“As long as GMO foods remain unlabeled, they are likely to continue to elicit fear and distrust of not only the biotechnology industry, but also its federal regulators.” — Marian Nestle, “Eat, Drink and Vote.”
While reading this newspaper Jan. 23, two items right next to each other caught my attention. The first one, “States weighing labels on genetically altered food. In the absence of federal regulation, states from Rhode Island to Hawaii are considering laws to require labels on food items containing genetically modified ingredients.”
The second, “New rules sought to make car seats safer,” covers the requirement that “child car seats would for the first time have to protect children from death and injury in side-impact crashes under regulations the government proposed Wednesday.”
So what might these have to do with each other, you might ask? Well, both are very crucial to our children’s health. Of course it’s important that when children ride in cars, they have the best protection possible in case of an accident. Government has gone to great lengths to enact laws that require well-made safety seats.
Now consider the fact that 70 percent of our food products contain at least one ingredient made or derived from genetically modified crops. Our children are eating such foods on a regular basis, but GMO altered crops have never been tested for the long-term safety for anyone. Of course, the industry claims they are absolutely safe. So why should we believe them? More than 40 countries (including Japan, Australia and most of Europe) require labeling of any products containing GMO technology. But our government regulators allow the industry to have its way with them in spite of the fact that there is no proof that such products are safe. Could that have anything to do with the fact that Michael Taylor, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner for foods, was Monsanto’s former attorney and later its vice president?
It was also recently reported that the FDA is “getting ready to revise 20 year old nutrition labels.” They are considering including a more prominent display of the number of calories, the amount of added sugar and percent of whole wheat, etc. Maybe they’re trying to make us think that they’re doing something important. Yet they do not say when the new guidelines might be released since the FDA has already been working on this issue for a decade. “Food processing companies spent over $28 million last year on lobbying efforts, some of which were aimed at the FDA.” And how much do you think that Monsanto and related industries are spending in their crusade to fight propositions that aim to require the labeling of GMO products?
In my research on the subject (including The Institute for Responsible Technology), I offer more reasons that GMOs should be thoroughly investigated by the government (besides the Michael Taylor connection). They include:
• The toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.
• Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor to the numerous health problems that increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996, doctors groups such as The American Academy of Environmental Medicine tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.
• “GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems and soil organisms. They reduce biodiversity, pollute water resources and are unsustainable.”
• The U.S. government allows companies to put other GM foods on the market without even notifying the FDA. Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed. Attempts by media to expose problems are often censored.
• In spite of what Monsanto would like us to believe, GMOs do not increase yields and work against feeding a hungry world. “Instead of focusing on the food needs of the developing world, food biotechnology companies engage almost exclusively in research on first-world agriculture — genetically modified corn, soybean and cotton bioengineered to resist weed killers made by those very same corporations.” — Nestle.
For every child who may be harmed because of a child seat that isn’t strong enough, many, many more children are threatened with harm (now and in the future) by a technology that has not proven to be safe for anyone’s consumption. This is one egregious example of how our government caters to corporate interests instead of safeguarding the well-being of the rest of us. According to numerous public opinion polls, more than 90 percent of Americans want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. What are we waiting for?
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 700 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.