October has been designated Non-GMO Month, the month to focus on why we need to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) closely. To further understand what GMOs are, go to www.nongmoproject.org. Here are my five top reasons for why we must label GMO food!
1) The research proving the safety of GMOs is flawed. First, the only research being considered is done by the companies that created the products and profit by them and the pesticides that are necessary to grow them. Take the famous golden rice. As Rachel Parent pointed out, a person needs to eat 23 cups of rice a day to get the Vitamin A recommended dietary allowance. There are so many conflicting facts about GMOs and GMO research that 64 countries in the world refuse to allow GMO agriculture. Another way to look at it is these countries are refusing to be lab rats for flawed GMO research.
2) GMO agriculture increases the use of pesticides and water in farming. While we keep hearing that GMOs will reduce the use of water and pesticides, the opposite is the truth. A study by Washington State University concluded that the use of pesticides has increased by more than 7% because of GMO-intensive agriculture1. Pesticides are water intensive. While conventional agriculture was using a billion pounds of pesticides a year, our GMO agriculture is responsible for increasing that usage to 1.2 billion pounds annually without increasing the food supply. The patent for Roundup Ready® (RR) corn and soy beans has coincidentally expired as roundup has also lost its efficacy. RR leaves a legacy as it is responsible for increasing superweeds across the globe2. The new replacement for RR will be a cocktail, much more potent and will include dicamba or 2,4- D, used as an ingredient in Agent Orange in the Vietnam war, well studied and identified with birth defects and cancer. Dicamba corn patent is currently going through USDA approval process.
3) GMO food has no benefits and will not feed the world. The most profitable corporations use World Hunger to maintain their domination in the market place. Currently, evidence is strong – we produce enough food in the world today for 10 billion people. Why are 2 billion people on our planet hungry and/or starving? It is not lack of food worldwide or even distribution, though better distribution can help. Social justice is the first place to find the real reason for hunger and starvation. Poor people cannot afford to buy food and their ability to feed themselves has been compromised. Global domination of our food by the very corporations that say they will feed the world is not the answer, it is the problem. Go to Google and search “suicides of cotton farmers in India” for a shocking peek into a tragic GMO failure. If we look at the big GMO foods in farm production today, it is mostly livestock feed – corn and soy beans – or inedible cotton. Livestock, by the way, are much happier and make higher omega milk and meat on pasture and forage, not corn and soy. GMO ag does not lower the price of food nor produce more food. There is no known advantage to humans while there is evidence of emerging health issues and some devastating cultural issues.
4) The biotech industries – Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, Dow – are prime examples of American corporations undermining democracy and abusing their power for short term domination and profits. William James, the father of American Psychology said in the late 1800s, “The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present.” Add “present profits” and we have the situation. Many citizens today wonder about the new face of democracy as we watch special interests put their agenda before what is good for all. Those following the issues sprung by a Supreme Court ruling called Citizens United, which gives corporations the status of personhood are asking “How do we get our government back?” Powerful corporations as cited above get special treatment in the government. The best way to say it is “corporate corruption.”
5) Seed ownership has consolidated and biotech owns almost all of our seed stock. Number 5 but perhaps the most important point – who owns our seeds? Weak anti-trust laws and blatant favoritism toward biotech on the Supreme Court level has allowed the consolidation of our seeds into the hands of bottom line corporations. Just two years ago, biotech owned over 65% of our seed stock2. According to the Organic Seed Alliance, 90% of all commercial seeds are owned by 5 corporations! The question of who should own our genetics is one that deserves a well vetted public debate. Does it bother anyone that biotech is using the human genome in its experiments? We should all be concerned about the ethics of genetic ownership and manipulation. Seed ownership needs to be in the public trust and not owned by self-serving corporations.
We have to take action and advocate for our right to know. Now that I’ve given you my top five, here are five things YOU can do to help:
- Lend your voice to stop the Monsanto Protection Act
- Join the Just Label It campaign
- Support Washington 522
- Stop 2,4-D corn
- Check out the Superweed FrogTV episode and send it to unsuspecting friends and family
1 Charles M Benbrook, Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years, Environmental Sciences Europe (September 2012).
2 John Vidal, GM crops promote superweeds, food insecurity and pestides, say NGOs, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/oct/19/gm-crops-insecurity-superweeds-pesticides (October 2011).