Photograph: Linda Smith Bianucci, “Patti Smith,” Paris, 1969. Inspiration.
Day 70: I’ve spent the majority of my life in silence out of fear, and because I didn’t think I could change anything. Maybe I can’t, but I have to try now.
April 29, 2014
Dear Ms. Vegan
Thank you for contacting me regarding Senate Bill 778 – Health – General – Genetically Engineered Food – Labeling Requirements and its cross-filed bill House Bill 1191.
This bill would have required all manufacturers, suppliers, or retailers who produce, transport or stock genetically engineered food to clearly label the products as such. This requirement applied to both raw and packaged foods that have been either entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering.
The bills received the required public hearings in both the Senate and House; however, the bills did not receive committee votes which effectively killed the bills for the legislative session.
If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.
Allan H. Kittleman
I did require further assistance, so I wrote him back with a few questions just now:
Dear Senator Kittleman:
Why didn’t the bills receive committee votes? What is your position on mandatory GMO labeling? Also, what is your position on Americans knowing exactly what they are buying to eat and drink? A majority of Americans do want mandatory GMO labeling. Perhaps you can explain why state legislators routinely kill these bills when it goes against what a majority of their citizens want. Lastly, to what extent does your family purchase non-organic, non-GMO food?
I look forward to your responses. Below are excerpts from an article on why the US won’t ban GMOs. The link to the entire article is at the end.
43 Year Old Vegan
“Now there are at least twenty-six, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia. Significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.”
“The case against GMOs has strengthened steadily over the last few years. Critics say that genetic engineering disrupts the precise sequence of a food’s genetic code and disturbs the functions of neighboring genes, which can give rise to potentially toxic or allergenic molecules or even alter the nutritional value of food produced. The Bt toxin used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, with possibly harmful consequences.
A second objection concerns genetic contamination. A GMO crop, once released in the open, reproduces via pollination and interacts genetically with natural varieties of the same crop, producing what is called genetic contamination. According to a study published in Nature, one of the world’s leading scientific journals, Bt corn has contaminated indigenous varieties of corn tested in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Third, a GMO, brought into natural surroundings, may have a toxic or lethal impact on other living things. Thus, it was found that Bt corn destroyed the larvae of the monarch butterfly, raising well grounded fears that many other natural plant and animal life may be impacted in the same way.
Fourth, the benefits of GMOs have been oversold by the companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, that peddle them. Most genetically engineered crops are either engineered to produce their own pesticide in the form of Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) or are designed to be resistant to herbicides, so that herbicides can be sprayed in massive quantities to kill pests without harming the crops. It has been shown, however, that insects are fast developing resistance to Bt as well as to herbicides, resulting in even more massive infestation by the new superbugs. No substantial evidence exists that GM crops yield more than conventional crops. What genetically engineered crops definitely do lead to is greater use of pesticide, which is harmful both to humans and the environment.
A fifth argument is that patented GMO seeds concentrate power in the hands of a few biotech corporations and marginalize small farmers. As the statement of the eighty-one members of the World Future Council put it, “While profitable to the few companies producing them, GMO seeds reinforce a model of farming that undermines sustainability of cash-poor farmers, who make up most of the world’s hungry. GMO seeds continue farmers’ dependency on purchased seed and chemical inputs. The most dramatic impact of such dependency is in India, where 270,000 farmers, many trapped in debt for buying seeds and chemicals, committed suicide between 1995 and 2012.” (10/29/13)