Achieving a Non-GMO Tipping Point

Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives

People should oppose GMOs for a myriad of reasons based on:

1) the precautionary principle

Before a product is released to the market, it should be independently tested and verified to the utmost standards as posing no untoward risks to the public, in particular, the elderly, children, and pregnant mothers. This would seem a no-brainer. The precautionary principle requires, however, that one must look beyond immediate consumption by humans. For example, what effect will GMO crops have on the soil? On the water? What effect on creatures that feed on the crops? On pests and creatures that feed on the pests? In other words, how will the ecosystem, of which humans are a part, be affected by GMOs? Genes do not code in isolation; therefore, genetic modification may pose risks beyond the one trait desired.

2) the right-to-know

This is also a no-brainer. People have a right to know what they are buying, what is in the food that they are eating. Nonetheless, voters defeated Proposition 31 in California and Initiative 522 in Washington state, and the immediate conclusion would be that people don’t think the right to know is paramount. Multinationals poured money into what became one-sided plebiscites and the monopoly media obliged to propagandize a segment of the public. Is this democratic?

3) food security

Should life be patentable? The genetic code does not belong to companies. Genetic engineering is research that initially was publicly funded in universities and research centers. Corporations like Monsanto have tweaked the genome. GMO seeds are now patented, which means that food is now owned by a corporation. Corporations operate to produce a profit for the shareholders. Therefore, food production will be based on producing enough food to produce the biggest profit margin; the purpose is not to feed as many people as possible.

4) maintaining the integrity of academia and research journals

Not a rigorous academic journal, but Scientific American has come out in favor of GMOs and, curiously (because a science magazine is supposedly about promulgating knowledge) is in opposition to mandatory GMO labeling. Governments are, reportedly, also pressuring academic journals not to publish negative findings about GMOs. The peer review system for publication is becoming laughable. Said the Independent Science News:

Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, has jested that instead of scientific peer review, its rival The Lancet had a system of throwing a pile of papers down the stairs and publishing those that reached the bottom. On another occasion, Smith was challenged to publish an issue of the BMJ exclusively comprising papers that had failed peer review and see if anybody noticed. He replied, “How do you know I haven’t already done it?”

5) classism

When seeds are owned, farmers are at the behest of the seed providers, and ultimately, so are consumers. Terminator seeds are a GMO development to ensure that farmers do not — and cannot — save seeds for the next planting season. Farmers will not control their own growing destiny. Once farmers become reliant upon patented seeds, the patent owner (a monopolist) has more flexibility to manipulate the pricing.

The outcome is that profits accrue increasingly to a corporation relative to the farmers. This inequality is passed along to the unwary consumers.

What is the solution?

Inform, educate, and take appropriate action. If GMOs will not label, then GMO-free food can label themselves as such, although this is being opposed by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA. Seriously! Nevertheless, the people need to agitate for their right-to-know and the right for non-GMO food producers to label themselves as such. In the end, the power of the consumer will determine what foods are produced for the market.

The film Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives (2012) is a great way to inform oneself and spread the word on the risks associated with GMOs.

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.