Ecocentric

Prop 37: Why California’s Ballot Initiative on GM Food Is About Politics More than Science

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Stephen Lam / Reuters

A demonstrator holds a sign during a rally in support of Proposition 37 in San Francisco on Oct. 6, 2012

Californians will go to the polls today knowing that their votes for the presidential election will be virtually worthless. President Obama has a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney in this bluest of states, and by the time polls close in California, the presidential race may very well have been decided.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues at stake in the Golden State. As they often do, Californians will also be voting on a number of ballot initiatives. And none are more important — or have gathered more attention and campaign money — than the one known as California Proposition 37. If approved, Prop 37 would mandate labels on “raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.” It would also prohibit any food with genetically modified (GM) ingredients from being labeled as “natural.”

Given that some 85% of the corn crop — which in turn is found in much of the food available at the average supermarket — is genetically modified, passage of Prop 37 would likely mean big changes for labeling and potentially for the American food system as well. In an article for the New York Times Magazine, the writer Michael Pollan argued that passage of Prop 37 would “change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too,” proving that the foodies could exert real political as well as economic power. Meanwhile, Big Ag companies like Monsanto are proving just how important stopping Prop 37 is to them by pouring tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to defeat the initiative.

Right now it looks like Big Ag has the edge — recent polls indicate that a narrow majority of Californians are poised to reject Prop 37. That’s a shift from earlier in the year, when polls showed that Prop 37 had strong support in the state. The vast fundraising edge belonging to the anti-initiative forces — which also includes companies like DuPont and PepsiCo — is almost certainly the driving factor behind that change, a fact that only confirms suspicions among many progressives that Big Ag wants to keep consumers in the dark over the GM ingredients in their food. They do — ag and biotech companies know there’s a deep suspicion among many consumers toward GM crops, a suspicion that supporters of Prop 37 have just as eagerly exploited. But the battle over Prop 37 and GM food was never really about science or health. It’s about politics — and who should control the U.S. food system.

(MORE: Vital Farms: Raising the Ultra-Organic Egg)

Food is the most personal of environmental issues — after all, we vote on it three times a day — which is why GM food is so controversial. Head over to the home page of the Right to Know campaign backing Prop 37, and you’ll see item after item about the potential dangers of GM food. It’s “Frankenfood,” the potentially dangerous product of loosely regulated genetic engineering. A widely publicized French study that was published earlier this fall crystallized those fears — the scientists reported that they found that rats fed a lifetime diet of GM corn developed tumors and suffered organ damage compared with rats fed a non-GM diet.

But here’s the thing: mainstream scientists say there is little evidence that there are any harmful health effects associated with consuming GM crops. The National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Academy, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and many other major scientific bodies have said publicly that GM food is not dangerous. Americans have been eating food made from GM crops for years and no one has yet been able to demonstrate a single case of someone actually getting sick from it. (See Keith Kloor’s piece on Slate on the scientific view of GM crops.) The board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a letter last month recommending against the special labeling of GM food and quoted from a recent E.U. report on GM crops:

The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding.

Skeptics of GM food can and do argue that those studies may be flawed, that the biotech and ag industries keep tight control over GM research and that there are scientists who dissent from the mainstream view that GM crops aren’t dangerous. Some of that may be true — academic scientists have often expressed frustration that corporate patent rights over GM seeds limit researchers ability to freely study them. And there are definitely scientists who are much more skeptical toward GM food than many of their colleagues; molecular biologist Patricia Hunt and 20 other researchers signed a letter recently challenging that AAAS statement on Prop 37, arguing that the group’s position “tramples the rights of consumers to make informed choices.”

(MORE: A Dark Cloud and a Silver Lining for the World’s Fisheries)

But there’s no getting around the fact that the majority of the science done so far indicates that GM food poses no known threat to consumers. That puts those warning about the threat of GM food in a very similar position to global-warming skeptics — defying the mainstream scientific consensus, calling into question the quality of the studies that form that consensus and seeking out dissenters who share their doubts. Environmentalism is supposed to be science-based, but the anti-GM-food forces have too often been antiscience.

Does that mean Californians should vote against Prop 37? Not necessarily. For one thing, the anti-initiative forces have also played fast and loose with the facts on some misleading advertisements. The argument made by opponents that Prop 37’s passage would cost consumers an extra $400 a year in grocery bills seems to assume that foodmakers would need to replace much of their stock rather than simply relabeling it. And even if the bulk of the science indicates that GM food poses no health threat, why shouldn’t it be easier for consumers who want to avoid GM ingredients to do so? The labels may not even make a huge difference — that’s the argument put forward by David Roepik, a risk expert, who wonders whether the labels might actually help speed the acceptance of GM foods by making them seem more normal.

