By Carolyn Moffa
Corporatism: Say No to G.M.O!
This week I heard a disturbing commercial on the radio which was produced by Monsanto. If you aren't familiar with Monsanto already, they are the corporation who created Roundup weed killer and Agent Orange, the chemical which caused over 400,000 deaths and disabilities during the Vietnam War. Some of Monsanto's most recent controversies are engineering rBST (recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) or rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) and Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO's. These industrialized forms of food have saturated the diet of Americans for years now without consumers even noticing.
Genetically Modified Organisms are created through changing the DNA of a plant. Biotech engineers execute this by finding bacteria from the soil that is Roundup resistant and splicing its genes. They then create gaps in E. coli bacteria and mix it with the Roundup resistant DNA. After that, the mixed gene is injected into the original plant cell. When this happens, they are able to create the desired result of a "Roundup Ready" seed. After the DNA of a seed has been altered, it will kill any pest that eats the plant. Damaging health affects have been found in rodents that genetically modified foods have been tested on and animals all around the world have died after eating BT crops for only one day.
Not only has Monsanto gone so far as to play God by altering the DNA of organisms, they've been patenting seeds for over 10 years now. This biotechnology, which they claim as intellectual property, is used as justification to patent life. Among the numerous problems with genetically modified foods, is that they are rarely, if ever, labeled. The "Flavr Savr Tomato," for example was one such GM crop. In 1994, Calgene Inc., a company later absorbed by Monsanto, released the Flavr Savr Tomato as the first genetically modified produce in stores. The tomato was crossed with DNA from Arctic flounder and sold to consumers while they were none the wiser. This particular GM crop however, has been taken off the market due to its taste. Unfortunately, that is not the case with most genetically modified foods. GMOs have caught on in America and taste is not necessarily an indicator if something is genetically modified or not.
Gone are the days that what you ate was made of food! Years ago, you might have seen cookies which had a total of 5 ingredients in them. Now, the ingredients list is complete up to 30 names which are unpronounceable. I have become a label reader only to avoid genetically modified foods and it also doesn't help that most people do not know what the foods they are eating consist of. Many common ingredients are hidden GMOs. For instance, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Maltodextrin are both derived from corn, which is GMO. If an allergy sufferer were not aware of this and had a reaction, that individual might not know why. This has happened with genetically modified foods on many occasions.
To date, the most genetically modified foods are Corn, Soybeans, Canola, and the newly harvested Sugar Beet (and from the looks of Monsanto's website, it seems that wheat will be next). These all just happen to be the main ingredients in our food supply! If the saying, "you are what you eat," really is true, then Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma hits the nail right on the head when he refers to the American public as "true people of the corn." Whether it's the High Fructose Corn Syrup in bread or Corn Starch in yogurt, most of the food in your kitchen has been genetically modified (unless you buy Organic). Even then, you cannot be sure it hasn't been contaminated by cross-pollinization!
Not only do we not know what GMOs do to our bodies, but the studies showing these foods to be safe were funded by Monsanto, who are quoted as saying, "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.'s job".
I don't know about you, but I'm really not sure why food has not become a bigger issue among activists in the Liberty Movement, especially when corporations like Monsanto are in bed with the government. Former Monsanto employees have held office in such government positions as deputy administrator to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, deputy commissioner to the Food and Drug Administration and former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld was even the chairman and CEO of G. D. Searle & Co. before Monsanto purchased them. If that is not a conflict of interest, I don't know what is! Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas actually worked as a lawyer for Monsanto prior to writing the key piece of legislation which upheld the legalization of patenting seeds. Since this has been put into effect, farmers have been pressured into not saving their own seed and instead buying from Monsanto for fear of patent infringement.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the US government spent over $56 Billion on corn subsidies from 1995-2006. 100 years ago, farmers averaged 20 bushels of corn per year. Due to subsidies, this number has risen to over 200. The purpose of the subsidy was to make producing corn cheaper for the farmer and the consumer (albeit in a backward way). However, with proposed "Sin Taxes" on soda and other products comprised of corn, we will end up paying for this process twice; once through taxpayer dollars to pay for the subsidy and again if you choose to buy that product.
This revenue generating tax is exactly the sort of thing our Founding Fathers were vehemently against. Congress should show they actually care about our health by discontinuing the use of the Corn Subsidy rather than catering to the interests of big corporations like Monsanto. Not only would this prevent further growth of an already bloated and corrupt government, but it will begin to prevent corn from being the main ingredient in practically every piece of food we eat.
As for the radio commercial I heard the other day, Monsanto guises themselves as "America's farm families," while boasting $100 Billion of crops and products shipped to other nations. The fact is that they've sued over 140 real American farmers for infringement on patents of GM seeds that cross-pollinate themselves and that MON 810, a type of genetically modified corn has already been banned from Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, France and Luxembourg.
If these frankenfoods aren't good enough for other countries, why are we eating them every day here in America?