By Dr. Mercola
Over the past few years, an interesting pattern has emerged, where political supporters of genetically engineered (GE) foods are feasting on organics, while promoting unlabeled GE foods for everyone else.
Most recently, Mother Jones1 discussed how Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney – whose ties to Monsanto go back to the late 1970's when GE crops were still in the R&D phase – reportedly makes sure his own meals are nothing but organic...
According to Peter Alexander of MSN Today:2
"On Romney Air, or Hair Force One – as Reuters' Steve Holland like to call it – Mitt Romney has his own galley in 'forward cabin.' And, while I've never been invited up front, sources close to the campaign tell me the shelves are stocked with a wide variety of healthy fare. Kashi cereals, hummus, pita, as well as organic applesauce.
Everything's organic, I'm told, including the ingredients to Romney's favorite, peanut butter and honey sandwiches."
Even more interesting, in a 2002 article3 about Romney's wife, Ann, she credits a combination of organic foods and holistic medicine for turning her health around after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. The profile reads in part:
"...She was 49 at the time, and the disease was progressing rapidly, she says, prompting the doctors to put her on steroids, which made her so sick she could barely get out of bed. 'They were killing me,' she says of the treatment. 'You have bone loss; they are so bad for you.'
Mrs. Romney was introduced to several practitioners of holistic medicine, who persuaded her to adopt alternative therapies. She now eats organic foods and very little meat. She practices reflexology and undergoes acupuncture treatments. She credits the lifestyle with turning her health around...
'Everyone has to find their own way,' she says. 'Three years ago I was really, really sick and not able to function at all. A lot of the symptoms are [now] gone...'"
Mrs. Romney isn't the only success story in which food played a center role in beating multiple sclerosis (MS). Last year I posted an article about Dr. Terry Wahls, who reversed MS after seven years of deterioration on the best conventional treatments available, simply by changing her diet.
Wouldn't it be a nice change of pace if our agricultural authorities, not to mention our President, could reach into their hearts and find the humanity to fight for everyone's right to eat wholesome food that doesn't contain foreign DNA, built-in pesticides, and an inordinate amount of synthetic chemicals so that diseases such as MS and cancer could be curtailed before they even get a foothold?
If GE Foods are So Great, Why Won't the Elite Eat Them?
While Obama has been a huge supporter of Big Biotech during his term, Romney is just as "tight" with Monsanto, having actually successfully guided the company out of lawsuits with Congress in the shameful aftermath of Agent Orange (a Monsanto creation, which was supposed to be harmless to everything except vegetation), and heinous chemical dumping incidents in Missouri and Alabama.4
He's also in favor putting the "Monsanto rider" provision in the 2012 Farm Bill – a rider that would prevent a federal court from putting in place court-ordered restrictions on a GE crop, even if the approval were fraudulent or involved bribery, among other things.
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney is just one in a line of politicians who support and promote GE foods as being just as safe and "natural" as conventional foods while privately serving up nothing but organic for their own families. President Obama, as his predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have all reportedly insisted on an organic diet.
Mother Jones writes:5
"What's my evidence that the Clintons and Bushes ate organic? Get this, from someone who knows – Walter Scheib,6 who served as White House executive chef during the Clinton and Bush years:
'From 1994 to 2005 I was the executive chef at the White House. This offered me not only the personal honor of serving two unique and interesting first families, but the professional challenge of fulfilling Hillary Clinton's mandate of bringing contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House.'
This meant that nearly all the product used was obtained from local growers and suppliers. There was a small garden on the roof of the White House where produce was grown. The ethic of the purchasing and the cooking at the White House under my direction and under the continuing direction of [current Obama White House executive chef] Cris Comerford is one of respect for the pedigree of the product and manner it is grown, gathered, raised or caught.
The Clinton and Bush families dined regularly on organic foods. Both wagyu and grass-fed beef were frequently used." [Emphasis mine}
Scheib was again quoted in a 2009 article by Think Progress,7 stating that Laura Bush was "adamant that in ALL CASES if an organic product was available it was to be used in place of a non-organic product." Meanwhile, the article lists a number of atrocious food policies instituted by her husband. Who knows, perhaps she was so adamant about organics because she knew the quality and safety of conventional food was rapidly going down the toilet?
Guess Who Said: "Everything That's in a Bottle or Package is Like Poison in a Way That Most People Don't Even Know"
The Obama White House may be even more progressive about healthful dining than previous Presidents. In a 2008 article about First Lady Michelle Obama, published in The New Yorker:8
"...One morning, during a roundtable at Ma Fischer's, a diner in Milwaukee, Elizabeth Crawford, a recently divorced caterer with two children, brought up the subject of the eating habits of American families. 'I really, really hope that Barack will jump on that,' she said.