(PHOTOS: America Votes: Election 2012)

Ultimately, though, Prop 37 isn’t really a battle over science — it’s a battle over the politics of food, as Michael Specter of the New Yorker writes:

Here’s what the hysteria is really about: corporate control of seeds. There is a feeling, expressed often and with great emotion, that this kind of commodity should not be hawked like software — with annual upgrades you have to buy. Normally, farmers save seeds for the coming season; but G.E. seeds usually only last for one planting. That scares farmers, understandably so — but it is not an issue that will be addressed by this labelling initiative. Monsanto doesn’t own the science — nor is science the only thing that matters. If people are unhappy with patent laws they can change them. If they have problems with the morality of an international conglomerate controlling the food we eat, then let’s elect people who want to make that more difficult. There are many people working on genetically engineered products that will help sustain people and the environment.

As Specter notes, the labeling initiative on Prop 37 won’t do much to change corporate control over the food system. In fact, if the initiative passes, it’s likely to be fought in the courts and may simply lead to more confusion. (That’s why the liberal political blogger Kevin Drum at Mother Jones wrote recently that he was opposed to Prop 37.) But even though I’m not really worried about GM crops (I think both the proponents and opponents of genetically engineered crops tend to overstate their cases), I can see why a Californian who wants to change how food is made in the U.S. would support Prop 37. “I’m on record saying that this shouldn’t be solved on the state level,” says Gary Hirshberg, founder of the ultra-organic Stonyfield Farm yogurt company and chairman of the Just Label It group, which supports greater federal regulation of GM crops. “But I still think there’s a clear choice to support Prop 37.”

Foodies get to exercise their franchise three times a day when it comes to buying and preparing more sustainable meals, but they rarely get a chance to vote on their convictions. Californians are doing so today — and we’ll see just how powerful the “dinner party” really is.

MORE: Can GM Crops Bust the Drought?

180 comments
FOUNDUPS®
FOUNDUPS®

ROTFL.  Over 90% of GMO is ROUNDUP READY or Bt Pesticide... 70% of the food American's consume daily are GMO. Since when is putting a label have anything to do with politics? It's about giving the American consumer the same consideration 61 countries already give their people --a right to know they are consuming food, that NO long-term studies been done on, and that many doctors say harmful. I am so glad I left the US in 2004 to live in Japan where the people are held in higher regard than billion dollar corporations that for 20 years have been poisoning American's, killing 80% of beneficial insects and poisoning the environment to make a few stakeholder money... sad.  

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Established business _despise_ the free market. They don't want to encourage competition and lower profits. Monsanto knows there are only two ways to sell genetically-modified food. One way is to lie about it (hide essential facts). The other way is to advertise the specifics AND PASS ALONG SOME OF THE PROFIT TO CONSUMERS AS SAVINGS. They don't want to do that so they will lobby instead for a non-free market. What is baffling is that Republicans, supposedly the scion of free markets, go along with this.

dbmoran
dbmoran

California passed a proposition to require notification of suspected carcinogens. Now, when you enter any commercial building, you pass by a warning sign that the building contains such, but you get no details on what carcinogens are present or where they are in the building. I have yet to encounter one of these warnings that provided any usable information. Nor are they known to have reduced the presence of carcinogens. They are simply one of the irritants and unnecessary costs of doing business in California.

As the article notes, the vast majority of corn in this country is GM, as is the beet sugar, as is ... Consequently, virtually all prepared food would likely have to be labeled GM and once again there would be no useful information for the consumer and no pressure on the producers. Another piece of lunacy from feel-gooder who refuse to consider the obvious negative consequences of their actions.

maestro
maestro

RE Bryan Walsh: "there's no getting around the fact that the majority of the science done so far indicates GM food poses no known threat to consumers"

 It was politics and not science that put out such a fallacy to begin with. And getting around that is just documentation of policy to demonstrate an intentional sequence to confiscate public right to choice of food quality and content. Partisan-ism aside and industrial interests to the fore -- all along treading on the unknowing American public -- administrations on both sides from production of the first GM plant in 1982 and the first field trials in 1986 both under Reagan, to the first GM crop approved for sale under Clinton in 1994 have each and all fully supported bio-tech and GE programs. The most significant federal GMO policy -- known as the ‘Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology’ – was begun under Reagan and finalized under George H. W. Bush. This summer our Senate voted against the right to label GE foods (on S Amdt 2310 to S 3240 Agricultural Reform Food and Jobs Act 2012), with Republicans voting close to consensus in opposition (the single exception: Murkowski of AK) and Democrats primarily in favor of labels. The 2011 USDA deregulation of GM alfalfa signed into law under Obama means further corruption of organic feed (by cross pollination and erosion transfer from GE crops to natural) and casts an ominous shadow on the total future of all organics. The current administration’s legacy of deregulated GE alfalfa is poised to forever erase the distinction between GE and organic, the last piece in the puzzle needed to fully contaminate all aspects of organic feed (corn, soy and canola already firmly in place) for all livestock: any distinction for organic meat, dairy, poultry and eggs is now on the “hit list” for extinction.

