According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a grassroots nonprofit vested in sustainable agriculture and food safety, the state of Minnesota recently joined a growing list of states whose concern about genetically engineered or modified (GM) foods or organisms (GMOs) has inspired legislation aimed at forcing labeling by GM manufacturers of their genetically altered foods.
The bill, HF 2808, sponsored by Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-61A), failed to obtain a hearing in the House Agriculture Committee in March. Undaunted, Clark came back with a watered-down bill that would have created a committee of all interested stakeholders – grocers, whole food stores, farmers, food processors and food companies like Schwan Food Company, Cargill grain, Supervalu Stores, General Mills and Hormel, to name a few.
The amendment was supported by Dave Fredrickson, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Agriculture, but was nonetheless voted down (again) by the House, 81 to 44. Clark has not been back for a third try, but a similar bill, SF 2563, introduced by Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-62), is currently before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economies Committee, and, if passed as written, will require labeling of all GM food sold or distributed after January 1, 2013. The only exception is food served in restaurants or at other places where it is immediately consumed. Minnesota’s legislation is very similar to that of other states, particularly California and Vermont.
Natural News, an online whole foods advocate sustained by an interested readership (and several superb editors), ran an article called Millions against Monsanto: The food fight of our lives – a title that might seem like hyperbole, but is in fact a call for freedom from worry, because at this juncture even scientists don’t know what the ultimate effects of consuming GM food might be.
Many of us who oppose GM foods in the supply chain are already aware of the effects of genetically altered crops on honeybees and other types of pollinators in the species apis (bee). The question is, how many years can the species homo sapiens continue to eat food that has not been “vetted” by Nature over thousands of years of evolution before the effects of our meddling show up in birth defects and other anomalies. And before you jump to the conclusion that I’m using scare tactics, you probably need to read the Natural News article (linked above), followed by one from Raw Wisdom (a little-known source, but the links are definitive).
Monsanto isn’t the only culprit, of course. Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Archer Daniels Midland (better known as ADM) are tweaking hundreds of genomes developed over thousands, even millions of years, crossing roses with pigs and butterflies with worms, not to mention corn with a virulent bacteria.
These are the entities that insist the world of tomorrow needs GM foods, which grow better, resist pests better, and provide more food per ton of biomass than regular food crops. Those reassurances have long since been proved false – pests and weeds have developed resistance to genetic manipulation, and GM crops perform slightly less well than crops from normal seeds – but it’s not the quality of crops we who oppose GM are concerned about. It’s the possibility of genetic contamination. That is, how long can we continue ingesting genetically modified food until our children (and grandchildren) start developing physical anomalies that may harm or even kill them? And, yes, I mean that to scare you, because only when we humans are scared do we begin to question the status quo and look after our own best interests. Until then, we’re too contented with our cars and MP3 players and McDonalds and cell phones that can make pancakes (thank you, George Carlin).
Here in the U.S., 70 to 75 percent of all processed foods contain a GM ingredient, and have for about 16 years. That is just about enough time to insure that almost every human in the country has eaten at least one helping of GM food. And that’s all it is going to take.
For what, you might ask? I don’t know, but I think you should read a highly informative (and superlatively scary) article about the Showa Denko disaster. Then read this one as well. After which you can plan to spend a couple of sleepless nights, even if you don’t have a vivid imagination. Those who do have a lively imagination might want to go back to watching television, where the scariest things are the guests on Maury Povich.
First Image via Panacea-BOCAF.org)