GM Crops May Spell Death to Bio-Diversity

by Wan A.Hulaimi
NewStraitsTimes
October 3, 2011

If you wake up in the morning to find that your brinjals are no longer yours, what would you do?Take a case in point. Prabeer Kumar, a farmer in Karnataka, India, suddenly discovered that he had no seeds to sow and for his next crop he had to buy from a giant multinational. Farmer Kumar doesn’t exist — I have just made him up — but Karnataka does, and India and that giant multinational, they are all real. Some other Kumars in India found that they had a piece of paper in hand that made them promise to buy only GM seeds from one big company. GM seeds that will bear fruit and die so that farmer Kumar will have to go to the shops again and again ad infinitum until he himself dies for want of more rupees.

I have made up farmer Kumar because he represents many thousand farmers in the state of Karnataka who have unwittingly signed pieces of paper that have bound them to genetically modified (GM) seeds, nature tampered by big money-grabbing multinationals and then thrust back upon them at a price to be grown in land that they have not yet patented, thank God, to yield genetically modified crops to feed us all.

You have heard the benefits of GMs already even if we do not yet know their effects on our environment, health and wealth. This is the solution for world hunger, they say. But who knows? Take a simple question: if farmers have to go back to the shops after each yield, it will? But oh no, they’ll say, crops will be grown in huge quantities by big companies. Oh yes? Oh dearie me!

They introduced Bt cotton in India, a non-renewable genetically modified cotton seed with claims about insect resistance and the usual spiel. We do not know what this tampering with nature to ‘control’ the assault of nature is doing to our birds and our bees and our butterflies, but many Indian farmers — a quarter million according to some sources — committed suicide as a result of the high price of seeds which they once got for nothing from the last crop. Non-renewability of GM seeds sends farmers out to the shops, and shopping for tailor-made goods, as you know, costs a big wad of rupees.

Yet it keeps moving on as more and more of our natural species are being tampered with, their genes added to and readjusted to make them safe for big companies to make proprietary claims on them all. India has close to eight per cent of the world’s living species. They tried to patent basmati rice so that only they will be able to sell them to farmers, but they failed, and their next trick is with the humble brinjal which you could have taken from your neighbour’s garden and planted in yours for just a chat and a smile. They are now trying to patent the brinjal in India so that you will no longer be your next door’s good neighbour because you and they and your friendly local farmer will soon have to buy GM ‘bt brinjal’ for your curry. And bully for India, they are taking Monsanto to court for ‘bio-piracy’ which, in this context, means stealing indigenous plants, genetically modifying them, and giving nothing — but misery — in return to the people. This is the first time in the world that a nation is taking such a step against a multinational. Other countries in the world with huge bio-diversity reserves would be well advised to sit up and listen well.

What will GM crops do besides giving untold wealth to giant seed monopolising companies? We don’t know, but more than a few suspicions have been expressed and they should all be looked into.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), a body of medical clinicians from various specialities, called for a moratorium on GM foods. “GM foods pose a serious health risk” they said in their position paper. And more: “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects”. And more: “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.”

Very little long term research has been done on the health and ecological effects of GM seeds. But if you have time and the search engine, do go and look up Dr Arpad Pusztai and his experiment in Scotland in 1998 with rats and the GM potato.

So is GM food safe or is it not? We don’t know, but if you had baked beans for breakfast this morning, chances are it was GM product down your tummy-tee-tee. That GM food inside you now is sweeping the world, stealing the livelihood of our farmers, depleting our heritage and may even be the death of our bio-diversity.

Farmer Prabeer Kumar may not exist, but the real Shri Prabeer Kumer Basu is India’s agricultural minister. Email him now at secy-agri@nic.in to say how much you appreciate his call.

Wan A. Hulaimi also wrote A Map of Terengganu, under the pen name Awang Goneng. He may be reached at elsewhere@columnist.com

Alimentos Modificados Genéticamente – ¿Envenenando Nuestra Gente?

Traducción Luis R. Miranda
allAfrica.com
Junio 9, 2011

Opinión

Uno de los más extensos experimentos no regulados en seres humanos se está llevando a cabo aquí en África del Sur. Los sudafricanos fueron los primeros en el mundo en consumir alimentos genéticamente modificados (OGM)como parte de su dieta. Según fuentes de la industria más del 75% de nuestro maíz blanco es ahora GM. Esto significa que la papilla consumida a diario en la mayoría de los hogares de Sudáfrica está compuesto de maíz genéticamente modificado.

La afirmación de la industria que nadie se ha enfermado después de ingerir alimentos modificados genéticamente es científicamente deshonesta. Se basa en el principio de “si no miras, no encuentras”. Debido a que los alimentos modificados genéticamente no están claramente identificados a través de un etiquetado claro, es muy imposible saber qué enfermedades están relacionadas con el consumo del producto.

Se dice que estos alimentos han sido probados y son seguros. Al mismo tiempo, los productores de transgénicos afirman que sus productos son “sustancialmente equivalentes” – idénticos a sus contra partes naturales. Como tales, no requieren pruebas. Cuando las pruebas se ha hecho han sido presas de las mismas trampas que han afectado las pruebas de toxicología hechas a productos químicos durante décadas. No es sorprendente que las empresas que producen OGM, sin excepción han evolucionado a partir de las empresas químicas agrícolas, infames en su abuso de los protocolos estadísticos y experimentales.

La mayoría de las pruebas se han realizado en los alimentos y presentado por las mismas compañías que buscan su aprobación. El diseño de estas pruebas ha sido opaco y engañoso. Las investigaciones han demostrado que los resultados han sido sistemáticamente manipulados y sesgados. Dice la epidemióloga Judy Carman: “Su enfoque conjunto para el análisis no sería útil para una clase de estadística básica.”

Los primeros análisis de todos los estudios de alimentación encuentran exactamente tres experimentos. Aún estas pruebas muestran tendencias preocupantes. Más reciente meta-análisis han reforzado estas preocupaciones. Un hallazgo consistente ha sido el daño al hígado y los riñones. Cabe destacar que el hígado y la enfermedad renal han aumentado desde que los cultivos transgénicos se introdujeron en los EE.UU..

Lo notable es que cuando los investigadores empleados o conectados a los desarrolladores de los alimentos GM hicieron estudios, no se reportaron problemas. Por otra parte, estudios realizados por científicos independientes siempre motivan su preocupación. Un análisis publicado recientemente puso de relieve esta tendencia. Esta relación es común en los análisis de otros productos químicos y alimentos.

