary, and i am firmly anti genetically altered food.......why spend time and money to change that which is already perfect.....susan

Karen Whitcome (in warm and rainy Towson, Md)

One more thing:

I am more afraid of the artificial hormone injected foods than the GMO's.

That artichoke photo is spectacular. THAT"S what "natural" gives us!!

Rosie Furston

I found out about this recently and am very frustrated by the lack of labeling. I would not knowingly eat GMO fruits and vegetables, but probably have because of not knowing. My health has suffered severely in the last 10 years and I'm wondering if that had something to do with it. I have eaten "correctly" for the last 20 years, yet still have several major diseases. I buy organic when possible and from local farms as well but still wonder.


As an American, I necessarily eat GMO foods all the time and don't seem to come to any harm.
There is no serious scientific evidence that they are harmful. Until there is, I'm not going to be swayed by the herd-like GMO opponents.

Cyndy Witzke

The two things that bother me most about GM foods are the fact that the government hasn't seen fit to tell us that they were being used in the first place (making me very suspicious), and won't label them so we can make our own private choice as to whether to eat them (making me further suspicious), and the fact that no actual proof has been given that they are safe to eat. We've only been given assurances based on "expert" opinion. Expert opinions have been found to be faulty in the past.

I object to being the corporate mega farms' guinea pig.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I recognize that it does help "super-nutrisize" crops for countries finding it hard to feed its population. However, it also changes native crops and creates mono-crops. Variety is always good in nature. The companies haven't been required to post long-term studies on the health effects on people of GMOs. I think anything that has GMO ingredients absolutely needs to be marked -- especially food directed toward children, like milk. We should be able to make a choice - GMO or non-GMO, just like we can make a choice "organic or non-organic."

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

Forgot to say, Kristin, gorgeous photo of artichoke and bee.


Regardless of whether GMOs are bad for us health-wise, they are definitely bad in terms of the concentration of food patents in the hands of big corporations like Monsanto. Does anyone foresee any advantage in having all our food produced by big corporations and having it be illegal to get seeds from our neighbors? We buy from the local farmers, and we buy organic as much as possible. We buy seeds from companies that are opposed to patents and grow our own produce.


I know very little about this subject but wonder if my problem with gluten isn't part of this issue. Modifications to wheat over the years in order to increase yield has given us a wheat quite different from the wheat our ancestors ate. Apparently this is the problem; the modifications and our genetic makeup don't mix well!

So I believe I'll skip GMO products if I can identify them!

Holly K

I have a wheat allergy, so GMOs create a huge problem as Monsanto has used genes from wheat and added them to other, supposedly safe foods, like tomatoes. I run the risk of having a reaction to foods that I am normally not allergic to if I don't try to avoid GMOs, which, as you point out, here in the states, is very difficult, and very expensive.

One issue that is linked to this is recent research into Lectins, glycoproteins that occur in all living things. Each plant and animal haver their own unique lectins, but when you trade genes, lectins that do not normally occur in a certain plant, may begin to do so. Many people are sensitive to certain lectins and can become very sick when exposed to them. Current theories are that autoimmune diseases such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis are linked to lectin exposure. Dr. Power, PHd at the Univ of MD has a paper online that explains some of this. Do a search on "lectin".

A lady near where I live runs a farm that uses no GMO grains in raising their livestock. She notes that less than 10% of the US grain supply is reliably GMO free. She also says it is getting harder and harder to find GMO free grain to feed her stock. In the US, even ogranic food is allowed to have a fairly high percentage of GMO grain used in it's production. Scary stuff.

Curtis Noel

I am in agreement that it is unnecessary and unethical to alter the genes of our food supply without our approval or worst yet our knowledge. It seems that this flourished at the same time we were building shopping malls in our farm fields. I took my children to protest a mine recently and it may become the proudest moment of my life. I think that is what the U.S. is lacking is the spirit of civil disobedience we once held so dear. That may be the only path to change in the face of a disinterested congress. The French are so much more bold that the result is their government respects them.

Jeanne in Oregon

I understand that GMO's came about as a means for growers to use less pesticides and fertilizer by increasing certain qualities of the resultant fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, very little study has gone into the resultant effects on the human body. The FDA's methods for testing such things is woefully lacking, generally based on limited studies on mice and even fewer on humans, often for very short periods of time. It could be decades before private studies reveal possible harmful effects to humans from these modified foods.

Yes, you are correct in stating that labeling laws do not require including information that GMO's are in the packaged food you are buying. However, there is one safe practice when purchasing foods at your supermarket ... buy organic. These products do have a far more stringent labeling requirement, and GMO's are NOT included -- ever.

