Bioterrorism: A Call to Action!

Have you read the latest news stories on food bioterrorism in the US and around the world?

Taliban fighters sneak growth hormone into milk supply. Although rGBH is banned in major dairy producing countries Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, due to to increased risk of breast, prostrate and colon cancer in humans, it has been added to the U.S. milk supply, and powerful political connections have helped keep this unlabeled for unsuspecting families.

Bin laden suspected of planning genetically modified corn in California several years, in order to contaminate Mexico's traditional maize crop, even in remote areas, through genetic drift.

Rogue nation allows corporations to sue and financially destroy organic farmers whose fields are contaminated through genetic pollution.

German researchers find a gene from a GE crop in a honeybee. An antibiotic resistant bacteria was found in the guts of bees feeding on genetically modified rapeseed (canola) plants. Meanwhile, bioterrorist propaganda says genes from modified plants can't cross over into other living organisms.

Don't remember seeing these? Of course you don't! Because the people responsible for these insidious attacks on our food supply and environment are the very same people who are supposed to protect us from such things: the USDA, FDA and EPA, along with a host of companies that will do anything to recoup research and development costs. Think I'm a bit overboard here? Think again.

For nearly 20 years I've been involved in the organic food industry working hard to provide consumers with the best quality organic food. I set up school programs to educate school kids about the joys of eating fresh food and connecting them to the people and farms who grew it. I've spent many hours educating customers about how their food choices affect the world around them. We have finally reached a point where organically grown food is accepted as a safe food choice by many Americans. Organic food sales are up 24% since 1996.

Now all this is threatened with genetic drift. Consider this from a 6/9/01 New York Times article by David Barboz:

Biotech Crops Multiply, Consumers Get Little Choice

Even organic crops labeled "G.M. Free" are testing positive for genetic modification. Organic growers are now considering a class-action lawsuit against the biotech industry that would seek damages for the contamination.

"We have found traces in corn that has been grown organically for 10 to 15 years," said Arran Stephens, president of Nature's Path Foods, an organic producer of breads and cereals based in Delta, British Columbia. "There's no wall high enough to keep that stuff contained."

These threats are very real, and it is time to declare that we are unwilling to be part of this disastrous experiment against our will.

We cannot allow many things we hold dear

--basic respect for other living organisms
--growing and eating unadulterated fresh food
--saving and collecting seed
--control of our food supply
to be seriously endangered and compromised in the name of increased profits.

We may not know for twenty years or more the effects of this experiment with our food and the environment we live in. Can we afford not to act? We can't turn our heads to our daily business and ignore what's is going on. We must educate ourselves and our customers to this momentous threat and act to stop it! Here's how you can take the first step.

Resources and action

http://www.greenpeace.org: Greenpeace updates on worldwide actions plus a link to learn what supermarket foods are GE

http://www.thecampaign.org: The Campaign to Label GE Foods has email updates, a form letter library, many books and materials. This site also links to USDA, EPA, and FDA websites on GE crops that have been approved or are pending (not easy sites at which to find what you are looking for).

http://www.keepnatural.org/latestnews.html: Good GE news stores and links to related sites.

http://www.purefood.org: Organic Consumers Association information on GE foods, irradiation, rGBH, and a Monsanto watch.

Write the FDA about a lawsuit demanding testing and labeling of GMO foods. Write EPA about the lawsuit to take crops that contain Bt off the market.

Hold community forums and give your customers the real information they aren't getting else.

Stop carrying companies' products that contain genetically modified products; the dollars speak loudly to these companies. You say you can't? Trader Joe's just announced that they would do so by 2003.

Afraid your customers won't like it? I think they would appreciate being at least able know if the food they were eating contained an allergen, like walnuts with a barley gene or lettuce that contains rat genes. A recent survey conducted by FMI and Prevention magazine showed that nearly 70% of consumers supported the statement that companies involved in creating GMO crops believe that profits are more important than safety; 75% said that GM technologies needed strict regulation; while 66% thought that our government didn't do a good job providing this regulation. In another survey 79% of consumers said that biotech foods should have mandatory labeling.

The future is in our hands. If we fail to take a stand, we may one day look in the mirror and repeat what the cartoon character Pogo said: "I have seen the enemy and he is us."

See other articles from this issue: #099 March - April - 2002