Más preocupante aún es el hecho de que los estudios de alimentación fueron hechos a muy corto plazo, con no más de tres meses. Fundamentalmente, ninguno de ellos utiliza más de un tercio de los productos transgénicos en la dieta. En el sur de África, comemos maíz transgénico no identificado como un alimento básico en niveles que en muchos casos puede alcanzar el 100% de la dieta. La pregunta es: Si el daño es preocupante y está estadísticamente demostrado que los riñones, el hígado y otros órganos son destruídos cuando los animales son alimentados con un tercio de su dieta con productos modificados genéticamente, en estudios de una duración de tres meses, entonces ¿qué diablos va a pasar con aquellos de nosotros que comemos una dieta que es predominantemente a base de maíz GM, todos los días durante años?

Esto no es nada menos que un experimento masivo no regulado. Para empeorar las cosas este experimento no se lleva a cabo en una población sana, sino en una cuya salud está doblemente comprometida: en primer lugar, las personas no comen una dieta lo suficientemente variada. En segundo lugar, tenemos el mayor número de habitantes con VIH, SIDA e infecciones de tuberculosis en el mundo.

Hay muchos otros estudios que han señalado los problemas del consumo de los cultivos transgénicos, incluso a niveles reducidos de una tercera parte de la dieta total. Los estudios han demostrado menor recuento de espermatozoides y esterilidad. Los investigadores han pedido constantemente para que se siga investigando. Todo lo que la industria de los transgénicos hace es lo de siempre; intentar salirse con la suya.

Esta situación escandalosa cuenta con la asistencia de nuestra mala regulación de los alimentos modificados genéticamente que sólo se identificarán a finales de este año. En otras palabras, las personas han estado comiendo alimentos GM en la ignorancia total de los hechos. Hasta el momento, no hay una prueba independiente, llevada a cabo durante generaciones sobre como la dieta de varias de las personas se ve afectada al consumir alimentos GM. Esto equivale a poco menos que negligencia criminal por parte de nuestro gobierno, que siempre ha hecho caso omiso de estas preocupaciones, y en lugar ha tomado el lado de una industria con una trayectoria muy defectuosa.

Por supuesto esta industria insiste en que la Unión Europea y otros han producido informes que demuestran que los cultivos transgénicos no tienen ningún riesgo para la salud. El hecho es que los reguladores de la UE se han basado en exactamente las mismas pruebas producidas por la propia industria. En segundo lugar, la influencia de la industria en el régimen normativo es significativo. Esta industria tiene no sólo los reguladores habitualmente mal informados, a través de pruebas con el suministro de datos estadísticos sesgados, pero siempre ha interferido en el régimen de reglamentación.
Por ejemplo, la normativa que regula los cultivos transgénicos en los EE.UU. fue redactada por el ex jefe de asuntos reguladores de Monsanto, Michael Taylor, quien dejó la empresa Monsanto para trabajar en el gobierno con el fin de elaborar una legislación favorable a la industria. Luego regresó a Monsanto. Desde entonces, ha vuelto al gobierno, en lo que se conoce como “la puerta giratoria”. Esto no es en absoluto un caso aislado y una situación similar existe en el sur de África.

Esta es sólo la punta del iceberg. Hay casos documentados de como la industria restringe y prohíbe las pruebas independientes de sus productos. Esto es posible debido a que estos productos están patentados se necesita permiso de las empresas para accesar diversos aspectos cruciales de e información en las pruebas científicas, el cual es siempre negado.

No se trata sólo de los peligros inherentes de los cultivos transgénicos. El producto GM más cultivado en el mundo, la soja resistente a los herbicidas, se ha relacionado con niveles altos del herbicida Roundup, fabricado por Monsanto, que también es propietaria de las patentes en más del 90% de todos los cultivos transgénicos a nivel mundial. Monsanto también introdujo el maíz resistentes a los herbicidas, que se cultivan en el sur de África. Pese a las afirmaciones de que los cultivos transgénicos reducen el uso de productos químicos, hemos visto exactamente que lo contrario ocurre en todo el mundo.

Por ejemplo, en Argentina, el uso de herbicidas ha aumentado 180 veces en 13 años. En los EE.UU., 174 000 toneladas más se usan cada año. En Brasil es de hasta un 95%. La responsabilidad del impacto ambiental y en la salud de las personas no es la preocupación de los agricultores, sino que simplemente es pasada a los consumidores, que no son los más sabios. Y los riesgos que estos productos químicos crean son cada vez más y más preocupantes que los cultivos transgénicos en sí.

Cuando los primeros cultivos transgénicos se introdujeron la cantidad permitida legalmente de residuos de herbicidas en los alimentos se aumento en 200 veces en el caso de la Unión Europea, con incrementos similares en otros lugares, todo para acomodar las peticiones de las corporaciones. Roundup está vinculado a graves impactos en la salud humana, incluidos los daños al crecimiento del embrión y el feto (impactos tetragénicos), así como el daño celular, entre muchos otros impactos sobre los mamíferos. Hay literalmente docenas de estudios publicados que indican las preocupaciones acerca de este producto químico. También afecta a los anfibios, insectos, lombrices y bacterias del suelo que liberan nutrientes para las plantas.

Además de estas preocupaciones, hay una inconsistencia evidente en el argumento de que los cultivos transgénicos son necesarios para alimentar al mundo: El hecho de que el producto GM más cultivado en el mundo, la soja, siempre ha sido demostrado que rinden menos que la soja convencional y natural. A pesar de años de promesas de que los cultivos GM son más resistentes a la sequía estas promesas siguen sin cumplirse.

Oxfam Internacional publicó recientemente un informe que indica que los precios de los alimentos se duplicaran, desde sus ya altos niveles en las próximas dos décadas. ¿Cómo podemos solucionar este problema? Somos constantemente informados por los partidarios de los cultivos transgénicos que debemos adoptar la tecnología para alimentar al mundo. La realidad es que los programas de mejoramiento convencional de plantas han logrado mucho más, a un costo mucho más bajo, mejorando el rendimiento, la resistencia viral, la mejora nutricional y resistencia a la sequía.

Quince años de cultivos genéticamente modificados en África del Sur han demostrado que la rápida adopción de cultivos transgénicos no ha tenido impacto alguno sobre la cantidad de alimentos que llegan a la boca de los más necesitados. La única conclusión que puede ser obtenida es que los cultivos transgénicos no son la solución. Más importante es que estamos jugando un peligroso juego de la ruleta rusa genética con la salud de nuestro pueblo.