Alfalfa – the 4th most significant economic crop in the US – already had its GE version recalled in 2007 because the USDA had failed to issue a prior EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) before deregulation, in violation of federal law. Their final submission in Dec 2010 disclosed risk of contamination of non-GE crops, lack of information on long-term allergenicity and toxicity impacts on both humans andanimals, admission that it increases use of the herbicide glyphosate, and that plants exposed to glyphosate “might experience impaired germination or growth characteristics” --all of which our president found to be of no consequence to public safety. Meanwhile, documentation recently released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that USDA regulators are moreover actively working with the biggest bio-tech firms to train them to conduct their own reviews of transgenic products as part of the upcoming stage of “hands off” governmental deregulation of GMOs.

The EPA accordingly washed its hands of the deranged affair claiming it has nothing to base decisions on -- because authentic objective studies have been forcibly prevented, testified to by dozens of accounts from sincere but thwarted scientists. GE products have gained a proprietary status protected by patent law from independent research, thus making it illegal to evaluate products for food safety at this time! Scientists are also prohibited from working on such projects even if and when private funding was or could be obtained. Dr Huber has traced the full path of the cover-up and clamp-down and explains that farmers are obligated to sign tech agreements prohibiting them from even comparing year-to-year yields or cross-yields from growing seasons, or using any alternative products other than contracted – whether seeds, fertilizers, soil supplements, herbicides, or pesticides.

It must be recognized that the true GE agenda is war on natural food and its procurement. Far beyond the current squabble over labeling is the very real threat of patent sovereignty. Eisenhower’s Assistant Sec of Agriculture, John H Davis, left in 1955 for Harvard Univ’s Graduate School of Business and publicized a strategy in 1956 claiming that the only way to solve the farm problem with its cumbersome government programs was to shift from agriculture to agribusiness. Command of the food chain by corporate multinationals instead of traditional human families got Henry Kissinger to wax in 1970 -- “Control food and you control people” -- as a mantra to help drive the non-thinking agri-business brutality of dominion that has waged on ever since. The goal of corporate commerce in respect to food is total control of seed. Nature, by law, is not patentable, but laboratory alteration is. Gene-splicing or genetic manipulation at a sub-cellular level gives the doer full legal patent rights and ownership of the created organism. Large-scale monoculture and input-intensive farming techniques have already long endeavored to bury the benefits of subsistence-farming without remorse; destruction of wilderness and watershed areas and decimation of biodiversity (while some 7,000 plant species have been traceably used for food throughout history, 95% of global food requirements are provided by only about 30 currently cultivated species, and well more than half of total calories from 4 species) has instituted fossil-fuel dependence and choked the world with machine and processing plant fumes and inorganic fertilizer and pesticide residues.

 In addition there’s now corporate seed-greed. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault or ‘doomsday’ seed gathering bank in Norway that has achieved full biotech control of the future of every world seed stored in this veritable ‘Noah’s Ark’ of generative material is advertised as a “refuge” or duplicate file in case of global disaster owned by Norway. The truth is that, while Norway may own the vault, the operating costs and content care fall under The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) funded by DuPont, Syngenta, the Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, and its affiliate Monsanto. Companies with no record of altruistic concern for seed diversity (in less than a century 95% of historic American food plants and 75% of all traditional world food plants are gone) -- and that have in fact been destroying it through GE and patent terrorism – have suddenly stepped up to pay operating costs of a giant refrigerator buried in permafrost 600 miles from theNorth Pole (?). Author Wm Engdahl has explained how agribusiness giants have used “stealth, the system, and a well-supported campaign of lies and distortion” to creep up on Kissinger’s ultimate target of controlling people via food.  The world’s largest and most comprehensiveseed gene bank is the most perfect bio-prospecting niche: the biopiracy that an result from extracting information and acquiring patent rights for full commercial exploitation without compensating indigenous populations is probably lose to the motive. “Give a man a gun, it’s said, and he could rob a bank; give him a “bank” and he can rob the world.” A very clear-minded expose on the seed bank scandal and legal implications is given by the Center for Food Safety: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/campaign/save-our-seeds/seed-saving-and-seed-banks/

