Guest Blog: If G-M Foods are Safe, Why Doesn’t Biotech Industry Allow Them to be Labeled?
by Donna Morin Miller
On October 1, South Africa will become the latest country to require that genetically-modified foods be labeled.
I am envious. No, I’m angry.
Genetically-modified foods have been in the U.S. food system for nearly 30 years now. There have never been any long-term studies done to prove their safety, despite claims by bio-tech giants like Monsanto that g-m foods go through a rigorous testing process prior to being approved. If this is the case, then why not allow gm products to be labeled? Why can’t Monsanto spend some of the kazillions of dollars it’s projecting to make off the future world-hunger crisis it’s creating to ensure the public their products are a-okay? Or better yet, they could pay off mainstream media and a few leading scientists to do it for them. That’s worked so far. We know the general public is more than willing to believe what they hear if it comes from the morning talking heads.
Or maybe they’re not. Maybe the public is waking up to the fact that we are getting sick. In nearly every classroom across America, there is at least one child with a food allergy. Most schools are now completely nut-free. Nut-free! Nuts- an amazing source of protein, fiber, calcium, and other nutrients- are no longer allowed in schools because there are children who may die after being exposed to just one. And it’s not just nuts anymore. Soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, and corn, too. Food allergies have been on the rise for nearly 30 years.
Nearly 30 years…huh. Wait, that’s around the time g-m foods were introduced to our food supply.
Or perhaps not.
In 2001, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization jointly sponsored a meeting to discuss the safety of g-m foods. At the meeting was Dean D. Metcalfe, chief of the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases. Metcalfe explained the unknowns about allergens with regards to g-m foods. He argued that although it was possible to test for known proteins, it was the unintended creation of new proteins that made it difficult to test g-m foods for allergenicity.
So how is it possible that g-m foods continue to receive approval from the U.S. government? Why is it that the U.S. is one of the only countries that refuses to cooperate with the U.N. food labeling guidelines? Why can’t Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) make it past the House Committees with his bill to require food labeling, despite his five attempts and numerous co-sponsors?
Could it be the $8,440,000 in political contributions the bio-tech industry made in just 2010? Or…I don’t know…could it be the revolving door that makes bed-fellows out of bio-tech lobbyists and U.S. politicians?
Michael Taylor, head of the USDA, was VP for Public Policy at Monsanto from 1998-2001, after his first stint in the Clinton administration. Then, of course, there’s Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, or, as I prefer to call him, U.S. Friend Of Big Agriculture. It’s not a surprise his nomination was supported by the Corn Refiners Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, and the National Farmers Union. As Iowa state governor, Vilsack originated the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, effectively blocking local communities from regulating where genetically engineered crops would be grown. Additionally, Vilsack was the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an industry lobbying group.
So while those in office elected to protect us from the greed of big industry are having a slumber party with those in big industry, we are left to scamper on the exercise wheels like the lab rats we’ve become.
I, for one, thinks it’s time to get off the wheel and leave this experiment behind.
Donna Morin Miller, who operates the popular blog site BetterOffWell.com, is joining the SafeLawns Foundation this week as Communications Coordinator.