La Evaluación Internacional del Papel del Conocimiento, Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo (IAASTD), en su informe titulado “Agricultura en la encrucijada”, señaló que los cultivos transgénicos en el mejor de los casos desempeñará un papel limitado en la lucha contra el hambre mundial. El enfoque en la agricultura de altos insumos industriales y los OGM han marginado las prácticas agrícolas más eficaces. El estudio de la IAASTD fue financiado por el Banco Mundial y varios organismos de la ONU, e involucró a más de 400 expertos en agricultura de todo el mundo.

El enfoque perjudicial en los cultivos transgénicos en las últimas dos décadas ha contribuido a retrasar el desarrollo de la investigación que se necesita con urgencia. En lugar de centrarse en el clima y los aspectos relacionados en los sistemas de producción de las comunidades que necesitamos para fomentar la seguridad alimentaria y la verdadera independencia, el enfoque político-institucional sobre los cultivos transgénicos nos ha dirigido hacia la confianza en el modelo de dependencia personificado por la agricultura industrial, en cuanto erosiona nuestra salud y la ya precaria situación.
Se mire como se mire, los cultivos transgénicos personifican el problema, no la solución.

GM Food – Poisoning Our People?

Glenn Ashton
allAfrica.com
June 8, 2011

One of the most massive unregulated experiments on humans ever is being carried out right here in South Africa. South Africans are the first people in the world to consume a genetically modified (GM) food as a staple. According to industry sources more than 75% of our white maize is now GM. This means that the pap and samp consumed daily in the majority of South African households is now mainly comprised of genetically modified maize.

The industry claim that nobody has become ill from GM foods is scientifically dishonest. It is based on the principle of “don’t look – don’t find.” Because GM foods are not clearly identified through clear labelling, it is impossible to know what sicknesses are related to the consumption of the product.

We are repeatedly told these are the most widely tested foods ever. However, GM producers claim their products to be ‘substantially equivalent’ – identical to their natural counterparts. As such they do not require testing. Where testing has been done it has fallen prey to the same pitfalls that have dogged chemical and toxicological testing for decades. This is unsurprising as the GM companies have without exception evolved from agricultural chemical companies, infamous in their abuse of statistical and experimental protocols.

Most food tests have been undertaken and submitted by the very companies seeking approval. The design of these tests has been opaque and misleading. Research has shown results to have been routinely manipulated and skewed to the extent that epidemiologist Judy Carman said, “Their whole approach to the analysis would fail a basic statistics class.”

The earliest analysis of all feeding studies found exactly three experiments. Even these indicated worrying trends. More recent meta-analyses have reinforced these concerns. A consistent finding has been damage to the liver and kidneys. It is notable that liver and kidney disease has increased since GM crops were introduced in the US.

What is remarkable is that when researchers employed or connected to the developers of GM foods did studies, no problems were reported. On the other hand, studies undertaken by independent scientists consistently raised concerns. A recently published analysis highlighted this trend. This relationship is common in analyses of other chemicals and foodstuff.

Of even more concern is the fact that feeding studies were extremely short term, with most lasting three months. Crucially, none of them used more than one-third of GM product in the diet. In South Africa we eat unidentified GM white maize as a staple food at levels that may in many cases reach 100% of the diet. The question is: If statistically worrying damage is shown to kidney, liver and other organs when animals are fed one third of their diet as GM products, in studies lasting three months, then what on earth will happen to those of us who eat a diet that is predominantly based on GM maize, every day for years on end?

This is nothing less than a massive, unregulated experiment. To make matters worse this experiment is not being undertaken on a healthy population but one that is doubly compromised: First through most people not eating a sufficient or varied enough diet and secondly because we have the highest burden of HIV, AIDS and TB infections in the world.

There are numerous other studies that have indicated problems from consuming GM crops, even at reduced levels of a third of the total diet. Studies have shown reduced sperm count and even sterility. Researchers have consistently called for further work to be done. All the GM industry does is consistently try to spin itself out of trouble.

This outrageous situation is assisted by our poor regulation of GM food that will only need to be labelled later this year. In other words we have been eating the world’s first GM staple food in total ignorance of the fact. So far not one independent, multi-generational dietary test has been undertaken locally by independent scientists. This amounts to little less than criminal negligence by our government, which has consistently ignored all of these concerns, instead taking the side of an industry with a seriously blemished track record.

Of course this industry insists that the EU and others have produced reports clearing GM crops of any health risk. The fact remains that EU regulators have relied upon exactly the same compromised tests consistently produced by the industry itself. Secondly, the influence of industry within the regulatory regime is significant. This industry has not only routinely misinformed regulators, through supplying tests with skewed statistical data, but it has consistently interfered in the regulatory regime itself.

For instance, the regulations governing GM crops in the US were drafted by the ex-Monsanto head of regulatory affairs, Michael Taylor, who left Monsanto to work in government in order to draft industry friendly legislation. He then returned to Monsanto. He has since returned to government, in what is known as ‘the revolving door’. This is not by any means an isolated case and a similar situation exists in South Africa.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are repeated documented cases of this industry restricting and prohibiting independent testing of its products. This is possible because these products are patented and owned by the companies and permission must be granted for access to various crucial aspects of information in scientific testing, which is consistently refused.

It is not only the inherent dangers associated with GM crops themselves. The most widely grown GM crop in the world, herbicide resistant soy, has been linked to sharply increased levels of the herbicide Roundup, made by Monsanto, which also owns the patents on over 90% of all GM crops grown globally. Monsanto is also rapidly introducing herbicide resistant maize, now being grown in South Africa. Despite claims that GM crops reduce chemical use, we have seen exactly the opposite occurring around the world.

For instance, in Argentina, herbicide use has increased 180 fold in 13 years. In the USA, 174 000 tonnes more are used per year. In Brazil it is up by 95%. Responsibility for the downstream health impacts is not the farmers’ concern but is simply passed onto consumers who are none the wiser. And the risks of these chemicals are increasingly been proven to be as worrying, if not more so, than the concerns about the GM crops themselves.

When the first GM crops were introduced the amount of herbicide residue on food was permitted to be increased by 200 times in the case of the European Union, with similar increases elsewhere. Roundup is linked to serious human health impacts, including damage to embryo and fetus growth (tetragenic impacts) as well as cellular damage, amongst many other impacts on mammals. There are literally dozens of published studies indicating concerns about this chemical. It also affects amphibians, insects, earthworms and soil bacteria that liberate plant nutrients.

