I am increasingly concerned about Genetic Modification in our food supply. It seems that Americans are suddenly awakening to the fact that a large amount of the food we eat every day has been modified in one way or another. We all know about corn and soybeans: it’s almost impossible to find those staples in their non-modified form. If you are concerned, the only choice is to stop eating them. But have you ever tried to stop eating corn? It’s in everything!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Do you know what Canola Oil is? I used to joke that nobody had ever been able to show me a canola . . . and now it turns out, there’s a good reason: there is no such thing. Canola Oil is extracted from genetically engineered rapeseed. It does not exist in nature without the intervention of science. It was concocted in Canada some years ago – hence the “Can” at the beginning of the name.
Here’s what’s prompting me to talk about this today. Last week, our lawmakers overwhelmingly turned down a bill that would allow States to require labeling for genetically modified ingredients in food. Overwhelmingly.
By the way, the FDA has already said such labeling won’t take place on a national level. They say it would “confuse the public,” and make them think there is something wrong with GMO food.
It got me thinking about our Senators and Congressmen, the people we elect to represent us in Washington. I truly believe if you put it to a popular vote, asked Americans if they thought GMOs should be labeled, 75% or more would say YES! But our legislators, representing us, overwhelmingly turned down a bill that might lead to that.
Why would they do that? Are they privy to some secret knowledge the rest of us don’t have? Do they know better? Are they protecting us from hurting ourselves? We’re talking about food labeling here, not guns, not terrorism. It makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, our lawmakers – elected by us – are somehow controlled by the big businesses that always seem to benefit when it comes time for a vote. The phrase ‘Bought and Paid For’ comes to mind.
What about the companies that benefit from the genetic modification of food? There are a number of them. However, the one that is most aggressive, that has moved furthest along with this trend is Monsanto . In 2009, President Obama appointed Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto exec and chief lobbyist, to be the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner, essentially putting him in charge of regulating his own industry. Seems there are quite a few former Monsanto people in a variety of food regulatory positions today. They’ve been very successful in advancing the Monsanto agenda despite what We The People might want.
Here’s a little bright news. States may not be able to require labeling of GMOs, but Whole Foods can. They say that ALL GMO foods in their stores will be properly labelled by 2018. They note a steady increase in sales of products labeled ‘Non-GMO’.
I want to be clear about something: I’m not particularly opposed to the genetic modification of food. In principal, I think it might help us solve the problem of world hunger. What I am opposed to is industry running unchecked, headlong into something nobody is really sure about, all for the billions that may lay there. I’m opposed to industry selling us food without telling us what’s in it. I’m in favor of consumer empowerment which starts with giving consumers the information they need to make an informed decision. That’s what this industry, this Monsanto, is opposed to: giving us the information.
You know I love Oaxaca, Mexico and spend quite a bit of time there. It is Southern Mexico, very far away from Washington DC and even from Mexico City. Their corn – which they hold to be sacred – is not genetically modified. But they see this frightening trend occurring all around them and they are already taking to the streets to protest, inform and, hopefully stop the big money that would drive GMOs to their front doorstep. Unfortunately, there may be nothing they can do about it – even if they are successful in creating protective legislation. Corn propagates by pollenization. And pollen is spread by bees and by the air. Eventually, the GMO cloud that we created to forever alter our own crops will make it to Southern Mexico and to the rest of the world as well. At that point we will all be eating GMO corn, like it or not. And the corn we ate as kids? It will become extinct.