Commentary

Feiner: Dear Governor, about those GMOs …

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.

Governor Shumlin,

I’m sure if I asked you mano a mano how you felt about having products containing genetically engineered ingredients labeled as such, you’d probably be all for it. I’m sure if I doubled down and asked you how you felt about the risks of planting these crops in the first place, you’d say you weren’t really sure it’s a good idea. You’re a guy who likes to have all the facts, and what “facts” there are about “GMOs,” have been engineered by the corporations profiting from their proliferation. I think you’re practical enough to know that just doesn’t fly.

You see, I believe you’re probably a decent guy when it comes to things like this. You stuck your neck out against Entergy; maybe not far enough, but for an ambitious politician, encouraging nonetheless. But you seem to be hemming in the face of Monsanto, and if ever there was a fight to get into, this is it!

Wenonah Hauter reminds us in her recent book “Foodopoly,” that, “… science has been allowed to run amok; the biotechnology industry has become so powerful that it can literally buy public policy. Scientists have been allowed to move forward without adequate regulation, and they are now manipulating the genomes of all living things — microorganisms, seeds, fish, and animals. This has enabled corporations to gain control over the basic building blocks of life, threatening the integrity of our global genetic commons and our collective food security.”

Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but deep down I think you agree; and not because you’re an activist, or a politician, or a scientist, but because you’re not stupid.

… your political ambitions rest in the hands of Vermont voters, because if we decide you turned your back on us or took the wrong side of any issue because of its political risks or threats from corporations, you can be sure we will let you and the rest of the world know in no uncertain terms as you pander for votes in the next election.

Frankly, labeling these products may do very little to turn back the tide of corporate control of our food supply or the devastation of our environment. That said, Vermonters don’t get into the ring based on the odds of winning, we get into the ring because we’re fighting for what’s right.

There’s a lot of talk about being sued, and legal precedent (although the reality is that in this case, legal precedence is on our side), and probably a lot of back room talk about your political ambitions and your future. Well, here’s a wake-up call: your political ambitions rest in the hands of Vermont voters, because if we decide you turned your back on us or took the wrong side of any issue because of its political risks or threats from corporations, you can be sure we will let you and the rest of the world know in no uncertain terms as you pander for votes in the next election.

Monsanto wants to sue, bring it on! You want to show what kind of politician you can be, start by showing what kind of man you can be and tell Monsanto exactly what they can do with their GE experiments!

You can start be sticking it to them on labeling. You deserve to know what’s in the food you eat. If you don’t know, call me, I’ll take you on a tour of the Statehouse cafeteria and show you all the GMO crap you’ve been consuming over the years; right now you need someone to point it out because Monsanto would very much rather you didn’t know.

So, sure, this is about Monsanto, and it’s about Vermonters, and it’s about me, and farming, and fish, and freedom (if that’s your thing), but mostly, it’s about you.

You may be the governor, but when Monsanto bulldozes its way onto your dinner table and decides what you can, and cannot, know about what the food you’re eating, that’s when things get really, really personal.


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