Wednesday, June 22, 2005

GM foods: "Ink'a us" (That is evil")

From We need GM food like we need a hole in our kidneys
A recent study conducted by Monsanto itself indicated abnormalities in the kidneys and blood of rats fed MON863, a strain of Bt corn that many Americans eat every day without our knowledge. Monsanto has resisted calls from the European Food Safety Agency to release the full study to the public, leading to a court order to do so from a German judge. Thank goodness for some degree of concern from the Europeans, because watchdogs in the United States are gnawing on the bones of corporate-induced complacency. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves GM foods for public consumption simply by comparing the nutritional content between GM and non-GM foods, and checking a database of known allergens. According to the logic of the FDA, we are the lab rats.
This brings to mind an article published in April on the oops! habit of big agribusiness to "accidentally" contaminate the world's food supply with their frankenfoodschtuffs.
While chemical pollution eventually dissipates in the environment (over thousands of years), genetic pollution accelerates exponentially over time. Once GM corn gets planted, no farmer's crops are safe because corn cross-pollinates by wind over long distances and is irreversibly inserted into plant DNA. Another study published last month by Friends of the Earth found eighty percent of 77 corn samples taken from food aid or sold in the open market in Guatemala were already contaminated by banned GM-corn.
And of course the kicker is that seed saving is verboten under the wonderful world of Monsanto. You have to buy the seed, and the necessary fertilizer, each and every frigging year!

I explained to [Guatemalan farmer] Don Pablo that powerful men from the United States were developing a new corn seed that farmers would be obliged to buy from a store year after year along with a matching herbicide made by the same company. When Don Pablo realized that would mean he could no longer save his own local seeds, he said to me, without hesitation, "That is evil. Ink'a us."

The agribusiness giants know that small, subsistence farmers like Don Pablo will not voluntarily buy their expensive GM seeds. By "accidentally" dumping GM-contaminated corn on the poor, they can make a quick profit and systematically contaminate the world's corn seed. Perhaps the biotech giants hope the global citizenry will shrug off contamination as inevitable and allow regulators to loosen restrictions. Or perhaps it is a back-door trick to eventually demand royalties on the seed, as Monsanto has already done to Percy Schmeiser and other organic canola growers in Canada.

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