California just came very close to passing the first statewide initiative in America that would have mandated the labeling of food if genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) were an ingredient. Prop 37 was known as the “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”
If Proposition 37 had been approved, it would have:
- Required labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
- Prohibited labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
- Exempted from this requirement foods that are “certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages.”
The measure was defeated when over one million dollars a day were pumped into deceptive advertising in the final 30 days of the campaign. Just to throw some figures out, Monsanto donated $8,112.867, Dupont donated $5,400,000 and Pepsico, the Grocery Manufacturers Assoc, Dow Agrisciences, Bayer Cropscience, BASF Plant Science and Syngenta all donated $2 million or more to the No on Prop 37 campaign. Kraft Foods Global came in just under $2 million donating $1,950,500 (maybe they thought we would not notice if it was under $2 million) and Coca Cola North America donated $1,700,500.
The Yes on Prop 37 campaign raised $8.7 million dollars, just a little more than what Monsanto alone donated to defeat this measure. You can read the full list of donors both for and against the proposition here. Over $45 million was donated to defeat a measure that would have given us the right to know what is in our food. Why don’t these companies, and many more, not want us to know that our food has been genetically modified?
I am not going to even address the many health concerns about humans, or animals, consuming GMO’s. At the end of this Huff Post article you can read about “the health risks of GM food.” The Institute for Responsible Technology has a lot information about the dangers of consuming GMO’s. Check out the film Genetic Roulette to learn more.
Even if the evidence on GMO’s for human consumption was glowing, and it is not (and since what we eat is a pretty important issue ‘experimenting’ with our food seems fraught with dangers especially when some studies show GMO’s might be causing tumors, cancers, digestive issues and other ailments worthy of further investigation), there still are a many reasons to eliminate their use. Here are a few I’ve put together…
-GMO’s contaminate other crops. This means organic crops are no longer organic. GMO’s cross with “natural” seeds including indigenous and heirloom varieties that have been cultivated in some cases for centuries They also reduce bio-diversity, which can be very dangerous since a monoculture crop is inherently more vulnerable to pests and extreme weather conditions compared to diverse crops. Plus, nature flourishes in its diversity, why should we narrow the crops available to humanity?
-With the introduction of these laboratory produced seeds herbicide use has also increased. A large portion of GMO crops are immune to the toxins of particular herbicides (manufactured by the very same company creating the GMO seed) but everything else is killed, that is unless you are talking about the super weeds that have developed resistance to the herbicides and require stronger and stronger chemicals to control them.
Dow Agrisciences (aka Dow Chemical) is seeking approval to re-introduce 2,4D to kill those super weeds that have grown resistant to Monsanto’s RoundUp. Of course Dow has a genetically modified corn seed that is immune to 2,4D. Dow’s plan is for farmers to use a cocktail of both RoundUp (created by Monsanto) and 2,4D. Unfortunately us humans, as well as bees, other insects, mammals and fish are not immune to these chemicals. Did I mention 2,4D was a major ingredient in Agent Orange? Dow usually forgets to mention this too.
One of the selling points of GMO’s to farmers was that you could “kill weeds but not your crops”….and the use of herbicides increased. Herbicides are now in our water supplies and in our bodies. As their use increases, as it has with the introduction of GMO’s, there is more and more herbicide pollution harming the general public, our water supplies and especially the farmers growing our food. It is important to remember that these are chemical companies and they increase their revenue and profits by selling more chemicals.
Perhaps pesticides are even more dangerous than the GMO’s, although who really knows which is worse and that is the point. We must demand more independent studies and halt the use of GMO’s in the meantime, too much is at stake. For example, glyphosate the main ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp is an endocrine disruptor, as is Dow’s 2,4D, and both have been linked to a host of serious illnesses including cancers.
-Instead of farming being an occupation that can support a family and steward the land, the introduction of GMO’s and the industrialization of farming favors chemicals and big equipment, environment and human health be damned. The social structure of large swaths of this country are being dismantled as family farms sell out unable to support themselves. Plus now farmers face the wrath of Monsanto’s legal departments.
-Since GMO’s are not a product of nature the corporations creating these seeds have patent rights on them and can decide how they will be used. In fact, farmers are not permitted to re-use their seed for future crops (as is usually done) and have been sued by Monsanto for doing so. Monsanto maintains very vigorous policing divisions and they take samples from crops to be sure that if any farmer is growing Monsanto’s GMO crops they are paying for them.
Unfortunately farmers who do not want to be growing Monsanto’s GMO crops, or GMO’s from other chemical companies, are having their fields contaminated by seeds blowing in the wind or dropped by animals, and Monsanto is suing them. Organic crops are being contaminated by the GMO seed and the organic farmer is being sued by Monsanto…when Monsanto should be held liable for destroying years of careful care of the land and crops. Monsanto’s legal pockets are deep and it is the rare farmer that has the financial capacity to battle a giant like Monsanto. This film, David v Monsanto outlines the battle of a few farmers fighting back.
-Some GMO’s are created so that the plant itself can synthesize a toxin within the plant that is a pesticide. So basically you will be eating something that was a mini pesticide producing factory. Monsanto’s version contains a gene that allows the crop to produce Bt-toxins and this toxin then breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.
Now insects are growing resistant to these toxins and Bt-toxin is being found in human blood. We are not sure what it is doing to our digestive systems, but many people who have had digestive problems no longer have them when they eliminate GMO’s from their diets. Interesting isn’t it? There are studies suggesting the growth of intestinal and digestive issues are related to Bt-toxins in our blood. Who ever heard of IBS 20 or 30 years ago before GMO’s were introduced in the 90’s?
-Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta are all chemical companies and their mission is to sell chemicals. Do we want these companies controlling our food supply? These are the same companies who told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe. With such a huge proportion of crops being GMO, and a desire to increase these GMO crops, we are in jeopardy of turning over a large proportion of our food supply to these companies, who have in the past been irresponsible when it comes to protecting the public.
There are many more good reasons that we need to be worried about GMO seed but the bottom line is we should be able to choose. 50 other countries require labeling and from France to Russia many GMO’s are banned or very closely regulated. Did you know that part of what Wikileaks exposed was how the US was pressuring other countries to allow GMO’s?
The ballot initiative in California was just the beginning of the public’s demand that our food be labeled. Over a million people have signed a petition asking the FDA to require labeling. Learn more about this important issue and to really be sure you are avoiding GMO’s eat organic especially if what you are buying contains corn (that includes corn syrup or any other corn derivative), soy, canola or aspartame. Also zucchini and yellow squash have been genetically modified. And be sure any dairy that you eat is rBGH free.
And finally here are some web sites to help you learn more:
and a few earlier articles at SmartLifeways on GMO’s
Wishing you well and I am glad to be back after quite a long absence from writing about SmartLifeways.