The battle over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is intensifying in the US and abroad. Proposition 37 in California, which would require foods containing GMOs to be labeled, has stirred up intense debate across the country. Collectively biotech companies, industrial agriculture, and mega food processors are spending tens of millions to defeat Proposition 37, because a successful campaign to label GMO foods in California would likely force labeling across the US.
Similar public campaigns against GMOs and the corporations behind them are raging all over the planet, including in the developing countries where Groundswell works.
Ecuador was the first country to declare itself free of transgenic crops and seeds in its 2008 Constitution. Nevertheless, earlier this month President Rafael Correa announced in his weekly program that the Constitution should be revised, opening up the door for new debates on the need to introduce transgenics as a means of addressing the country’s food security concerns. In response, the US Embassy in Quito has launched a project to bring scientists to Ecuador to “educate” journalists and lobby to change the constitution in favor of GMOs. The US Government’s efforts on behalf of the biotech industry were revealed in an embassy cable – made public by Wikileaks - requesting funding for these activities.
Based on an array of health, environmental, and economic concerns, consumer and farmer organizations are calling for support of the current Ecuadorian Constitution’s ban on GMOs and for the proposed law on Agrobiodiversity, Seeds, and Promotion of Agroecology. The public debates begin on Thursday, September 27.
Proposition 37 and the constitutional debates in Ecuador are occurring just as Russia moves to ban Monsanto GMO corn due to a recent study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology linking the GMO corn and Monsanto’s chemical weedkiller Roundup to an increase in cancerous tumors and kidney and liver damage in lab rats. The study found that rats fed for two years with Monsanto’s GMO corn variety NK603 or dosed with Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water, food and feed, died earlier than rats fed a diet of no GMOs.
The biotech industry instantly launched a campaign to undermine the study and the scientists responsible for it.
Forcibly inserting novel genes (sometimes from animals!) into the DNA of the plants we eat is bound to have some unforeseen and undesirable consequences, but even if you think mankind should pursue this agenda, ask yourself, should people and animals be eating GMO crops if there is any doubt at all about their long-term health effects?