The bottom line, maintains industry, is that every single bioengineered product has undergone more testing and government scrutiny than almost any other product in history – granting as clear a record as practical for unquestioned approval. Remember, that’s 4 tests on humans -- all negative (see my previous posts for the actual studies)

ginatbryant1
ginatbryant1

It's more simple than that. GMO or not- LABEL OUR FOOD! The MAJORITY HAS SPOKEN. 

qutcheck
qutcheck

Walsh ....You just keep eating  'Agent Orange' genetically added to your food  ....corn, soybeans and more ......Monsanto people will not eat it ,,,They mandate organic in their cafeteria ......

maestro
maestro

To finish, the official story insists that we can make better rice, for instance, through GE tech – yet it’s not science at all, but browbeating. The argument for GM Golden Rice to prevent deficiencies in vitamin A and iron is misleading at best and an outright scam at an honest analytical level. The corporate tale is that in regions where rice is eaten almost exclusively, vision problems and blindness occur as a result, and the GM cultivar containing beta-carotene would solve this. Ingo Potrykus, inventor of Golden Rice, even goes so far as to say GM opponents should stand trial in an international court for opposing the genetic technology that would prevent a million children from going blind each year. His estimate claims the altered rice would provide the recommended daily intake of 200 grams of vitamin A per day.In developing countries -- where rice is such a staple food that it’s often eaten to exclusion -- about 135 million children incur vitamin A deficiency since rice indeed does not naturally supply it. 

 But, neither does rice contain any vitamins C or D – and vitamin C is a directly responsible for optimal vitamin A uptake. Most foods that contain good sources of vitamin C -- namely spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, kale, parsley, peppers, tomatoes, basil, sweet potato, cantaloupe, apricots, and carrots (greens and yellow-orange plant foods) -- also happen to be the premium sources of vitamin A.While rice is a good source of many B vitamins and some minerals, it actually contains tragically low levels of calcium: less half than the supposedly “deficient” level of iron so important to the official sales pitch (1 cup rice yields but 19.5mg calcium, or 1.95%  the recommended intake, while containing 0.82mg or 4.56%DV for iron!). Rice carries mere trace amounts of palmitic, oleic, and linoleic acids -- or almost none of the fats also concomitantly required for vitamin A absorption and protection against oxidation during body processes. And refining or polishing of rice completely further removes all essential fatty acids and fiber, half of most minerals – but 60% of that iron-- and 60-80% those B vitamins it’s the poster-child for. In the end, rice needs to be accompanied by a whole lot more than a genetically implanted carotenoid; so the issue distills to fraudulent representation of a product, not supplying correct and simple nutritional information – before finally becoming a function of social oppression.

 The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) finds corporate rants on malnutrition to be pure GE promotionalism, an extension of feudal limitation and subjugation, and very, very bad science. ISIS exposes that the main cause of hunger in the Third World is the industrial monoculture of the Green Revolution; obliteration of biodiversity and soil fertility resulted in the mineral and micronutrient deficiencies observable in conventional foods (organic foods consistently test much higher and more diverse in nutrient profiles) -- then there’s the impoverishment and even suicides of family farmers forced to buy unproductive GM seed. Even more revealing is the ISIS report signed by over 30 senior scientists and academics and sent to the USDA attesting the clinical trials on children from 2005-2009 using experimental and unapproved GM rice with potential to cause birth defects and developmental abnormalities was in breach of the Nuremberg Code of Ethicsand morally inexcusable. World Food Prize winner Hans Herren declares it’s well known among scientific circles today that mostof the problems attempted to be addressed via Golden Rice and other GMOs can be resolved in matter of days with the right political will.

Vitamin A deficiency -- like all hunger and malnutrition from scarcity -- is fully a condition of poverty, ownership and land-use struggles, poor food distribution, and the turning of political backs on the issues of the disenfranchised. All plant (and animal) foods have particular nutrient deficiencies that are simply remedied by crop diversity and dietary intake variety. Why does the logic seem to elude us that, if the will and resources are quite available to overcome biochemical hurdles as in the case of Golden Rice, are they then so suddenly unavailable inlight of cheaper -- and better --  alternative sources of vitamins and minerals already abundant? Sweet potato, yam, carrot, squashes, melon, spinach, cabbage, beets, etc in the case of vitamin A. The Office of Medical and Science Justice reports that the UN Food and Agricultural Organization project dealing with vitamin A deficiency discovered that its absorption and that of its natural carotenoid precursors depends on overall nutritional status which, in turn, centers on the diversity of the food consumed. 