Besides these serious concerns, there is a final, glaring inconsistency in the argument that GM crops are required to feed the world. This is the fact that the most widely grown GM crop in the world, GM soy, has consistently been shown to yield less than conventional, natural soy. Despite years of promises of more nutritional or drought resistant GM crops, these promises remain unmet.

Oxfam recently released a report stating that food prices will more than double, from already high levels, over the next two decades. How do we address this problem? We are constantly informed by supporters of GM crops that we must adopt their technology to feed the world. The reality is that conventional plant breeding programmes have achieved far more, at far lower cost, enhancing yield, viral resistance, nutritional improvement and drought resistance.

Fifteen years of growing GM crops in South Africa has demonstrated that the rapid uptake of GM crops has had no impact at all on the amount of food reaching the mouths of the most needy. The only conclusion can be that GM crops are not the solution. More importantly we are playing a dangerous game of genetic roulette with the health of our people.

The four year International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), in its report entitled “Agriculture at a Crossroads” indicated that GM crops would at best play a limited role in tackling global hunger. The focus on high-input industrial farming and GMOs has marginalised far more effective agricultural practices. The IAASTD study was funded by the World Bank and several leading UN organisations, and involved over 400 agricultural experts from around the world.

The perverse focus on GM crops over the past two decades has been instrumental in retarding development of urgently needed research. Instead of focussing on the proven, climate resilient and community based food production systems we require to encourage true food security and independence, the political-corporate focus on GM crops has steered us towards reliance on the dependency model epitomised by industrial agriculture, while simultaneously eroding our already tenuous health status.

Every way you look at it, GM crops epitomise the problem, not the solution.

Obama Deregulates GMO Alfalfa and Sugar Beets

Alfalfa reaches our tables within milk, cream, butter, and meat, as it is commonly used to feed dairy cows.

By Robbie Hanna Anderman
Axis of Logic
June 4, 2011

Early this spring, while the world was distracted by Egypt’s uprising, President Barack Obama pushed the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets in the United States. The USDA came through as he directed, totally deregulating these Monsanto-patented genes in early February.

About 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn, 93 percent of cotton, and 93 percent of canola seed planted in the United States in 2010 were genetically engineered.

In so doing, Obama and the USDA have chosen to override and ignore decisions and injunctions made by the U.S. Supreme Court that banned planting of genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets without consideration of the Environmental Impact Assessments, which showed high risks to organic and conventional (chemical) farmers.

So how does this affect you and me? Neither of us remembers seeing alfalfa or sugar beets on our breakfast table or even on our Seder table. Or do we?

Sugar beets provide over 50 percent of the sugar Americans use in their coffee, cereals, and desserts. For the moment, let’s not focus on the fact that sugar beets can cross-pollinate with red beets and make our borscht genetically modified.

Alfalfa reaches our tables within milk, cream, butter, and meat, as it is used as a major animal feed in the dairy industry. It is also used to enrich soils in organic farming.

At this time, no genetically engineered crops are permitted for sale in the European Union (though WikiLeaks has revealed that the U.S. government is exerting strong pressure on the EU to allow them). Thus this new deregulation will potentially close off present markets for organic farmers’ crops.

Obama’s push for deregulation potentially also means the end of the organic meat and organic dairy industries as we presently know them. Essentially, he is choosing to favor the profits of big agribusiness over the survival of America’s family farmers, and especially America’s organic farmers.

Our democracy has to work for farmers and consumers and not just for multinational biotech corporations. It makes absolutely no sense that the economic risks to farmers are not considered before genetically engineered crops are put on the market. It is farmers who pay the costs of genetic contamination, not the biotech companies.

How else does this affect you and me? I’ll defer to Canadian geneticist David Suzuki on this.

In an interview with the True Food Foundation, Suzuki said anyone who claims genetically engineered food is perfectly safe is “either unbelievably stupid, or deliberately lying,” adding: “The reality is, we don’t know. The experiments simply haven’t been done, and now we have become the guinea pigs…. I am most definitely not in favor of release of GMOs in the food stream and given that it’s too late, I favor complete labeling of GMO products.”

In “More Science Needed on Effects of Genetically Modifying Food Crops,” a September 2009 article for the Vancouver news site Straight.com, Suzuki wrote:

Some have argued that we’ve been eating GM foods for years with few observable negative consequences but as we’ve seen with things like trans fats, it often takes a while for us to recognize the health impacts. With GM foods, concerns have been raised about possible effects on stomach bacteria and resistance to antibiotics, as well as their role in allergic reactions. We also need to understand more about their impact on other plants and animals.

And in “Experimenting With Life,” an article inYes!magazine, he wrote:
We have learned from painful experience that anyone entering an experiment should give informed consent. That means at the very least food should be labeled if it contains GMOs so we each can make that choice.

Like Dr. Suzuki, I think it’s worthwhile to acknowledge that we are also guinea pigs in another big experiment. Ours is the first generation to ever eat food that has been intentionally sprayed with poison before being eaten. While it may be argued that we need greater quantities to “feed the world,” the truth is that we’ve lost quality, we’ve lost fertility in humans and in the soil, and our health care budgets are indicative of the effects of this path.

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Maria Rodale’s book, Organic Manifesto cites shocking studies that make a strong case against chemical farming, while at the same time highlighting the positive nutritional and environmental benefits of organic farming. And according to a 2009 report from the UN Environmental Program, organic farming may be the only way we can solve the growing problem of hunger in the developing countries. Yes, organic farms can feed the world, and do it sustainably.

So why is Obama favoring Monsanto? This is the company responsible for more than fifty uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located (“Superfund sites” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites). We also have Monsanto to thank for Agent Orange, PCBs, DDT, and more.

Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds already dominate the entire U.S. corn, soy, canola, and cotton crops. About 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn, 93 percent of cotton, and 93 percent of canola seed planted in the United States in 2010 were genetically engineered. Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, explained the company’s regulatory philosophy thus: “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is FDA’s job.”

To assure the Food and Drug Administration and USDA do not regulate genetically engineered crops, biotech has spent more than half a billion dollars lobbying Congress since 1999.

If we follow the “historical” pattern of genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton, and canola, we will likely soon see engineered alfalfa and sugar beets, with their wind- and bee-carried pollen, completely taking over the entire seed industry for those crops. This contamination would disallow farmers’ ancient practice of keeping and breeding seeds from year to year, and drive up expenses for all farmers. This is nothing new from the American government, which has historically supported policies favoring the consolidation of U.S. seed ownership in the hands of a few major corporations.

