Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Musings: Right 2 Know

Rain, tantalizingly light, fell before dawn and then departed, leaving the ground barely dampened when Koko and Paele and I went out walking. Before us, the ever-green summit of Makaleha was draping itself in a cloak of soft white, while behind us, at the opposite end of the street, a bank of gray clouds revealed its scarlet underbelly.

Pioneer Hi-Bred hid its not-so-pretty GMO underbelly when it hosted an open house on the first day of October, which just so happens to be World Non-GMO Month.

While Pioneer was luring in unsuspecting kids with a petting zoo and playing up the dismal prospect of its business being the future of agriculture in Hawaii, a 16-day Right 2 Know March was getting under way in New York. Participants are headed for the White House, where they will demand labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. Simultaneously, the Just Label it Campaign went live today.

GMO labeling could affect an estimated 65 to 80 percent of the packaged foods sold in America, where 90 percent of the soybean crop, 93 percent of the canola crop and some 75 percent of the corn crop is genetically modified. And before you dismiss the marchers as lunatic fringe, a 2010 Thompson Reuters Pulse survey found that 93 percent of respondents felt genetically modified foods should be labeled, while a CBS poll found that 87 percent of American consumers would like to see GMO foods labeled, just as they are in Europe, Japan and Australia.

So why aren’t they labeled here? Because the powerful biotech industry knows that a lot of people would stop buying their products if they knew they contained GMOs. Because Obama has failed to deliver on yet another of his campaign pledges. Oh, and because labeling would supposedly violate corporations’ First Amendment right to not speak. Ahem....

Meanwhile, unsuspecting consumers chowing down on fast foods, convenience foods and just about all processed foods are serving as guinea pigs. As an article in Mother Jones points out:

[S]tudies on the long-term effects of of GMOs are few and far between. But here's the kicker: scientists who do manage to conduct independent research have tended to find disturbing results, FWW [ Food and Water Watch ] shows:

A 2009 International Journal of Biological Sciences study found that rats that consumed GE corn for 90 days developed a deterioration of liver and kidney functioning. Another study found irregularities in the livers of rats, suggesting higher metabolic rates resulting from a GE diet. And a 2007 study found significant liver and kidney impairment of rats that were fed insect-resistant Bt corn, concluding that, “with the present data it cannot be concluded that GE corn MON863 is a safe product.”

Research on mouse embryos showed that mice that were fed GE soybeans had impaired embryonic development. Even GE livestock feed may have some impact on consumers of animal products: Italian researchers found biotech genes in the milk from dairy cows that were fed a GE diet, suggesting the ability of transgenes to survive pasteurization. [Note: there are footnotes to each study mentioned in the FWW report.]

Now, it's important to stress that none of this research definitively proves that GMOs are contributing to the vast load of chronic conditions affecting Americans. We need more research—independent of industry influence. But surely, it repudiates that FDA's practice of casually granting "generally regarded as safe" status on GMO foods based on industry assurances.

Then, of course, there’s also the question of how all that glyphosate used on the GMO crops, most of them designed to withstand direct applications of herbicides, is affecting human and environmental health.

In short, with GMOs we’ve got yet another example of how corporate greed and self-interest is adversely dominating a key part of our lives: food. At the very least, all consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they buy. And Kauai residents surely have the right to know exactly what our “good neighbors” on the south, west and east sides of our island are really growing and doing — not just what they choose to showcase in a warm and fuzzy open house.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan, Notice how many people on the west side have cancer. The agriculture , or the culture of corn now is based on toxicity, multiple unknown (to the kids and surrounding neighbors) insecticides, pesticides, fungacides, we are the ground zero testing ground, along with our Molokai neighbors for toxic pesticide testin. We are guinea pigs in the food that is produced from the seed that is exported from Kauai, but the legacy to Kauai's land , water and people is compounding toxicity. The land will not be able to be used again after . Just another toxic legacy for Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Is there an independant agency that is responsible for testing the soil from these "contaminated" fields?

We need to know and I would be willing to collect samples if I knew where to send them.

We all need some truth

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joan, great article! GMO's are bad because they increase the amount of pesticides used in production that contaminates our soil, air, & water, create monster weeds, & skew the economics of seed ownership to greedy corporations. Some even are engineered to have insecticides in them! Who wants to eat poison? Not me! This is awful agriculture at its worse. We don't need it nor want it on Kauai!

Anonymous said...

Mahalo for writing on this topic...one I am passionate about. Consumers have the power to change gmo in our food supply by simply refusing to spend our money on gmo products. Avoid all processed foods w/ corn, soy or canola. Cane sugar vs beet sugar. Local sunrise papaya vs Rainbow. Shop @ farmers market or grow a garden. Take back control of your food. Get closer to your food source, closer to the land. You'll be healthier for it. Oh be sure to eat grass fed beef vs corn fed and free range, organic chix (raise your own).

Anonymous said...

Its a big battle over who controls the food supply and who controls the seeds.

GM foods especially soy and corn affect fertility rates in animals. Perhaps it will keep the human population lower.

But for sure, people eating and drinking these GM products and foods along with the high levels of herbicides and pesticides in their bodies while Monsanto and Dupont rake in the dough.

Because growing GM crops is still a "science experiment" and we are the lab rats, we will not know the impacts until later in our life cycles.

We will know that our health will continue to decline as a nation (being fat and obese does not equal health) and the cost health care for everyone will rise with our bellies.

We have pansies and puppets in charge of the USDA, FDA and the EPA who kowtow to the big buck corporations......and that's what it is all about....no matter who will becomes president.

The real terrorist are killing us slowly.

Dr Shibai

Unless we boycott foods not labeled "en mass" people will continue slowing and consistently making themselves ill

Anonymous said...

Dr Lorrin Pang, MD, MHD presents a 2 part lecture:
Part 1: GMOs & Pesticides in Food & Farming
Part 2: Radiation, Depleted Uranium & Chemtrails

Friday, 14th October 2011 fron 7:00pm to 8:30pm

The Children of the Land
Kauai Village Shopping Center (Safeway Center next to Papaya's)
4-831 Kuhio Hwy #332, Kapaa, HI 96746

Dr Lorrin Pang, MD, MHD presents a two part lecture on the Health concerns of GMOs & Pesticides in Food & Farming and Radiation, Depleted Uranium & Chem-trails in Hawaii. Dr Pang will present the latest research and information on the many man made toxins and bio-hazzards affecting the health of Hawaii's communities, food supply, businesses and environment.

Each presentation will be approximately 40 minutes, with lively Q&A to follow. Organic refreshments will be supplied by Papaya's Natural Foods. The event is sponsored by Hawaii Health Guide, GMO Free Kauai, and Papaya's Natural Foods.

This event is a part of World Food Day events held annually on and around October 16. Across the globe events are organized to raise awareness of problems in food supply and distribution and to raise money to support projects to aid in the cultivation of food plants and the distribution of food.

More info: Hawaii Health Guide
Phone: 808-638-0888
Email: info@hawaiihealthguide.com
Website: www.hawaiihealthguide.com

Dr. Pang will also be at the Hawai`i Healing Garden Festival at Kilohana on Oct 15.

Anonymous said...

Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants. Mahalo Michael Pollan and auntie Joan.