By Dr. Mercola
While no one knows exactly what the effects of consuming pesticide-soaked genetically-engineered (GE) crops will be over time, all of humankind serves as "lab rat" as a few massive corporations profit handsomely from their experiment.
The good news is, although we've lost some battles, we seem to be winning the war.
Awareness about the potential risks of GE foods continues to grow, largely through the publicity generated by state direct ballot initiatives that bypass the legislatures. The latest polls suggest more than 90 percent of Americans now want to know what's in their food.
As a result of increased public awareness, industry has ramped up their efforts to maintain the status quo, pouring exorbitant amounts of money into anti-labeling campaigns in order to control the public, press and government.
Economic Impacts That Are Rarely Discussed
Many nations have banned GE crops altogether, including parts of the EU, Austria, China, India, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy and Russia.2
With so many rejecting GE foods, major U.S. exports of soy and corn have lost international trade value. One expert estimated $200 to 300 million per year are lost in European exports alone.
With regard to China, U.S. corn exports dropped 85 percent in one year (2013 to 2014), according to the trade association, which bases its estimates on data from export companies.3
In Europe, the GMO tug-of-war continues, as 58 GE foods remain legal for import, with 17 new ones added in April 2015 (maize, cotton, soybean, oilseed rape, sugar beets, and carnations).4Individual EU states are granted the option of opting-out.5
Here in the U.S., industry's greed rages on. Corporate leaders and government officials refuse to heed GMO warnings — even from their own scientists.
Those who sound the alarm are frequently "managed" by means more typically associated with gangsters. They are targeted to be discredited with harassment, ridicule, and tactics best described as "corporate terrorism."
Why GMOs Can Never Be Safe
Genetic modification interferes with the naturally occurring genetic modifications organisms undergo in order to survive.
An organism's genome is not static but fluid, and its biological functions are interconnected with its environment and vice versa. Trying to control genetic changes via artificial modification is a dangerous game.
Compared to natural genetic modification (vertical gene transfer), artificial genetic modification is inherently hazardous because it lacks the precision of the natural process, enabling genes to be transferred between species that would never have been otherwise exchanged.
Artificial genetic modification uses horizontal gene transfer, which involves injecting a gene from one species into a completely different and naturally incompatible species, yielding unexpected and often unpredictable results — including the transfer of foreign genes into humans.
EPA Has Raised Allowed Limits for Carcinogen Levels in Your Food
The claim that GE foods are materially comparable to conventional foods, and therefore inherently safe, falls flat when you consider GE crops are designed to be different.
For example, "Roundup Ready" crops are engineered to withstand the herbicide Roundup, which would normally threaten the survival of the crop if sprayed too liberally.
Moreover, in a 2014 study6 titled "Compositional Differences in Soybeans on the Market: Glyphosate Accumulates in Roundup Ready GM Soybeans," the authors specifically conclude that nutritional and elemental variables "without exception" demonstrate "substantial non-equivalence" between GM soy and non-GM varieties.
With the advent of Roundup Ready crops, use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) has significantly risen, with about 1 billion pounds sprayed on crops every year.
Glyphosate's toxicity is well established, with adverse health effects ranging from birth defects to endocrine dysfunction to cancer. Unbelievably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) admits foods are not tested for glyphosate residues due to the high cost of doing so.7
However, GE crops are much more heavily contaminated with glyphosate than conventional crops by nature of their very design, and this fact alone blows a massive hole in the safety claim.
Glyphosate was recently classified as a Class 2A "probable human carcinogen" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Even in the midst of mounting questions about glyphosate's safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable limits of glyphosate8 in our food and feed crops back in July 2013. Allowable levels in oilseed crops such as soy were doubled, from 20 ppm to 40 ppm. Permissible glyphosate levels in many other foods were raised to 15 to 25 times previous levels.
Root and tuber vegetables, with the exception of sugar, got one of the largest boosts, with allowable residue limits being raised from 0.2 ppm to 6.0 ppm. The level for sweet potatoes was raised to 3 ppm.
Enough Already — It's Time to Boycott
By now, it should be clear you cannot depend on industry or government to ensure the safety of the foods you eat. You must take matters into your own hands. I invite you to vote with your wallet and join me in boycotting GE foods and other tainted foods, including CAFO meat and dairy as they're typically fed GMO feed and treated with antibiotics and growth-accelerating drugs.
