Over the past century, the advent of modern farming techniques, corporatization of agriculture, use of petrochemical-based fertilizers, and subsidizing and encouragement of the growth of genetically modified foods have created a poisonous brew now affecting our health and well-being in critical ways.
The function of protecting America’s supply was given governmental authority in the early 20th Century, to an agency named The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1930. Most of us have grown up believing the FDA to be a watchdog on the look-out for threats to our health and well-being.
In fact, the deregulatory trend that began in the 1980s as a financial boon to corporations has resulted in what is now a drastically underfunded and under-resourced FDA. More significantly, it has been turned into a toothless tiger with drastically diminished authority to actually stop the kinds of abuses we have every right to feel our government is protecting us from.
A way-too-cozy relationship between the US government and its corporate benefactors has become the order of the day. In what is commonly called a “revolving door” practice, former corporate leaders now routinely move into positions of governmental authority. For example, Michael Taylor, now Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA, was formerly Vice President for Public Policy at the Monsanto Company.
Sources of corruption in our food include the following:
• genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
• air and water pollution
• crowding of animals – chickens, cows, pigs – and feeding them antibiotics and growth hormones
• food processing
Many of our health problems, including obesity, can be traced to the corruption of our food supply. We experience lack of vitality in our food and our bodies, from processed foods with calories but not nutrients, and residue of poisons from chemical farming.
While its manufacturers claim that GMOs increase yield and thus help feed the starving of the world, scientists question whether that assertion is true. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield, a definitive study to date on GMO crops and yield, “GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all.
In fact, they contaminate our gene pool, can be poisonous to birds and other living things and have led to the production of increasingly dangerous herbicides such as Roundup.
Roundup is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects and cancer. It has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruption, and organ damage in animals even in very low doses.
Due to these and other concerns, over 60 countries have banned the production of genetically modified foods. Yet the United States has over 165 million acres of GM crops under cultivation. More than 40% of all U.S. cropland is already planted with GMO crops, and nearly 80% of processed foods sold in the US now contain GMOs.
We should at least know when we are eating food made from GMOs. While the Big 6 pesticide makers – particularly Monsanto and Dupont – spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling propositions in both California and Washington State, as a Congresswoman I would do everything possible to limit their power. I would enthusiastically support a bill in Congress introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Peter DeFazio called the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. I would work to label all GMOs, and to strengthen consumer protection by the FDA and USDA.
Once again, until we have limited the influence of moneyed interests on the functioning of our government, we will always be fighting for the interests of the American people against encroachment by huge multinational corporate interests such as Big Ag, Chemical companies and so forth. We are no longer a functioning democracy when money gets to talk more than we do.