Generation Monsanto: Why We Need Labels on GM Foods (Counter Punch)
Wednesday June 23rd, 2010
Gen-M, the first Monsanto Generation of humans force-fed genetically modified foods hasn't reached reproductive age yet (they were born in the late 1990s). But, if a critical mass of animal feeding studies are any indication, the millennial generation, reared on Food Inc.'s unlabeled "Frankenfoods" can look forward to a long-term epidemic of cancer, food allergies, learning disabilities, sterility, and birth defects.
Corn (85% of U.S. production is GM), soy (91% GM), cotton (88% GM), canola (85% GM) and sugar beets (95% GM) are all genetically engineered by Monsanto to withstand massive doses of the company's glyphosate herbicide RoundUp, or else to exude their own pesticide, Bacillus Thuriengensis (Bt). RoundUp, the favorite weedkiller poison of non-organic farmers and gardeners, causes brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses. And scientists warn that RoundUp, the most extensively used herbicide in the history of agriculture, "may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious." In addition, hundreds of thousands of US dairy cows are injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (developed by Monsanto) in spite of studies linking BGH with cancer, and longstanding bans on the drug in the EU, Japan, Canada, and other industrialized nations.
With genetically modified foods and crops threatening public health and the environment, not to mention the next generation's reproductive capacity, why isn't there a massive consumer outcry to restrain Monsanto's biotech bullying and ban genetically engineered foods and agriculture?
The answer is disturbingly simple. Collusion between Monsanto and elected public officials (including the current Obama Administration) has obscured the fact that almost all non-organic foods in the US contain GMOs. Despite poll after poll indicating that 85-95% of US consumers want mandatory labels on foods containing GMOs, Congress has heretofore listened to Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, rather than their own constituents. In the European Union, Japan, or South Korea, where GM foods must be labeled, there are no GM foods on grocery story shelves (and little or none served in restaurants), since most consumers would not buy them and a significant number would complain if they saw GMO labels on products. Consequently there are very few GM crops being cultivated in the EU (mainly a small amount of corn in Spain for animal feed).
Most Americans simply do not understand that 80% of non-organic supermarket processed foods (basically every product containing soy, corn, canola, cottonseed oil, or sugar beet derivatives) are contaminated with GMOs. While nearly everyone in North America has eaten genetically modified foods, only 26% believe that they have.
People don't think they're eating genetically modified foods because they have no way of knowing whether they are or not. Genetically modified foods aren't labeled.
If we're going to save this generation from reproductive dysfunction and save our farmland from the ravages of RoundUp, we need to stop Monsanto.
The first step is to protect consumers' right to know whether their food is genetically modified.
We need genetically modified food labeled now!
Ronnie Cummins is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be reached at: [email protected].