Springtime for GMOs
By Paul Rutkovsky
Spring is here, and many of you are spending time in your yards planting and cultivating flowers and vegetables and anticipating a beautiful landscape with fresh vegetables to liven up your meals. You might want to consider expanding your vegetable gardening skills in light of the Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) having recently opened Pandora’s box of genetically altered alfalfa and sugar beets. After nearly five years of legal and regulatory battles, the USDA has fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa that is genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to Roundup herbicide. Certain types of weeds have developed a resistance to Roundup because of their widespread use on GM crops. Last autumn Monsanto gave farmers rebates to buy additional herbicides to fight the growing weed problem across the country. Without extensive research into the long term effects of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the USDA has given all manufacturers of GMOs the go ahead to plant their products without regard to organic farmers. Contamination is eminent.
Geneticist David Suzuki says, “Because we aren’t certain about the effects of GMOs, we must consider one of the guiding principles in science, the precautionary principle. Under this principle, if a policy or action could harm human health or the environment, we must not proceed until we know for sure what the impact will be. And it is up to those proposing the action or policy to prove that it is not harmful.”
When GMO alfalfa feed is given to cows, the entire meat and dairy supply will be at risk. Non-GMO or organic fields and cows will be arbitrarily contaminated. The GMOs do not act like a chemical and eventually “wash out” of the ecosystem like most pesticides. These are genetically altered life forms that cannot be returned to the test tube or corporate genie bottle.
When GMO sugar (sugar beets) is released into the food market, it will not be labeled. United States citizens have been polled many times and a majority want GMO foods to be labeled. The present administration in Washington made a campaign promise in 2008 that GMOs must be labeled. The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak, former “Biotech Governor of the Year” for his work as Iowa’s governor, is in favor of expanding the sales of GMOs not only in the U.S. but globally. He will not advocate the labeling of GMO food products any time soon.
This latest ruling by the Supreme Court and the USDA does not bode well for our food safety future. Once the GMOs are pervasive in the food growing system, it will be impossible for organic farmers to remain organic under the present regulations. Soon the USDA will begin to draft new “organic regulations” that will most likely include GMOs.
All information for this article came from the following sources:
Center for Food Safety
Red Green & Blue website
The Cornell Daily Sun
Organic Consumers Association