Sunday, April 9, 2017

Very Pure Chemicals

Over the winter, the more than 80,000 artificial chemicals in common use that have entered our environment, did not go into hibernation. They were still in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods grown in the Southern Hemisphere. [For such accounting, Mexico is in the Southern Hemisphere.] Soon, the farmers in the US will start planting genetically engineered (GMO) seeds and spraying pesticides and herbicides like Roundup.

In a sneak attack, Monsatan (er, Monsanto) has slyly convinced farmers, especially the industrial  farms raising single crops, to plant GMO corn, GMO soy, GMO canola (still called rapeseed in Canada), GMO cotton, GMO sugar beets, and GMO alfalfa. In fact, over 90% of these crops that are grown in the US are genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemicals in Roundup and such friends, but to kill everything else – grasses, weeds, dandelions … earthworms? bees? butterflies?

Monsanto and the other Big Biotechs have enlisted the help of rogue wordsmiths to find synonyms for those words of the trade that might turn off fussy consumers. So far as I know, no poets have accepted their employment. Yet, they have come up with: bovine somatotropin (BST) to replace bovine growth hormone, genetic modification (GMO) for genetic engineering, and pure canola for rapeseed oil (packaged in plastic bottles, not glass).

The FDA, the supposed guardian of consumers, doesn’t do its own research on the safety of the products that we eat or use on our bodies. It relies on the research submitted by the companies that apply for FDA approval – studies financed by the chemical giants who have been known to cut the funding of any research, before completion, that looks like it may demonstrate harm from GMO foods. Speak of the fox guarding the chicken coop. 

Independent research, largely done in UK, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Australia, has indeed shown: severe inflammation of the stomach lining, tumor formation of the intestinal wall, interference with reproductive function, and suppression of the immune system — of mammals that are fed GMO food.

When a small experimental plot in California was found to contain GMO wheat, despite Monsanto’s promises to the wheat farmers of the mid-west, their substantial wheat exports to South Korea, Taiwan. and Japan were cancelled by these Asian countries.

The fall-out extended to non-GMO produce. The apple growers of Washington State who use diphenylamine (DPA) to prevent the stored fruit from turning brown, are stuck with 400 million apples because the Europeans want nothing to do with them. DPA has been banned on all fruit treated with that chemical in the 28 EU nations since 2012. To be sure, anything grown in the US is suspect — rightly so, in light of the recent scientific analyses of many common foods for glyphosate (Roundup) residues. Alarmingly high levels of the chemical were found in 29 different foods commonly found on grocery shelves, including: Cheerios, Oreos (ohh!), Doritos, baby foods, even spinach (wait till Popeye hears of this). 

Even before this recent disturbing news came out, a few states had ballot initiatives to require labeling of products with GMO ingredients, and let consumers decide for themselves. The industry poured millions of $$ into the campaign and barely defeated these initiatives in California, Oregon, and Washington. But, if GMOs were so advantageous to society and so harmless to consume, why didn’t industry join the campaign to “Just Label It?”

One of the Gadfly Revelry & Research gang wondered, “Whatever did farmers do before 1950 when there were few if any chemicals to spray on crops?” Another gang member looked at him in a tone of eye that said, “Mr. Pollyanna, they call it organic farming, now.”

Going back to when Monsanto applied for a patent on the warped form of life created by gene insertion, they told the Patent Office that it was unique, never invented, and never found in Nature. After the patent was granted, they told the public skeptics, “Don’t get so excited. It’s nothing more than farmers have done for centuries by breeding plants and animals —simple hybridization.”

Going forward, the next candidates are GMO grasses and GMO salmon. What will the hunters and fishermen say? They may suggest, instead, that Monsanto executives need a few genes inserted for ethics and honesty.

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