Boycotting contaminated foods might not be as easy as you think, as many foods labeled "natural" are not really natural. Many "mom and pop" companies that started out on the right foot are later swallowed up by big corporations, with concerns over food quality tossed right out the window. True Activist assembled a printable list of nearly 70 food companies owned by Monsanto, which you can download here.9 Other small companies have fallen prey to other corporate buy-outs, such as: 10, 11
- Burt's Bees was bought by Clorox
- Krave Jerky was sold to Hershey
- Naked Juice was purchased by Pepsi
- Odwalla now belongs to Coca-Cola
- Applegate Farms sold out to Hormel
In fact, just 10 corporations control almost every product on grocery store shelves. How many of your products are owned by these ten mega-corporations?
Prevent Your Senator from Voting Yes on HR 1599
HR 1599 is a measure looming ominously over your right to know what's in your food, ironically misnamed the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act."
The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) in order to preempt states' rights to enact GMO labeling laws, and specifically prohibit Congress or individual states from requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods or ingredients. Under this bill, food manufacturers would be allowed to use the word "natural" on products that contain GMOs. HR 1599 is commonly referred to as the "Deny Americans the Right to Know" or DARK Act.
Unfortunately, on July 23, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1599 — greased with lots of GMA and biotech money (Grocery Manufacturers Association, aka Junk Food Industry). According to a report12 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), food and biotechnology companies spent $63.6 million in 2014 to lobby specifically for this kind of anti-labeling legislation. That's nearly three times the amount spent on anti-labeling efforts in 2013.
And not surprisingly, House members who voted to ban GMO labeling received on average three times more money from the agribusiness industry during the 2014 election cycle than those who voted against it.13
Republican dissention in the Senate is our last hope for killing this monstrous bill, which is simply the latest tactic aimed at protecting Monsanto and its minions. It's imperative you contact your senators today, urging them not to support HR 1599. Tell them this bill is an attack on consumer rights and states' rights, and you expect your elected officials to protect you.
You can find your senators' contact information by clicking the button below, or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. A phone call has greater impact than an email, but a face-to-face meeting will usually make the strongest impact of all. The Senate went into a month-long recess on August 10, during which time senators often return to their home states. You can find out where they are and set up an appointment by calling the district office.
It's really imperative to concentrate our efforts on our senators right now, and to inform them accurately. They're being deceived by industry lobbyists, and this is our last chance to preserve our right to know what's in our food.
HR 1599 Eliminates States' Rights
In addition to barring states from creating their own GMO labeling requirements, HR 1599 also preempts all state and local regulation of GE crops, and further weakens federal oversight.14 Rather than simply labeling foods containing GE ingredients, the bill calls for the creation of a USDA non-GMO certification program similar to its National Organic Program — essentially shifting all of the costs over to those wanting to declare their foods non-GMO.
This system is as backwards as it gets. If GMOs were labeled as they rightfully should be, there would be no need for GMO-free labeling, which was originally nothing more than a workaround to give consumers what they want — the right to make informed purchasing decisions.
The basic purpose of food labeling is to inform you of what you're buying, its basic ingredients, and additives — rather than what's NOT in the food (unless it relates to a known health risk, such as peanut allergy or gluten intolerance).
Under HR 1599, any food that's not part of a man-made genetic experiment will be forced to declare that it's "normal" on the label, or be assumed to contain GMOs. It's complete nonsense, and the only beneficiaries of such a convoluted system are the biotechnology and processed food industries.
If GE foods were as wonderful as industry claimed, Monsanto and its cohorts would be vociferously in favor of stamping their labels with an official "proof of GMO seal" — it would be free advertising for them! But instead they spend tens of millions of dollars fighting it. The only explanation that makes sense is they have something to hide, and they know consumers are onto them.
Four Talking Points to Review BEFORE Speaking to Your Senator
In order to help you educate your senators about the necessity and appropriateness of labeling GE foods, I devoted the majority of a recent article to HR 1599 talking points. A much more comprehensive discussion of the following four issues can be found in that article, so I recommend your reading it in detail before you meet with your Senator. Very briefly, the four points are the following:
- GMO labeling will NOT increase food costs
- Consumers expect traditional foods — not GMOs — to be the norm, so transgenic foods should carry the label and distinction of being "different"
- Three reasons GMO foods are unsafe (primary contributors to chronic disease, pesticide/herbicide resistance, and antibiotic resistance)
- Several claims made by the GMO industry are false (insecticide-resistant crops have NOT reduced insecticide use; herbicide-producing GE crops have NOT decreased herbicide use; and GE plants have actually created insecticide and herbicide resistance)