So let us remind our children that we were “slaves unto Pharaoh in Egypt.” For surely having one corporation control the seeds gives it unprecedented control. The state of affairs reminds me of how Pharaoh, at Joseph’s urging, took control of the grain supplies of Egypt, causing Jacob’s family to go down into Egypt and eventually become enslaved. Not worried yet? Chew on this: it’s been said that most U.S. cities do not have three days of food supplies on their shelves.

Extremes of weather in recent years have shown us how vulnerable this situation is. Meanwhile, the National Farmers Unions in the United States and Canada have advocated support for local family farmers and the implementation of local and national programs to ensure food security and food sovereignty — programs that fail to interest corporate-controlled politicians.

The fact that the executive wing of government has chosen to override a recent major decision by the Supreme Court to stop all dissemination of genetically engineered alfalfa until the completion on an environmental assessment of its danger is certainly cause for questioning.

What’s going on here? Did Obama betray us? Did Obama, a man, a charismatic politician, betray the people who voted for him, whose spirits were raised high with the slogan “Yes, we can”?

Perhaps. Yet I am reminded that to run a presidential campaign requires a great deal of money. And since the Supreme CourtCitizens Uniteddecision — supported by Clarence Thomas, a former attorney for Monsanto — to allow corporations the unlimited ability to anonymously fund political campaigns, it is becoming obvious that Obama owes something to many rich people.

U.S. corporations have gained inordinate power over all our politicians by manipulating the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment was adopted in 1868 to protect the rights of newly freed Blacks, yet by 1886 the Supreme Court had begun recognizing it as a protection of the rights of the “persons” called corporations — persons which do not breathe, do not have consciences, and are mandated to make a profit for their shareholders.

Which group would you betray? Your funders or your fans?

When Obama cried, “Yes, we can!” he obviously was speaking for a different “we” than those who voted for him imagined.

Monsanto’s seeds are genetically engineered for use with the company’s chemical herbicide RoundUp. Last year we learned that weeds are growing resistant to RoundUp. Monsanto’s profits and stock prices began dropping.

A failed technology is now getting another chance to dance and prop up a failing corporation. Oddly, alfalfa (Arabic for “king of herbs”) does not need herbicides for more than 93 percent of its common applications. Farmers have been growing it for many centuries and know how to do so without herbicides. The push for genetically engineered alfalfa is just a game move toward controlling the food supply.

After all, what will we eat when America’s family farmers are all driven off their farms and into our cities? We would then be dependent on corporate factory farms, whose managers are far from the soil and lack experience in dealing with the whims of nature and weather. We would also be dependent on oil and the prices of oil to supply us with imported food. WikiLeaks has just revealed dispatches from Saudi Arabia to the United States from 2007–9 stating that Peak Oil is happening now: reports of oil in the ground were exaggerated by 40 percent. Thus shipping prices, and agrichemicals prices are soon to rise even further.

In the 1970s, the richest 1 percent of American families took in 9 percent of the nation’s total income. Today, the top 1 percent take in 23.5 percent of total income. With median workers earning less than they did thirty years ago, who will be able to afford food, let alone nourishing food?

Even in the face of these dire circumstances, however, the consciousness of humans is rising. People are increasingly demanding to know where their food comes from. People are supporting organic production even in the face of recession. People are taking up gardening and shopping at farmers markets.

Obama taught us not to look for a charismatic messiah, while also teaching us those magic words, “yes, we can!” The coalitions that came together to elect Obama can be revived, as can the networks, and the social media to keep alive the connections.

The Center for Food Safety has already filed a legal brief to halt the actual dissemination of these genetically engineered seeds, and Canadian Organic Growers and several other organizations have joined in on the lawsuit. This struggle needs our support. We all eat; it goes beyond all differences. In addition to supporting the legal struggle for food safety, we can also make our voices heard by refusing to invest in big genetic engineering companies such as Monsanto and Bayer.

We can do it. We can craft food security and food sovereignty for the people of America and beyond.

Agribusiness: Food Safety’s Greatest Enemy

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
May 11, 2011

Misinformed people enjoy calling population growth the menace of the 21st century, especially when it is related to food availability. Although access to food is one of the most important issues that humanity faces today, the “food problem” has everything to do with its safety and nothing to do with the lack of it due to planetary overpopulation. The world has changed in many ways in the last fifty years and many of those changes have been for good, but many important ones for very bad. In the past, most countries produced their own food, and people were food independent. Today, a handful of corporations control the whole process of seed and food production and distribution. When it comes to food supply, perhaps there is a worse consequence than monopolistic practices and policies. Food, which is supposed to provide us with nutrition is actually making us sick and in many cases killing us.

In the United Kingdom, a bacteria called Campylobacter found in chickens causes diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping. Often times, it worsens and produces chronic, life-threaten­ing, conditions. It is estimated that 85% of the chickens in the UK are infected. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Norovirus, which is transmitted through manipulation of food with dirty hands, as well as Salmonella, that infects people who ingest food with feces, cause vomiting and diarrhea, fever and cramps. These are only two examples of poor food management in what we call the “developed world”. But it gets worse in third world countries, where rules for food safety are less clear or simply ignored by the food industry.

In China, for example, a 2008 case of food contamination with melamine caused the death of six babies and made 300,000 others ill. The contamination occurred when melamine, and industrial chemical got into the milk supply. Back in the “developed world”, Germany had its own case of massive food poisoning with dioxin in some 4,000 farms around the country. A German company sold 200,000 tones of animal feed contaminated with dioxins and this feed was given to thousands of animals. Dioxins are poisons that cause cancer.

Although there is not a formal process to record food poisoning cases and other health threats carried around by tainted food, the data made available shows that food contamination is a common affair in most nations. Even countries that manage to have their own system to keep food clean from chemicals and natural born bacteria and viruses cannot avoid massive cases of poisoning among its citizens. In Singapore, 3 million people die every year as a result of food poisoning.

Unsafe to Eat

A recent assessment issued by GRAIN, an international non-profit organisation that reports on food safety issues around the world and whether a crop is suitable to eat or not, described a series of reasons to consider when determining food safety. “Bad practices (poor hygiene, animal abuse, reliance on antibiotics and pesticides), unproven or risky technologies (ge­netic modification, nanotechnology, irradiation, cloning), deliberate contamination (such as tampering), or just poor supervision” are just a few of the reasons why food arrives contaminated to your table. That is why a relevant matter with food safety has to do with the size of the corporations that produce the things we all eat. It is a fact that the industrialized food scheme that governs food production and distribution is the main cause of today’s food pollution. It all comes to size. If a small producer of meat or vegetables provides contaminated food, the impact is small, but if a large company that produces and distributes food all around the world manages its processes badly, the result is more often than not, thousands of people ill and many others dying as a consequence of tainted food.

