I was hanging out on the internet today, stalking the world, when I came across a link to this interesting article on my twitter feed.
I find it fascinating how across the rest of the civilized world, discussions about food systems are, if not completely honest, at least not blatantly skewed in favor of big production corporations. In the U.S. there was an initiative in California (Prop 37) this past election cycle that would have required “labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as ‘natural.’” (That was an excerpt of the wording taken directly from the ballot).
To me –and I am biased– that just seems like common sense. If a laboratory were to change the genetic structure of a food product, so that it would be immune to pesticides and toxic herbicides… I just have a hard time referring to something like that as “all natural.”
The main argument in favor of this labeling initiative was simply that the consumer has the right to know… nothing more sinister than that. (In other words, nobody was making a serious argument that Genetically Modified Foods –GMO’s- are inherently dangerous, the main argument was just for the right to know if you were purchasing a GMO.) When I am grocery shopping, I should have the right to choose between a tomato, and a tomato that has been genetically modified to be toxic to insects that eat it. Or, in the case of animals, I should have the right to know whether I am purchases salmon, or a frankenfish that was genetically designed to never shut off its growth hormone… but maybe I’m just being selfish… maybe I shouldn’t have that choice, maybe I should let giant corporations and the FDA make all of my health decisions…
The counter argument to Prop 37 was, “we have more money than you, so we are going to pump the television full of misleading advertising days before the election, in some cases blatantly lying to you, so that you will be afraid to vote for your right to basic information and labeling of food products.” Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit heavy on the sarcasm, but I’m not entirely wrong… The amount of money spent on advertising for prop 37 was $8,700,000, while the amount of money pumped into negative advertising advocating “No” on 37 was a whopping $45,600,000… Or a ratio of 5:1
So, when I came across this article today, and read about how Poland just nonchalantly banned even the growing up GMO foods (do they know something we don’t), while the U.S. can’t even manage to require giant food corporations to tell us when they are feeding us the crap… I was a bit saddened at the big picture, but equal parts grateful I don’t have to eat any of it; we grow our own non-gmo crops and feed all of our heritage breed animals (aka food) grain mixed from those “real” crops.
Sometimes it’s good to be a farmer.