We like to think of food as not only a necessity, but as a way to bring our family closer as we celebrate over meals or settle our kids down at the dinner table every night.But GMOs are ruining this. The food you put on your table is now being manipulated by powerful corporation, here in America and overseas. In fact, critical battles over food production and the laws that regulate it are going on all over the world.
While it’s true that as of this writing, over 64 countries around the globe label genetically modified (GMO) foods, those laws are on the brink of being compromised, battled and over run by Big Food. Even though the United Nations just released a statement stating that Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide is a “probable” carcinogen, and is widely used on GMO crops, the company is ramping up its efforts to create a stranglehold on food production all over the world.
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Do Trade Agreements Give Corporations Power Over Your Food?
All this is further complicated by the new international trade agreements, like the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which allows corporations to sue governments for loss of profits. What does that mean? At the Campaign for America’s Future, Dave Johnson writes that corporation like Monsanto already regularly sue governments for “trying to pass laws that protect their citizens from harmful chemicals, (and) ban harmful products.” The current North American agreement, NAFTA, already allows for this and the upcoming TPP can broaden power for Big Food – especially since the official U.S. negotiator is a former Monsanto lobbyist! These agreements can empower big companies to avoid regulations like local GMO labeling laws.
Let’s take a look at the battles between companies like Monsanto and GMO labeling in Europe and abroad, as well as the fight right here in the U.S.
China the GMO Controversy
In China, the sale or commercial growth of GM rice is illegal on the mainland, however in 2009, their Ministry of Agriculture approved permits to develop GMO rice and corn. In July 2014, genetically modified (GM) rice was found for sale in a large supermarket in China, across from an Agricultural University that worked on GM crops. This caused a public outcry, since the seeds that were approved in 2009 were to be developed only for research. Fortunately, when those permits were up for renewal in August, the program was shut down. Could the university have contaminated the supermarket produce or was this a plot by Greenpeace, who have been accused of planting those GM foods? Some of farmers may want GM crops for ease of production, but the Chinese people seem to be having their say as the government has promised harsh punishment for breaking these laws.
Russia Bans GMOs
Global Research reports that in November 2014, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that “Russia will no longer import GMO products.” Medvedev claims their country has enough space and resources to produce organic food. This comes after Russian scientists requested a 10-year moratorium on GMO crops just to study them! Russia seems to be concerned with the health of its citizens, with even President Putin ordering they “be protected from GMOs.”
India Battling GMO Crops
In July 2014, Economic Times reported that field trials of GM crops were put on hold by environment minister Prakash Javadekar of the political party the BJP. They were elected in May and ran on opposing GMO food production without long-term evaluation. Unfortunately, the government has reversed its position. A statement by the Coalitions for a GM Free India reads, “The… government…is now hand in glove with the multi-national GM seed industry (Monsanto) that stands to gain immensely from open field trials of GM crops.” Complicating this issue further are the high rates of Indian farmer suicides – over 17,000 suicides in 2009, according to the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. What does Monsanto have to do with this? Farmers can only get loans if they go with GM crops, and yet, according to Sheldon Krimsky, the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, not all these crops are suited to the area or climate. Some claim these crop failures may contribute higher suicides rates as farmers reel from the shame of being indebted over their heads. The battle goes as broken campaign promises and farming families in debt and distress escalate.
Mexico’s Anti-GMO Victories
Environmental & Food Justice (EFJ) reports that in February 2015, anti-GMO activists won 4 court battles against corporate interests who are trying to remove a ban on GMO corn. In a press release, the ruling judge criticized “transnational seed companies” – that is, Monsanto. This is a bold, brave ruling since it can affect Mexico’s standing in the NAFTA trade agreement.
Organic Contamination Battles in Australia
Two Australian farmers have been battling over the issue of cross contamination since 2010. Organic farmer Steve Marsh sued conventional farmer Michael Baxter in 2010 over claims that Baxter’s GM canola crops contaminated his organic crop, causing Marsh to lose his organic certification. This is an important battle for us all to watch, as we know that organic crops here in the U.S. are highly prone to contamination from GM crop. In this case, a judge ruled in last year that there was no negligence or breach of care or duty by Baxter, but the case just returned to court for an appeal.
GM Crops Coming to England
In the late 1990s and early 2000, Open Democracy reports that activists worked throughout the U.K. to remove GM plantings every time they were planted. This led to a ban on GMOs in the European Union – people did not want GM food for their families. But again, the TPP is now changing things in England, where food is largely GMO free. The Guardian reported that in January, the EU voted on new agricultural rules taking effect this spring, which now allows member states to cultivate GMO crops. In the UK, this means that GM crop production may begin in 2017, giving a victory to Monsanto over GMO labeling in Europe.
Ukraine & the GMO Invasion
Currently, the Ukraine, also known as “Europe’s bread basket,” does not allow the use of GMOs in agriculture, however there is a clause in the EU agreement that allows extending the use of biotechnologies – such as GMOs. Investment banks are calling the Ukraine and Eastern Europe “the most promising growth markets” for seed producers like Monsanto and DuPont.
Germany Battles Over Nationwide Ban
Germany’s Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, is seeking a nationwide ban on GMOs. Right now, specific areas of Germany ban these crops, which Hendricks sees as leading to legal disputes all over the country. The Agriculture Minister, Christian Schmidt, has proposed a bill to give locales an “opt out” that Hendricks has rejected. We’ll have to see how this battle pans out as Germany decides between a nationwide law and areas that opt out.
GMOs in the U.S.
As we can see, worldwide GMO infiltration into markets where families and farmers do not want it is on the rise, thanks to trade agreements and the extensive influence of Big Food. Meanwhile, here in America, the DARK Act once again has raised its head to prevent states from having the right to their own GMO labeling laws. Across the world, people and farmers are taking on action to prevent this nightmare of GMO products from contaminating their food supply. Politics, laws, loopholes, and Monsanto lobbyists are bullying their way around the globe and the end result could be the death of organics.
What steps can you take to protect your family from this GMO invasion? Make your voice heard! Here is a list of what you can do:
- As always, vote with your dollar for USDA Organic and Project Non-GMO verified foods as much as possible.
- Take Action: Tell the EPA to ban Monsanto’s cancer causing Roundup Herbicide.
- Spread the word! Use social media to share articles like this and petitions such as the one above.
- VOTE: The next presidential election can affect GMO production and the influence of Monsanto. In addition, participate in your local elections. Mike Pompeo was re-elected last year – he is the sponsor of this and last year’s DARK Act and Big Food supported his campaign.
Keep following Mamavation for the latest on what is going on with the DARK Act and who to contact to make your voice heard. Monsanto’s war on GMO labeling in Europe and around the world is spreading but it’s not over yet! It’s up to us, the consumer, to fight and protect our families from the spread of GMO before it corrupts all our food.