November 2011, about 250 Boulder County residents attended a public
meeting to discuss the planting of GM (genetically modified) crops on
turnout, together with an anti-GMO (genetically modified organism)
recommendation from the county’s Food and Agriculture Policy Council, led
county officials to vote for a phase out of genetically engineered crops
on open space.
is a powerful testimony to the influence residents can have on their local
regulations when they stand together for a cause; you, too, can work
toward enacting such a phase out in your area as well.
Residents, County Officials Say “No” to GMOs
Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee voted 5-4 in support of the Food
and Agriculture Policy Council’s recommendation to phase out the planting
of GM crops on the county’s open space.
about 16,000 acres of county-owned land are planted with genetically
engineered corn; the new rule will mean these crops will be transitioned
out in favor of traditional GMO-free farming practices.
area has been a hot-spot for GMO debate
since 2009, when local farmers wanted to plant genetically engineered
sugar beets in the county.
public outcry, County commissioners delayed the farmers’ request. Since
then, a local survey showed that 56 percent of Boulder County residents
supported a ban on GM crops, and now their voices have been heard.1 As
reported by the Boulder Daily Camera2,
Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee member John Nibarger said:
the voters’ side of this, and there’s the farmers’ side of this … I
think we heard rather strongly … (that a lot of voters) don’t want to
see GM crops.”
Already Eating GM Foods, While Other Countries Have Banned Them
corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into
approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items,
now that up to 90 percent of several U.S. grown crops are grown with
genetically engineered seed. So if you live in the United States, you have
most certainly already been exposed to GM foods — most likely a lot of
is why Boulder’s move to phase out GM crops is such a breath of fresh air,
as finally a governing body in the United States is stepping up to protect
its residents from this massive, uncontrolled experiment — a move that has
already taken place in other parts of the world, and in four counties in
California and a city in Maine.
engineered seeds are
banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such
as Germany and Ireland. Peru is also following the precautionary
principle, and has even passed a law that bans genetically modified
ingredients within the nation for 10 years.3
issue of protecting farmland from invading GMOs is a serious one, so much
so that Hungary recently destroyed nearly 1,000 acres of corn crops
because they were found to be mistakenly grown with GM seeds. The
discovery that the farmland was planted with GM seeds came when the season
was already underway, so the harvest was completely lost.
would prompt the Hungarian government to take such a drastic step?
it is the fact that GM crops simply cannot be contained, and inevitably
will contaminate the environment with GM DNA. Or it could be that they do
not want superweeds, triggered by the overuse of Roundup
herbicide on GM Roundup Ready
crops, overtaking their farmland the way they are now doing in the United
States. Then again, it could be the unknown threats to human health — and
the fact that new research shows toxins from GM
now appearing in human blood — that made them think twice.
other, and more serious issue, is the hidden one. Nearly all GM crops are
designed with genes to resist a potent herbicide called Round Up or
glyphosate. The newest science is showing that glyphosate is
actually FAR more dangerous than people realize. It just is not widely
appreciated yet, and the U.S. is spreading massive amounts of it every
year. The consequences of this chemical abuse will have profoundly
devastating consequences and the longer we wait to remove this toxin the
worse it will be.
way, they, and a growing number of people around the world, are clearly
well educated about the dangers of GM foods … which is a lesson the U.S.
government still needs to learn.
Engineered “Pesticide” Toxin Now Found in Human Blood
of 65 percent of U.S. corn crops contain a special gene added that allows
them to produce an insecticide. This way, when bugs attempt to eat the
corn they’re killed right away (specifically their stomach is split open)
because the plant contains an invisible, built-in pesticide shield.
particular gene added to most corn crops is a type of Bt-toxin — produced
from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. Genetic engineers remove the gene
that produces the Bt in bacteria and insert it into the DNA of corn (and
cotton) plants. They claim that Bt-toxin is quickly destroyed in human
stomachs — and even if it survived, it won’t cause reactions in humans or
studies are now showing that this is not the case, as Bt toxin is readily
passing into the human bloodstream and animal studies have already shown
that Bt-toxin does
cause health effects in animals, including potentially humans. As Jeffrey
Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible
fed natural Bt-toxin showed significant immune responses and caused them
to become sensitive to other formerly harmless compounds. This suggests
that Bt-toxin might make a person allergic to a wide range of
substances. Farm workers and others have also had reactions to natural
Bt-toxin, and authorities acknowledge that “People with compromised
immune systems or preexisting allergies may be particularly susceptible
to the effects of Bt.”