Then, having given thoughtful but boilerplate responses most of the morning, [Michelle] Obama suddenly departed from her script. It was the most animated I saw her on the campaign trail. 'You know,' she said, 'in my household, over the last year we have just shifted to organic for this very reason. I mean, I saw just a moment in my nine-year-old's life – we have a good pediatrician, who is very focused on childhood obesity, and there was a period where he was, like, 'Mmm, she's tipping the scale.'
So we started looking through our cabinets... You know, you've got fast food on Saturday, a couple days a week you don't get home. The leftovers, good, not the third day! ...So that whole notion of cooking on Sunday is out. ... And the notion of trying to think about a lunch every day! ...So you grab the Lunchables, right? And the fruit-juice-box thing, and we think – we think – that's juice.
And you start reading the labels and you realize there's high-fructose corn syrup in everything we're eating. Every jelly, every juice. Everything that's in a bottle or a package is like poison in a way that most people don't even know..."
Yes, high-fructose corn syrup is one of the most atrocious ingredients in the American food supply today in terms of what it does to your health. Not only is fructose a major contributor to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity, the vast majority of it is also derived from genetically engineered corn, which has its own increasingly well-documented ill health effects. Most recently, the world's first lifetime feeding study using Monsanto GE corn found it caused massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems.
Michelle Obama is certainly not the only one who has referred to high-fructose corn syrup as a poison. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, excess fructose does act like a toxin in your body, and Dr. Don Huber has spoken out about the two-fold toxic effects of GE crops: 1) due to the genetic alteration of the plant itself, and 2) the glyphosate sprayed on GE Roundup Ready crops.
President Obama Aware of Issue But Doing Nothing About it
Sadly, while the Obama's are undoubtedly well aware of the health dangers of processed foods in general and genetically engineered foods specifically, their personal belief system has not filtered into the food policies that affect the rest of the population.
On the contrary, the President has spent the last four years appointing one Monsanto shill after another into key federal positions that wield near-absolute power over agricultural issues. Mrs. Obama's efforts to promote organic foods, which included a much publicized White House organic garden, were also quickly tempered and toned down by a personal visit from The Mid America CropLife Association, an agribusiness media group, who "urged the first lady to give conventional agriculture equal time," according to a 2009 Politico article.9
Topping it all off, the President has also completely ignored his pre-election promise to IMMEDIATELY label GE foods, should he win, "because Americans should know what they're buying."
Well, it's become abundantly clear that Big Biotech and their political lackeys will not even allow us to make an informed decision on this issue by reading our own food labels. And you'd have to be supremely naïve to not question the absurd dichotomy between public policies on GE and organic foods, and the private decisions made by those in charge and "in the know."
Monsanto Runs and Regulates US Agriculture
In the first three years of the Obama Administration, 10 different genetically engineered crops, and even a genetically modified animal, have been approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to Food & Water Watch.10 All without a single shred of proof that these foods are actually safe for long-term consumption (or in the case of today's children – lifetime consumption). Could this have anything to do with the fact that highly influential people within the USDA were previous employees of, or have other personal ties to, Monsanto?
- The Secretary of Agriculture is Tom Vilsack, a strong Monsanto supporter selected by President-elect Obama in 2008.11 As governor of Iowa, Vilsack frequently traveled in Monsanto's private jets, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
- The director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is Roger Beachy, a former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center.
- The General Counsel for the USDA is Ramona Romero, who came straight from DuPont, another major biotech company with GE crop patents, where she held a number of key positions, including Corporate Counsel for complex commercial and antitrust litigation, and Corporate Counsel and Manager of Operations and Partnering.
- Even the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has old ties to Monsanto via the Rose Law firm.
Getting the picture? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other federal agencies are similarly stacked with former Monsanto employees. Likewise, when it comes to selecting which Presidential candidate might be better for organic foods and our agriculture system, both Romney and Obama's actions speak louder than words. They do one thing privately, and "sell" another agenda to the public. Neither of them is a champion for Real Food in the US, and both of them cater and yield to the wills of multinational food and biotech companies.
Monsanto VP Now US Food Safety Czar – What's Wrong With This Picture?
In 2009, President Obama appointed former Monsanto VP for Public Policy, Michael Taylor, as a senior adviser for the FDA, turning a deaf ear to the loud protests from consumer groups. Taylor is currently serving as the deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA – a position that includes ensuring food labels contain clear and accurate information. He also oversees strategy for food safety, and planning new food safety legislation.
To say he's a fox guarding a hen house would be an understatement. This sentiment is shared by most people who are even remotely aware of food safety issues. At the time of Taylor's appointment, GE expert Jeffrey Smith commented:12
"The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke."
Now, the opposition is gaining steam yet again with an online petition13 calling for Taylor's removal.
"President Obama, I oppose your appointment of Michael Taylor. Taylor is the same person who was Food Safety Czar at the FDA when genetically modified organisms were allowed into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks. This is a travesty," the petition reads.
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.