Opinion: Corporate giant favors consumer ignorance | PostIndependent.com

Opinion: Corporate giant favors consumer ignorance

Although genetically modified foods (GMOs) have been banned in 26 countries, the majority of U.S. food sources contain GMOs. With Proposition 105, Colorado voters will be asked to decide in November if GMOs sold in our state should be labeled as such.

Virtually everything we purchase has some sort of labeling. Labels on food packages include lists of ingredients, nutritional content and calorie counts. Dangerous products such as cigarettes and alcohol come with warnings that the products can be deadly.

Even plastic bags come with warnings that we’ll suffocate if we put them on our heads, and hair dryers have reminders that we’ll be electrocuted if we use them while bathing.

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame — which is suspected of causing cancer, seizures, depression, and multiple sclerosis — are often prominently displayed on gum and soda packages to sell the products. Despite the health risks, one in five Americans consume diet colas every day.

According to Food and Water Watch, “about 94 percent of the soybean seeds in the United States are genetically modified, along with 88 percent of corn, 94 percent of cotton and 90 percent of sugar beets, which provide about 54 percent of the sugar sold in America.” Most of these seeds are produced by the multi-billion dollar corporation, Monsanto.

Monsanto invests millions of dollars in defeating laws which would require GMO labeling. Given the fact that Americans continue consuming dangerous products despite warning labels, one has to wonder what Monsanto is trying to cover up.

Introduced in 1996, Monsanto’s biggest products are corn and soybeans, which are resistant to herbicide or which produce their own insecticides.

Monsanto has created insect-resistant plants by forcing a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into corn and other seeds, actually altering the DNA of those plants. Bt causes inflammation, which in something as small as an insect, is powerful enough to cause its stomach to explode when the bug eats the plant. Every cell in these plants is poisonous.

Although GMOs are still too new for the effects in humans to be fully understood, they have been linked to increases in autism, asthma, premature aging, Alzheimer’s disease, leaky gut syndrome and allergies. Today’s children have grown up with GMOs as part of their everyday diets, and only time will reveal the effects of lifelong exposure in humans.

Also popular are Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds, which allow corn and soybeans to withstand massive applications of insecticides. Farm workers dress in Hazmat suits to work with the plants, yet the foods produced are supposedly safe enough for human consumption.

Perhaps labeling wouldn’t matter so much if GMOs could be avoided simply by refusing to eat corn, soy, and sugar beets. Unfortunately, these ingredients are in virtually every processed food we eat in the form of corn syrup, dextrose, starch, oils, and many of the ingredients with names we can’t pronounce at the bottom of ingredient lists.

In Grand Junction, there are two upcoming events for people interested in learning more about GMOs and environmental sustainability.

The League of Women Voters is hosting a ballot issues forum at Grand Junction City Hall (250 N Fifth St.) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9. Experts will present the pros and cons of four statewide ballot issues, including Proposition 105. The forum will air on Channel 12 throughout the month.

Internationally renowned Native American activist, Winona LaDuke will speak for Western Colorado Congress on Sunday, Oct. 12, at 4:30 p.m. in the Colorado Mesa University Ballroom (1100 North Ave., Grand Junction).

Advocating for environmental sustainability and ecological diversity, LaDuke has pointed out that if we learned to manage our resources sensibly, GMOs wouldn’t seem so necessary. She states Americans annually consume 800 billion calories more than we need, which is enough to feed 80 million people.

Opinions about GMOs vary widely, and there isn’t a lot of research available to prove their effects. Monsanto insists that their products are safe, but they said the same about agent orange, DDT and PCB.

Monsanto’s fears about consumers knowing what we’re eating should convince all of us that we need to know more. I support Proposition 105 and GMO labeling because as a consumer, I should have the right to know what I’m eating and feeding my children.

A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at gjrobyn@gmail.com.

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