Vermont had a perfectly good new law that required food manufacturers to label products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Vermont law even prompted some major companies to add GMO labels on — and in some cases remove GMO ingredients from — their products nationwide.
But then, the big crony capitalist federal government stepped in and ruined it all — again.
Earlier this month, President Obama signed a federal GMO labeling law. The law allows companies to inform consumers in one of three ways whether a product contains a GMO.
First, they can actually present the information on the product label. Or, they can share GMO disclosures in barcodes that you must scan on your smartphone. Worse yet, the law even allows food makers to print an 800 number on the package, so consumers must make a phone call to get more information.
The Obama administration says the new bill promotes GMO transparency, which is what Americans want.
No, President Obama. This is not quite what Americans want.
A poll in December found that nine out of 10 Americans support GMO labeling. And 88 percent of people prefer printed labels over having to scan codes. Well, of course.
But having to call an 800 number is so ridiculous, it’s laughable. We have 800 numbers for calling poison control centers when someone swallows a poison by accident. Is that supposed to be the idea behind our food too?
This latest law is yet another example of big, crony capitalist federal government
stepping in to undermine the states. (Just as they just did with controlling environmental chemicals.) They throw out the excuse they want. In this case “uniform” global standards for everything.
But really, the new federal law undermines and undercuts individual state laws, like Vermont’s.
The truth is, I still find many people don’t even understand what GMO foods are. So let’s back up a moment and give you the whole sorry story…
Monsanto breeds “Franken-plants”
Once upon a time, the agro-business giant Monsanto created a toxic, chemical pesticide known as Roundup (glyphosate) that could wipe out any unwanted weed or pest. The problem was, no farmer wanted to use it because it also killed their crops.
Monsanto then came up with the genius idea to alter the genetic structure of seeds so they could withstand the toxic effects of glyphosate.
Then, the plants begin to grow and the farmers can still spray Roundup all over them. The pesticide kills every weed and pest in sight, along with the bees, butterflies and birds. And the genetically modified “plant” is free to grow without natural competition.
It was a great advance of 20th century agricultural science. Just think — you can invent a poison first, and then artificially alter the plants to grow despite using the poison. What a great way to grow foods! (Of course, I’m using sarcasm.)
In all seriousness, I have grave concerns about the unknown effects of eating genetically modified (GM) foods.
In addition, I worry about the real toxicity of the chemical poison used to grow them. Some scientists link this pesticide to birth defects, human endocrine (hormonal) disruption, increased risk of miscarriage, and cancers. Although Monsanto denies it “under present and expected conditions of use.” I also worry about the effects of franken-food artificial genes getting into the natural ecology of plant life and altering the entire ecosystem of the earth.
I can only hope that one day, consumers in the U.S. will vote with their wallets to eliminate GM foods in favor of organically grown foods, as they are doing in many European countries.
Unfortunately, even this action may not eliminate this poisonous pesticide from the environment.
Roundup isn’t just used on GMOs
In Europe, they raised concerns about GM foods years ago. Beyond the concerns about toxicity, they fear that GMOs may contaminate traditional plant species of foods, which will then require more pesticides.
For example, if a GMO farmer plants a field next to an organic farmer, we know the GM crops begin to infiltrate and take over the organic field. (Local farmers have also observed the disappearance of bees from such land.) European bureaucrats acted to ban GMOs only after local farmers and consumers in the free market rejected them anyway.
Because of these concerns, very few GM crops are grown in Europe. But that doesn’t stop certain groups from still using Roundup.
Turns out, Roundup is still making the rounds for weed control in agriculture, including on non-GMO farms that grow cereal grains and on orchards that grow fruits, olives and vineyards. Governments also use it on public green spaces such as parks and along railway line rights of way.
Roundup finds a way into the bloodstream
According to a 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal, a network of environmental groups called Friends of the Earth International tested 182 urban dwellers from 18 countries in Europe. They found traces of Roundup in 44 percent of people.
Plus, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth estimated that if Europe were to begin growing more GM crops, use of the pesticide could increase by eight-fold.
“Free trade” is a hot topic of debate during this political season in the U.S. But some European countries resist allowing GMOs into their countries. Even though the GM crops would be grown using this pesticide outside Europe, they still don’t want these foods shipped in. (Good for them.)
Europe does still import a lot of GM soy. Of course, GM soybeans are one of the top-three “cash crops” in the U.S. now. So maybe it’s Europe’s way of keeping up good trade relations with the U.S. by buying our GM soy and soybeans.
Despite its use in traditional Asian foods as a source of protein, modern soy presents too many problems to count here. For now, suffice it to say, you should avoid soy in all forms — from soy bean curd to soy “milk.”
And while you’re at it, keep in mind a few other things as well:
- Avoid GM foods by looking closely at labels. If there is no label saying “non-GMO,” you can assume it contains a GM ingredient/food.
- Avoiding GM foods won’t eliminate all exposure to Roundup, since farmers also use it on non-GM crops.
- The only way to avoid Roundup and GMOs completely and with certainty is to buy organic foods.
- Don’t spray any chemicals on your lawn. I find a little elbow grease takes care of most unwanted weeds in sight just fine. I also let large areas of the yard, not visible from the road, grow naturally. These natural preserves house grasses (which naturally re-seed themselves) and wildflowers that bloom right through August, when decorative flowers are done blooming. They provide a habitat for bees, butterflies and other insects. And besides, spending some time outside tending the rest of my yard is good for body, mind, and spirit.
“Study: You’re In Trouble, Roundup,” Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) 6/13/2013