Most of us are in blissful denial about the genetically altered "foodstuffs" we put into our mouths in the United States, but the absurdity of the situation is too much for me to contain myself. NOTE: If you are enjoying your Roasted, Double-Jet Puffed Soy-Corn Mouthwatering Rocket Snacksters and don't want to think about it, just glaze right over the following.
Europeans have staged a mighty effort to keep transgenetics out of their tummies, but the U.S. is pulling out all the stops, including playing the "trade" card to get them to open up their borders to GMOs.
Reuters writer Missy Ryan reported early this week that, “The U.S. farm sector will be watching closely this week when the European Union runs up against a world trade court deadline for Europe to welcome more imports of genetically engineered food and feed."
“The American Farm Bureau Federation, the largest U.S. farm group, ‘remains frustrated with the EU's continued disregard for its trade obligations,’ said Russell Williams, who follows biotechnology for the nation's largest farm group. The World Trade Organization's deadline week may intensify trans-Atlantic tensions in the case, which has dragged on for years, if the United States decides to ask the WTO court to formally investigate whether Europe must do more to speed its approval of biotech crops, now the norm for many U.S. farmers.”
Ms. Ryan added that, “The agriculture industry in the United States argues that EU policy chokes off a valuable export stream and complicates things for growers and exporters who must juggle a patchwork of import policies among their customers. The issue has been among the concerns that have had members of Congress crying foul.
"European officials have said they're working to smooth the approval process, but they are equally aware that European attitudes toward GM products often differ from widespread acceptance found in the United States.
The Reuters article indicated that, “Mariann Fischer Boel, Europe's top agriculture official, has taken a cautious tone in discussing the subject, suggesting that no unsafe products should be foisted upon consumers." But she also has noted that ‘times are changing’ in world farming techniques.
“‘Where science has given a product a clean bill of health, that fact must be paramount as we follow the authorization procedure. And it is difficult to understand that an approval procedure can take four to six years in Europe, and less than a year elsewhere,’ she wrote recently on her blog."
Ah yes, she makes the sweeping statement that science has given GMOs a clean bill of health. These are just a few stories that came in this week that beg to differ with this conclusion. The first one is just plain twisted...
1) Biotech Firm Plans to Fund GM Rice Crops with Carbon Credit Money paid by green consumers to offset their flights and by companies that go carbon-neutral will be used to fund the planting of genetically modified crops under plans drawn up by a biotechnology company. London-Guardian, Englandhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jan/08/gmcrops.food
2) Studies show GM foods hurt health: "The process of inserting a foreign gene into a plant cell and cloning that cell into a GM crop produces hundreds of thousands of mutations throughout the DNA," Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology recently told the Environmental News Service. "This is why GM soy has less protein, an unexpected new allergen and up to seven times higher levels of a known soy allergen."
Smith has documented 65 health risks associated with GM foods. According to one study, lab animals fed GM food showed a "five-fold increase in infant mortality, smaller brains, and a host of other problems." Smith notes that industry studies submitted to government health agencies "are designed to avoid finding [problems]." In the U.S., it took a lawsuit to discover that Food and Drug Administration scientists warned that GM foods could trigger allergies, toxins, nutrition problems and new diseases.
3) GM crops "impossible to contain"
In response to the decision to permit commercial plantings of GM canola in New South Wales and Victoria, the Australian organization GM-Free Cymru released a report citing four reasons to oppose GM canola. The report quoted quoted Dr. Jeremy Sweet, the current Vice Chair of the EFSA's Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms. In a 2003 debate, Sweet declared "once GM oil seed rape is commercialized, it will be everywhere and that is inevitable." Dr. Sweet also admitted that the process for establishing contamination thresholds for GM seeds was "very unscientific." There was "no scientific basis" for setting the threshold on GM canola, Sweet stated. "It's not based on food safety and it's not based on any other standards.... It is base on political and sociological grounds."