If GMO foods aren’t safe, peo­ple need la­bels to avoid them

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - PERPECTIVE -

Health and food safety are hot but­ton is­sues for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans — and rightly so.

Polls in­di­cate alarm over the con­tam­i­na­tion of ev­ery­day foods by pes­ti­cides, an­tibi­otics, hor­mones, syn­thetic ad­di­tives and, es­pe­cially, ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms (GMOs).

A re­cent New York Times poll found that 93 per­cent of Amer­i­cans want GMOs la­beled, an ac­tion al­ready re­quired by 64 na­tions.

Two-thirds of Amer­i­cans be­lieve that GMOs are un­safe. Mil­lions of con­sumers are switch­ing over to non-GMO, or­ganic foods, and as a re­sult or­gan­ics have moved from a niche mar­ket into a $40 bil­lion pow­er­house.

In­deed, Amer­i­cans now spend more than 10 cents of ev­ery food dol­lar for items that are la­beled “or­ganic,” “non-GMO” or “nat­u­ral.”

A se­ries of highly pub­li­cized GMO la­bel­ing ballot ini­tia­tives in Cal­i­for­nia, Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon have fu­eled the fires of the “Franken­foods” con­tro­versy — with Big Food and chem­i­cal com­pa­nies spend­ing vast sums to stop la­bel­ing.

Ver­mont, Maine and Con­necti­cut have passed pop­u­lar laws re­quir­ing la­bel­ing of GMOs. Eight coun­ties in Cal­i­for­nia, Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and Hawaii have banned GMO crops al­to­gether.

Ver­mont’s manda­tory GMO la­bel­ing law goes into ef­fect in July 2016, caus­ing near-panic among ma­jor food brands, who face the dilemma of ei­ther re­mov­ing all GMO in­gre­di­ents from their prod­ucts — which is what hap­pened in the Euro­pean Union af­ter GMO food la­bel­ing be­came manda­tory in 1998 — or else af­fix­ing what Mon­santo has called a “skull and cross­bones” GMO la­bel on the front of their pack­ages and bot­tles.

Eighty per­cent of su­per­mar­ket foods now con­tain GMOs and the toxic chem­i­cals sprayed on GMOs.

In March 2015, the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion de­clared Mon­santo’s Roundup glyphosate her­bi­cide a “prob­a­ble car­cino­gen.”

That prompted the ban­ning of all GMO cul­ti­va­tion in sev­eral dozen na­tions, in­clud­ing Ger­many, France, Italy, the Nether­lands, Aus­tria, Poland, Greece, Hun­gary, the United King­dom, Rus­sia and Den­mark.

In the U.S., the glyphosate her­bi­cide cur­rently is sprayed heav­ily on 84 per­cent of all GMO crops, in­clud­ing corn, soy­beans, canola, sugar beets, cot­ton, al­falfa, wheat, beans and rice.

In Cal­i­for­nia, au­thor­i­ties an­nounced that Mon­santo’s glyphosate would be added to its list of can­cer-caus­ing chem­i­cals re­quir­ing spe­cial mon­i­tor­ing and warn­ing signs.

The EPA pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged that longterm ex­po­sure to glyphosate can cause kid­ney and re­pro­duc­tive dam­age. And a re­port by a se­nior re­searcher at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy last year con­nected glyphosate to dam­age to the hu­man gut and di­ges­tive sys­tem, as well as hor­mone dis­rup­tion, im­paired liver detox­i­fi­ca­tion and low­ered nu­tri­ent ab­sorp­tion.

Mean­while, with the rise of GMO-in­duced su­per­weeds on the ma­jor­ity of U.S. farm­land, the EPA, USDA and FDA have given the green light to a con­tro­ver­sial new gen­er­a­tion of GMO crops that can be sprayed with di­camba and other strong tox­i­cides in­clud­ing 2,4-D — a com­po­nent of Agent Or­ange.

Bil­lions of pounds of glyphosate, atrazine, 2,4-D and other toxic pes­ti­cides are now be­ing sprayed on our food, ac­com­pa­nied by bil­lions of pounds of highly pol­lut­ing chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers.

This GMO/chem­i­cal on­slaught is de­stroy­ing our health and con­tam­i­nat­ing our soils, sur­face wa­ters and air.

Amer­i­cans want GMO la­bel­ing. Un­for­tu­nately Mon­santo, Big Food and their min­ions in the U.S. Congress have de­cided that you, the con­sumer, have no right to know what’s in your food.

In July, the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed a highly un­pop­u­lar law tak­ing away states’ and con­sumers’ rights to re­quire la­bels on GMO foods.

The law also makes it le­gal to fraud­u­lently la­bel GMO and chem­i­cal tainted foods as “nat­u­ral.” Now this bill, dubbed the DARK (Deny Amer­i­cans the Right to Know) Act, goes to the Se­nate.

Tell Congress you want manda­tory la­bels on GMOs.

A global food ac­tivist, Ron­nie Cum­mins is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Or­ganic Con­sumers As­so­ci­a­tion, a non­profit, U.S.-based net­work of 850,000 con­sumers, and the au­thor of “Ge­net­i­cally En­gi­neered Foods: A Self-De­fense Guide for Con­sumers.”

In the U.S., the glyphosate her­bi­cide cur­rently is sprayed heav­ily on 84 per­cent of all GMO crops, in­clud­ing corn, soy­beans, canola, sugar beets, cot­ton, al­falfa, wheat, beans and rice.

Ron­nie Cum­mins

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