The Slow Food USA Blog
Good, clean and fair food. I use these words each morning to establish a compass pointupon which to set my sights, and to prevent myself from being lulled into a false sense of everything-is-okay-ness. It’s easy to fall prey to seductive food marketing, and nobody’s mastered the propaganda better than the biotech seed industry. Dominated by a mere three players worldwide – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – the global market for genetically engineered GE seed has grown into a $13 billion dollar industry since its introduction in 1992 on a promise to help feed the world. But there is no free lunch. Everything has a price, and sometimes not even the smartest among us can predict what it will be. In the case of GE crop production, it’s everything we as Slow Food members hold precious and dear.Good food? Not for the farmer who pays more for patented genetically engineered seeds that claim to deliver higher yields, but don’t. Not for the livestock fed an unnatural diet of GE corn and soy. Not for the environment increasingly doused with chemical fertilizers and herbicides, something the industry claimed they’d reduce. Not for the consumer who has unwittingly been co-opted into an enormous human feeding trial. GE foods have never been tested for long-term safety in animals, humans or the environment. GE crops have, however, been great for biotech profits.Clean food? The US is the largest producer of GE crops in the world. Rather than fulfilling their promise to reduce the amount of herbicides needed to manage weeds, hundreds of millions more pounds of herbicides are being used each year and this overuse has spawned super weeds. Thanks to nature’s amazing resilience and adaptability, we’re facing deregulation of the next generation of biotech crops whose genes are stacked to confer resistance to more powerful herbicides, including 2, 4-D, one of two chemical constituents of Agent Orange, the Vietnam-era defoliant. GE crops that can produce their own insecticides, called PIPs or plant-incorporated protectants by the EPA, haven’t proven to be a silver bullet either. The corn rootworm is becoming resistant to Bt corn, a variety genetically engineered to kill the difficult to control pest, forcing the EPA to require that all growers put resistance management plans in place.Fair food? Certainly not for US consumers who are unjustly denied the basic right to know whether they’re eating genetically engineered foods, a right ironically enjoyed by China and Russia. Not for farmers who used to save seeds each year for next year’s crop, a practice prohibited under biotech seed licensing agreements. GE crops pose an ongoing threat to conventional and organic farms, which fall victim to devastating herbicide drift along with pollen and seed gene trespass from GE neighbors, forcing them to destroy contaminated crops and seeds and rendering them vulnerable to law suits for patent infringement. The power of the consumer is not to be underestimated. Some believe that labeling laws are the answer, reasoning that consumers, upon learning that the foods they’re eating are produced from crops that can withstand being doused with herbicides and/or can produce their own insecticides, will create a backlash powerful enough to force food manufacturers to abandon GMOs Genetically Modified Organisms. Proof of this hypothesis can already be seen in Kashi’s and Ben & Jerry’s pledges to remove GMOs from their US products. Many large, multinational food companies gladly manufacture Non-GMO products for European markets to avoid their labeling laws, something made possible through the segregation and identity preservation of non-GMO crops every step along the supply chain. read more The Myth of Genetically Engineered Food and How it Threatens Slow Food : Slow Food USA.