Nel's New Day

July 12, 2014

Legislators Want to Keep People Ignorant

Filed under: GMOs — trp2011 @ 9:47 PM
Tags: , ,

When children are young, parents sometimes keep information from them to protect them from the harsh realities of the world. In the past decade, the government has started doing the same thing. Last year, it was recommended that women not get mammograms because they would be upset by false positives.

Kansas passed a law this past spring ordering doctors to tell their pregnant patients that abortion can cause breast cancer. Of course, that’s not true, but conservatives are never concerned about facts. They just want to believe that they’re protecting the gentler sex. Kansas children are also prevented from learning about sex and contraception.

The most recent way to protect the delicate sensibilities of people in the United States is to prevent labeling. Because members of the subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture firmly believe that genetic engineering of food crops is a total success, they want to keep those foods from being labeled. The panel agreed that people who oppose GMOs or want them labeled are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance. Labels would make this fear worse so the legislators should stop this from happening.

Even my own U.S. representative, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), thinks that political leaders, especially in the European Union, are afraid of pro-labeling people. He said, “It’s obvious that while the science in the EU in incontrovertible about the health and safety benefits of genetically modified hybrid crops, that because of politics, people are afraid to lead, and inform consumers.”

Committee members carefully selected only pro-GMO witnesses who failed to talk about the development of “super weeds” and “super bugs,” decreased biodiversity, over-reliance on single-crop factory farming, and potential health risks.

Because the authoritarian conservatives are eager to protect the populace, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) are proposing a bill to keep states from requiring GMO labeling and allow genetically engineered food to be labeled “100 percent natural.” These people believe in states’ rights unless it gets in the way of their campaign funds. Fortunately, some people are objecting, including Ben and Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). According to them, labeling is an inexpensive way to let people know what’s in their food so they can decide what they want to eat.

Once again, conservative legislators are on the opposite side from popular opinion. About three-fourths of people in the nation are concerned about GMOs, and 93 percent of us support mandatory GMO labeling on foods. It’s only Big Food—that pays our legislators—who are fighting legislation for labeling. Last year, the industry made so many misrepresentations about a measure on the ballot and poured so much money into fighting the initiative that it was defeated. The same thing happened earlier in California.

In a British survey, 61 percent of the farmers said that they would grow GMO crops, but only 15 percent of them said that they would eat the product. The farmers know something that the House conservatives don’t: GMO food products destroy health and kill people. Last year, a scientific study about rats fed on “Roundup ready” GMO maize was debunked because some people felt that it lacked a stringent peer review process. After following these guidelines, the study is back—with the same results of severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances. Most treatment groups had higher rates of large tumors and mortality.

Current safety testing from the industry is for only 90 days, an inadequate time because chronic diseases don’t manifest themselves until mid-life. The study also differs from industry studies because it publishes the raw data, something that the GMO industry doesn’t want people to see.

The connection between GMOs and serious health problems became obvious in the 1990′s when a new form of kidney disease swept through Sri Lankan agriculture workers. A joint study by Rajarata University and the California State University eventually found the link between a common herbicide introduced to widespread use during the late 1970′s, glyphosate, sold under the brand name “RoundUp” here in the United States. Sri Lanka lacked U.S. regulations to prevent water contamination or protect workers, and heavy metals within the soil caused binding with the glyphosate. The same situation occurred in Central America and India, also areas with lax regulations.

The United States, despite some regulations, suffers from GMO poisoning, exacerbated by spraying soybeans with the weedkiller in the 1990s. In April it was revealed that breast milk carries many times the allowable amount of glyphosate, and scientists found glyphosate at “760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.” The EPA, however, allows higher levels that the EU and has been convinced by the industry that glyphosate doesn’t accumulate in the body. Yet, urine from consumers in the United States has ten times the glyphosate as urine in European consumers. This summer, the industry hopes to approve dicamba and 2,4D, elements in the defoliant in Agent Orange used to clear jungles during the Vietnam War.

Even Russia demands labeling if foods contain over 0.9 percent of GMOs. “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

The USDA has never denied an application from Monsanto for new genetically engineered crops. Monsanto’s growth hormones for cows was approved by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist turned USDA administrator and FDA deputy commissioner.  This was after Margaret Miller, a former Monsanto employee, oversaw a report on the hormones’ safety and then took a job at the FDA where she approved her own report. Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist, wrote the USDA’s food standards, allowing corporations to label irradiated and genetically engineered foods as “organic.” Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the USDA, and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Glyphosate has been linked to increased cancer risk, neurotoxicity, and birth defects, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; lung congestion; increased breathing rate; and damage to the pancreas, kidney and testes. Gluten intolerance has dramatically increased within the past two decades at the same time that GMOs have been covering the United States.  The Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) Jeffrey M. Smith asserts that GM foods–including soy and corn–are the possible “environmental triggers” to gluten disorders that affect almost 20 million people in the nation.

GMOs have ingredients that kill rats, but the legislators want to protect people from knowing whether foods are genetically modified because people will get afraid. The question isn’t whether to ban GMOs; it’s merely a matter of labeling.  Legislators are afraid that they’ll lose campaign donations if they don’t stop people from knowing what’s in their food.

Jennifer Hofmann

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JONATHAN TURLEY

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