Even Zealots Don’t Garden


Here’s an ally I’m not entirely sure about: Big Food conspiracy theorist Robyn O’Brien, recently profiled in the New York Times, who is blaming the toxins in factory food (particularly genetically modified corn and soybeans) for a rise in childhood food allergies. 

Yet, according to a CNN interview on her website Allergykids.com, she is also working with some "amazing" global food service companies, national grocery store chains, Target, and Wal-Mart, hoping to license her allergy-alert symbol to them.  Sleeping with the enemy?   

Don’t get me wrong.  Severe allergies are terrible.  I have a friend whose 14 year-old nephew died of one.  He was home without his parents, babysitting his little brother, ate the wrong thing, and couldn’t find his epi pen.  Heartbreaking.

And for all I know, O’Brien may well be right about the cause of the rise in childhood allergies–though I am partial to the hygiene theory myself, which says that our lives are simply too clean and that, given too few real germs to react to, our immune systems go a little crazy and over-react to stuff that is not threatening. 

(We may both be biased.  O’Brien’s kitchen looks entirely too spotless in the photo above.  On the other hand, my children, my house, my dog, and I have no problem wearing a healthy coating of soil.)

But I’d prefer it if there were more science on her side.  And there appears to be very little. 

Besides, there are reasons enough to shun factory food, no questionable science required:  It tastes like crap.  Life’s too short.

The really interesting thing is that this healthy eating advocate never breathes a word in her Times interview or on the web-site about an easy way to avoid Monsanto entirely: Grow organic vegetables in the backyard.  Feed ’em to the kids. 


  1. Sing it sister! Let the kids eat all the veggies from your own organic kitchen garden, with a healthy dollop of soil still attached. That will keep the allergies away! Well, that and having 8 1/2 cats or thereabouts. 😉

  2. Michele,
    I think you should have
    ‘Grow organic vegetables in the back yard. Feed them to the kids.’
    trademarked and printed on tee shirts. You could sell them to disgusting Wal Mart and kinder Target.

  3. James-
    She does look rather skeletal, doesn’t she? I hadn’t noticed until I read your comment. You’re right that it’s hard to separate the message from the messenger. Hopefully, she’s not suffering from malnutrition due to her own food allergies, and hopefully, that’s just a bad photo making her upper arm appear to have as much muscle mass as that of the little kids in the photo.

  4. On 17th December 2007 Monsanto was found guilty of contempt of the South African Advertising Authority (ASA) for publishing false claims about the safety of GM foods.

    In January,2007, Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros (US$19,000 ) in a French court for misleading the public about the environmental impact of herbicide Roundup.

    A former chairman of Monsanto Agriculture France was found guilty of false advertising for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use. Monsanto’s French distributor Scotts France was also fined 15,000 euros.

    In 2005 Monsanto was caught smuggling South African produced GM Bollgard cotton seed into Indonesia disguised as rice. Monsanto was fined for bribing Indonesian officials.

    In 2006 Monsanto suppressed evidence of serious damage to the liver and kidneys of rats in their MON 863 GM maize trials until ordered to release this evidence by a German Court.

    In June, 2007, a second peer-reviewed case involving another variation of Monsanto’s GM maize, namely, NK 603, has been shown by studies to be potentially toxic to humans. NK 603 has been approved for food, feed, processing, and propagation in Europe and the Philippines The new research, carried out by the French scientific research institute CRIGEN, involves biotech firm Monsanto’s NK 603 GMO corn (marketed commercially under the name Round-up Ready).

    Rats that were fed GM maize showed significant differences in measurements, as well as significant weight differences compared to those fed with normal maize. Almost 70 statistically significant differences were observed and reported – 12 for hematology parameters, 18 for clinical chemistry parameters, nine for urine chemistry parameters, six for the organ weights (brain, heart, liver), 14 for body weights and body weight changes, and eight for food consumption. toxicity, The most alarming was the diminished brain size. Scientists warned that diminished brain size sent out a urgent danger warning for growing children fed `GM food.

  5. Issue Talk;

    Wow, that sounds incriminating! Do you have any references for the rat studies? I’m an M.D. and would be interested in reading them.

  6. Oh, God, Monsanto has been so evil for so long, who even notices anymore? My favorite was their SUING milk producers who advertised their products as bovine-growth hormone free for impugning bovine-growth hormone!

    Yes, it would be nice if various governments dealt with such stuff. But given how few profiles in courage there are in the real world, I feel Monsanto is best nullified by being avoided. No Round-Up in the yard, no non-organic products from the supermarket, no Monsanto seed in the home garden.

  7. Someday I am going to find that puppetmaster who controls big food, drug makers, weapons makers, health providers, prison economy, and politicians. Oh, and the popular media.
    I do think Ms. O’Brian is on to something, and I believe it is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. And come on, Ranters, get off her skinny arms. We don’t all have time to get out and work… hmmm.
    Okay, time to go dig up the flower bed and get ready to plant some veggies. Anything to avoid the GM polluted food in the supermarkets. And for the record, I think she is on to something. At least she has the courage (and the time) to stir up a fuss.
    And Monsanto sucks. I would not want to be on their board of directors, or even a stockholder. Karma’s going to get ’em, someday.

  8. The puppet master is money. Plain and simple. Monsanto has had former heads of their company turn around and work for the FDA… passing one of the very projects they were working on as being “safe.”

    Unfortunately for us, we are the guniea pigs here, and we will be the ones to suffer. As new illnesses pop up, who profits next? Oh yeah! DRUG companies. Big Pharma.

    Very important to know where your food is coming from these days. I wish I had more than a half acre to work with, but it’s better than nothing.

  9. Yeah, yeah, Monsanto sucks. But when I first saw this photo in the paper, I thought “crazy” before I read a word of the caption or article. Yeah, yeah, I’m shallow, but winter is getting to me.

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