Sunday, January 30, 2011

Business as Usual

The Obama administration decided last Thursday not to regulate genetically modified alfalfa.  Good news for Monsanto and the agro-chem people.  Notso for food production oversight, organic farmers or health-conscious consumers.  Caving in to lobbyists, the government has also shelved two proposed workplace-safety rules opposed by business.  'Business' apparently viewed such regulation as "burdensome."  So government will review all proposed regulation and weed out the ones that are "overly burdensome to business".  This is in order to "repair relations with employers and industry."[1]
It appears Monsanto and big business have won again.  The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) was ecstatic, believing this will "help pave the way for new technologies in the pipeline."  Ah yes, the 'ole fast-track GMO pipeline, straight from the lobbyists' coffers to the Administration's decision makers. "Yes we can!!!!" they chant, echoing Obama's former campaign slogan, since replaced by "I Decided Not To".

Alfalfa is the fourth-biggest U.S. crop by acreage, 20 million acres of GMO; only about 250,000 acres of alfalfa are farmed organically.  That makes organic farms a minority in the agricultural planting world. And you know how much say minorities get in the scheme of things.  It's not just alfalfa.  The vast majority of corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the U.S. are now genetically modified.

Regardless of your stand on the merits (or risks) of genetically modified food, it's got to at least be a tad disconcerting to witness the increasing monopolization of an entire country's food production, ceding control over the choice of what one eats to a few giant corporations, because they need more profits.  They not only want to dictate what kind of crops are planted but restrict the public's choice by refusing to allow GMO products to be labeled as such.  Affixing a label on a food product that indicates it is non-GMO, they believe, hurts business.  Consumers might balk at buying food if they think it's been, well, "altered", or had things like pesticides put into them.
 That's negative thinking, according to Monsanto. If Mother Nature can't produce faster-growing, larger animals for food, an alternative method must be undertaken.  The heck with regulation.  "We don't need no stinkin' regulations", say the BioAgros. "Get used to it. It's the Future."
Europe isn't so sure.  They have to be convinced.  Ergo, send in the bullies.  In 2007, the U.S. "targeted" the European Union over their reluctance to promote and plant genetically modified crops.  It was recommended that a list of countries be compiled for 'retaliation' over their opposition to GMO.  A leaked Wikileaks document shows U.S. diplomats worked directly for GM companies, including Monsanto, to pressure foreign governments to relax regulatory rules. Bribe, pressure, strongarm.  Bullies rule the world today.  And if you don't let them get their way and do what they want, they'target' you, for 'retaliation.'

Crops in the U.S. that are currently genetically modified:

Soybeans, 93%, Corn, 86%, Cottonseed oil, 93%, Sugar Beets, 95% (planting halted in 2010. Now set to go again), Papaya, 80%, Canola oil, 83%, Rice (3 new genes implanted, two from daffodils and one from a bacterium. Forecast to be on the market next year),Squash, 13%.  [2]
They tried putting genes in tomatoes to retard softening after harvesting but it was taken off the market due to commercial failure, which means either it didn't work or nobody would buy it. Fish genes in tomatoes, anyone? My favorite mucking-up-Mother-Nature attempt is the new genetically modified salmon that hurries up what nature intended to take far longer, so now they'll be producing salmon twice its normal size--the operative word here being "normal."

That's why they call them Frankenfish. They're not normal. Skeletal malformations, increased prevalence of jaw erosions and multi-systemic inflammation have been found in GMO fish. Humpback spinal compression deformities, too. Not to worry, though.  They're bigger and fatter. 

"In Chile, where most of our factory-farmed salmon come from, up to 80 percent of the salmon suffer from a condition called 'screamer disease,' where severe facial disfigurements lock their jaws permanently open."[3]

Most people don't see or taste any difference between organic and non-organic foods and think this is all a big hullabaloo about nothing. "I've been eating GMO foods for 10 years," a friend said to me once, "and I'm not dead yet." Ergo, GMO food is safe. "Stop being silly." 

Each to his own choice. The problem is, choice is being taken away from the consumer because the government refuses to label food products that have been genetically modified.  They don't want non-GMO foods labeled as "GMO Free" either, as that has a negative connotation.  It suggests GMO foods are somehow, er, not healthy for you.

So  they want not only to control what you eat but to restrict your choice not to buy GMO products if you prefer not to.[4]

 Imagine:  powerful, cash-dispensing, arm-twisting bullies afraid customers might not want to eat food that's been genetically tampered with.  But it's for your own good, they counter.  It's the wave of the Future!  Disagreement is not tolerated, apparently.  Choice is not an option.  Welcome to the You-Will-Eat-What-We-Say-You-Eat World.

Some are registering their displeasure through humor: 

In the pipeline for the future --
'mystery food'

Ridicule is not going to faze them.  Eating only organic (where you can find it) is very expensive.  Growing your own food helps, but you still gotta "go to the store" for some things.  Insisting that GMO food be labeled as such so consumers can choose not to buy GMO food if they want, should be a basic right.  Right?  In the perfect world, perhaps.

Yum, box-raised, tortured chicken with tomato and trout genes soaked with triple MSG.   Yum, snail broccoli and human-gene spliced potato.

Look, Ma, my tomato has fins.

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