In election times, it is really difficult to learn enough about certain issues. To some extent, I (and I imagine most people) rely on the synopses provided by various media and organizations to weed through all the information and distill what the differences are. So, with all this conflicting information, how much does a person have to know to make an informed decision? Well, I guess that depends on at what point one is comfortable to proudly stand for ones decision. I rely on several of these “informational distillers” to get a grasp on what’s at stake, and while some things are pretty straight forward, others are gnarlier to pick apart. One of the more complicated measures this time around is Measure 92 – the one calling for labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods. This past week, one of the ones I read (and usually find fairly trustworthy) really surprised me. The Willamette Week recommends we vote NO on Measure 92!!!! Those of you who read my post from a couple of weeks ago, know where I stand on this one – I’m a firm YES – for all the reasons I listed there, and more.
Anyway, WW’s stance made me ponder how many layers of facts we’re willing to dig through to get to that point of reassurance. It’s a little like rings on the water. I’d say that that comfort zone falls about where the ripples end. Here, I felt that the WW reached their sweet spot far before the waters calmed, and I reached mine – thus our opinions differ. There were two things that jumped out at me:
The first was where they stated that no science has proven that consuming GE foods is in any way dangerous to humans. If it were me, instead of leaving it at that, I would have examined the definition of the word ‘science’ and compared it with the findings put forth by the Chemical Industry. You see, since 1992, (the year the USDA and the FDA stepped back from their overseeing capacity of the then relatively new developing science of Genetic Engineering, and let the industry do their thing,) the only science that has been presented has originated from the Chemical Ag-giants themselves. I’m sorry, but even with the best marketing machinations, that is not science in the true, peer-reviewed sense of the word. HUGE red flag for me!
Secondly, WW pointed out that they thought the Measure was more than just a call for labels. They felt it was an insidious attempt at attacking Genetic Engineering in general. I can see that reasoning, but I can’t see how that that would affect the scope of the Measure. There are so many other slices in the GE-pie than just a desire for labels, but they aren’t part of the Measure, per se. Even if no actual, true, scientific studies showing that eating GE foods is safe (for us) exist, there are ample studies showing how these practices are affecting our environment, and our fellow creatures on this planet. It ain’t pretty! For one thing, these SuperSeeds have increased pesticide use many times over. That should be an affront to anyone with even modest sustainability aspirations.
Another couple of big slices of this pie are the ones concerning the overwhelming risk for seed contamination and the subsequent accusation of patent infringement. In case you are wondering, it is the part about the seed contamination that justifies this political rant/discussion on a garden blog. The scary thing is that we have no control whatsoever over the spread of these genes, once they are out of the bag. As we know, pollinators know no boundaries. This is why Asia and Europe don’t grow GE seeds – as long as they can help it! Another reason they are keeping their distance is that their respective versions of USDA and FDA are actually doing their jobs – protecting their citizenry. Over here, those governing organs have over the years been infiltrated by former Chemical industry executives that have moved over to the public sector. You can’t expect former Monsanto lobbyists to take a fair look at new patent applications – which sadly explains a lot about the continued hands-off approach of the USDA. If that isn’t hiring a goat for a gardener, I don’t know what is!
To those of you who think this discussion doesn’t concern you because you grow your own veggies, or you only buy organic produce – well, I’m sorry. This does ESPECIALLY concern you, because of the near impossibility of keeping seeds from becoming contaminated. And, as opposed to a dirty river, a contaminated seed supply cannot be cleaned up, nor can the impurities be filtered out. Once we head out in this direction, there is no turning back. The damage done can not be undone. The Bio-Tech industry realize they are up against. A recent poll by ABC indicates that 93% of the population want to know what is in their food. But, the public is generally easily swayed by catchy soundbites, so in the last two weeks, Big Chem has poured over $9 million into ad-campains to defeat this measure – here in Oregon, and in Colorado.
So, there you have it, WW writers. You are right in that there is more to the sentiments behind this measure than meets the eye in the actual Measure. The anxiety surrounding all the other slices of this genetically manipulated pie is heartfelt and genuine. The Willamette Valley is an incredibly rich and diverse producer of both seeds and produce. Its products provide a hefty source of income for the region. There is a lot at stake here, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that hopes that imposing labels on GE foods will eventually lead to more scrutiny into Big ChemAg, and their shenanigans. Foods, unfortunately, aren’t the only things they are manipulating.