More Backwards Opinions about GMOs
Sometimes I think about GMOs–you know, Genetically Modified Organisms. Those “foods” that agribusiness and the federal government tell us are safe. Substances that many people trust because “it’s still corn.” And that people like me try to avoid because we don’t think there has been nearly enough research. Maybe we wonder if GMO foods could be behind the food allergy epidemic that has hit our population over the past few decades. Maybe we are skeptics, or just superstitious. Or maybe we’re traditionalists, fearful of change.
One thing is that bothers me is that it just seems contrary to nature.
The ancient and earthy agricultural pursuits have become something so unnatural that shopping for food is almost creepy. I mean, the foods look the same, but some are different, possibly in ways that are not fully understood. We have been served foods like tomatoes with fish genes. We are offered food crops resistent to certain pesticides so they can come to our tables covered in more residuals. Crops that should nourish us are “engineered” to produce their own pesticides (Sure, I want to eat corn that can kill a caterpillar… ) Farmers are forced to buy seeds that are patented, their very life force owned by a corporation.
And that brings me to the corruption.
There are, for example, certain pesticides known to be lethal to honey bees–yet the Environmental Protection Agency grants Bayer a pass to sell them anyway. Because these pesticides are necessary to maintain our food supply? That is probably the rationale. But everyone knows pollination is also vital to our food supply. Why aren’t the pollinators being protected? I’m sure biotechnology can eventually engineer a profitable way around them… After all, no one makes a fortune supplying honey bees.
We taxpayers fund the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA (along with countless others). These agencies allow the corporations who supplied the federal government with Agent Orange to do as they wish with our food supply. These regulatory agencies swap top executives back and forth with the biotech corporations. It is worse than ironic.
It amounts to taxation without representation. Think about the names these acronyms represent. Environmental Protection Agency, which now protects the environmental violators. The US Department of Agriculture, which has sold out small farmers. The Food and Drug Administration which is, in effect, testing the impacts of pesticide residuals on American families in an experiment of epic proportions. The available data says that these chemicals are not healthy for the environment or for human beings but no one knows just how unhealthy they are.
Politically savvy corporations have a practice of making campaign donations to both presidential candidates so that Monsanto will always have a man in the white house. (Just for fun, check out this campaign video of Obama promising in 2007 “to let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified.”)
The Deceit… Or the willful ignorance.
In some countries people know, when they are grocery shopping, the nature of the food they are buying. And in some cases, GMO foods are not even on the menu. The Hershey’s corporation is GMO free in Europe, but chocolates sold in the US are filled with GMO ingredients, like the soy, sugar beets, etc. Astonishingly, voters in California, after a costly campaign by the biotech companies, voted not to know what is in their food.
When I wrote to my congressman (Sen. Richard Burr, r-n.c.) and asked him to support labeling of GMO foods, he responded with a nice letter in which he stated that labeling would impose too high a cost on small farmers. I am all for protecting small farmers* but I suspect the real beneficiaries are the biotech, chemical, and the food and beverage processors.
*I’d prefer him to protect his small constituents: the individuals who voted for him (but may reconsider), who are trying to feed their children healthy foods but are denied the information they need at the grocery store.
In a way, I both fear and desire some Old Testament style justice for these corporations. Yes, Monsanto and the corrupt regulators who violate our trust deserve boils, frogs, and barbarian hordes. What I fear is that they will be struck with plagues of their own engineering: famine, pestilence, insects, and that they will take us all.