News junky I am not. Thus taking in the political debacle and terror that plagues our country at this time is something that I choose to limit. Quite honestly, the realities of our food system are enough to push me over the edge. Which brings me to Monsanto Company, the leading producer of genetically engineered seed. For those of you who don’t know, we are in the fight of our lives for the very basic right to know if our food was made with genetically modified organisms (GMO).
To better understand GMOs, here is an excerpt from What The Fork (© 2014 Tarcher | Penguin Random House):
While chapter 10 is entirely devoted to the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), also referred to as genetic engineering, let me offer a brief explanation now so you can begin to understand a serious issue that is facing our food supply and potentially your health. GMOs are plants or animals created through gene splicing techniques (also called biotechnology). This technology merges DNA from different species, creating potentially unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that cannot occur in nature (or in traditional crossbreeding). While almost all commercial GMOs are engineered mainly to tolerate direct application of herbicide and/ or to produce an insecticide, Monsanto claims that the world needs genetic modification. While this company continues to push what I call one of the greatest science experiments of all time on you, many notable scientists, health experts, and food industry watchdogs have been questioning GMOs’ safety since they were introduced to market twenty plus years ago.
While writing my book in 2012-2014, states began to fight for their Right to Know GMOs. As written in What The Fork, “In November 2012, California attempted to pass Proposition 37—a law that would have required all food with GMOs to be labeled as such in the state. This proposition was met with great resistance not only by Monsanto but also Big Ag and Big Food (industry giants like Coca-Cola, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Pepsi, and Unilever, who produce both conventional brands and even some of the healthier ones on the market today). While nearly 47 percent of all Californians voted in favor of Prop 37, the big guys won. With roughly $46 million invested in a radio and TV campaigns (to coerce and celebrate GMOs) alone, how could they not? In the end, your health came second to industry’s bottom line. But the good news is that this single state’s movement sparked a nationwide Right to Know GMO campaign. Individual states are working toward GMO labeling laws, and some, like Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut, are succeeding; hopefully others are not far behind.”
That was then. And this is now…
On July 1, 2016 (just 2 weeks ago), Vermont’s GMO labeling law was supposed to go into effect—meaning that it would have been the first state ever to require GMO labels on all produce and packaged goods. However, a week prior to its effective date, a federal GMO labeling bill—the D.A.R.K (Deny American’s the Right to Know) Act (A.K.A Monsanto Protection Act) was introduced by two sneaky senators to protect Monsanto and other biotech companies as well as Big Food and Big Ag. Government in bed with industry, go figure! Sadly, it would supersede Vermont’s mandate. Bottom line—instead of requiring companies to include on-pack labeling (a good thing), the bill would permit companies to use their own discretion to disclose the use of GMOs in a product whether printing a Quick Response (QR) code, an 800-number, or website on the package (with no further information required on the label itself). Surely not true food transparency!
The bill passed the Senate and the House and very unfortunately Obama signed the D.A.R.K. Act into law just last week. From Food Democracy Now:
We regret to inform you that President Barack Obama has signed H.R. 933, which contained the Monsanto Protection Act, into law. President Obama knowingly signed the Monsanto Protection Act over the urgent pleas of more than 250,000 Americans who asked that he use his executive authority to veto it. President Obama failed to live up to his oath to protect the American people and our constitution. Not only is GMO labeling a reasonable and common sense solution to the continued controversy that corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical have created by subverting our basic democratic rights, but it is a basic right that citizens in 62 other countries around the world already enjoy, including Europe, Russia, China, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia. Today we’re calling on President Obama to issue an executive order to call for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Join us in demanding mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Now's the time!
What can you do? Speak out against Obama's shameful actions HERE and continue to navigate food choice with the Non-GMO Project seal front and center (and use #WTFBook as a guide). While some companies have taken the lead on removing GMO ingredients from their products in anticipation of Vermont's labeling law, what the future holds for industry and your health is unclear given that the Feds have stepped in. Time will tell...