The makers of Agent Orange reserve the right to bring genetically modified (GM) products straight to your dinner table, whether you know it or not.
Millions of protesters from the Occupy Monsanto Movement flooded the streets of 436 cities in 52 countries worldwide last month to protest the influx of unlabeled GM foods in global markets, according to the Huffington Post. Many question the safety of GM foods. Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, makes plants produce bacteria called Bt, which kills insects after consumption.
More than 60 countries already have mandatory labeling laws for GM products, while many others such as France, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland have imposed full or partial bans on GM products due to the health risks to consumers.
Unfortunately, the United States is not among these countries and has recently signed into law the Farmers Assurance Provision, also known as the Monsanto Protection Act, which takes away the power of individual states to pass genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling laws. But that’s not all. The act also takes away the power of the U.S. federal courts to ban the sale or planting of GM seeds, even if the seeds are found to be harmful to human health or the environment.
The provision also exempts Monsanto and other biotech corporations who manufacture GM products from being legally persecuted if their products cause harm to the people who consume them. Most upsetting to opponents of this bill is many of the government officials who approved it are former lobbyists and employees of Monsanto.
As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only looked at research conducted by Monsanto employees, and has not required any long term or independent safety studies to determine whether GM foods are a health risk to consumers. Both Monsanto and the FDA have defended their lack of research and opposition to labeling by stating that GMO crops are “substantially equivalent” in their nutritional content to natural crops and are “assumed” to be safe for human consumption.
However, the few independent studies which have been conducted on GM foods have shown that they are not safe and that long term consumption of GM foods are harmful to the body.
A two-year study conducted by Caen University in France observed the development of cancerous tumors in rats fed GM corn. Another research company, ProfitPro, documented dangerously high levels of chlorides, formaldehyde and glyphosate in samples of GM corn above the levels which FDA safety regulations deem safe for human consumption.
In addition to many GM fruits and vegetables, Monsanto also produces the GM growth hormone rBGH, which is found unlabeled in many dairy products in America. The Cancer Prevention Coalition has linked the consumption of rBGH to cancer and dairy products containing the hormone have already been banned throughout countries in Europe and in Canada.
A little-known fact is Monsanto is the same corporation that produced Agent Orange, an herbicide used in chemical warfare in the Vietnam War, as well as DDT, an insecticide which is now banned worldwide for its adverse health effects. Monsanto was also the producer of PCBs, a cancer-causing substance used in coolant fluid and electrical wiring, which was banned in the U.S. in 1979.
Another major criticism of GM crops is they provide Monsanto with a patented monopoly on seeds worldwide as well as present potential long-term problems to environmental safety. According to the Monsanto website, farmers must sign a binding legal contract called the Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement before purchasing any GM seeds. The agreement prohibits a buyer from saving, replanting or crossbreeding seeds from previous harvests. Farmers can be sued for doing so. Even if GM seeds are carried by the wind into a farmer’s field and are mixed with the natural crop and create a hybrid crop, that farmer can be sued for “stealing” Monsanto’s GM product.
For more information, take a look at the powerful documentaries “The World According to Monsanto,” “Food Inc.” and “Seeds of Death”, which explore the topic of Monsanto and GM products in great detail.
-Julia Spaude is a senior social sciences and psychology major from Kalama. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.