Another thing to look for are those foods typically effected by the GMO rage. High on that list is corn, and we can eliminate or greatly reduce it from our diets. Replace corn oil based margarine and cooking oil with organic butter and olive oil. Read package labels and steer clear of foods containing corn. We may be forced, in time, to eat only GMO corn, but we can see that it is a less frequent event. An occasional piece of corn bread with chili or a few ears of corn with a summer BBQ is better than a daily dose of corn hidden in packaged and processed foods.

I agree wholeheartedly with Cynthia B ... God has done a good job, leave it to Him.

Martine NYC

Hybridizing and genetically modifying are not the same thing. If GMOs contain/help release pesticides which destroy the digestive systems of insects, chances are they aren't benign on the human body. Like other readers, I would like testing and labeling. The French government is accountable to its citizens. I would like to see that happen here too! Et vive l'artichaut!

Gigi Richard

Much of the GMO activity is to modify our food to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides. That is...genetically modified crops so that they can spray more chemicals on them! Choosing organic is a good way to avoid them.

And recent (but conducted over a long period of them) research in the UK produced clear evidence that GMO food for resistance to roundup resulted in cancer in rats...
from the peer-reviewed scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology

Another abstract in the International Journal of Biological Sciences

and, a great video explaining the study...

another article about use of pesticides with GMOs...


Genetic modification is the foundational principle of agriculture. It's been around for millennia. The potential health risk of these modifications as they are applied today comes from the removal of diversity. Pause for a moment to reflect on the startlingly narrow variety of fruits and vegetables that can be found in the American supermarket. Compared with documentation we have of the varieties extant in the 18th century vegetable garden, we can begin to see how genetically poor even a basketful of local organic produce can be.

This is an intentional act including the participation of all the links of the food production and distribution chain. It's not economically feasible to mass produce or distribute hundreds of vegetable varieties, so the selection has been intentionally narrowed in order to focus on those which have the best yields and the longest "shelf life." This isn't about secret scientists or "the government." It's about free market economics.

Who will decide which will prevail? Will it be a rich diversity of locally produced small harvest crops (i.e. the individual or community garden)? Or will it be the economy of feeding a planet populated by creatures who are not willing to part with enough of their leisure time to make the former possible?

Holly K

To Hendon, be aware that no scientific research on GMO seeds has ever been done in the US (President Bush passed a proclamation that GMO seeds were substantially equivalent to non-GMO seeds allowing producers to bypass the steps that normally protect us) and that the contract end users of the seeds sign with Monsanto, Dupont, etc, specifically forbids any research using them. Nobody even knows if they perform the way they are supposed to, as they are not legally allowed to conduct a study to find out.

I have had Lupus for over 40 years and nobody can explain to me what causes it. When I cut certain foods out of my diet, I went from losing my eyesight and barely able to climb steps or walk any significant distance, to suddenly being 20/20 visually and back to stair climbing, beach walking, having a life, etc. I am working with an allergist, pulmonologist, rheumatologist and several other medical specialists who all firmly believe that the US food supply is part of the problem. They have seen a huge uptick in the number of cases of autoimmune diseases recently. The only way to control these diseases currently, is to switch off the patient's immune system. Not a good choice. So we have been experimenting with diet modification with fantastic results. I also put all my pets on wheat free diets and they lost weight, no longer have any skin problems and their arthritis has dramatically improved.

Jane Thomson

A little correction of your English:

Just to tell you that the word "role" in English is spelled identically to the French rôle [apart from the circonflexe]...."ROLL" in English, is, as you surely know, un petit pain, ou un rouleau, ou autrechose que "rôle"!

Thanks for your daily messages from le midi!


I applaud France for taking action to ban GMOs or OGMs! Canada seems to be taking a very complacent stance on the proliferation of our food system with GMOs. My daughter is an environmental scientist and if everyone knew what she knows, they would be afraid to eat anything without first ensuring it wasn't genetically modified. There are foods on the market that contain GMOs that made test animals literally explode.....and yet its "safe" for humans? I think not!


This topic is so close to my heart. I have been anti-GMO, anti-preservatives, anti-chemical additives, anti-synthetic/non-caloric sweeteners from the get-go. When the US adopts policies like the EU, especially France and others regards synthetic and altered foods, we will have taken a huge step in returning the US population to the road of health.
Thanks for allowing me a platform (my children have long thought that I was nuts.)
I'm so glad that you had a great time with Jules. Chief Grape did a great job subbing for you.

