It seems fundamental to me that the people who produce our food supply have an ethical responsibility to protect human life and provide wholesome, safe, food. Yet greed, arrogance, and politics have allowed food safety laws to be ignored and questionable if not downright dangerous food products to enter the food supply untested and unlabeled. Meanwhile their production has devastating consequences on the environment, health, national sovereignty, and wildlife. We as a society must demand a certain level of accountability.
I am referring to genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) which are plants, animals, and bacteria whose genomes have been restructured by re-arranging or splicing their DNA. The organisms are engineered for a wide variety of applications ranging from agriculture production to scientific research. Altering the DNA can transform the organism and each transformation can present a unique set of outcomes. The hazards presented by GMOs vary according to the type of organism being modified and the intended application. I am concerned here with the reconfiguring of plants and animals connected with our food supply. Most of the concerns are connected to their potential for negative effects on the environment and human health.
Plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola, when genetically modified (GM) have foreign genes forced into their DNA. The inserted genes come not only from plants and animals, but pesticides as well as species, such as bacteria, pathogenic viruses, and genetic parasites that have never before been a part of human food.
At least 90% of corn, soy, and cotton crops grown in the United States are modified to be either resistant to pests or tolerant to herbicides. These crops enter the human food chain as feed for livestock and more directly in processed foods. Today 75%, a conservative number, of processed foods contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
There is no credible evidence or consensus in the scientific community that GM food is safe for human consumption. Nor are adequate safety standards observed by the FDA or any other federal agency Anyone, anywhere in the world, can genetically modify a food and even if it doesn’t come out right still dump it on the American Market untested, unlabeled, and unannounced.
GMOs have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals. In 2015 the World Health Organization declared the ma probable carcinogen.
GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 90% in the US. Besides the monarch, studies relate GMO products to the death of other beneficial insects like bees (40% died during a contained trial with Monsanto’s Bt cotton), springtails, and ladybird beetles.
Once outside the laboratory containment of GM plants is impossible. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes to weeds.
Yes unchecked greed is jeopardizing health, environment, and political sovereignty. The global, chemical, mega-corporations have proven repeatedly they are morally reprehensible and will use any means necessary to promote their profits regardless of the consequences to the planet or its inhabitants. They hijack the language using it against their detractors and flat out lie until they are forced to stop by court order.
Three Reasons Immediate and Decisive Action is Required
In 1989 in the US, a food supplement, L-tryptophan, produced using GM bacteria, was found to be toxic, killing 37 people and permanently disabling over 1500 others. Yet GMOs were hurried into the food supply in 1996 despite the fact that the FDAs own scientists deemed them abnormally risky. The FDA shepherded GE crops onto the market by seriously misrepresenting the facts, while evading both the standards of science and food safety laws. It is not a coincidence that during the next nine years there was an increase in chronic illnesses in the US from 7% to 13%.
Rather than reducing the use of chemicals, as Monsanto promotes, Roundup-ready crops (soy, cotton,canola, sugar beets, and corn) have led to Roundup use increasing by over 527 million pounds since 1996. While short term studies show no ill effects to health from Roundup, chronic health effects present after long term exposure. Roundup has been linked to mineral deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, iron, and iodine. The use of Roundup also contributes to intestinal bacterial imbalances associated with Celiac disease and immune imbalances.
Roundup is hardly benign in the environment either. The herbicide has also been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses.
Between 1997 and 2002 food allergies, especially among children, rose dramatically while allergy-related emergency room visits doubled. Not only are we consuming organisms never before in human food and creating new allergens, genes are swapped between species so allergens from one food can be transferred to another, thought to be safe to eat.
A French study found that rats fed for two years with Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant NK603 maize (corn) developed many more tumors and died earlier than controls. It also found that the rats developed tumors when glyphosate (Roundup), the herbicide used with GM maize, was added to their drinking water.
Pesticidal foods, engineered to produce their own pesticide in every cell, when ingested by bugs rupture the bug’s stomach. When ingested by humans they have been found to rupture cells in the intestines causing an increase in leaky gut.
Despite all this the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), disregarding food safety laws, doesn’t require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency. No independent testing is required. They only request of firms that they conduct their own tests of new GM products. The FDA makes no review of those tests unless voluntarily requested by the company producing the product.
Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications expressed their corporate view with “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech foods. Our interest is in selling…Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
#2 – The American government is being replaced by global corporations and has become a government of, by, and for big business not the people. From the beginning they’ve pursued a concentrated strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology.
Biotech methods are promoted over the opposition of the public and local and foreign governments nearly to the exclusion of more sustainable methods. In fact, the U.S. State Department and agricultural agencies have been acting as marketing agents throughout the world for the giant seed companies, like Monsanto, that are patenting the seeds necessary for human survival. Leaked US cables covering 2005-2009 reveal global lobbying by the US government for Monsanto and similar companies in countries where GMOs are not the mainstay and some European countries that resist them. It targeted foreign governments, coordinated and hosted pro-biotech conferences, and used high profile junkets for foreign opinion shapers to elevate the image of biotechnology and overcome public opposition overseas.
In the past decade the U.S. aggressively pursued foreign policies that benefited the largest seed companies threatening nations who oppose Monsanto with military like trade wars. Leaked documents reveal recommendations in 2007 for measured and long term retaliation for specific nations in the EU “to make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices.”
