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     GMOs (genetically modified organisms) hit the national news lately as the state of Vermont’s GMO law came into effect on July 1, and it has really created havoc with food producers.

The law will make Vermont the nation’s first state to enact a mandatory GMO labeling law.  National food companies are voluntarily applying labels to products with genetically modified ingredients, as they could face fines of up to $1,000 a day for each item that does not have the proper label. 

The scare of GMOs is out there, especially for the younger consumers. I, like most people, want to know what is in the food we buy, but for the most part, I don’t see a danger in GMOs. They have been around for a long time, from seedless grapes to vegetables that stay fresh longer.

The public really doesn’t want to accept GMOs. Tomatoes were the first genetically modified crops produced, but the public rejected them because of lack of flavor. GMO potatoes were first produced in 1996, but production was discontinued in 2001 because of consumer rejection.  So now, as of 2015 no GMO tomatoes or potatoes are in commercial production.

A number of GMO crops, like corn, soybeans or cotton, have altered genes to prevent damage from harmful bugs and pests. For the future of the human race, being able to feed the exploding populations in the coming years, GMOs done right may be one of the answers to the issue. 

Genetically modified organisms can have a positive impact for both producers and consumers. From an economic standpoint, GMOs can increase crop yields, making farmers more efficient. This could also help the small acreage farmer who wants to sell locally to farmers’ markets or restaurants.  These increases in yield can be a result of a broad range of genetic advantages bred into the crop. For instance, a variety of lettuce that has heightened resistance to cold and frost could mean that the farmer is able to retain a greater production after an early frost. 

Another great example of genetic modification proving worthwhile to both consumers and producers is the use of grape rootstock from America in vineyards during the late 19th century. After shipping rootstock to Europe from America, an outbreak of a highly aggressive aphid called Phylloxera, decimated European vineyards. After noticing that the American vineyards were not nearly as susceptible to the insect, wine makers started grafting their vines onto New World roots. As a result, the European market was able to almost fully recover from the outbreak. I knew you would like that one. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it clear that the use of genetic engineering in foods has not presented safety concerns and that the agency does not see a need for GMO disclosure on food packaging. But, some say a lack of definitive scientific data regarding safety concerns is problematic. It has turned into an emotional nightmare for some, and we are never going to change their minds. There are some good in GMOs, but there may be some that are going to make us question them. It is going to take some education, patience and truthful comments for this nation’s consumers to buy in.  Studies have shown that the upper classes will read the labels, but for the poor and hungry, food is food. We owe it to those folks to make sure their food doesn’t harm them.

Brexit – what a strange word, a word we’ve not heard of before, but 10 days ago, it was in all the news. And I imagine you were as confused as I was with that news.

We’ve all been aware of dissatisfaction that some countries of Europe have with the European Union. Some countries in Europe are close to bankruptcy, so there is that dark cloud hanging over them. But at one time, it is what they all wanted – globalization, borderless countries and one currency – in essence a trading block of 27 European countries, a movement that even some in the United States are pushing for, a one world power.

Ten days ago, the British voted to leave the European Union (EU), and the world felt the shockwaves, especially the financial markets around the world. Due to the unknown

consequences, the DOW on Wall Street fell 3.39 percent the next day and kept dropping for three more days. There are as many opinions as to what will happen to Britain, Europe and the world as there are people giving their opinion.

London has always been one of the world’s biggest financial centers. Some say England leaving the EU could affect banks and other financial institutions, as they would have to go back to their old currency, and it would be harder to do business with the rest of Europe. England would also have to negotiate new trade agreements with Europe and the rest of the world. That could take some time.

Already there is a lot of remorse over the referendum vote on June 23. By Sunday, more than three million had signed a petition calling for another referendum. Only 72.2 percent of Britain’s voters voted, and the “leave” vote won with just 51.9 percent. Even our President and our Vice President, who was in London at the time of the referendum, scolded the British for voting the way they did. I think it was wrong to tell voters in another country how to vote, but it also shows that our current administration is all for a one world order. To me, that is frightening.

So now Britain has to figure out what they are going to do. Should they hold another referendum, or is that just a knee-jerk reaction? Many voters said their vote was just a protest vote. Will Scotland choose to break away from England and stay with the European Union? Some say Britain will have to renegotiate all new trade agreements with the European Union and the rest of the world, and that will take many years. Also, Britain could choose to ignore the referendum, invoking Article 50, the procedure for actually leaving the European Union altogether, and would instead attempt to negotiate a different, but not entirely separate, relationship with the European Union.

It is easy to see why many voted for the “leave” referendum. Britain has kind of lost its identity in past years and has been hit hard by the immigration issue. They can’t do anything about the immigrants already in Britain who have become citizens, but some efforts could curb future numbers of immigrants and those who want to change Britain.

America needs to watch closely, especially on the trade issues. We need to learn how a borderless country may not be the safest avenue in today’s world. We need to think about the global government concept. One government for this world will not work.