Big scale production and distribution is one of the main causes of massive food poisoning. Not only are standards more difficult to enforce when a company produces large amounts of packed meat or grains, but also it is likely those companies are not as concerned with enforcing practices that guarantee good hygiene and work security, for example. The quantity of product that enters and exits a meat packing plant or a grain processing facility makes it almost impossible to keep an eye on every single item that circulates in and out. The policies that govern large producing units are to receive, pack and send out as much of the product as possible.

Where are the regulators?

In one sentence, government regulators are usually in bed with Big Corp. It is not realistic to believe that bureaucrats who oversee food safety are simply unaware of problems with the production and distribution of food, although that is usually the excuse given by them and the government to justify their inaction. There is plenty of proof that both government agencies and corporations are continuously colluding to avoid enforcing the laws that protect consumers. Almost every new law passed regarding food safety opens a new door for the food industry to untie a regulation and produce food their own way. Take for example the case of raw milk. Milk is processed through pasteurization and homogenization literally everywhere. Countries that have not banned the sale and consumption of raw milk are currently working on legislation to do it. Milk processing is needed, governments and corporations say, to avoid the ingestion of bacteria that may exist in the milk when it is raw. However, it is also true that milk pasteurization and homogenization simply kills all nutrients that natural raw milk has. Did anyone say calcium deficiency pandemic? Osteoporosis? There is a pill to solve those problems of course.

Raw milk is one of the most important sources of nutrition for poor folks around the world. It is one of a few affordable sources of nutrition and it can be easily boiled at home to guarantee its safety. So why are governments enforcing laws or regulations that ban raw milk? They are effectively creating and imposing regulations sent to them by the World Trade Organization, an institution that works for the international food cartel that controls most of the production and distribution of food. Other reasons commonly given to justify banning the sale of raw milk is the idea that it will help modernize the dairy industry, which in turn will bring benefits because the companies will be able to compete with others that import and export milk and other products. None of this is true. The real reason is that countries affiliated to the WTO are mandated to adhere to its regulations if they want to have a chance to participate in so called Free Trade Agreements. Free Trade Agreements are tools used by the corporations to amass control over most if not all productive activities. Truly, food safety policies have little to do with public health and everything to do with complete control of market, monopolies, profits and dominance.

Free Trade Agreements are the materialization of monopolistic controls executed by multilateral organizations on behalf of Big Corp. The negotiation rounds that are held often within a country or at the WTO’s headquarters regarding food production, are dealt with as matters of commerce and not as issues related to science or food accessibility. Around the world, corporations dictate more and more what is allowed as a practice for food production and manipulation and what isn’t. GRAIN cites the cases of companies that feed cows with animal parts as a way to provide protein to them. This practice in many cases leads to Mad Cow Disease, but it is still permitted in countries like the Unites States and Japan. Another case is that of ractopamine, a substance given to pigs to promote their growth. This element is added to their feed. In a rare siding with food safety, even countries like China and whole regions like the European Union, that together produce around 70 percent of the world’s supply of pork, banned its use in meat. Other countries like the U.S. continue to use ractopamine in the feed given to pigs, turkeys, chickens and cows. The U.S. government not only allows its use but often times defends the producer of ractopamine, Eli Lilly and its meat exports from being banned in countries with whom it has trade agreements. Not only are American consumers being contaminated with this chemical, but also every person in every country that accepts American pork, beef, turkey and chickens.

Free Trade Agreements as Tools to Impose Corporate Regulations

In the last 3 decades, Free Trade Agreements have become the default tool used by Big Corp and enabled by the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization to enforce their rules and carry out their game. It all began back in the 80’s with negotiations known as GATT. Later came the free trade agreements between Europe and Latin American countries and others between North America and Latin American countries such as ALCA, CAFTA and NAFTA. Contained in those agreements are all kinds of tricks written by the corporations to definitely manipulate and control markets. This is so, because there are few restrictions as related to what can be commercialized. The goal that all the previous negotiations had in common was that they promoted the exchange of the cheapest goods at the lowest prices. This would be positive if it wasn’t because cheap goods mean contaminated food, endless abuses to labor laws and laborers and the conquest of global markets by a few corporations that now decide what is produced, sold, bought, tariffed, quotaed, and who want to “protect” everything, including what is not theirs, against “theft” by using absurd intellectual property laws that are attached to all trade agreements.

Free Trade Agreements have nothing to do with free trade, benefiting consumers or enabling the growth of small or mid-size farmers. What the corporations that control governments around the world want is a free pass to invade all markets and produce everything we eat and use, so everyone else but them is dependent on products made across the world for their survival. As GRAIN cites it, free trade agreements are mechanisms to create backdoors used to limit market access. These agreements do nothing to promote or guarantee food safety or public health, but to assure the corporations unlimited growth and gigantic profit margins. Companies achieve market monopolies by creating policies that although inexplicably ridiculous, are accepted as the standard around the world. These policies are adapted to limit fair competition in every country in a way that only those countries where the big corporations run or have an interest in, are allowed to actually exchange anything.

The European Union banned Indian fish imports because the producers did not comply with European rules such as that fish processing facilities had to be sanitized with potable water, even though India lacks the infrastructure to provide clean water to most of its population. In Tanzania, fishermen had the same experience. They used to get 80 percent of their income from Europe, but after the E.U. banned their product, the fishermen had no market for it. Uganda also suffered a similar outcome. The Ugandan case cost the country $40 million in loses. So how did Europe manage to eat fish? Corporations such as Pescanova moved into Africa and began to serve the european market. Once it installed itself in the continent, the company acquired the whole production and distribution business.

The Case for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

What could be more unsafe to eat than genetically modified organisms that have been proven, time after time, to be harmful to humans and animals. Regardless of conclusive evidence that GMO’s are dangerous to our health, government agencies around the world continue to authorize the use of genetically modified ingredients in the food supply. Not only that, they also refuse to label the products that contain GMO’s alleging it is unfair to the companies that manufacture them and that it may actually be confusing for consumers. In the case of GMO salmon, for example, the pro GMO industry says salmon should not be labeled because their product is identical to the wild salmon. The same is true for other products such as corn, soy, milk and vegetables. The thought that a well informed consumer is the best tool for strong businesses just doesn’t do it anymore for Big Corp. As far as they are concerned, a pool of consumers with the least information possible, is the best scenario to carry out their business practices. A diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks details how the Bush administration pressured the government of France to ease their concerns about genetically modified organisms. The cable read:

“we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this [acceptance of GMOs] is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits “. The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory”.