Marcia Douglas

I am sure I have eaten GMO foods without knowing it. I'm not crazy about the idea myself, more testing needs to be done. Instead, in the summer, I grow my own vegetables from seed and eat my own fresh foods everyday. My cherry tomato plants yielded more than 3 gallons of tomatoes this summer! I grew an eggplant for the first time and have harvested seeds for next year. Tomatoes that drop and rot on the ground readily sprout new seeds, so it's easy to harvest those seeds for next year too. My favorites are sweet peas, which I eat right off the vines everyday.

Melissa Muller

The ancient, heirloom veggies our grandparents grew thrived, and still do. Why mess with what works? It's painful to read about all the autoimmune diseases that potentially are caused from unknown diet factors. No GMOs please!

Jules Greer


I´m at my hotel in Mexico City, just finished a wonderful breakfast, compliments of the manager here at the Ramada. I will be in my room in about 10 minutes if you want to call me - Room 4427...I will go back to the airport in about 5 hours. I miss you so much.




I agree with Andy's observations regarding the relationship of 'economics' and relative 'laziness' of the American culture being driving factors in the widespread growth of GMO's. Common sense tells us that the less chemicals and unnatural substances coming into our bodies the better. We also know that if there is money to be made, someone is going to try it, even if it is not 'healthy'. (Prime example - cigarettes ...they are not healthy, they are packaged with warnings galore and yet as long as people buy them, they will be produced and sold by some while others are, at the same time, out raising money for 'research' to cure the diseases we know will be brought on by their usage!) As 'consumers' we can make a difference, but as Andy pointed out, we need to be willing to put in the time ... to garden, to arrange our schedules to shop from a local grower instead of the neighborhood hyper-market, to be vigilant, and to require accountability from corporations and our government. Basically we need to slow our lives down enough to appreciate and care for things that matter, besides money. That's what I have come to appreciate about the French as I've become personally acquainted with individuals and their culture over the past decade - they value people and 'quality' in a way that truly enriches their lives. Thanks for sharing that part of French life with us, Kristi! :)


If GMOs are all about making profits for big corporations, then I'm against them. If they're about adding pesticides, genetically, to plants, then I'm also against them. But if they're about feeding more people, or about growing more nutritious plants in poorer, arid soils, then I say go for it.

Not all parts of the world are as fortunate as Europe and North America in terms of good soil and climate. Research that helps people in other parts of the world eat well is a good thing. Research must be done in parallel to prevent unanticipated results also. And, I agree, ALL GMOs MUST be labelled so that those of us who chose to not partake may do so.

I also feel strongly that we must all support small local farmers and help to preserve heirloom varieties of plants for posterity. But that is not mutually exclusive to the development of GMOs that will help feed people more effectively.

Maria Brophy

GMO's will contribute to starving nations all over the world. How? Because the plants are designed to never reproduce. You have purchase new seeds each season.

Imagine a poor country having to buy new seeds every year. They will starve, if Monsanto has their way.

It's an evil plan, one that only benefits the greedy owners of Monsanto and other companies that are spreading this unnatural way of growing food.

And, GMO's create allergies and other problems in humans. NO to GMO!


I agree with Andy above that this is a question of economics. The target of our regulations should be less centered on science and research and more on the abuses caused by human greed. We should aim at developing a diverse robust food system the fills the needs of all members of the human family. Ending hunger should be a top goal for the international community. Some of this need will be filled by scientific research on genetically modified foods. Much can be accomplished through better management and less waste alone.

Mary Scott

Thank you for asking this important question, possibly the most important subject of our times. Would I eat GMOs? As a matter of fact, yes I would - but not because I WANT to. I live in a country where Big Pharma and it's ilk practically run my country. "We the people" don't really matter. We are simply pawn in the hands of these large corporations. If I had a choice, NO, NEVER would I buy or eat or put on our family table, anything containing GMOs, but that is absolutely impossible in the USA. The Monsantos of this country OWN our Congress, they have fought labeling with multi-million dollar ad campaigns, telling us to "not worry" and defending their rights to own and command all farmers to pay them for any crops they plant, alleging they own the seeds the farmers used. In fact, Monsanto now owns 88% of corn seed in our country. If farmers try to not use GMOs and their fields become contaminated by the GMOs in field down the road, they are sued by Monsanto, like this Canadian small farmer: " a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto's genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn't matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered products). According to Schmeiser, "I never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying chemicals. I never signed a contract."
So please, please, thank your adopted country for being on the side of the people and not the corporations. It is one of the many reasons we love France. It is also one of the reasons we spend our vacations in France every year - keep up the great work and keep up the pressure on these people. Thank God for France!

