Would you know if you are eating genetically engineered foods?
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that, with no labeling on such foods, few realize that they are doing just that. Genetically modified crops comprise 93 percent of all soy, 86 percent of all corn and 93 percent of all canola seeds planted in the U.S., and are used in an about 70 percent of all American processed food.
The Times went on to say that the Pew Center, Consumers Union and Harris Interactive polls over the last decade have shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans would like to see genetically modified foods better regulated and labeled. Despite that, President Obama’s administration has approved an “unprecedented number of genetically modified crops,” like ethanol corn, alfalfa and sugar beets.
The U.S. government is not the only entity boosting and green-lighting genetic engineering of our crops and foods. In 1963, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, or CAC, was founded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization. Its self-proclaimed mission was to protect health, remove trade obstacles and establish food guidelines. The membership of the commission now stands at 185 members, including the European community and the U.S.
Literally hundreds of guidelines have been adopted by the CAC in areas ranging from additives to pesticides and most recently, in 2005, for vitamins and mineral supplements. And now, this year, they are picking up the issue whether or not to label genetically altered and engineered fruits and vegetables.
The Alliance for Natural Health, or ANH, expressed another concern from the natural health community about the United Nation’s CAC guidelines, because its preamble “essentially discounts the benefits from dietary supplements, and the fact that the scope of the Codex Guidelines includes developing minimum and maximum levels of vitamins and minerals.”
Though regulating those maximum levels is currently prohibited by U.S. policy – because dietary supplements are not categorized as drugs, it is one more sign that global governance of our foods is right around the corner. As if American households relinquishing their health and fitness habits to Washington weren’t enough, now the entire U.S. needs to be governed by a global food and drug administration?
U.S. food policy may not acquiesce to worldwide regulations tomorrow, but global control is a slippery slope that is often yielded through small steps or so-called benign increments. The European Union has already enacted many universal food tenets into law. Could the U.S. be that far behind in this global age? If an era in which caving into international pressure is en vogue, how far behind are our food factories?
But does the U.S. really want foreign entities telling us how to eat, what vitamins to take or how (not) to label U.S. food now or in the distant future? I’ll say what I said in a previous column: I believe, the sooner we quit relinquishing our health and fitness responsibilities over to the government, and take control of our own lives, the better off we’ll be.
Americans have a right to be concerned with international influence over labeling, marketing and masking the truths behind foods coming abroad. Our health and welfare should not be turned over to foreign powers, lobbying groups, the FDA and the USDA. If we do, we can kiss goodbye the freedoms we’ve long enjoyed with dietary supplements and organic foods.
The added difficulty with genetic tampering and labels is that we know big business and lobbying often control the decisions in Washington. Recently that was made evident again by the actions of the USDA. Despite that tests prove genetically engineered organisms become a part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts, the ANH reported how the USDA now wants to eliminate any controls from genetically altered corn and cotton!
The ANH cited the wisdom of the late George Wald, Nobel laureate in medicine and physiology as well as Higgins professor of biology at Harvard University, one of the first scientists to speak out about the dangers of genetically engineered foods:
Recombinant DNA technology [genetic engineering] faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. … Now whole new proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism or their neighbors. … For going ahead in this direction may not only be unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.
Currently 14 states have introduced legislation on genetically modified organism labeling, but most face government gridlock. So please, take action and keep foods safe (genetically engineered free) by contacting your representatives, as well as the FDA and the USDA, and tell them that you are demanding that genetically modified food must say so on a label. In addition, corn and cotton must not be deregulated. Without strict controls, as the ANH concludes, genetically engineered crops will encroach on non-genetically engineered crops, contaminating them and rendering the organic crops as non-organic.
The only real solution to prevent global food governance and our body’s consumption of genetically altered foods is to mandate the proper labeling of all foods, and to buy local and buy organic. By diminishing the supply and demand of imported and genetically engineered foods, we can diminish its tyranny at the borders of our bodies.