by Melissa Melton
Originally published at Ready Nutrition
Much of what went down last night in the 2014 midterm elections was predictable. What wasn’t so predictable was the defeat of GMO labeling laws in Oregon and Colorado.
Combined, GMO labeling opposition groups (and the mega corporations behind them who stand to potentially lose revenue over labels) spent a whopping $37 million in propaganda campaigns to defeat the labeling initiatives — $17 million in Colorado and $20 million in Oregon.
While $37 million seems like a lot of money, for the Big Ag companies involved here, it’s a pittance.
By glaring contrast, pro-labeling campaigns in both states raised a combined total of just $7.9 million ($7 million of that in Oregon alone).
Still, the vote in Oregon came close. Awfully close. It was super slim margin of 49.53% yes to 50.47% no, with less than 13,000 votes statewide between the two. If I lived in Oregon, realizing what a vested interest these companies had in defeating the measure and how many millions they spend in propaganda to do so, I would be screaming for a recount today.
Genetically modified foods (aka genetically modified organisms or GMOs) continue to be a source of controversy across America, as more and more people get informed on what GMOs are and exactly why they might not necessarily want to be consuming them. The majority of GMOs are scientifically engineered by biotech companies like Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences to produce their own pesticides.
When you eat it, you therefore eat a crop that produces its own pesticide.
The arguments over whether or not these foods are truly safe to consume long-term goes back and forth. When these foods were initially approved, zero long-term studies had been completed. You could say everyone consuming these foods right now is part of a long-term study, the only one that has ever been done and it’s still ongoing. Some science — bought-and-paid for by the very biotech corporations the science would serve — says eating these genetically engineered foods is fine. Since our government essentially allows these corporations to regulate themselves, many people have turned to independent studies for answers, and those answers don’t look so good health-wise.
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.” GM food’s potential ties to serious health risks, including a rise in infertility, auto-immune disorders, diseases, allergies, cancer and major gastrointestinal issues have also been ignored.
Truly though, it shouldn’t even be a question of getting to this level of the debate because ultimately, people should be allowed to know what they are eating when they buy something. Period.
It doesn’t matter if the ingredient is a magical vitamin that cures every disease known to man and is so good for everyone that everyone should be eating it every chance they get.
If it’s in the food, the people consuming said food have a right to know it’s in there and a right to decide — with full disclosure at their fingertips — whether or not they want to put it in their mouths.
The problem is, unlike 64 other countries around the world, as Americans we don’t really have any basic labeling protections in this country. Food manufacturers are not federally mandated to label a food package telling people what’s inside contains genetically modified organisms.
At this point, the USDA estimates at least 70% of the food sold in U.S. grocery stores contains genetically modified ingredients and because there are no labels, the majority of people who haven’t done their homework likely have no idea they are eating this stuff.
Polls show that a whopping 92% of Americans who are informed actually do want to know if GMOs are in their food. Over 1.3 million people in this country have contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about it, but considering the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods is Michael Taylor — a former lobbyist, lawyer and Vice President for Public Policy for biotech giant Monsanto — those voices are falling on (bought off) deaf ears.
So, if we live in a democratic republic and GMO labeling has such a high level of support nationwide, why exactly do all these GMO labeling initiatives continue to get defeated at the polls?
Look no further than crony capitalism and the mega corporate money.
In every major state election where a GMO labeling initiative makes it way on the ballot, the opposition to labeling always drops tens of millions of dollars to do everything they can to scare voters away from protecting their basic right to know what they are eating.
Doesn’t sound much like democracy, does it? An oligarchy where big money has the loudest voice at the polls?
This continues to happen everywhere full-on GMO labeling is tried. The only exceptions so far are a few northeastern states like Maine and Connecticut, who have signed a pact that until a combination of Northeastern states totaling a population of 20 million (some of the smallest states in the country) pass GMO laws, their laws won’t take effect (essentially making the passage of these laws rather pointless unless a big state like New York joins in).
Vermont actually did pass a GMO labeling law, and the whole state was immediately (and predictably) threatened by Big Ag with a lawsuit.
If these companies’ genetically modified products are so great, why are they spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure we won’t know we’re eating them?
In short, the democratic process has long been hijacked by mega corporations and bought-and-paid for politicians who represent them over their constituency. If you want real food freedom, you have to take direct control of what’s on your dinner plate.
Eat Local Grown says crony capitalism will continue to rule the day in America, so we might as well stop wasting our time hoping we’ll achieve honest GMO labeling through our corrupt and broken political process.
Instead, we should use the labels we do have, labels like the non-GMO Project, when we shop.
On top of that, we should educate ourselves on likely GMO suspects. More than 60 GMO crops have been approved for sale in the United States, with corn and soybeans (and all their myriad derivatives) topping the list.
The top 10 things to keep in mind when trying to shop non-GMO (via Eat Local Grown):
Stop looking for labels. Assume that if it isn’t labeled GMO-free, that it contains GMOs.
Look for products that are USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.
Avoid all corn, soy, and canola that is not specifically labeled as non-GMO.
Familiarize yourself with the abundant aliases for corn and soy.
Buy ingredients, instead of food with ingredients.
Cook from scratch.
Stop shopping at the grocery store.
Get to know your farmers personally.
Preserve food while it’s in season.
Don’t be wasteful. Use every single edible part to make your food dollars go further.
While grocery store shelves look alive with thousands of food brands, ultimately only ten major companies own all those brands at the top.
As these mega corporations spend billions buying ways to ultimately deceive us about what we eat, at least this way, we can start to take control of our food — the basic component of nutrition that effects every aspect of our ability to live a healthy life — back.