A while back, the U.S. Department of Defense, listing climate change as the reason, encouraged the military to support and enact meatless Mondays, much to the dismay of thousands of livestock producers and organizations across our nation.

Our President is using climate change to list the wolverine and jump-start a whole list of other executive decisions, most without sound science. Now they are targeting what our service men and women put on their plates three times a day. The Administration is intruding into the lives of our military personnel, and most of them really don’t have much of a choice in what they eat every day.

This misguided movement keeps rising up all the time across the nation. In 2012, it started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in an e-newsletter, encouraging employees to participate in meatless Mondays. Between the livestock organizations’ and livestock producers’ quick action, USDA quickly removed the offending post, claiming it was for the good of the environment and personal health.

This time, some members of Congress quickly got involved, one being Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa. She quickly introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, citing the federal government’s dietary guidelines as reason to ensure that members of the armed forces get enough meat to satisfy their protein requirements. In an emailed statement, Ernst described meatless Mondays as “misguided at best” and in conflict with dietary standards.

“Our men and women in uniform should have the option to consume the protein they need, including meat, on a daily basis,” she said.

Freshman Sen. Ernst, who was born and raised on a farm, received national attention during her 2014 Senate election with a television ad called, “Squeal.” In the spot, she promised to make lawmakers in Washington squeal the same way as she did castrating pigs. It must have been effective. She got elected, but you know, Iowa is the national leader in pork production and the second largest producer of red meat overall. I respect her support, and you should, too.

And again, our ol' buddies the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are supporting the effort. The animal welfare group provides training and recipes to help facilities reduce their meat consumption. The group has helped the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut to cut meat consumption by 10 percent in three years. I guess eating bugs and nuts will help them float. I could go without meat at times, but it would take a good bowl of macaroni and cheese to do it.

So far the U.S. military does not currently participate in meatless Mondays, nor has there been any evidence that any branch intends to enforce it anytime soon. But I imagine someone, some group or even our President will bring it back.

As a big part of our meat industry, we need to strongly support our way of life with a positive voice of one instead of bickering among ourselves and organizations. The quality and healthy attributes of the meat we raise speak for themselves. That’s a given, but we have to combat those groups against us by getting good information out to consumers and others. Only by working together, we will prevail. Get off your duff and get to it.

The studies and other research about the benefits of not eating meat or the benefits of eating meat will most likely never cease. And for those who raise livestock, the battle to promote these products will always be there.

I’ve never been too concerned about meatless diets out there. That is the people’s choice, but we do need to be concerned about the false and misleading statements that people and some companies are making to promote the meatless way of life and make money.

Thank God we have our beef and lamb checkoffs to help get the true message out to the public – a public today that is very gullible. Many believe everything they see and read in social media and other information avenues. We have to support the good news and battle the misinformation.

There are some new meatless products out there hitting the grocery shelves, even in Wyoming, from a company in, believe it or not, California. The company, Beyond Meat, is a privately held company that makes single-serve meals of burgers and chicken using plant-based products. They are working with another company, Chef’s, where people can order these single-serve meals over the internet. As you can see, these meals will appeal to many, especially the millennials. I can see where it fits right in with some lifestyles. So here is a company making and selling a product to replace beef and chicken, but I imagine the main goal is to just make money, and they are using all the misinformation out there to promote these products.

Two new studies have surfaced lately about not eating meat. One was from the University of Graz in Austria, and it found that vegetarians are unhealthier and more mentally disturbed than meat eaters.

The study states that vegetarians are more often ill and have a lower quality of life than meat eaters. It also states that vegetarians are more likely to have heart attacks, some types of cancer and psychological disorders than those who eat meat.

In the study, they evaluated findings from the Austrian Health Interview Survey and the European Health Interview Survey evaluating some 1,320 people divided into four groups: vegetarians, big meat eaters, little meat eaters and meat eaters who included lots of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

Another study that just came out, the Netherlands Cohort Study by the Meat Investigation Cohort, which is an analytical cohort of 11,082 individuals including 1,133 self-reported vegetarians, aged 55 to 69 years at baseline. At baseline in 1986, subjects completed a questionnaire on dietary habits and other risk factors for cancer and were classified into vegetarians, pescetarian, those who ate meat once a week, those who ate meat two to five days per week and those who ate meat six to seven days per week.

The results showed, after 20.3 years of follow up, 279 lung, 312 postmenopausal breast and 399 prostate cancer cases, including 136 advanced, were available for analysis. After adjustment for confounding variables, they found no statistically significant association between meat consumption groups and the risk of lung cancer, and no significant associations were observed for postmenopausal breast and overall prostate cancer, while vegetarians and those who ate meat up to once a week did not have a reduced risk for the same types of cancer. They also had reported a non-significantly reduced risk of vegetarian and low meat diets on colorectal and especially rectal cancer.

That’s a lot to think about, but meat came out a winner.