Commentary

Feiner: Vermont Right to Know GMOs Coalition taking action

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Michael Feiner, a Vermont freelance writer and advocate for social and ecological justice and sustainability. He has been an strident activist against the proliferation of genetic engineering for over a decade.

“Monsanto knows best,” said nobody, ever!

I think it’s safe to assume no one in their right mind is looking to biotechnology companies to tell them what’s good to eat, and what isn’t; that’s why we have farmers, and mothers, and families.

I mean, biotech companies? Really? These are the same people that brought us Agent Orange, remember; and for nearly 40 years tried to convince us it was harmless. In fact, Dow AgroScience (Igor to Monsanto’s Doctor Frankenstein) has introduced a variety of corn for USDA approval that is resistant to a chemical known as “2,4-D,” a chemical that once made up half of the herbicide mix known as Agent Orange. It’s baaacck!

Turns out Monsanto’s herbicide-resistant crops got together and assembled an army of herbicide-resistant weeds with whom to take over the prairie and raise hell. Agent Orange to the rescue, again! Thanks, Monsanto – you really do know best.

Anyway, while the friendly folks at Monsanto have been busy ravaging the heartland with their unhinged bio-devastation experiments, giant food producers across the country have been gobbling up their cheap commodities and grinding them into over 80 percent of the processed foods on America’s supermarket shelves. It’s what’s for dinner!

Wait, you didn’t know that? Oh, so not in the food you buy, then? How are you so sure? You say you checked the labels and it didn’t say anything about genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, so you’re safe?

This year, the Vermont Right To Know GMOs Coalition, a partnership of NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont, VPIRG, and Cedar Circle Farm is taking another run at the biotech behemoth, insisting that the consumers’ right to know trumps the industry’s license to deceive, conceal and wantonly poison the planet.

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Sounds reasonable, but did you know that Monsanto and their brethren in the bio-devastation business spent over $45 million in California last year making damn sure those labels explicitly didn’t say anything about their containing GE ingredients!

It’s true. In fact, biotech companies have fought tooth and nail to defeat every state effort to regulate the proliferation and sales of genetically engineered seeds and products in the U.S. for almost 20 years, despite overwhelming support for those measures from concerned citizens across the country!

Turns out, folks want to know what’s in their food. I know, shocking. They actually read the labels and they tend to trust what they find there, so if it’s not there, it can’t hurt you, right?

Not so much. In a surprisingly candid slip some years back, a Monsanto executive unintentionally quipped, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”

Now why would they say that?

If genetically engineered foods, the lifeblood of their business and products approved by the FDA are presumed to be perfectly safe, shouldn’t they be proud to label them as such? Well, not exactly. Truth is, biotech companies have at least one thing figured out, and that is that they have almost no idea what they’re doing, what the long-term health or environmental effects of their unchecked experiments will be, and if anyone ever found out the catastrophic possibilities, they’d probably be downright pissed!

Vermont has long been at the forefront of the fight against genetically engineered seeds and products. This year, the Vermont Right To Know GMOs Coalition, a partnership of NOFA-VT, Rural Vermont, VPIRG, and Cedar Circle Farm is taking another run at the biotech behemoth, insisting that the consumers’ right to know trumps the industry’s license to deceive, conceal and wantonly poison the planet.

The Vermont Legislature will be debating two bills this session, H.112 and S.89; both are acts related to the “Labeling of food produced with genetically engineered ingredients.” Your Right To Know what’s in the food you eat and feed your families is at stake! This deception and equivocation has gone on far too long. Vermont can be the first state in the country to stand up for your rights, or it can lie down at the feet of Monsanto because only they can tell us what rights we should have.

Call your legislator today! Check out the Vermont Right To Know GMOs Coalition’s website at www.vtrighttoknow.org, and come out to one of the five public forums around the state the week of Feb. 25.


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