Guess Who's Controlling Our Food Supply

I have a difficult time accepting genetically modified (GM) foods at
face value. My primary concerns have to do with what we know, and, more
importantly don't know about how this "promising" technology may or may
not be impacting human health and our environment.

I have a difficult time accepting genetically modified (GM) foods at
face value. My primary concerns have to do with what we know, and, more
importantly don't know about how this "promising" technology may or may
not be impacting human health and our environment.

For those who prefer to avoid serving as human lab rats, myself
included, our non-GM food options, according to advocates of GM food,
boil down to eating USDA Certified Organic,
which do not allow any genetically modified seed or crops to be used on
such labeled food products. Their idea of severely limiting consumer
choice, since they are adamantly opposed to "GMO Inside" labeling, goes
against their own argument of freedom to choose, which also goes
against the very fabric of what makes America's version of capitalism
work so well.

I couldn't imagine the situation getting much worse, but it just did.

The latest issue of Scientific American Magazine includes the chilling article "Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?"
The magazine's editors take readers beyond initial "government"
approval of GM food, which reportedly utilized industry-sponsored
research rather than independent government research, to the current
state of independent research on genetically modified seeds and crops:

Unfortunately, it is impossible to
verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is
because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the
work of independent researchers.

It would be chilling enough if any
other type of company were able to prevent independent researchers from
testing its wares and reporting what they find--imagine car companies
trying to quash head-to-head model comparisons done by Consumer
Reports, for example. But when scientists are prevented from examining
the raw ingredients in our nation's food supply or from testing the
plant material that covers a large portion of the country's
agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous.

It is hard to understand how a handful of companies have amassed so much control over food ingredients found in an estimated 75 percenthierarchy of needs.
of processed foods in America's supermarkets. Making matters worse, and
as the Scientific American editors point out, we are talking about a
basic physiological need - food, which joins water, shelter and a
handful of other needs defined by Abraham Maslow in his

Without extensive independent research on GM foods on how they
impact human health and the environment, the distinct possibility
exists that we're setting ourselves up for significant and potentially
irreversible problems down the line.

To keep the mainstream in check, we get slick multimillion dollar advertising campaigns
from company's like Monsanto claiming they have the solution to feed
the estimated 9 billion people expected on the planet in the not to
distant future, among other claims. Who cares if these claims have not
been independently verified. Who cares if the Union of Concerned Scientists have released a report on GM crop yields debunking industry claims of significant yield improvements.

Despite 20 years of research and 13
years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to
significantly increase U.S. crop yields.

The ongoing debate is not about stopping public relations (PR)
efforts by these companies. Companies market products and there's
nothing inherently wrong with that. Nor is it about whether I or anyone
else thinks GM foods are good or bad. Making such claims today are
mostly opinion, since independent research is not available to properly
inform discussions.

The debate needs to be about how our regulatory structure has sold
out to industry, which is represented by a highly concentrated,
centralized power structure that controls our conventional food
system. It needs to be about holding the food system and our government
accountable. Most important, it needs to demand companies and the
government do what is right, just and fair.

We are a long way from that, it would seem, which is why initiatives like Pro Food and Slow Money
are gaining steam. These efforts actively engage everyday citizens in
developing and supporting transparent sustainable food systems,
building on unique competitive advantages in comparison with today's industrial food system players.

Let's just hope that a sustainable food economy is not far behind.

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