Friday, October 25, 2002
By BRIAN CARLSTROM
It seems like a “no-brainer” to me, but with smoke and mirrors, marketing firms can do amazing things. Some of the world’s biggest international corporations have spent an incredible amount of money trying to get the people of Oregon to reject ballot Measure 27. They want us to trust their experiments with our food supply.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust big corporations much, especially with our food. The biggest genetic engineering company in the world is Monsanto. This is the same company that brought us “Agent Orange” during the Vietnam War. From these chemical concoctions, they now bring us the pesticide “Round-up” that many people use to kill weeds.
Genetic engineering firms are pretending they are God by creating new plants and animals. For example, they conduct thousands of experiments to see if they can inject, say, a gene from a chicken, or a pig, into the DNA of a soybean, and then see what happens. Every once in a while, something takes, and a new organism (not sure if it is a plant or an animal) is invented (and patented).
Through intensive trial and error, Monsanto has created a soybean that is resistant to Round-up. This bean is called “The Round-up Ready soybean”, and accounts for a large percentage of the U.S. crop. The beans are planted, and then the whole crop is sprayed with Round-up. The only thing that survives is the soybeans. There is question of safety of these new beans. Minimal testing is done.
Some tests of GMO foods have determined that they are unsafe for human consumption. (Remember in 2000, when GMO corn for animals mistakenly got put into human food, and a recall ensued?) There was also a failed test with injecting genes from Brazil nuts into soybeans. They were sure that there was no trace of nuts in the final product. Some people who were allergic to peanuts proved them wrong (1996 New England Journal of Medicine, #334).
When L-tryptophan, a nutritional supplement, was genetically engineered and first marketed, 37 people died and 1,500 people were severely affected by a painful and debilitating circulatory disorder called eosinophilia myalgia. “Against the grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate takeover of your food,” by Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey, 1998).
These corporations have a lot to lose if Measure 27 passes in Oregon. They know that, and they have been bombarding us with ads of misinformation. They conducted their own research and discovered that food might cost more for consumers. I hope that Oregonians can see through this bogus information.
The fact is that labeling is standard in the industry for packaged foods, and probably won’t add to the cost at all. Also, this measure only proposes labeling of food in grocery stores, not in restaurants.
The European Union, New Zealand, Japan, China, Korea, and others already require GMO foods to be labeled, so this labeling law could actually help Oregon farmers tap into these foreign markets.
Most American farmers support labeling of GMO products (Farm Foundation/Kansas State University, survey of farms throughout the U.S., September 2001).
Eighty-six percent of Americans think that the government should require the labeling of all packaged and other food products, stating that they include corn, soy, or other products from genetically modified crops (Harris poll, June, 2000).
Do you want to know what is in your food? Then vote Yes on Measure 27.
Brian Carlstrom lives in Hood River.