This push to impose the use of genetically modified organisms is a clear example of how Big Corp exercises its control of governments so giants like Monsanto, DuPont, ConAgra, Cargill and other biotechnology corpo­rations have no interruptions in countries that may want to ban GM seeds or foods, or require labels that inform consum­ers. Along with France, the corporations that control the United States government also mine the sovereignty of third world countries that have no say over the safety practices utilized in the production, import and export of food crops in their own land. As it happens in developed countries, third world nations are also ordered to “relax” their opposition to GMO’s and to eliminate any “exageration” of the risks that come with the use and consumption of GMO’s. With the creation and implementation of Codex Alimentarius, Big Corp has been strengthened even more. The set of regulations contained in the Codex Alimentarius documents make it clear that neither the corporations nor the transnational agencies that govern food safety and global health are interested in healthy humans or safe food. In fact, it is through Codex Alimentarius that the corporations intend to control the natural foods and supplement markets, by banning natural food production and commercialization and substituting it with laboratory created pharmaceutical products labeled as “natural supplements”.

Codex Alimentarius is the United Nations and World Health Organization’s FrankenScience to push Restrictions on what you are allowed to eat. Since the 1960´s there is a concerted effort not only to limit the choices we as consumers and human beings have in order to take care of our health, but also to restrict the access to food itself as we know it. Codex Alimentarius (Codex for short) means “Food Code.” This world food code is a United Nations agency, jointly sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It has existed for nearly 50 years and its international statute gives it a joint mission: protecting food safety and promoting world food trade. It is supposed to do so by adopting voluntary guidelines and standards (defining foods in international trade) and its decisions are enforced through the World Trade Organization (WTO) which considers its guidelines and standards as presumptive evidence in WTO trade disputes. It has become a creature of the Bigs – Big Govt, Big Agra, Big Pharma… etc.

In order to understand what Codex Alimentarius is, one needs to know it has nothing to do with consumer protection as its charter says. Such statement is just a catchy phrase to have the people and the nations approve its implementation. “Codex Alimentarius” means “food rules” in Latin. The plan was born in 1962 when the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) was founded by the U.N. to supposedly facilitate trade relations. In reality, it was created to regulate and control the way in which food and nutrition are guided and how products are sold to people. It is indeed all about the profits of multi-national corporations. The relation is very simple: the more natural products people use, the less profits the pharmaceutical corporations make. Codex Alimentarius was created to protect Big Pharma´s profits through the elimination of natural health products and treatments. What is more alarming at this point is that Codex was approved on December 31st, 2009. After this plan was signed, it was mandated on all member countries through its approval by Congresses around the world; a lot like the Copenhagen Treaty.

Superbugs within Big Corp

Superbugs are bacteria that developed an ability to fight antibiotics. Examples of superbugs first appeared in Europe in the 60’s and since then they spread freely around the world. In the United States, deaths from the MRSA superbug infections reached 17,000 in 2005. A survey conducted in 2007 found that ST398, a new version of MRSA, was present in 39% of pigs and 81% of local piggeries in the Netherlands. Further research has found that MRSA is in at least two thirds of the farms located in E.U. member countries. In studies conducted around Europe, researchers found that Spain and Germany were two of the countries with the highest incidence of MRSA in their farms; with over 40% of pigs testing positive for MRSA. That is why it does not come as a surprise that the Europeans send most of their pork meat overseas. According to the University of Guelph, a study of pigs in Ontario, Canada, showed that ST398 was present in a quarter of local pigs, and one-fifth of the pig farmers that were tested.

A Superbug’s ability to resist antibiotics, as it happens with humans, occurs due to the heavy use of this product in animals. According to the Union for Concerned Scientists, livestock in the United States consume about 80 percent of the antibiotics that are sold in that country. Meanwhile, in China the number ascends to 50 percent of the animals. A report from February 2011 on the Sydney Morning Herald reveals that in Germany, livestock are given three times more antibiotics than the amount humans consume. The existence and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the so called factory farms is the main cause of food poisoning cases, which are spurred by the use of antibiotics that are fed to animals.

The Walmartization of Food

If Monsanto, ConAgra, Cargill and other bio-tech giants are known for their desire to conquer the seed and food market, Walmart may be seen as their equivalent when it comes to the supermarket fad. Food that is delivered to most places today goes directly through and depends on the connections made by big chain supermarkets. Long gone are the days when the producer himself went out to sell his apples, bananas, pineapples or carrots. Today, transnational companies like Walmart and Carrefour control the supply of food to most areas of the planet. This corporations not only transport and distribute the food we eat, but also decide what is produced and what is not, where the products go, when they are shipped and what prices they will have when you grab them from your local supermarket shelf. Large supermarket chains indeed control global food markets.

Walmart’s annual sales reach $405 billion, which is more than the gross domestic product of nations like Argentina, Norway, Greece and Denmark. The corporate success that this number represents has prompted more supermarket chains to put their eyes in regions of the world they can exploit either as a production spot, usually by monopolizing the production and distribution of food, or by securing the purchase of food that is produced cheaply and under their own guidelines. Big retailers like Tesco, Walmart, Carrefour and Lotte are currently acquiring or negotiating their operations in India, China, Brazil and Indonesia. These and other third world nations that still rely on the traditional door to door, street fair sale of food staples, co-ops and local or regional wholesalers for the nutrition of their population. What the big chain supermarkets want to do is go in and cheaply buy their way into those markets by signing contracts with producers, distributors and local supermarkets so they can control the food production and distribution. Once they manage to absorb the markets, Big Corp chains impose their own models and establish the same standards and rules they mandated everywhere else. The direct and immediate consequence of this practice is the start of a new line of dependent consumers who will no longer be able to plant, pick or sell their food. Dependence is the name of the game.

