In November, voters will consider Proposition 37 to establish if they wish to require labeling of food products containing genetically modified organisms.
Since the introduction of GMOs in the 1990s, rates of autism, allergies, obesity, cancer and assorted health issues have soared. There is no definitive proof indicting GMOs; nevertheless the biotechnology industry is circumventing labeling that would facilitate the necessary research. Why? Is there a stench here reminiscent of tobacco companies?
Monsanto asserts that GMO-laden food requires no labeling because they have not been proven to be harmful. Industry insiders, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, et al., remain so infused with employees from each other’s organizations that consumer safeguards are severely compromised. Example: The FDA recruited Michael Taylor, a Monsanto attorney, to manage the creation of its GMO policy, a policy in effect today that empowers biotechnology companies to establish if their GMOs are nontoxic. Taylor then departed the FDA to become Monsanto’s vice president.
Monsanto provides most GMO seeds, which include Roundup Ready soy, corn, canola, sugar beets and more. Many RR crops are genetically engineered to survive insects and spraying with Roundup herbicide during weed abatement efforts.
Independent research and case studies raise alarms worldwide. Many RR GMO crops have genes inserted into their DNA structure that manufactures an insect-killing toxin known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in every plant cell; insects ingest the plant and poison tears open their stomach to exterminate them. Bt produced from soil bacteria has been employed by organic farmers as a spray for natural insect control for decades. The primary distinction here is that Bt-toxin in GMO plants is thousands of times more potent than Bt spray and can never be washed off the plant prior to eating like the spray version.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine recently warned physicians “to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible …,” further stating, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food.” Those include infertility, immune problems and gastrointestinal issues. The organization concludes that, “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation.”
Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles asserted, “… now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.” Salk Institute biologist David Shubert cautions that, “children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods. Similar health concerns prompted the American Medical Association on June 19, 2012, to call for mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMO foods.
Why are we learning of such concerns now? Media intimidation — Monsanto’s legal bullying behind the scenes for decades.
Before 1980, patent law did not apply to living organisms. Now farmers suffer bankruptcy after being sued by Monsanto for cross-pollination of their non-GMO crops by neighboring GMO plants. Amazing as it sounds, the exploitative use of patent law permitted Monsanto to successfully sue farmers for patent infringement, even though they never planted GMOs. The threat here is doubly apparent to organic farmers.
Consumers currently enjoy rights to determine which foods contain MSG, dyes, artificial sweeteners, peanuts and other additives that they want to avoid. It must be our right, not Monsanto’s, to determine likewise with GMOs. Polls confirm that a majority of Americans desire this. Such labeling is not costly, but impending TV ads from Monsanto will endeavor to persuade you otherwise, much like Monsanto’s costly propaganda campaign to defeat Oregon’s 2002 GMO labeling measure.
Tony Favero is a Half Moon Bay-based writer and researcher.