Wednesday, November 7, 2012

GMO's and the Dangers They Pose to You

I'll admit, this post has absolutely nothing to do with Egypt - other than the fact that I will mention that Egypt requires labelling of GMO products.

Image courtesy of Bold Vegan

With that being said, yesterday was a huge day in the United States for more than one reason. President Obama was elected for a second term, and millions of Americans hit the polling stations to let their voices be heard. In California, one proposition that was up on the voting ballot was Proposition 37. Unfortunately, this proposition was never passed. For those unfamiliar with it, ballotpedia explains:

If Proposition 37 has 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."

James Wheaton, who filed the ballot language for the initiative, called it "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act."

Essentially, it would have given consumers in California the right to know if what they were about to purchase, which is labelled "all natural ingredients," has in fact been altered at the genetic level. I won't get into a tirade here of how GMO crops are manufactured because I urge you to do your own research into it. The more educated people are about this, the better choices you can make for what foods to put into your shopping cart the next time you're at the supermarket. 
Image courtesy of Real Food University

Yet for a proposition that appears to have a very simple request, to allow people to know what they were eating, it created a huge stir in the upper echelons of big agriculture, the topmost of which is Monsanto.

Monsanto is a self-proclaimed "Sustainable Agriculture Company." They made it big with their Round-Up pesticide, but their tendrils of influence stretch far. Monsanto heads up the GMO market, and themselves own patents on the genetic material present in their GMO crops. Translation: Monsanto have managed to patent biological life itself. When was that allowed to happen! 

The immediate repercussions of Monsanto's patent on their GMO crops are being felt by farmers the world around. They can't help it, it's nature. If you have a crop of organic corn 2 miles down the road from a field of Monsanto's GMO corn, and the wind happens to catch a few of the modified seeds and distributes them over the organic farmer's land, it's only natural that seeds will cross-pollinate. And yet there are increasing reports of farmers being sued by Monsanto for violating their patent. 

Hold on a second, what? 

Check out this excerpt taken from an article published by the Intellectual Property Watch, where farmers who have been sued by Monsanto discuss their case:

“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s executive director and a law professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. PUBPAT is a non-profit legal services organisation based at Cardozo law school. Its stated mission is “to protect freedom in the patent system.”
“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients,” he said in a press release.

So farmers, through no wrongdoing of their own and Mother Nature taking the natural course that she does, are finding themselves fighting the big-agro companies and losing rights to their own crops. 

All right, you might ask, what does that have to do with labelling of GMOs? 

Well, in order to establish a pattern of behaviour, it is first important to point out how the big-wigs who are running this 'spiel' behave. It is also worth mentioning that you should research into how many people in the US Administration (yes, including Obama's Administration) are former employees and / or advisors of Monsanto, or are in their pocket. Again, I'll let you do your own research into that. 

So it's little surprise that California's Proposition 37 was not passed. The financial backing of the companies that do not want GMOs labelled far surpassed the concerned groups trying to get the word out. Investing millions of dollars into advertising to urge California voters to vote "no" on proposition 37, they have succeeded. This YouTube video gives a great introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the whole story. 

In addition to this, the labelling of GMO products is required in ALL EU countries, as well as many others around the world. Why is it that other countries are pushing to completely OUTLAW the sale of GMOs when US consumers are being told they are perfectly safe? 

For more reading, check out these links: 

For a fantastic documentary that I highly recommend, check out The Future of Food

And here, just because I find the argument so incensing and the complete ignoring of the facts blatantly obvious, is a Professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley (David Zilberman) trying to justify why labelling GMOs is a bad idea.  

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