As if one hungry supermarket chain wasn’t bad enough for the consumer, these large corporations also work as a cartel. They meet and define what the standards for the industry will be so that they continue to be what they are and continue to control it all. As Barry Harper puts it in his book “Breaking the chain: the antitrust case against Wal-Mart”, the power and size of the corporations are two of the many weapons they have to influence the global food system. Imagine what they can accomplish when working together against a country, a local supermarket in a third world nation or a small farmer. These companies simply have the power and ability to tell suppliers, farmers and food processors what the rules of the game are going to be. The power that food corporations have is so significant that governments are capable of putting their profit making scheme first, and the health of the people second, when it comes to food safety. An example of this is the ban the United States imposed on Mexican cantaloupes due to contamination with Salmonella in 2002. After a round of negotiations between the governments of both countries, which of course counted with the participation of Big Corp, the ban was lifted after a new “program” attached to a new bureaucracy was created. The creation of this new set of rules did nothing to guarantee the safety of the cantaloupes, because the farmers did not provide toilet facilities or water analyses as the new program requested. In fact 94 percent of the farms did not have portable toilets and 88 percent of them used water from rivers to supply their plantations.

Doing away with the local farmer

The agro-colonization of the world by a handful of corporations seems to have the same common denominator everywhere: the disappearance of the farmer. Supermarket giants have many ways to force themselves into new markets, or to increase their share of those markets. The invasion of Big Corp supermarkets in the southern hemisphere converted developing countries in sources of food for the rest of the world and in many cases made those very same regions dependent on big chain supermarket’s capacity and willingness to supply food to them. Because large supermarket chains have the prerogative to decide how much they pay for the food they buy, the standards producers must follow, the delivery timetables, the distribution procedures and so on, it is easy for them to manipulate local, regional and national markets. But when they don’t get their way, supermarkets are capable of importing fruit and vegetables from across the planet in order to drive small or mid-size competitors off the market. Many times, large supermarket chains use false advertising in order to maintain or increase the flow of customers to their shops. For example, when Walmart invaded Central America by purchasing local food chains, the company decided to maintain their original names due to the fact Walmart was already known in those places for its bad reputation abroad.

What this kind of falsehood allows is to keep controlling the demand and supply of food using different names. This practice gives large chains enough time to settle down and absorb more customers until they decide to reveal themselves. But controlling food markets is not only about window dressing. Large supermarket chains don’t even have to establish themselves in a country in order to control the food supply. So called partnerships with producers and distributors can be established from abroad so the food business is monopolized from within. A whole city or country may experience lack of rice or beans, for example, not because they aren’t available, but because they are stored in large supermarket bodegas where they await to be shipped overseas to whomever pays the price the supermarkets want. How does this practice affect farmers? Although the price farmers receive for their grains, fruit or vegetables may be considered fair at some point, in many cases those same farmers could have obtained better yields if they had sold them to local buyers instead of selling to the large supermarkets. The artificial scarcity that food corporations cause by storing food until someone decides to pay what they want is what causes price speculation, which in turn makes it more difficult for more people to feed themselves and their families. In addition, some farmers are held hostage to promises of future purchases while they wait to receive payment for current or older sales to the big chain supermarkets.

In many countries of Asia and Latin America, farmers do not have the cash to start a new planting season because the payment they received does not meet the new costs; and if it does, there is little money left as profit. When the large supermarket chains are not the ones exploiting local farmers, the local supermarket chains take on that role. The tough competition national or regional chains get when fighting against transnational corporations for a share of the market, turns local, regional and national supermarkets into the predators. Competition is such that the national companies that were business partners in the past, suddenly adopt Big Corp’s model and transform the farmers in a group of agro-colonized workers. This is the case with ShopRite of South Africa and DMA in Brazil.

In China, where supermarkets are expanding at a furious pace, these trends are biting hard. The major supermarket chains, both foreign and domestic, are working hand-in-glove with suppliers and local governments to develop farms to supply fruit and vegetables. As part of a drive to im­prove food safety and integrate its 700 million small-scale farmers into “high value food chains” with “scientific methods of farming”, the Chinese government has been pursuing the establishment of fruit- and vegetable-growing bases in partnership with the private sector. In each of these des­ignated production zones, local authorities negotiate deals with private companies whereby the company comes in, leases an area of land from the farmers currently occupying it, or acquires their land use rights, and then sets up large-scale production, hiring the displaced farmers as la­bourers or in contract production arrangements.- Food Safety Briefing

We don’t have to eat the way Big Corp says

The movement to firmly reject the current food safety policies and the corporate business model that is imposed on consumers is a reason for hope. United States produced meat is not accepted by people in Taiwan, Australia, Japan or South Ko­rea. The melamine intoxication in China woke up thousands of others in that country and millions outside the chinese land to reject melamine contaminated milk. In all of Latin America, Europe and some parts of the United States there are growing loud voices that ques­tion the current industrial system used to produce, distribute and sell food. The cases of food poisoning with Salmonella, mad cow disease, superbugs and genetically modified organisms spurred the creation and growth of grassroots groups that are becoming the guardians of food safety and that call for better agricultural practices that replace the current agro-colonial policies created by Big Corp and enabled by corrupt governments and international organizations. In Korea, the people’s resistance towards U.S. Beef resulted in massive questioning of their supposed representative democracy. In Oceania, Australians campaign to regain control of their food system as more people find out more and more consumers share their desire to manage their lifestyle, which of course includes their food supply. As for GMO, the number of citizen groups around the world are as numerous and diverse as the cultures they represent.

One, however, seems to be the common goal of most of these groups: overcoming the social, economic, health and environmental challenges that the industrial food system model has brought upon the populations. More co-ops of organic, locally grown food are appearing even in developed countries, where Big Corp has a strong handle on the food market. Local groups continue to organize campaigns to expose the dangers of genetically modified organisms, industrially produced pork, beef and turkey. Supermarkets that adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to agriculture, farms and farmers are attracting more customers. But perhaps more important than all of this is the fact that more people now understand that food independence is one of the main goals anyone should pursue. New educational campaigns are launched explaining the concept of food sovereignty and the right of the people to healthy food. One of the keys to food independence and safe environmental practices is to avoid agricultural models that promote the plantation and commercialization of one single crop, such as soy, corn, sugar and others. Food diversity in naturally fertilized soils is what proves to be the most effective model to guarantee that there will be food available for anyone who needs it. The creation and promotion of local associations or cooperatives that employ local workers for the cultivation and harvest of locally grown fruits, vegetables and meat continue to yield the best results for people around the world. Local food production is the only way to guarantee safety, fair prices and food availability that has the potential to end with hunger anywhere and everywhere.

For detailed information about food safety visit the following links:

 Institute for Responsible Technology

 Navdanya International

 GRAIN

 Food Safety for Whom

 En Español

 Folleto Riesgos a la Salud

 Guía de Compras No-OMG