We’re supposed to be a “commonwealth”, founded on decisions made for the common good, and in which supreme power resides in our hands through the major entitlement of free elections to choose governing representatives responsible to us in exercising agreements andprocurements for public wellbeing. The kind of government which is a “public matter” -- and in which the public matters -- is called a Republic (as from Latin, res publica); by definition it’s neither the concern nor the private property of officials -- who are to act only asextension of our needs and will. But in practice both we and they forget who funds their paychecks – we abandon our employer status andrights while they violate the trust constitutionally established.The GE industry has taken full advantage of the disconnect and is makingany and every choice it wants to forcibly control all life processes and militantly curtail any public objection or interference. You did knowthat contraceptive corn genetically modified to produce spermicidal antibodies with research funds from the US Department of Agriculture was developed over a decade ago, didn’t you? (the 2001 joint venture agreement for Epicyte included Dow and Novartis/Syngenta; after 2002 field trial results were supplied to the US Dept of Defense any further media coverage of the event vanished).

Please, America, do a little research! 

We are fortunate to have the right to make personal choices. But we don’t have the right to make those decisions for others. One person’s discretionary politics cannot supplant another person’s needful science.

stantonXXX
stantonXXX

A little bit of common sense says GENETICALLY ALTERING FOOD IS NOT A GOOD IDEA!  Hello!!  When are human beings going to figure out that nature rules us.  We do not rule nature.  We are destroying our planet and our species because of this inexplicable mindset.  There is no need for GMO's other than for Big Ag to corner the market and become extremely wealthy.  The world does not have a food supply problem.  It has a systems problem.  That system is the monetary system.  America throws away enough food (because we can't sell it, or just don't eat) to feed the hungry.  Wake up please!  Is it a coincidence that Obama's director of the FDA is an ex-Monsanto employee.  HELLO HELLO HELLO!  

maestro
maestro

If labeling makes no sense now, why was it the center of a prime ad by Monsanto in the UK in 1998? MercuryNews.com unveiled the text:“Food Labeling. It Has Monsanto’s Full Backing. Before you buy a potato, or any other food, you may want to know whether it's the product of food biotechnology…Recently you may have noticed a label appearing on some of the food in your supermarket. This is to inform you about the use of biotechnology in food. Monsanto fully supports UK food manufacturers and retailers in their introduction of these labels. We believe you should be aware of all the facts before making a purchase."Monsanto has refused comment on why it would runsuch an ad but now shift its position to prevent labeling in the US. 

GE foods have never been proven safe for human consumption. There are 0 (zero) studies that prove its safety. -- and 130 published peer-reviewed studies to the contrary.

What most of us don’t know is that only 4 studies have ever been conducted on human subjects and every one was unfavorable.Subsequent testing on GM food consumption has not been permitted since 2005. And the oft-heard argument that no-one has gotten sick or died from a GE product is a bald-faced lie: over 1500 Americans were permanently disabled and 37 killed (from eosinophilia myalgia syndrome) in 1989 from a GM L-tryptophan supplement (amino acid precursor to serotonin, melatonin and niacin) imported without regulation from Japanese petrochemical giant Showa Denko. It was ‘substantially equivalent’ with a 99.6% purity  – but that 0.4% non-equivalent impurity contained 30-40 different contaminants from the gene-spliced bacteria used to culture the amino acid – a miniscule dose with a wallop of misery. http://www.aquarianonline.com/Eco/UnnaturalHarvest.html

In India, GM crops kill an estimated one every 30 minutes – a horrific stream of agricultural suicide in part facilitated by farmers drinking the very pesticides they had been cajoled into believing wouldn’t be necessary with GM crops. Wives, taking over farms from their deadhusbands, soon kill themselves as well from the punitive debt load of GM seed costing 10 to 1,000 times as much as traditional, requiring twice as much water, and up to 20 times more applications of pesticides. Whole populations of children are resultantly orphaned from this revolting refutation of “equivalence”.

Which is why the pro-GMO argument is waged in political forums using blustery emotive blasts rather than scientific salvos: because authentic science does not support its safety as food. The results of those 4 studies on humans? Nordlee et al 1996 and Yum et al 2005 both showed specific allergenic response to GE foods. A population tracking study (ingestion studies were disallowed by this time) by Aris and LeBlanc in 2011 found insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) from GM crops rampant in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses; and while genetic engineers have argued that the Bt toxin (derived from the bacterium bacillus thuringiensis) gene-spliced into ~65% of US GMO corn is destroyed by stomach acid – the Canadian research found its metabolite in 93% of maternal blood samples, 80% of fetal blood samples, and in 67% of the blood sampled from non-pregnant women.

The most frightening was the discovery by Netherwood et al 2004 that irrefutably showed GE soy implanted into human intestinal cells and survived. This means that, breaking longstanding taxonomic barriers held to be unbridgeable, GMOs can, without lab manipulation, cross the scientific classification of kingdoms by inserting plant genetics into animal tissue. And this has been known for 8 years without public warning. This is a form of horizontal gene transfer so outlandish and unnatural it was predicted by no one in the scientific establishment. 