Dina Stagg

I think when big companies start dumping millions to defeat legislation like PROP 37, in California people should sit up and take notice.
I think the root of American health problems and obesity will eventually be outed as a direct result of GMO's and pestisides. I want labels, I want clean, natural food, and I don't want my seeds held hostage by big corporations. These companies play dirty and Americans should wake up and take a stand before it is too late. At least the EU is showing some common sense about the issue. Vote prop 37!

Oh and the weather here in Texas is overcast and in the 70's. It is seriously humid here.

M. LeBlanc

The farmers of the world need to be able to sow seeds which will yield not only food but seeds for next years crop.

GMO seed companies would have the entire world dependent on buying their seeds each year, rather than being able to save their seeds for next years crop. This is intolerable and for this reason I will not consciously buy GMO foods.

Cate Salenger

I'm with the French on this one. I believe all products that have any genetically modified ingredients should be labelled. In the meantime, I assume everything is genetically modified in the states and try to eat what is locally and organically grown. But there again, that is probably already genetically modified as well. Sad state of affairs.

Betty Tuininga

I am a Vegan. Sadly because they are not required to label GMO's in the USA we are at danger of ingesting such without our knowledged. I try to buy organic when I am able, but cannot always get the organic produce/products that I want within my budgetary constraints. We also have no guarantee that the organics have not been cross-contaminated. I also have a gluten allergy and run into the same problem. I often wonder if it isn't the introduction of said GMO's that has brought on my serious late in life food allergies!


It is curious that there is a lack of labelling of GM products in Supermarkets. If you even consider wheat and soya beans, these form large ingredients to so many products we consume, which again also lack the appropriate labelling. I think the consumer should have the choice and option to form their own opinion. If I could avoid GM I would; I grew up with my Dad's veggie patch and maybe we'll need to go back to collecting seeds and planting them because will the nurseries be honest on labelling their seeds given the focus on GM nowadays?

Frederick Roberts

For centuries, possibly for millennia, people have been improving plants (and animals) thru selective breeding. All Luther Burbank's work involved gene-tinkering. Today's tinkering can be more direct and is much faster. That is what plant breeders can now do.

It is becoming easier to directly modify human genes to remove tendencies for certain people's bodies to clog their arteries, to be stroke prone, to retard premature aging, to reduce mongoloidism.

Tongue-of-the-newt medicine definitely has standing in tradition, but hardly justifies rejecting science? Results from scientific break-thrus are not rushed to market upon discovery. They are first subjected to extensive testing.

Sandra Zeoli

GMO origin food should be labeled as such. Everyone has the right to know what's in their food. GMO food may be perfectly safe to eat for some people but not for other people

Why take a chance? Peanut butter is banned in many places in the U.S., due to food allergies. Why should GMO origin food be any different?

Anne McGlynnn

They should be labelled and I wouldn't eat them. Absolutely not. I live in the US and Monsanto are genetically modifying crops specially designed so that they will only grow with their own particular pesticides. Corn is one of these crops. We have no idea what this kind of tampering on a molecular level has longterm on the human body, or the results of crop cross contamination. We need to go organic, but even organic food is produced with organic pesticides - something most people don't think about, and these are dangerous to the human body as well. I once asked a vendor at a farmer's market in Berkeley if the strawberry I was about to sample had been washed. She said, No - it's organic! Organic does not mean grown without pesticides.

Pamela Harnois

Yes, I think all GMO foods should be labeled! Period.

Fellow Californians, there is an initiative on our ballots in November for the mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified food. This will clearly let consumers (in California) know if foods are genetically modified. This would become the first law of this kind in the US. Please Vote Yes on Prop 37.

Clarice Hammett

I am against GMOs, although as Maria pointed out, they can help produce food in poorer countries...however, I do believe that people should know what is in their food and where it comes from, although in the US, this is very difficult. This is one of the many things that I love about France. I love how people know (and want to know) where their food comes from and are passionate about the quality of what they are eating. While there are "pockets" of people who do genuinely care where their food comes from in the States, I feel that our country as a whole does not see the value of quality food.

In California, Prop 37 is supposed to help put labels on genetically modified/engineered foods. While it will not cover everything, it would be at least a start for California (a whole other debate there), but I thought it was relevant to the conversation on here. Here's a link to an article if anyone is interested.,0,3501046.story

Also, I just wanted to say it's very interesting reading everyone's comments and viewpoints - very interesting topic to think about.

