In fact, it is inherently more difficult to find products that do not contain GMO’s these days. GMO corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup, which is found in most processed foods.
Even if you ignore all of the health concerns and information revolving around the GMO issue, some of the troubling concerns regarding Monsanto’s brand of GMO’s are undeniable, including all of the following:
Monopoly: Monsanto’s products are generally designed to be resistant to their own brand of Roundup pesticide, which eliminates an essential American freedom – choice. Farmers have to continually purchase seed and pesticide from the same company, making them dependent upon that company.
Resistance: Weeds and insects have become resistant to Roundup, forcing Monsanto to repeatedly come up with more powerful and more effective chemical concoctions in an attempt to stay ahead of the game. Not to mention the superbugs and weeds created in the process that are becoming increasingly more difficult to control.
Pollen Travels: Whether it’s the wind or a pollinating animal species, the fact remains that pollen travels, and Monsanto’s altered plant DNA ride the same routes as unmodified pollen. This transforms crops that might have been intended to be only organic into what many farmers have termed “frankenfood”.
Harm to non-target species: There is insufficient research as to the effects that GMO’s and the pesticides used to grow them have on non-target species of wildlife. In fact, some independent research indicates that Monarch butterflies have already been adversely affected by GMO’s.
Besides the obvious concerns above, there is growing unease among watchdog groups’ regarding conflicts of interest. These groups are concerned with how government agencies like the FDA, designed to protect our food supply, have become bedfellows with Monsanto.
Monsanto employees have made their way into the FDA, USDA and even the Supreme Court and vice versa for quite some time now. Some believe that this practice has significantly influenced decision-making by those branches of government now in favor of corporate interests, rather than public safety or the safety of the food supply.
Conficts of Interest
Here are some actual examples of such potential conflicts of interest:
Margaret Miller was employed as a researcher for Monsanto in bovine growth hormone development. In order to gain FDA approval, Monsanto was required to submit scientific data to support safety and effectiveness of rgBH.
Miller left Monsanto to pursue gainful employment with the FDA around this same time. One of her first jobs for the FDA was to determine whether or not to approve the report submitted for Monsanto. She was assisted by Susan Sechen, another former Monsanto researcher. Not surprisingly, the hormone was approved in the US.
The troubling part of that approval is that rgBH has been banned in most industrialized countries, and highly debated since its approval in the US. It has been a high concern among researchers as to whether or not the levels of IGF-1, a cancer and tumour promoting agent found in the boosted milk, is actually safe.
Monsanto sued Oakhurst Dairy, a Maine based dairy, for putting “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones” on their milk labels. Monsanto sued the farmer with the claim that Oakhurst did not have the right to let its customers know whether its milk contains genetically engineered hormones.
U.S.Supreme Court judge, Clarence Thomas spent part of his career working as a lawyer for Monsanto. He played a pivotal role in lifting the ban on planting genetically modified Alfalfa. Justice Stephen Breyer disqualified himself due to the fact that he was Charles Breyer’s brother. Charles Breyer was the judge who ruled in the original 2007 decision regarding GM alfalfa. It seems a little strange that Clarence Thomas didn’t see his employment with Monsanto as a conflict of interest as well.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Anne Veneman was on the Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Calgene Corporation (Developers of the GM Flavor Saver Tomato).
Donald Rumsfeld was on the Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Searle pharmaceuticals. He used his political and corporate clout to get FDA approval of aspartame, then known as Nutrasweet.
Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was appointed USDA Chief by Barrack Obama in 2008. A Wikipedia entry about Vilsack states:
“The recent complete cave-in on the issue of GMO Alfalfa regulation – basically giving Monsanto and Forge complete freedom in the marketplace, is a serious blow to natural foods and American freedom to choose organic foods over so-called ‘frankenfoods.’ Vilsack’s previous close ties to Monsanto may well be the reason of this regrettable decision to release GMO Alfalfa without regulation anywhere inside the USA”
Conflict of interest is a serious issue when considering the nation’s food supply.
Patenting seed and lifting regulations on new species of modified foods is a very profitable business. However it is also very risky when you consider everything that can go wrong.
When a corporation can sue farms for labelling a product as not containing an additive, we should be asking ourselves some serious questions about the ethics of that corporation. Especially when recent polls show that 53% of the US population would prefer if GMO products were labelled in the first place.
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