Caitlin Shetterly traveled to Nebraska to speak with farmers. To California to speak to scientists. And to Europe to talk to beekeepers.
Shetterly explained at SJC Long Island’s Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Lecture on Monday, April 3, that she was suffering from pain in most of her body for four years due to a mysterious illness that left doctors puzzled. She noticed that her toddler was starting to struggle with the same symptoms — and she needed answers. Shetterly received her answer from a doctor near her home in Maine. She was diagnosed with a sensitivity to genetically modified corn, so she followed his prescribed diet and then went on a journey for information.
On her voyage for answers, Shetterly asked farmers, scientists and beekeepers about GMOs (or Genetically Modified Organisms). GMOs are organisms whose genetic makeup has been technologically modified, with the most popular being corn, cotton, canola and soybeans.
The amount of GMO crops that populate the nation concerned Shetterly, so she dove deeper into researching the subject for an article about how GMOs had harmed her body. Her article, “The Bad Seed: The Health Risks of Genetically Modified Corn,” appeared in the August 2013 issue of ELLE Magazine. It is still available to read online.
After the article was debate, Shetterly realized that she had more questions about GMOs and the environment, so she decided to write a book. “Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future,” hit shelves in September 2016 and chronicles Shetterly’s search for answers.
“I am not an activist. I am a frustrated novelist,” said Shetterly, who is indeed working on a novel these days. During the SJC lecture, she read from “Modified,” told her story and answered questions about her experience traveling, researching and writing.
“We are in crisis and we are not paying attention,” Shetterly said. “As we modify the environment, we are modifying ourselves.”
Through her own learning process, Shetterly believes she has become an environmentalist and a voice for issues that have none. After visiting SJC Long Island, Shetterly spoke to students, staff and faculty at SJC Brooklyn on Wednesday, April 5.