At home former Monsanto associated individuals are appointed to positions of power within the government where they advance legislation that clears the way for the progress of biotech companies unimpeded by the law. Either the law is ignored or legislation is enacted that makes these marauding multi-national corporations immune to the laws and regulations in place to protect “we the people.”
|Official Name||Monsanto Position||Government Position||Legislative Influence|
|Toby Moffett||Consultant||Congressman (D)|
|Dennis Deconcini||Legal council||Senator (D)|
|Margaret Miller||Chemical Lab Supervisor||Deputy Director of FDA|
|Marcia Hale||Director Int’l Gov. Affairs||White House Senior Staff|
|Mikey Kantor||Member of Board||U.S. Secretary of Commerce|
|Virginia Weldon||VP Public Policy||White House CSA|
|Josh King||Director Int’l Gov. Affairs||White House Communications|
|David Beler||V.P. Gov. & Public Affairs||Al Gore Chief Policy Advisor|
|Carol Tucker-Foreman||Lobbyist for Monsanto||White House Appointed Consumer Advocate|
|Linda Fisher||V.P. Gov. & Public Affairs||Deputy Admin of the EPA, USDA|
|Linda Watrud||Manager, New Technologies||USDA, EPA|
|Michael Taylor||V.P. Public Policy||Deputy Commissioner, FDA|
|Hillary Clinton||Council||First Lady, U.S. Senator (D), Sec. of State|
|Roger Bleachy||Director||Director USDA NIFA|
|Islam Siddiqui||Lobbyist||Agriculture Negotiator Trade Rep.|
|Clarence Thomas||Council||Supreme Court Judge|
|Donald Rumsfeld||Board of Directors||Secretary of Defense|
|Anne Veneman||Board of Directors||Secretary of Agriculture|
Furthermore, the biotech behemoths spend an obscene amount of money lobbying the U.S. government. Just in the 3rd quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $2 million lobbying the U.S. government. This is astronomically more than “we the people” and our Not-For-Profits and grassroots organizations could ever come close to raising. Thus our voice becomes a whisper to their big money shout.
A Rodale study shows that the best of organic farming techniques – using rich natural compost – can produce higher drought resistance as well as higher yielding plants than with current technological attempts. Yields from GE crops are “highly variable” according to the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAAKSTD); a substantial study by independent expert for the World Bank and four united Nations agencies. It went on to note that in some cases there had been yield declines. Yet so much focus of attention and funding goes to development of GE products that little is left to develop truly sustainable and proven safe method farmers worldwide can utilize.
We already produce enough food for to feed the world. In developed countries we produce more than enough food. In developing countries food is under produced due to bad information. Farmers don’t know what to plant and how to best manage their farms. What they need is better information not GMO seeds. Other major contributors to world hunger, poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on also cannot be addressed by GM seeds.
What the IAAKSTD called for were agro ecological methods, including organic farming. A UN report determined use of organic or near organic practices increased yield on average by 100%.
What I Want
#1 – Democratic Reform
We must get corporate money out of our elections and fund them fairly and publicly. One effective way the giant corporations maintain control in Washington is by funding campaigns to the extent the candidate is beholding to them and helps with a little legislation sometimes hidden in an important and popular bill. As in the case of HR 1599 votes and co-sponsorship without even having read the bill.
- No lobbyist spending.
- Repeal the person hood of corporations
- Transparency and standards that curtail corporate infiltration of government positions.
- No laws, programs, or initiatives that enable businesses to circumvent the law.
# 2 – Ban on all patents of life forms
#3 – It is imperative that there be a moratorium on all sales, environmental releases (including field trials), and further approvals of all GM crops and products pending an independent, comprehensive assessment of the social, environmental, health, and economic impact of these organisms.
These patents increase corporate monopoly, exploit living processes, and threaten food security. I find it interesting that Monsanto stated to the FDA that GMO plants are no different from other plants and therefore do not need safety testing, yet in order to obtain a financially beneficial patent they insisted to the US Patent office that GMO plants are significantly different from other plants. They then sued the neighboring farmers for infringement when their crops were cross pollinated by purely natural means.
#4 – Corporations should be made responsible for all damages arising from GM products to animals, people, and the environment. Only when they are held accountable for their actions, when the consequences affect their profit margin, will they take their ethical obligations seriously.
#5 – I call upon all governments to support research and development of sustainable agriculture methods that can be used by and truly benefit farmers all over the world.
My Personal Commitment
My mission and scope can be summed up in three watchwords; educate, engage, and empower.
Educate by speaking out to raise awareness at whatever venue available and making My Food Friend a central location for the best information on healthy food choices and simple steps for improving the health of the planet and all who dwell here.
Encourage others to engage by taking small steps. It is all so overwhelming that many people freeze and do nothing. I encourage everyone to take one small step; change one food item you regularly eat to an organic source, attend a rally, sign a petition, etc. Everyone taking small steps creates a movement and turns the wheel of change.
Empower others by giving them resources in the form of web links, shopping lists, organic gardening tips, etc. and providing a forum where they can connect with other like minded individuals, both in the comments section and on the Facebook page.
It is my belief if people understand the problem and have access to simple steps they can take every day to make a difference, that they will take those steps and change the world for the better.
I Know These Two Things To Be True
1. We cannot live without the planet but the planet can live without us.
2. Chemical companies cannot live without us but we can live without them.