On January 11, 2017

Understanding GMOs, organic and other terms

Dear Editor,

In response to Kyle Finneron’s story “The first 30 days,” published in the Mountain Times Dec. 21-27, which asks if organically grown food is worth the extra money: In most cases, it is not. After extensive testing, which many organic growers claim they have never done, it does not appear that organic fruits and vegetables are measurably any more nutritious than conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
Don’t get caught up with semantics.
Pesticide residue and nutrition are not interchangeable topics. I would not eat strawberries from the conventional food chain even if they were free. A strawberry is like a sponge that once soaked with pesticides can’t be wrung out. Almost everything else on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” (with the exception of nectarines and peaches) can be reasonably cleaned of any pesticide residue. I have been a financial supporter of the EWG for years and I happen to know the Dirty Dozen is tested as is from the grocery store. Unless you are the dishonest type who tries to eat as many grapes as possible before you get to the checkout counter, you have little to fear. Once home, please wash them.
It has been said that 99 percent of the people who avoid GMOs have essentially no idea what genetically engineered means. The author may be one of them. In the “Clean Fifteen” section of safer fruits and vegetables, he marks sweet corn and papayas. Corn using GE technology is grown as feedstock for animal use. As long as you pretend that hybridization is somehow not transferring genes from one cultivar to another, sweet corn for human consumption is not a GMO. If it were not for genetic engineering, ring spot virus would have wiped out the commercial availability of papayas.
Here’s a news flash for you: every fruit and vegetable listed on the Dirty Dozen chart can be grown by you in Vermont.
If you don’t know how, you can still sign up for training to become a UVM Extension Master Gardener by visiting www.uvm.edu/mastergardener.
Or call 802-656-9562. In either case, do it before Jan. 23, 2017.

Daryle Thomas, East Wallingford
Daryle Thomas is a Master Gardener volunteer with the UVM Extension system.

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