Awareness of food modification encourages scrutiny of GMO practices

by: Heidi Krick, Staff Writer

Currently, there are more than 60 countries mandating Genetically Modified Organisms labels or banning GMO products all together.  It is time for America to make the same decision.

During his first presidential campaign in 2008, Obama pledged to mandate genetically modified food labels.  After winning his second term, Americans must demand the President follows through with his original promises.

Americans have a right to know what kind of food they buy, and without GMO labels, the food supply is increasingly filled with products that are not tested properly, and the public has no way of knowing whether these foods are truly safe.

Those against GMO labels claim there is not enough evidence showing whether or not genetically engineered foods pose any major health risks.  Without labels, Americans are unwilling guinea pigs in a world-wide experiment determining whether GMO products are cause for concern.

Genetically modified organisms are fairly new to the consumer public.  The first GMO introduced to consumer was genetically modified tomatoes in 1994. In 1996, the major food conglomerate and creator of Agent Orange, Monsanto, introduced its own genetically modified food product, the Roundup Ready soybean seed and followed with Roundup Ready corn seed in 1998.

Herbicide use in America has increased more than 7 percent, or about 527 million pounds, since Monsanto’s introduction of Roundup Ready seeds to the American food supply, according to a study published in September by Environmental Sciences Europe.

This extreme amount of chemicals is sprayed on growing food, left floating around the air, and some of these chemicals are minimally tested in terms of safety and health effects.

Genetically modified seeds also require additional pesticide use, compared to the amount used on natural seeds.  Overall pesticide use in 2011 for genetically modified crops was more than 20 percent higher than the amount of pesticide used on natural seeds.

The growing amount of chemicals used on American crops is truly frightening.  The problems farmers are discovering should have been discovered before GMO seeds were introduced to the food supply.

While Monsanto’s bank accounts are getting fatter, the American farmers’ own bank accounts and farming options are drastically dwindling.

A growing number of organic farming fields are inexplicably contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.  Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto won judgments against 144 organic farmers when the corporation found traces of Monsanto GMO seeds inadvertently growing in organic fields.

The protection of, and need for, jobs is one of the biggest issues faced in America today.  Feeding American families is an incredibly important job, and the American population is handing that responsibility over to companies like Monsanto.

Monsanto’s lawsuits against the farming industry are putting a huge number of farmers out of business; and Monsanto’s seeds are placing a great strain on the organic industry.

In February, more than 300,000 organic farmers preemptively sued Monsanto from future patent-infringement claims, should their farms be contaminated with Monsanto GMO seed.  The lawsuit was thrown out and is another example of the American government backing corporate organizations rather than the rights of the American people.

There is something very backwards about a system that forces its farmers to take preemptive steps to protect their land and crops from completely uncontrolled contamination.  Inexplicable contamination of organic farmland by GMO products is another problem that should have been discovered before its introduction to the American food supply.

Many organic farmers have stopped growing certain crops all together like corn, soybeans, canola, cotton and sugar beets, attempting to prevent possible crop contamination and any resulting lawsuits from Monsanto.

More than 80 percent of America’s food supply is GMO, and if Monsanto’s growing control over the food supply continues, organic versions of crops will continue to diminish.

Perhaps the biggest reason Monsanto and its supporters are fighting so heavily against GMO food labeling is because the average American is completely unaware of the massive amount of food that is already genetically engineered.

Monsanto owns more than 60 different food companies, all of which are known to use GMO products.  Monsanto companies include incredibly popular brands like General Mills, Post, Kraft, Coke, Chef Boyardee, Prego, Ragu, Pepsi/Frio-Lay and dozens more commonly found in American pantries.

If all these foods had GMO labels, Americans would be forced to completely rethink their grocery shopping habits.  Although, maybe that is just what Americans need.

For far too long, Americans have trusted food suppliers to provide the public with naturally created food.

Companies like Monsanto take advantage of that trust, and as a result, the American food supply is now tainted with artificial products that do not even come close to real food.

Farmers are spending more and more to protect their life’s work putting food on the tables and in the bellies of the American public.

As a thank you for their time and energy, Americans must switch their vote from big business and big food to purchasing local, organically grown food.  This will show companies like Monsanto and the American government that the public has no interest in being their guinea pigs.

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