Andie Triolo

Wow! Lots of discussion here! Without taking the time right this minute to read all, I'll weigh in: I know I eat GMOs sometimes (on airplanes, in restaurants, and so forth), but buy organic whenever I can. I wholeheartedly support Prop 37 and believe that the near-wholesale US embrace of GMOs is dangerous!

mimi taylor aka cigalechanta

I try to eat foods that are as pure as possible. If you see a worm you know it's most likely pure. I agree that food should be labeled if genetically modified.

alicia brown

we have been genetically modifying plants for years....crossing one variety with another. The question is what else is in that genetically modified seed....round-up ready in corn for example.

Kris @ Attainable Sustainable

Full disclosure: I wrote the two stories I'll link below. But may I point out here (as I also do in one of the articles) that Alicia is muddying the argument. Yes, we've been altering crops through hybridizing and breeding. That's crossing one great corn attribute with another corn attribute. With the current genetic engineering that's happening, two different species are being crossed. We might, in nature have a Springer Spaniel/ Golden Retriever mix. We'd never, ever in nature have a cat/dog cross.

Karen from Phoenix

I try my best to eat organic and as pure as possible if not organic. Am I eating GMO's I really don't know. Since there is no labeling I guess I wouldn't know. There is so much being done to food now, it is scary.

Love the picture!


Patricia Wroblewski

I moved to the U.S. 10 years ago with my parents, and I must say, that I am very upset about the low quality of food and food regulations in this country. I am worried that eating GMOs and other meats (in restaurants) that contain hormones will one day show its results and harm the health of people I love. I am thankful that organic food exists, however, it is still sad that you cannot trust your government's food regulations, especially when labels are missing.


The issue here in the US is that we don't even have a choice! Too much money to be lost by Big Agri-Business... Trust in this country has eroded so that we would question even when things did get labeled. Labeling will be a start though! I fear for my deathly-allergic little niece. She could react to the odor of peanuts and groundnuts. I wonder when her mother will be faced with an allergic reaction that she cannot identify because she ate something that had a genetic link to her allergens. JMHO.

alicia brown

There is no argument here. Rather in speaking about this issue which definition are you taking about in relationship to the concerns? The scientific definition or that of the Union of Concerned Scientists?

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
I just saw a news report on this the other night. I guess it is expensive for the grocery stores to label products as GMO. I just try to buy as much local produce and meats as possible. If we could all just have our own little gardens and grow our own produce, but that's not possible for most people. It's scary sometimes wondering where our food is coming from or how it's been handled.

Lori from Arroyo Grande, CA

GMO's are not safe or Monsanto and the other agri-business giants would not be spending millions of dollars to defeat Prop 37 in California. I try to eaT organic and grow as much of my own food as possible although I don't know how much I trust the govt regulated labeling of anything.


I didn't even know about GMO's. I live in the dark when it comes to news; always hearing after the fact. It sounds like an interesting debate. I just got back from my mom's house so I will read up on them in your blog tomorrow. Have a wonderful weekend!!

dana stacy

Simply put, I don't now and never will eat GMO foods. As a strict vegetarian, I'm not excited about chicken genes in my artichokes!! So we buy as much non-GMO organic and/or local food as possible...and the hope that the labeling is trustworthy. As my husband always says, when the government tells you to do something, RUN RUN RUN the other way!!! :)


I agree that we need honest labels so we can decide if we want to eat food that's been modified or not. It won't keep us from ingesting GMO's at restaurants, on airplanes, etc., but it's a start. I intend to vote yes on prop 37 in California in November.

Maia Tellier

As a nursing mother I try to eat organic and no GMO's. My family has allergies and I am worried about what Monsanto is doing to our vegetables. I plan, eventually, on living in France and thank goodness I won't have to worry about it there!

Bill Facker

What a "fire" you've started, Kristin :-) This debate is as diverse as the feelings of a person having the luxury of "shopping" at a wonderful open air market .. deciding whether to buy organic or non-organic (depending on how much money they have on that day) AND the parent of a 5 year old child (or, an orphaned street child)in a poverty stricken country, whose only chance at BASIC SURVIVAL is digging through filthy garbage dumps in search of scraps of food for sustenance.


Yesterday journalist, best-selling author and all around food guru Michael Pollan came out with an inspiring piece in the New York Times about the food movement and more specifically Prop 37 in California, the ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods.

