- More than 60 percent of the food products on grocery
shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients.
- Without our knowledge the American public is serving
as guinea pigs in a giant biotech experiment. This is wrong. Consumers
have a right to know what foods contain genetically modified
- Today, the only way one can ensure that a product is
free from genetically engineered ingredients is to buy organic
- I'm not here to bash biotechnology sciences. I
the industry's accomplishments and contributions and the potential to
meaningful products is immense, but in today's climate there seem to be
too many unanswered questions prompting plenty of room for concern.
- First, if genetically engineered food products are so
safe, why aren't biotech companies held financially liable for damage to
the environment or to public health?
- Second, if genetically engineered seeds are so safe,
why does Monsanto insist that farmers who plant their patented seeds must
sign liability waivers?
- And, third, why won't the biotech industry share their
safety studies with the general public?
- According to Kent Wheatly, with Seed Savers Exchange,
"There has been almost no peer-reviewed scientific research published
which shows that GE crops are safe for the environment." In fact,
evidence suggests the opposite:
- Pollen from corn plants genetically modified with
thuringiensis to combat corn borer kills butterflies and moths, and when
the corn stubble is plowed under, large quantities of the Bt toxin are
actually added to the soil, harming beneficial microbes.
- Japan, Canada and the European Union have banned
bovine growth hormone in milk. Why does the U.S. still allow this product
to make its way into our milk supply? Check your milk carton to see if
it specifically states that the product does not contain this.
- Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County has become one of
the first major California wineries to come out against genetically
grape vines. They fear that these vines have a potential negative impact
on natural yeasts.
- Other countries' governments are acting on this issue.
The 15 European Union countries require food products containing more than
1 percent genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled. Countries that
have or will soon have similar label requirements include Japan, South
Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.
- Americans want what the Europeans have. In June 2000
a Harris Poll showed that 86 percent of Americans think the government
should require genetically engineered food products to be labeled. Three
other nationwide polls showed similar results. Isn't our democracy supposed
to represent the will of the people?
- We do not have food product label laws because of the
biotech industry's strong lobbying efforts, campaign financing and
of pro-biotech industry people in high government positions. Where have
we heard this before? Does the word Enron ring a bell?
- In 1997 the USDA tried to pass national organic standards
that allowed for genetically engineered foods and foods grown using sewer
sludge. Organic farmers, backyard gardeners, and other concerned citizens
would not stand for this. Nearly 300,000 letters of protest were sent to
the USDA. The USDA rewrote their proposal.
- A similar campaign is needed in regards to genetically
- Consumers need to insist that our legislators pass laws
requiring all food products containing genetically engineered ingredients
- We must write to Kraft Foods North America, 3 Lakes
Northfield, IL 60093. Kraft, the largest packaged-food company in the
States, produces 7,000 food products including Post Raisin Brand cereal,
Oreo cookies, Wheat Thins crackers and Capri Sun juice drinks. Tell Kraft
to either remove all genetically engineered ingredients from their products
or to label their products.
- If successful, we would finally have a true choice in
our ability to choose foods that have not been genetically
- It seems so easy. We, the people, want this to happen
and since this is an election year, perhaps more legislators (or those
running for office) will listen.
- Bill Krumbein is a retired state park ranger and a Santa