Why Aren't GMO Foods Labeled?
March 09, 2011
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You can avoid sugar, aspartame, trans-fats, or MSG if you're a savvy reader of labels. But if you want to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMO's), it's not so easy. They're not listed on labels. You could buy organic foods, which by law can't contain more than 5 percent GMO's -- but now that might not work either.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved three new kinds of genetically engineered foods -- alfalfa, a type of corn, and sugar beets. And the FDA will likely soon approve GM salmon, which would become the first genetically modified animal to be sold in the U.S., but probably not the last. And the FDA and USDA will not require any of these products, or foods containing them, to be labeled as genetically engineered.
This despite the fact that over 95 percent of people polled say they think GM foods should require a label.
According to an editorial in the New York Times:
"Even more than questionable approvals, it's the unwillingness to label these products as such -- even the G.E. salmon will be sold without distinction -- that is demeaning and undemocratic, and the real reason is clear: producers and producer-friendly agencies correctly suspect that consumers will steer clear of G.E. products if they can identify them. Which may make them unprofitable. Where is the free market when we need it?"
Even more alarming, Dr. Don M. Huber, one of the senior scientists in the U.S., has alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism related to GM crops may be causing plant death, and infertility and spontaneous abortion in animals fed GM crops.
Dr. Huber believes the appearance and prevalence of this unnamed new organism may be related to the nation's over-reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup, and to genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Huber called on the government to immediately stop deregulation of Roundup Ready crops. According to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the letter read, in part:
"Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science! ... I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."
And finally, in other alarming GM crop related news, Terry Redman, the West Australian Minister for Agriculture, wants to redefine the word "organic" to include genetically modified (GM) crops. Not that the difference between organic and GM crops will be a distinction for much longer anyway, according to current farming trends.
Some organic farmers, of course, have already unwillingly been growing GM crops in their fields. Steve Marsh, an Australian organic farmer, one year found his wheat and oats testing 70 percent positive for novel DNA thanks to cross-pollination from nearby farms.
Monsanto, of course, thinks the farmer should pay them for what amounts to the complete loss of his organic farm business -- no matter that the genes were most likely wind or bee-propagated, they say they were illegally in his plants, and he should pay them $400,000...
Lastly, are GM crops at least being tested for safety? Somewhere?
The answer is no, and we might never learn the true risks of GM crops during this generation, because the multinational companies that control the patents on GM seeds refuse to allow them to be used by independent scientists for safety testing. This is apparently just another legal perk of having a corporate patent on what has now become a major part of the American food chain.According to a recent CBS/NYT poll, 89 percent of respondents said they wanted to see GE foods labeled as such.
What Are GMOs?
From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.
GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
Help Support GMO Labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve
Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.
Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.