Pollan’s article wrestles with the importance of the conversation on genetically engineered foods in the U.S. and what Prop 37 to label GMOs in California means for the rise of a new food movement as a political force to change the conversation in Washington, something we at Food Democracy Now! believe is vital to protecting our planet and our basic democratic rights.

Pollan’s delicious NYT's article “Vote for the Dinner Party”

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

The GMO debate is so fierce here in the US. The focus is on California now, in hopes that proposition passes, and labelling will be required there. That might get the ball rolling for the whole country.

GMO does make money for the Monsantos of this world, as the farmers are forced to buy seed, do not have the option of saving their own seed. And the bizarre lawsuits if the pollen is carried by wind to their fields! Too much control by the large corporations, I think.

For me, the organic food movement is all about how farming is done -- though I am not a farmer myself. If we are foolish in farming practices, we lose in the long run. Photos of the dust storms of the 1930s in Oklahoma, a dramatic reminder of poor farming practice and its bad results on more than one farmer.

In later life an illness altered what I can eat, making the pesticide issue more personal. Now, my concern for organic is not just for the farms, but also for myself. I buy it exclusively.

The argument about labelling the food as GMO, I cannot understand it. The companies are not very subtle in saying, we know you will not buy it if you know it is GMO. The politics of it, passes me, I am no politician.

One more reason to live in France, GMO not allowed.

Even in the fast food restaurants that have invaded you from the US?

I cannot imagine a scenario where collecting seeds from your own potager could ever be barred. Not in France. The crazy US, who knows!

Thanks for the photo of the artichoke on the plant. A new image for me, and I hope the artichokes tasted fantastic.


What a surprise to see your article today! And what a reaction with so many people weighing in on the OGM subject. I'm on a break so have no time to read all views.
C'est une poule mouillée, moi aussi; mais personally, I'm cautious, and hesitant to eat OGM products due to articles I've read before. I wish all products were labeled properly so people can make their own choice.


I fondly remember seeing the beautiful artichoke plant at your house. I hope the seeds do well at your new home!

Lee Isbell

Long discussion here which I haven't had time to read fully at the moment. (My housecleaner is waiting for me to straighten up the living room.) I'm not at all worried about GMOs. I do worry about pesticides ... since those are designed to kill, their effect on humans and animals we like must be carefully studied.


I buy almost exclusively organic, but am sure we eat lots of GMO's, especially when we go out to restaurants. In a perfect world, there would be no GMO's. Let's hope it may happen. Some day.

Suzanne Dunaway

Until there is proof that ogms are dangerous, I am happy eating them, even though I grow most of my food and eat organic products here in France. However, it is well known and often discussed that parents one day will 'modify' their embryos to be what they want: color of hair, eyes, mental agility, etc. Interesting subject.

Doreen Lorand

There is a proposition on the November ballot in California (USA) that says GMO food must be labeled as such. The California farmers are against it, naturally. We're big on labels here, even though many people don't bother to read them. GMOs will never be outlawed in the USA because of the profits of feeding many people faster, ad nauseum.

Sylvia Moody

I'm sure I have eaten GMO food many times and didn't know it existed until I went to a language school in Bordeaux in the early 2000s. I would like to know if a food is genetically engineered and would prefer non-GMO food. The taste of a lot of older varieties is lost through this process, not to mention the possible effects. It's disconcerting also that many plants can't be propagated now through rooting! Something that could once be shared with friends is no longer possible.

Romeo Danais

I haven't finished watching the movie yet, however, at 31:26, one of the doctors suggests how a "new organism exposed to a 'pregnant chicken' killed the embryo in 48 hours". Now, I've been raising chickens for 4 years and I haven't ever seen a "pregnant chicken" - chickens lay eggs, if the egg was fertile, it may hatch, otherwise they make great omelets!


Beautiful pictures,dear Kristin,as always!
A wonderful part of our freedoms is freedom of choice! We're each responsible for our own well being,and thankfully,we can choose what nourishment is best for our own bodies.
The upside of being in the Trisieme Age is not being afraid to speak up;the downside is more days behind than ahead(!)
All the more reason to be super careful and prudent!!
Love, Natalia XO


GMO food is not permitted in the UK.


To the comments saying there has been genetic manipulaton for centuries, true, but not substituting fish genes and other wildly divergent genes from other species. So much of this is new and there's no way to know the outcome. No GMOs for me, although we probably consume much more than we know.


GMO's? No thanks! Hybridizing plants is one thing, but introducing animal genes into plants, and especially food products is totally different. Developing a plant that is resistant to pesticides in order to use even more pesticide produced by the same company has had tragic effects in India.

