Marin School District Goes GMO-Free, Fails Basic Science

Last week, Sausalito Marin City School District became the first in the country to serve 100% GMO-free school lunches. All school lunches will now be fresh, local, organic, seasonal and non-GMO, otherwise known as FLOSN.

FLOSN. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

For the past two years, Conscious Kitchen has been serving GMO-free food to the 156 kids in its pilot program and the results have been staggering —Teachers have reported: increased leadership qualities exhibited by students, improved academic performance, a 67% decrease in disciplinary cases, an increase in attendance, students treating one another with respect and improved manners and open communication.”

Also, since the kids started eating FLOSN foods, 98.4% of them have developed the ability to fly.

via flickr user Fernando Goldback
via flickr user Fernando Goldback

I don’t want to diminish the importance of a nutritious, fresh and delicious school lunch. The pilot school — Bayside MLK — is located in Marin City, where many residents live below the poverty line and 93% of students qualify for free and reduced government subsidized lunches. I applaud Conscious Kitchen for serving its students fresh seasonal meals. 

Unfortunately, that food comes with a giant serving of false propaganda — that a healthy diet must be an organic, GMO-free one.

Conscious Kitchen’s agenda relies on fear and chemophobia. “Students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins,” argues Judi Shils, executive director of Conscious Kitchen’s parent organization Turning Green.

Actually, pesticide residues are present in both conventional and organic produce (at perfectly safe levels, by the way). Conscious Kitchen also questions the safety of GMO foods, even though the overwhelming evidence shows that these foods are safe.

via flickr user USDA
via flickr user USDA

Conscious Kitchen’s 100% organic, GMO-free school lunch program isn’t a model for the rest of the country. Advocates for the program claim these lunches are affordable and adaptable (Conscious Kitchen says it uses USDA vouchers), but this program relies heavily on donations from companies like Whole Foods as well as its proximity to a high number of organic farms.

Organic, GMO-free food isn’t nutritionally superior or safer than conventional food. It’s just more expensive. Conscious Kitchen is wrong to promote organic over conventional food, especially to a population that can’t afford it. Their organic and GMO-free criteria promotes an anti-science agenda in schools, one of the few institutions left in our society where we should be able to expect some semblance of science literacy. 

featured image via flickr user Chris Griffith

Jenny Splitter

Jenny Splitter is a writer, storyteller and over-scheduled mom of two living in Washington, DC. She spends her glamorous days trying to write whatever she can, counting 1-2-3 in a slow yet threatening manner to her children, playing with gluten and working to eradicate dog hair from the planet (or at least her home). Find her on Twitter , Google+ and Facebook

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    1. It doesn’t need to be but local and seasonal produce is tasty, and I think it’s great to give kids access to what is mostly available at farmers markets or some place like Whole Foods. *Exclusively* local and seasonal produce, however, is not sustainable for a number of reasons.

        1. Which part?

          Is this clearer:

          Local and seasonal can be tasty. However, insisting that every fruit or vegetable be local and seasonal is (1) expensive and (2) impractical or impossible in places that have an actual winter (i.e., not Marin, California).

  1. When my friend posted this on Sunday I replied “Next stop, Detroit?”
    This model was tried in a small way at our school district and the head food person was terrific. He switched the food to whole grains, no hydrogenated oils, and fresh produce when available. When he left, the program fell apart! It’s hard to sustain, it really is

    1. I love good food, so I think any program that provides kids good, fresh meals is a great thing. It’s just a shame this one is tied together with junk science and touting itself as some sort of easily adaptable model.

      1. Yeah.

        Sensible: Serving a salad, or some carrots, or some mushrooms, or some lettuce and tomato on a sandwich.
        Not sensible: Insisting all that produce be local and seasonal (not always possible, but good if you can get it), organic, and non-GMO (as if GMO produce is even sold regularly, I’m pretty sure I can’t find the 8**** PLU prefix anywhere in the produce section, also don’t organic rules ban GMOs?).

