Some Countries Ban GMOs, But Not The United States Of Monsanto
December 17, 2012 by Bob Livingston
America was once the breadbasket for the world. Produce grown in the U.S. fed people across the globe. No longer.
Now countries are banning U.S. foods in an effort to spare their citizens from the health hazards of genetically modified foods, also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Monsanto leads the way in GMO foods. About 90 percent of all corn, soybeans and cotton are grown from genetically engineered seeds. The genetically modified products are now found in about 70 percent of all American processed food. And Monsanto controls about 90 percent of all genetically engineered seeds.
In other words, Monsanto has almost a complete monopoly on the U.S. food supply. It accomplished this by becoming the fourth branch of government. There is a revolving door between government regulatory agencies, Congressional staffs and Big Agriculture companies Monsanto, Dow and Bayer. Michael Taylor is a perfect example.
Taylor is the Deputy Commission for Foods for the Food and Drug Administration. Over his career he has jumped from the FDA to a law firm representing Monsanto (where he worked specifically for Monsanto), back to the FDA, over to the United States Department of Agriculture, back to the law firm, over to Monsanto, to a think tank, to a university and back to the FDA.
During his second tenure at the FDA the agency’s policies regarding GMOs were changed to allow them pass without scrutiny.
GMOs are hazardous to the people and animals exposed to them, as I wrote here. Unfortunately, avoiding GMOs is becoming an impossible task.
GMOs got their start at a Monsanto plant in the backwaters of Louisiana. During the 1970s, Monsanto was one of the nation’s largest chemical companies. It has a patent on a product named glyphosate, which it markets as Roundup. Roundup is a weed killer, and since its weed-killing properties broke down quickly in the soil, farmers could coat the ground with it to kill the vegetation and then plant crops a short time later.
At the Louisiana plant, organisms that could withstand glyphosate were found growing in waste ponds. Scientists isolated and extracted the gene that gave them tolerance to the chemical and began placing that gene into soybeans and corn. The result is what is known as Roundup Ready crops: crops that can withstand repeated sprayings of Roundup during the growing season.
But glyphosate is now showing up in ground water in unhealthy levels miles removed from the farms at which it is used. Traces are even being found in the urine of city dwellers. It also crosses the placental barrier and is found in the blood of unborn children.
The technology used to make crops Roundup Ready has evolved to where pesticides are now also placed within seeds, making them resistant to the pests.
But these “advances” are having deleterious effects on nature. Just as increased use of antibiotics have begun creating antibiotic resistant “superbugs,” use of Roundup Ready crops is creating “frankenweeds” that are impervious to herbicides and use of seeds containing pesticides are creating “frankenbugs” that withstand and even thrive on the plants. But it’s decimating the populations of the pollinators. It has led to colony collapse disorder and a world-wide shortage of honeybees, and has begun wiping out Monarch butterfly populations.
As I wrote here, Big Agriculture is engaging in agricultural terrorism in America.
The very American farmers that Big Agriculture is supposed to help and that the FDA and USDA are supposed to protect are increasingly being victimized. In addition to being able to withstand herbicides and pests, many GMO plants are designed to not reproduce. So rather than save a portion of the seeds for next year’s crops, farmers are forced to purchase new seeds each year. And the cost of those seeds is rising faster than inflation and far faster than the prices of the crops they produce.
But even farmers who reject GMOs are being victimized. Big Agriculture has won numerous multi-million dollar lawsuits against innocent farmers whose non-GMO produce was contaminated by pollination—either by natural pollinators or the wind—from adjacent GMO farms.
Other countries are recognizing that the harmful effects of GMO foods far outweigh any perceived benefits.
The U.S. and the European Union are currently negotiating—and have been for years—a free trade agreement. But the agreement is being held up by what the U.S. considers the EU’s “nonscientific” approach to food safety. In other words, the EU is rejecting GMOs and chickens cleaned with chlorine.
The EU has blocked imports of U.S. GMO corn and soybeans, poultry treated with chlorine dioxide, beef treated with lactic acid to kill pathogens and pork produced from hogs fed ractopamine, a leaning agent. The regulatory hurdles are infuriating U.S. farmers who see them as nothing more than protectionism for European farmers. In fact, it’s protectionism for European consumers.
In 2008, France banned the insect-resistant corn strain MON810 (marketed as YieldGard) following public protests. The ban was overturned by a French court in 2011, but last March the French government reinstated it. The EU’s Food Safety Authority overturned it again in May. Still, other EU nations have complete or partial bans in place.
Who else is rejecting GMOs? Russia, for one. Following the French study that showed that rats fed GMO corn over their lifetime developed massive cancer tumors, Russia’s consumer protection group Rospotrebnadzor said it was halting all imports of GMO corn until the country’s Institute of Nutrition has a chance to evaluate the study.
Peru passed legislation in April 2011 that banned GMOs anywhere in the country for 10 years. The worry there is that the introduction of GMOs will compromise the native species of Peru, such as the giant white corn, purple corn and the famous species of Peruvian potatoes. Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”
Despite the ban, tests conducted by the Peruvian Association of Consumers and Users found that 77 percent of supermarket products tested contained GMO contaminants.
Just last month the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health ordered public health officials to remove all GMO foods from the market and enforce a ban on GMO imports. Citing the French study, Minister for Public Health Beth Mugo said there were concerns about the safety of GMO foods that need to be addressed.
Indeed there are, but expecting the U.S. fascist system to address them is unreasonable. And as evidenced by the fraud surrounding the recent California Proposition 37 election, gaining ground against agricultural terrorism at the ballot box is impossible.
Consumers have to reject GMO foods and hit Big Agriculture in the pocketbooks. It’s all they understand. You can begin by downloading the non-GMO shopping guide here.