The move to label GMO's is a good one, in my opinion. Minus the exemptions,that is. Truth in labeling for all products, is what I would like to see. In the meantime, I try to buy organic, or from local vendors that I know grow organically but cannot afford what it takes to get certified. As Joni Mitchell sang, "We've got to get back to the garden."


NO GMO for me ,NEVER.
I moved to the USA 15 years ago, coming from France.
I only eat organic. But I still cannot eat any grain here , too much processed,I have to have my bread, flour, jams etc.. shipped from France. I am often ill because of the food , when I go back to France for vacation, all my symptoms disappear.
GMO is a Russian Roulette, it does have side effects, it is not acceptable. We should be able to have labels with all the details.
Il est evident que les grosses corporations, ne veulent pas d'etiquettes .
We need to fight against them. But who can we trust.
Last week NPR or JPR talked about GMO, side effects have been found, they are dangerous.
I think they modify the food and a lot more over here, compare to France.

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

I try to buy local ... not from the big boys. But that is not always easy. I use the green markets and local seafood suppliers. Also use the local French and European bakeries.
I want to, once again, compliment Kristi on her brillant photography! The artichokes and flowers are wonderful. Merci. Priscilla from La Nouvelle Orleans


If you have ever wondered why more people are irritated by wheat products and have gone gluten-free in addition to organic, please read this article:


Kristi, I thinnk you opened up a can of worms on this one. NO GMO. Bad for out=r health and environment. There are many articles againist, just put it in your search engine. This is just one of many:

Phil Anderson

Be careful when any government tells you something is safe for you! A good friend who served in Vietnam died recently at age 70 from a combination of diabetes, heart problems, two strokes, amputation of several toes, terrible headaches all from what we believe was caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam and the government at that time told us not to worry about it, it could destroy forests and jungles but was safe for humans to be around!

joie in carmel,ca

I am definetly against GMO's. California will be voting on this issue in 3 weeks. The issue will be the labeling of foods that have fallen prey to the GMO, and not banning them all together. But it is a start. One of my concerns is in the seeds we buy when we want to have our own garden...are these seeds already treated? What about all those fruits and veggies that are grown organically? They may be organic, but what about the seeds. So, save those seeds from that artichoke since it is pure and then start marketing them ..... you just may have a new business. Now I feel like I have to find the answer to the seed question. Will let you know when I have an answer.

joie in carmel,ca

Since Castroville, CA. is known as the Artichoke Capitol of the World and is about 20 minutes from here I now have to find out if those are genetically modified. Somehow I think not since most of the growers have passed the farms down for generations. Most have been the Swiss and are still family run.

John Hall

Dead set against! Read Michael Pallon's book, The Botany of Desire; Random House NY The section on the potato and Monsanto'z reassurance to his questioning the potentials, "Trust Us" would be enough to chill one's blood on a hot day, and when the author checked gov't agency resposible for testing found they had no funding to do any testing and asked the representztive, Would you eat one of the a GMO potato, got the response, 3Why would you want to?" Says it all for me.


WOW! Your blog today certainly has brought out the comments.
Firstly, PLEASE don't fool with Mother Nature. Things were just fine withOUT GMO's.
Secondly, ignorance is bliss. Until a charming lady in far off France points out what I and my neighbors locally in Florida as well as friends in many areas of the USA had absolutely NO idea. So I am no longer blissful. I'm mad as heck that I had NO idea about GMO's invading my gastric track nor those of my children and friends and other family members.
I will take those informational packets about NON-GMO foods and leave them on the food shelves of my grocery store so others can find out about GMO's and foods that are not invaded by harmful chemicals.
I sent the link to the video to my family and friends across the USA to share with their families and friends.
I posted the link to the video on my FB page too.
I've printed the NON-GMO food list to share with my neighbors.
And I'll also mention this to my "women in business" luncheon next week.

Brava Kristen! You've enlightened many to this issue with your blog as illustrated by the many comments. Keep growing your garden and sharing with us across the Pond dear.
Cheers! Paulette in Palm Coast, Florida

Lauren Golden

Just in the past month there have been several articles in French newspapers about GMO. New research has definitely linked these foods to cancer. By the way France bans the production within France but imports GMO foods.


I just finished reading Carol Drinkwater's ,(by the way, is she a neighbor of yours?) Return to the Olive Farm. It seems the fight for organic farming and the fight for "real food" without the use of unnatural chemicals is as real in your country as ours. Our grocery clerks don't even know where the produce comes from when I ask in our local store.