        I’d add that there are environmental reasons for GMOs. Rice cultivation is a major source of anthropogenic methane, which is worse than CO2 (but thankfully shorter-lived); GMO rice produces less methane than wildtype rice, and that little change can actually reduce anthropogenic methane emissions by 10%. You can also modify rice to use less water. This can, of course, also be done with selective breeding, but it’ll take much, much longer.

  2. Organic produce should include GMO. There is nothing inherently wrong with GMO. I have a problem with the companies that control a large share of the market. There is something better about local produce in that they are fresh, more nutritious and you can get them directly from the source. I myself grow all my own rather than buy them from someone else.

    I saw the WHO report and posted about it before, they mention a meta-analysis of a number of studies indicating a statistical link with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Regardless, the advent of weeds that are highly resistant to Round Up has meant that Monsanto has now resorted to more dangerous pesticides, like Enlist Duo. Fraley himself admitted he was surprised that Glyphosate resistant pests have evolved so quickly, when scientists had been warning him for decades.

    Regardless, those of us who love science and are conscientious would never do business with a company like Monsanto or Bayer, as both were involved in the chemical warfare business- not just with Agent Orange (which was bad enough, even though they settled a lawsuit fir $10 million, they did not admit their responsibility for causing half a million birth defects), but DDT, Dioxin, among others, and have a long record of environmental pollution and cover up- like PCBs in Anniston Alabama for over 40 years. I would take anything the EPA/USDA/FDA says with a huge grain of salt, especially considering who the people are who work for those “regulatory” agencies. They didn’t punish Merck nearly enough for falsifying data on Vioxx, blacklisting doctors and the false efficacy of their Mumps vaccine and I’m still waiting for Bristol Squibb Myers and Johns Hopkins Hospital to be punished for intentionally infected Guatemalans to use as guinea pigs. The $1 Billion lawsuit isn’t nearly enough to help the families of the 774 victims. Fat chance since the people who work for these corporations also serve on the boards of these regulatory agencies (Michael Taylor anyone?) or just as bad, on the Supreme Court (yes, I mean you, Clarence Thomas.) This isn’t about science it’s about monetary greed, corruption and power. I’ve always believed that capitalism/corporatism is the enemy of science- but that’s another story (or actually a continuation of this one.) So is government- and I’m sure the scientists who signed the letter begging Truman not to use the Atomic Bomb (the greatest travesty in the history of humanity) would agree.

    I know there are a large group of scientists who love genetic modification but want companies like Monsanto and Bayer to be removed from the equation. I am one of them.

    Also, the issue of a “growing population” comes up often but all of these solutions are at best bandages. The only real solution is to stop the population from growing or to colonize the solar system. Humanity has already overpopulated the planet, and just like natural gas and fracking are no solution to climate change, (and actually make it worse, with the 5% methane leak and 500 fold increase in Mag 3-5 earthquakes as reported by the USGS), “feeding a growing population” isn’t a real solution (and neither is “cheaper” food when it fills the coffers of companies that shouldn’t be allowed to exist in the first place.) Humanity simply needs to learn to control its population better, for the sake of the entire ecosystem.

  3. “Their organic and GMO-free criteria promotes an anti-science agenda in schools, one of the few institutions left in our society where we should be able to expect some semblance of science literacy. ”

    Hmm. Given the absolute failure at science literacy in schools, this statement…

    That said, ugh.. Yet more stupid anti-GMO and pro-organic nonsense. Just saw, the other day (I work at a grocery store) a “gluten free” (but there is nothing in the damn thing that would have had gluten in it), GMO free (which is probably a lie, except that the fanatics only seem to recognize the safest, and most testable for problems, method of gene manipulation as GMO), organic (which just means someone inspected the bloody thing, in many cases), drink.

    The kicker being all the whiny BS about pushing congress to pass legislation to mandate “voluntary” labeling. How the F do you mandate labeling, then make it “voluntary”, especially when jokes like this drink I ran across are already “voluntarily” doing so, without any silly law in place? Is this like military volunteering, or something? You will volunteer, or we will volunteer you? lol

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