Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered (GE) foods refer to processes where by food is genetically manipulated and no longer resemble what would be found in nature.
GMOs and pesticides are a topic that have gained an enormous amount of attention within the past five years. This became even clearer when millions gathered (March Against Monsanto) all over the world in multiple countries to protest the production of GMOs and the usage of pesticides (over one billion pounds sprayed on our food every year).
Multiple states across the United States have started GMO labeling initiatives, with Vermont being the first state ever to require GMO labeling. All states who have started this initiative have experienced a harsh opposition against it. Should we not have a right to know if our food is genetically engineered or not? Should we not have freedom of choice?
Earlier in the year, an effort to put a ballot initiative in front of Colorado voters regarding the labeling of genetically modified foods was allowed to proceed after the state Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by biotech and food industry outfits.
For Initiative #48 to make it on the November ballot, supporters needed to gather 86,105 petition signatures and turn them into the state by early August, and they did.
Everytime A State Comes Close To GMO Labeling This Happens
As the Washington post reports:
“The placement of the measure on the ballot could bring a huge wave of corporate spending, as was seen last fall in Washington state last year. Despite early signs that it would pass, the measure was ultimately defeated in Washington as an infusion of corporate spending flooded the state making the initiative campaign the most expensive in state history. Groups opposed were funded in large part by food giants, such as Pepsico, Nestle, Coca-Cola, General Mills, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and Dupont. Two groups opposed to the measure spent $33 million, while $10 million was spent by groups in support of it.” (source)
The same thing has happened this year, with Monsanto recently donating millions of dollars to stop the GMO labeling campaign.
Initiative #48 would mandate that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) come with packaging that announces “Produced With Genetic Engineering” by July 1, 2016. Any corporation that refuses to do so (if required) would be under investigation for criminal activity.
“Less than a week after the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association Leadership Forum in Colorado Springs the money began rolling in to our state to oppose GMO labeling. In less than 3 weeks the opposition has mounted $1,425,000 from corporate donors who attended this meeting. Is your right to know what is in your food worth this corporate wallet that is being opened?At heart are GMOs and whether you as a consumer have a right to know what you are buying. In the last 20 years GMOs have become prevalent in our diets without our permission. This GMO issue is not a consumer versus farmer issue like the opposition is trying to force, it is a corporate accountability issue to consumers and communities.If the GMO labeling issue ever seems confusing, follow the money to see who is creating the conversation you are having. Here is yesterday’s filing report from the Colorado Secretary of State.” (source)
Why The People Want Labels
Why do the people want labels? Because there is a growing amount of evidence that shows GMOs could potentially be harmful to human health. We are talking about seeds that are manufactured with the pesticides already in them, and a technology that is so young it would be nearly impossible to quantify the health results and deem them completely safe. The industry, however, argues that the science is conclusive, that GMOs are totally safe. Keep in mind that this is industry funded science, and does not speak for all the research that’s been conducted, or all of the scientists in this field.
“By slipping it into our food without our knowledge, without any indication that there are genetically modified organisms in our food, we are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment. The FDA has said that genetically modified organisms are not much different from regular food, so they’ll be treated in the same way. The problem is this, geneticists follow the inheritance of genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to take this organism, and move it horizontally into a totally unrelated species. Now David Suzuki doesn’t normally mate with a carrot and exchange genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to switch genes from one to the other without regard to the biological constraints. It’s very very bad science, we assume that the principals governing the inheritance of genes vertically, applies when you move genes laterally or horizontally. There’s absolutely no reason to make that conclusion.” – Environmentalist and Geneticist David Suzuki (source)
Research from Canada (the first of its kind) has successfully identified the presence of pesticides -associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, fetal and non-pregnant women’s blood. They also found the presence of Monsanto’s Bt toxin and raised numerous concerns. The study was published in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2011.(source) You can read the FULL study here.
A recent study published in Environmental Sciences Europe (peer reviewed) examined the health impacts on rats of eating commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, alongside Monsanto’s NK603 glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.
The study found severe liver and kidney damage as well as hormonal disturbances in rats fed with GM maize in conjunction with low levels of Roundup that were below those permitted in most drinking water across Europe. Results also indicated high rates of large tumors and mortality in most treatment groups. The study also has a section describing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the retraction of the original publication. This is scientific fraud at its best. The authors express how the previous retraction was “a historic example of conflicts of interest in the scientific assessments of products commercialized worldwide.”(source)
These two studies are small example out of many that clearly show (as the authors point out) that we need to learn more about GMOs before we deem them completely safe.
Think about it, why have most countries around the planet completely banned the sale of GM food products? Russian government scientists, for example, urged the government to ban them because they can be potentially hazardous to human health. Why is North American food banned in dozens of other countries?
Pesticides on the other hand, are surrounded by little controversy in the scientific realm. The dangers associated with the pesticides sprayed on our food have been scientifically validated leaving no room for debate. They’ve been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, decreased intellectual ability, cancer and more. You can read more about that here.
The list goes on and on that clearly indicate they should not be approved 100 percent safe, and that people at the very least should have a choice.
Why The Corporations Don’t Want Labelling
This part is simple, it’s partly because they believe that the science behind the safety of GMOs is solid. They also believe that labeling GMOs creates a fear behind GMOs, that having the label on the product will scare consumers away when there is no reason at all to be scared.
They also know that if the consumer knew exactly what they were consuming that they may think twice before doing so and even stop altogether. This would drive up production costs. The food manufacturers in the United Kingdom know this, which is why you’ll hardly see a GMO warning label anywhere, they simply do not use GMO’s because they know the consumer does not want to eat GMOs. This does cost them more money so in turn, to keep costs down, they simply use less sugar! In turn they are appealing to a larger market that actually benefits human health in the long run.
Again, it all comes down to choice. Given the amount of information that’s out there, it’s very clear that one should at least have a choice. Without a label, it would be just another example (out of many) of corporations making decisions for us.
It’s important for people to be able to do their own research (which they are) and come to their own conclusions. Our trust in biotech companies and food corporations has gone down tremendously, and the days where mass amounts of people blindly accept what they are told by the government (and the corporations that dictate their policy) is coming to an end.
What are your thoughts? Should there be a choice? Should you know whether you are eating something genetically modified or not? Please share in the comments section below.
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