By: Dr. John Bagnulo, Director of Nutrition
Though Vermont will be required to label GMOs as of this coming summer, the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015," proposed by several US politicians to ban GMO labeling illustrates how little these representatives really care about the welfare of Americans and how much more they care about their own financial interests. This bill has been nicknamed the Deny Americans The Right-To-Know (DARK) act, and in fact, more than a dozen US Representatives have received at least $100,000.00 to sponsor or co-sponsor the bill and over 30 million dollars has been paid to those who have recently voted in favor of it.
Even though there is already FDA pressure on companies to eliminate non-GMO language on labels, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 is an act that would make it illegal for states like Vermont to require GMO ingredient labeling and would also, soon afterwards, make voluntary GMO labeling by private companies a thing of the past. The act itself is titled in the most confusing way, portraying safety and accuracy when in fact it is doing just the opposite. Yet, this is not surprising for agribusiness-sponsored legislature.
Think Farm Bill and the words "food security." To the average American, food security sounds like a good thing. If a mountain of glyphosate-contaminated corn, high-fructose corn syrup-based drinks and products, and feedlot beef is what we call food security, then it has worked. If providing healthy food for Americans at an affordable level while making junk food less available was the goal, then it has failed miserably. I will let you be the judge.
If you are not familiar with the issue, "safe and accurate food labeling" sounds like a good thing, too. It sounds like transparency and disclosure. In reality, it is the complete antithesis.
Consider the recent discoveries and legislative action being taken by countries all over the world. Glyphosates are showing up in the water supplies, the food, the urine, and the blood of populations where GMO-based agriculture has been allowed. Because GMO ingredients are grown with such higher use of glyphosates, both a toxin and a recently classified carcinogen by the World Health Organization, the letters GMO have rightfully become synonymous with the herbicide sprayed on them and used in their production.
The glyphosate levels contained by GMOs are a known risk. The GMOs themselves, their genetic material and the long term effects of introducing highly transferrable genes into our microbiome is the unknown. The newly introduced genes are transgenic and therefore are more easily swapped with microbes. The subsequent generations of intestinal bacteria who are always picking up this type of transgenic material will undoubtedly be affected, we just don’t know how yet.
In the meantime, we are told "don’t worry, be happy." Cheap food must come at a price. Our price is obviously both the right to know and our health.
Therefore, I leave you with three very important questions we should all ask ourselves:
- How is it that Campbell's Soup Company switched over to a complete, full-disclosure, GMO ingredient labeling system, with no significant costs to their company? Yet, the Corn Refiners Association and US politicians are telling us that it will raise grocery bill costs by over $1000?
- Why would US politicians and individuals like Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, accept such an analysis put forth by a private party and the single largest manufacturer of GMO products?
- If it were an accurate representation, then when exactly did the Corn Refiners Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association become so concerned with the cost of the average American's groceries? Have they turned humanitarian?
As polarizing as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is, at least he openly acknowledges that the US is run as a company, not as a country. Profit over public health defines this lack of consciousness combined with corporate governance. GMO-labeling is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue (see Hillary Clinton’s record on GMO approval and Monsanto relationship). This is an issue of who cares more about the lives of people versus those who care more about the revenue of an industry. A group of companies that will one day make the tobacco industry look like concerned citizens.
As a nation, we cannot accept business as usual. Our children's health and the health of future generations are being sacrificed (see the photo of the prevalence autism and its relationship to the increase in glyphosate use, below). We need to make this more of a national issue.
Dr. John Bagnulo is the Director of Nutrition at Functional Formularies and leads nutrition research and development initiatives. Learn more about Dr. Bagnulo here.