Imagine a country of more than 300 million people where corporations can freely test radical new products on the unsuspected without regard to regulatory oversight or court interference? Welcome to the Land of the Guinea pig, Home of the Glow in the Dark.
President Barack Obama signed into a law a bill that could free the “FrankenFood” powers such as Monsanto from legal oversight when introducing new genetically modified products, commonly known as GMO, into the United States.
The language, dubbed the “The Monsanto Protection Act” by the critics, was part of larger bill Obama needed to sign to keep the U.S. government running for a few more months, a system to madcap to explain here. Woven into a bill that sailed though Congress without a single hearing, the language gives explicit marching orders to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“In no uncertain terms, the amendment tells the secretary how he must respond the next time a court order challenges one of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds for which the St. Louis-based giant is a pioneer in commercializing.
…The language is unusually strong: the secretary “shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law… immediately grant” temporary permits to continue using the seed at the request of a farmer or producer wanting such a stewardship program.
Virtually every bushel of corn and soybeans in the massive U.S. crop is sown with a GMO seed today. The fight now is over the introduction of new genetically altered seeds and the courts were essentially the last refuge for the anti-GMO crowd trying to stop the onslaught.
“Congress has held no hearings on this controversial biotech rider and many Democrats in the Committee were unaware of its presence in the CR,” the Center for Food Safety said in a release, referring to the Continuing Resolution signed by the president. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/1906/center-for-food-safety-denounces-dangerous-biotech-earmark-in-senate-passed-spending-bill
In theory the language will remain in effect for only six months but in practice it could prove difficult to get rid of now the precedent has been set and the words have been crafted.
GMO: HYPE AND LITTLE RETURN
If you listen to the GMO companies, biotech seeds are all about developing super foods to feed a hungry planet. “How can we squeeze more food from a raindrop?” runs a recent Monsanto ad. “Produce more, conserve more” is another mantra.
In reality, GMO is really about producing more profits and conserving nothing. Corn, the granddaddy of all food crops, has been redesigned so farmers can spray herbicides such as Monsanto’s Round Up Ready product at will on their fields. But of course there are consequences. Millions of acres of U.S. farmland are now overrun with so-called supper weeds. According to Reuters article by the ag expert Carey Gillam these weeds “grow several inches in a day and defy even multiple dousings of the world’s top-selling herbicide, Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate.
The overriding concern, however, about GMO “products” is that we just don’t know the affect these genetic experiments are having on people because there have not been enough research. And it’s not if people in the United States, or Canada, have much choice in the matter. The industry is so far winning the war against labeling of genetically modified foods. After a flood of industry money, a California ballot initiative went down in flames last November that would have required companies to label GMO foods.
On the positive front, Whole Foods, with its surging sales and growing customer base, has vowed to label all GMO products on its shelves within five years, and other retailers could soon follow suit.
That’s great, but what’s next? A legislative rider preventing labeling, talking or even thinking bad things about GMO products? Watch out.