fact, when natural Bt was sprayed over areas around Vancouver and
Washington State to fight gypsy moths, about 500 people reported
reactions—mostly allergy or flu-like symptoms. Six people had to go to
the emergency room.
The Bt-toxin produced in the GM plants is probably more dangerous than
in its natural spray form. In the plants, the toxin is about 3,000-5,000
times more concentrated than the spray, it doesn’t wash off the plants
like the spray does, and it is designed to be more toxic than the
natural version. In fact, the GM toxin has properties of known allergens
and fails all three GM allergy tests recommended by the World Health
Organization (WHO) and others.”
reasons such as this why the precautionary principle should absolutely be
used in regard to exposing humans and the environment to GM crops.
Unfortunately, it appears Cry1Ab, a specific type of Bt toxin from GM
corn, is already quite prevalent in humans; upon testing 69 pregnant and
non-pregnant women who were eating a typical Canadian diet (which included
foods such as GM soy, corn and potatoes), researchers found Bt toxin in:
percent of maternal blood samples
percent of fetal blood samples
percent of non-pregnant women blood samples
potential dangers have also been uncovered, including:
peas caused lung
damage in mice
of rats fed GM soy showed
a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the
inability to reproduce
potatoes may cause
cancer in rats
mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells4
in your gut can take up DNA from GM food
embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
foods lead to
significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the
kidney, liver, heart and spleen
U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and
cows fed on GM corn varieties
corn caused a wide
variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with
diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, osteoporosis, and
inflammatory bowel disease
in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature
births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among
buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
Lobbying Efforts Aim to Keep Americans in the Dark about GM Foods
food and agriculture biotechnology
industry has spent more
than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in
just over a decade, according to an analysis by Food & Water Watch.5 Key
among the goals of this intense lobbying effort is to prevent GM food
labeling and keep Americans in the dark about the contents of their food.
The analysis states:
food and agriculture biotechnology industry has been flexing its
financial political muscle to ease the regulatory oversight of
genetically modified foods. Lobbying efforts for some of these firms and
groups have included approval of cloned food and genetically engineered
food, animals and livestock.
are also fighting to eliminate or prevent labeling on genetically
modified foods in the United States and preventing other countries from
regulating genetically modified foods. These efforts have dovetailed
with lobbying to tighten intellectual property law protections over
patented seeds and animals in attempts to further benefit the biotech
95 percent of Americans polled said they think GM foods should require a
label, stating it’s an ethical issue and consumers should be able to make
an informed choice.
Europeans, Americans are suspicious of GM foods, and a large part of why
many continue to buy them is because they are unaware that they’re already
in the food. A prominent GM food label would be a death sentence to U.S.
GM crops, which are right now enjoying a free for all when it comes to
entering the food market.
lobbying is clearly working, as to date biotech companies have evaded
mandatory labeling laws (although a new California initiative may change
all of that). They also succeeded in getting GM
alfalfa approved, which
quite literally threatens the entire organic industry.
large part of the problem, and one of the reasons why the United States
has not taken a precautionary stance the way other countries have, is that
the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) are heavily influenced by biotech giant
Monsanto. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent
$1.4 million on lobbying the federal government — and this was a drop from
a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.
FDA, the USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set
of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this
transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence, as well
as get their genetically
engineered crops planted
on the lion’s share of U.S. farmland.
just as changes in Boulder could prove to be a tipping point that begins
a trend toward eliminating GM crops from American soil, a 2012
ballot initiative has
been launched in California, which will require mandatory labeling of
genetically engineered foods and food ingredients — also an important
step toward ultimately eliminating these toxic foods from the market.
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