But in regard to GMOs, developments that even outstrip science fiction don’t stop there.  As early as 1998 Gebhart and Smalla did foretell that natural interspecies horizontal gene transfer and recombination could create totally new pathogens. A decade later, a new pathogen has indeed now been created by GM Round-Up Ready crops by Monsanto. The novel micro-organism is responsible for reproductive failure in animals across a broad species line including cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and poultry. Dairy farms are currently exhibiting up to 70% abortion rates (on top of the 10-15% infertility already occurring from GE feed). Straightforward science fact finds it’s an unknown phenotype – not a fungus, bacteria, virus or mycoplasma – and requires magnification ~ 36,000 times to see it. 

ISIS reveals that horizontal gene transfer and recombination create new viral and bacterial pathogens and spread drug and antibiotic resistance among the pathogens. Species barriers that once limited and deactivated any foreign genetic material have now been broken down – with some of the most dangerous originating from waste disposal from pathology labs containing transgenic organisms like cancer, viral, and bacteriological materials. GMOs promise an event horizon unequalled in human history because foods and goods will be shaped from the inside by emotionally and morally deficient agencies that don’t actually comprehend either the nature of genetics or scientific evolution. DNA is not a fixed entity in the form of the “ladder” that most people -- including most execs – picture, to be passed on formally like a baton in a runner’s relay race through generations. DNA is mutable even over a single human lifespan when altered by environment, exerciseand food (recognized by the new biological discipline called epigenetics). GE contamination both purposed and accidental lead to the singular result of acquisition; much more than product dispersal corrupting a new horizon like GE seed drift bankrupting an organic farmer, horizontal genetic transfer raises the inevitable question of when industrial ownership of humans will surface.

Logic dictates that one day GMO ingestion will be interpreted as unlawful procurement – all the more legally defensible if labeling is not in place! At present spilled GE seed is cause for appropriation of another’s land; seed ingested is thereby, by any reasonable extension, fit cause for petition to ownership of such ‘terroir’ – in this case human flesh. Lack of labeling presents a very clear path of non-avoidance since it negates informative markers; in this condition, while our chance of consumption of GMOs is near certain it can yet be legally construed as incidental – absolving manufacturers of accountability. And “adoption” of GE genetic material by unconscious metabolic process constructed as thievery of patent-protected products. In any case, I predict some company will someday act as the claimant to the ‘title’ of human life (it’s a simple and non-fantastical logical progression from already existing legislation on possession of GMO plants, crops and land; the human body is the next class of “terroir” or territory to be occupied). GMOs may even serve as track-able bio-markers (akin to geo-locators on cell-phones) that, since they represent patent infringement, could be used as a compulsive taxation device. Your tax load may someday reflect a surcharge for consuming food containing bio-variants you legally have no right to be in possession of.

sdsavage
sdsavage

The hysteria is not about control of seeds.  Farmers have been buying seeds of hybrid crops since the 1930s and every crop that can practically be hybrid is because they produce so much better.  Before RR soybeans maybe 40% of US soybeans were "saved seed" and some thought farmers wouldn't agree to buy every year.  The adoption of the technology was far faster than anyone imagined and soybeans farmers have no concern about buying seed each year.   When a crop shifts to purchased seed it brings in a huge level of private investment in breeding including conventional breeding.  The wheat industry in the US is mostly saved seed and they wish they had not given into European and Japanese pressure not to go GMO back around 2000.  I've interviewed dozens of them and they say they would be happy to buy seed each year if it meant getting traits that help them.  Now they have agreed with the Australians and Canadians that they will someday all go GMO at the same time so they can't be blackmailed again.

Farmers are not the ones concerned about GMO crops.  In every country where they have been allowed to plant GMO options they do in large proportions including millions of small farmers growing cotton in India and China.

They hysteria is about people who won't accept the science, just like what goes on for climate change and vaccines and evolution.

JoeJacovino
JoeJacovino

what a bunch of lies, you are citing reports done by the industry itself, and it is all lies by omission, distortions, and half-truths. and again, the real issue is this, if it's safe, then why not label it. in europe, japan, france and most other non 3rd world countries, gmo's are banned. do you know why? i do. so, quit lying ,or if you are actually this much in the dark, do some actual scholarly research, not just rehashing industry reports. check out what the fda scientists had to say about gmo's in the early nineties. this technology is from the same people who brought you agent orange

jshaw8808
jshaw8808

We've got a few pro-GM people posting here, claiming that GMOs are perfectly safe and are a boon to humanity.   When I ask them why not capitalize on that and label everything as to its GM status, and let the market reward the producers of these self-evidently magnificent foods, they don't like that idea.  They claim that there is too much hysteria that has been whipped up regarding GMOs, and it will devastate the industry.  But really, if GMOs are so safe, won't there be an obvious lack of association between eating these foods and health problems?  Won't there be millions of people saying that they've been eating the stuff for a year, two years or however long, with no issues?  Won't GM foods, if they truly increase yields, enjoy a price advantage?  Won't GMOs capture the bulk of market share, with so much going for them?