Bronwyn Jones

I'm definitely voting for California's Prop 37 for the mandatory labeling of GMOs , especially after reading Michael Pollan's article I've been reading him for years, and thoroughly enjoyed the PBS special based on his book, The Botany of Desire.

If you're interested in learning more about California agriculture from another thoughtful and intelligent food writer, here's Mark Bittman's recent article from New York Magazine --

Marjorie Fredrickson

If I know something is GMO, I don't buy it. The problem is that one does not always know, and until mandatory labeling is required by law, we will continue to be bombarded with it. We are becoming more and more a chemical society, and it is frightening.

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Very current topic, kristin. Just read a study this month that "discovered" that GMO fed rats had bad reactions: the male rats grew many more tumors than normal, while female rats' tumors actually became cancerous. I try to be careful-but is difficult to do this in the US.

Joanne Polner

Hi from NJ, the Garden State. Our family eats organic (and non-organic from time to time). We were vegetarian for 17 years to avoid the pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and steroids in flesh foods. Now we can get steroid-free and organic flesh foods. We eat only organic dairy. GMOs for us? NO Thank you! and we keep alert. Go California! Speak up for all of us on your wave length. Thank you for your food for us on the east coast. Dina Staggs: the base of obesity is the failure to feed babies only human milk until age one and continue for as many years as one can (maybe 2 to 4) along with organic foods, no bovine milk, perhaps,later, yes, goat milk and sheep yogurt and cheese. Fat in human milk does not lay down in the baby/child the same type of fat cells as bovine milk fat creates (hey, that is for a few hundred pounds of calf, not for 20 pounds of a yearling human) Fat cells stay with a person for life, filling up or releasing contents. You want a human being to have proper fat cells and only human milk can do that in infancy and early childhood. Also a year of only human milk [no solids] and no bovine milk after a year or more or ever may prevent diabetes [see Science News]and in the long run, prevent pancreas problems. Next, here I place what I copied from above so you will read it again: Jolley's comments about Monsanto! Posted by: JolleyG | Friday, October 12, 2012 at 03:09 PM"
"Regardless of whether GMOs are bad for us health-wise, they are definitely bad in terms of the concentration of food patents in the hands of big corporations like Monsanto. Does anyone foresee any advantage in having all our food produced by big corporations and having it be illegal to get seeds from our neighbors? We buy from the local farmers, and we buy organic as much as possible. We buy seeds from companies that are opposed to patents and grow our own produce."
Thank you, Andy, to for your comments. For more info on breast milk as THE HUMAN FOOD of CHOICE,read Dr Sears the Elder's books and read my paper with bibliography: Breast Milk to Solid Foods: At Age One Please write to me at [email protected] [ no g in that address]and I will send you a copy. 5 pages. Promote perfect nutrition from the start of life, eat well yourselves, ladies, and feed babies human milk. Joanne

Georgia Schall just north of San Francisco

I can't say that I am that informed but will be more so thanks to this blog! What bothers me is that these GMO's have been introduced silently and that we are not given a choice via labeling. They are already in the food chain. I will now take a harder look at Prop 37!

Thanks Kristin for shining a light on this topic!


Hi Kristin,

I tried to read every word, but you really did get a lot of responses to the GMO question. First, I don't recall anyone mentioning the fact that GMO seed crops SPREAD their 'contamination' to adjacent crops. This is a serious issue because no one (for those who commented that sufficient testing has been done) knows what this will mean in the near or distant future. Second, isn't is strange that since the US has been messing with foods such as BHT hormones in dairy products and now genetically modified crops, Americans have a serious obesity problem and more and more people are diagnosed with diseases our parents and grandparents rarely had? Of course, the low fat diet craze didn't help as people piled on the sugar instead!

When you allow companies to play with nature in producing food, you should expect antibiotic-resistant bacterias, mysterious human and animal health conditions, and irreversible problems.

It's time that the US and other countries followed the EU in protecting food from the giant agrabusinesses who care only about profit. For those who believe they don't, it is naïve. But beware! We just returned from a month in France, and there was a lot on TV about Monsanto France. They are there and they are. I believe, up to no good.


I would never knowingly eat GMO foods. I believe there is too little research to verify their safety in the long run. What's more, it's a political issue. Monsanto, a major agro player, mandates the sale of sterile GMO seed to impoverished Asian farmers. Another method of perpetuating the cycle of poverty via biological dictate. We in the States are woefully ignorant. For me, GMO is all about profit, nothing about people, and it's immoral. I feel very, very strongly on this issue. Vandana Shiva has it right.

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