Isn't capitalism about transparency and letting the market decide issues like this?  Why is the GM industry so under-confident about their products and so afraid of giving consumers a choice?

AnnStorey
AnnStorey

When does the genetic modifying of the earth's species stop? What is going to be modified next? Why were these chemical companies allowed to do this without the public's knowledge. What is the benefit for the consumer? What happens when modified crops contaminate all organic and conventional crops. Do we really want private companies to patent all of our food?

Ask yourself these questions if you think nothing is wrong with GMOs

jshaw8808
jshaw8808

Also of note:

In Germany, they passed a law making farmers who grow GM crops liable for economic damages to non-GM and organic farmers resulting from GM contamination.  The law has virtually halted the planting of GM crops in the country because farmers are not prepared to accept liability for contamination.

jshaw8808
jshaw8808

The fact is GMOs are a loser in the marketplace when they're identified, and that's why Big Food is so desperate to stop Prop 37.

DocPhaq
DocPhaq

All people who are PRO GMO  either do not know the facts.. or they know the facts and do not care and they have sold out..  if anyone looks at all the information available.. it is so crystal clear that GMO is potentially life threatening to the survival of the planet.. LOOK people if you are pressed for time.. check out the documentary Genetic Roulette..

MegTaylor
MegTaylor

More yellow journalism, joining the ranks of the shamed LA Times - fitting, since you share part of a name.  RIP, Time.  Nice to know your interests fundamentally rest with your advertiser corporate overlords.  What a pile of steaming future landfill contribution.

j
j

You are entitled to your opinion, Mr. Walsh, but understand, that it is garbage like this that has made me cancel my subscription to Time.  You'll never get another penny from me.   I'm sure you get plenty from your pro GM friends.

smjhunt
smjhunt

Since when is more knowledge bad ?   I doubt there are large health effects associated with GM foods. Otherwise we would see it in studies that compare health of people who eat a lot of GM versus those that do not.  But why not let us know anyway ?  If anything, it will bring more consumer awareness of the trend.  

RobertWager1
RobertWager1

AllissaB asks a good question.  the 2010 National Academies of Science report " The Impact of GE Crops on Farm Sustainability in the US" states:

"In general, the committee finds that genetic engineering technology has produced substantial environmental and economic benefits to US farmers."

KevinFolta
KevinFolta

Just because you believe it does not make it so.  There is no evidence of harm from GM crops.  Period.  

The article is wrong in many ways.  First, there are thousands of independent scientists that would love to find a problem with GMOs.  It would flip the paradigm-- that's the stuff careers are made of!  Seed companies do not control us.  We can publish what we want, where we want to publish it.  

Any scientist can get transgenic seed engineered with any gene they care to put into it.  Several universities do this for a low fee.  If you want to test it, you can get it.  Saying that it is not available is a cop out.  Scientists see no reason to test it, so that's why it is not tested. 

The greatest tragedy in the prop37 discussion, no matter how it goes, is that the environmental movement made themselves look like crackpots.  Denial of science, casting allegations against scientists, even abusive attacks-- that's the stuff of climate change deniers.  It casts a jaundiced eye on all of the good things the political left stands for.  They too have sold out science for belief.  That will always come back to haunt them. 

My last thought-- never make a decision based on fear.  Scare-mongers screaming "agent orange" and "DDT", "cancer" and "autism" use shock terms to influence decisions with fear.  History shows that this works great to motivate the susceptible, oftentimes with catastrophic outcomes. 

Let reason and science dictate our decisions. 

GMKnowBoulder
GMKnowBoulder

Politics, indeed. The fact US eaters have been GMO information embargoed for 15 plus years tells me that our Congress is bought and paid for by the biotech chemical companies. Need more proof? Monsanto has thus spent over $8 million dollars on the anti-Prop 37 disinformation campaign, looking  and hoping to continue pushing unlabeled GMOs onto American family dinner tables. 

They (Monsanto and others) say GMOs are substantially equivalent to normal food. What they fail to mention is that all the thousands of GMO varieties are all patented, a mark of distinction by the US government that each GMO is a unique invention. Yes, that's right. GMOs are patented and owned by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Bayer and so forth. If these company names ring true and sound like chemical manufacturers...well. That's because they are chemical companies...that own the seeds and push the pesticides that are being shoved, without labels, onto people's tables.

Countries around the world have taken steps to inform their citizens about the presence of GMOs in their food. The US, meanwhile, regarding itself as having the safest food supply in the world, hasn't seen fit to notify its citizens of the GMO presence. Ironically, there is NOT A SINGLE PUBLISHED CLINICAL HUMAN HEALTH STUDY PROVING GMOs ARE SAFE. 

Most US citizens don't even know what a GMO is let alone know that they're contaminating 80% of the foods. Time to wake up and be honest about our food. Pesticides engineered into food is not normal.

geneticmaize
geneticmaize

If you're going to mention the misinformation promoted by the No on 37 group, you ought to also mention Yes on 37's errors. This includes outright bad information about the science of biotech and beyond (particularly on their Facebook page) as well as misinformation about things No was doing, such as a claim that the FBI had a "criminal investigation" started against No (more info at the Biofortified Blog: http://www.biofortified.org/2012/11/the-fda-the-fbi-and-prop-37/

I would hope anyone voting for or against the proposition would read it in full and make sure they really understand what it is saying. A short line-by-line analysis with the full text can also be found at Biofortified: http://www.biofortified.org/2012/11/prop-37/

farmerandcook
farmerandcook

Well, OK! Good Job there. You are getting close. So close! This has been tough on the media to wrap their heads around. You guys eat an info salad every day and this GMO deal is really really complicated. On top of that the water torture of the No on 37 propaganda is overwhelming. Just make it stop! I have been out o the country for two weeks at=nd I can still hear "her"  telling me that this proposition has too many exemptions. Oh those exemptions! and those lawyers taking Mom and Pop grocery to court!

What mom and pop? You mean Circle K and Safeway? Oh. And another thing that is true, since you enjoy the truth of this so much, the FDA is owned by Monsanto. Just check out Michael Taylor's resume! T A Y L O R.  FDA. Please enjoy the music.

AlissaB
AlissaB

This article touches on studies about the effects of GM foods on human health, but what about the effects on environmental health? What about gene transfer from GM crops to neighboring non-GM crops and the effect on pollinators?

Genetically modified foods represent another "progress trap." We humans believe that we are progressing and advancing, but in reality, by changing the course of nature, it is really a trap.

At the very least people need to be able to make educated consumer decisions and GMO labeling is a must!

sammscript
sammscript

Monsanto said PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange were safe.  They lied.  There have been no human trials concerning the effects of GMOs on humans.   But there have been animal studies that indicate serious risks:infertility, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, changes in the immune and gastrointestinal systems.  These studies caused  the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)  to say in 2009, that physicians should prescribe non-GMO diets. 

GMOs will not feed the world.  Do the research yourself.  GMOs being forced upon farmers in India - along with the chemicals and debt ( since seed can no longer be saved because it  is owned by the BIotechs) have led to over 200,000 farmer suicides.   The emergence of superweeds, super insects, sick soil and sick plants from the loss of micronutrients due to the 880 billions pounds of Round Up that is now in our urine and drinking water is only causing the bio tech chemical companies to switch from Round Up to "Enlist," which was a component of Agent Orange. 

There is not one consumer benefit from eating food that has the DNA of bacteria resistant to Round Up spliced inside it. It doesn't taste better, it offers less nutrition and, when it comes to Bt corn ( genetically engineered with bacillus thuringiensis) that not only causes holes in the stomachs of insects that eat that corn,  it's been proved to create holes in the stomachs of humans.    And once leaky gut happens, the door is wide open to all kinds of disease from allergies, auto immune disorders all the way to cancer.    Do the research.

Do a little digging about how GMOs came to market.  Monsanto was in the White House then, and the same man, Michael Taylor is there today.  The real FDA scientists back in the 80s and 90s wanted these new creations to be tested.  They weren't.    So we're the guinea pigs. 

I know if there's salt, sugar, gluten, trans fats, HFCS and a whole lot of other things in my food, like food coloring. I should damn well have the right to know if my food has genetically engineered ingredients in it put in there by Monsanto. What are they afraid of?  The truth.   There are plenty of other countries who have either banned GMOs or labeled them so consumers  could have a choice.  As our nations treads the path to fascism, it's unlikely to happen here, unless  there's a real awakening to truth. 

MartyKassowitz
MartyKassowitz

This whole issue will come down to whether or not people chose to believe Monsanto and their "trust us," we're scientists approach. Personally, I am astounded by the level of underhandedness coming from the No Vote people on Proposition 37. The underlying message is that Monsanto and their partners are in mortal fear of this initiative. I've already cast my yes vote. We'll see how this plays out as the returns come in. Meanwhile: http://organicconnectmag.com/wp/trust-us-the-proposition-37-halloween-video/