For as long as I can remember, we've been waging war on everything from the Koreans and Al Qaeda to Drugs and Litter. I suppose it appeals to our American martial nature to declare "war on ____" -- you fill in the blank. I'm hesitant to call this Food Fight for disclosure of Genetically Modified (GM) ingredients a war, but if that's what it takes to get Americans to reclaim responsibility for what they put in their bodies, I guess I'm willing. I'm all about folks listening and acting on this critical issue. Most countries have GM policies -- at least labeling, and in many cases exclusion of GM-containing products -- and citizens and farmers are taking to the streets to fight this battle in places like Haiti. It may sound dramatic, but honestly, the future -- for ourselves, our children and the planet -- is at stake.
Food is one thing you can control in your life. What you put in your mouth is completely in your control. But in corporate America, what that food actually contains is currently neither in your control or something you can know . . . and what you don't know MAY hurt you! That's why this GM labelling initiative is so important. I know every one of you is capable of passionate action, so . . . will you join me and make this your issue for today, too?
Here in California, we started gathering signatures last weekend for an initiative for the November Presidential ballot to make it mandatory to label GM-bearing foods. Over the past months, this issue has figured prominently in this -- maybe GM foods are evil, maybe they aren't; certainly some of the companies forcing them into the marketplace are greedy and arrogant* and preying on our gullibility. Now, starting in late February, 2012, at least in California, we have a chance to rise up and demand honest and full disclosure about what our foodstuffs contain.
We have seen some hot-button ballot issues here in California, but this one has me engaged, involved, talking to strangers and friends, and helping to educate everyone who will listen. I'm not alone, and some of the Big Players are flexing their muscles. I was planning to go straight to mainstream America tonight, the Safeway in town. But then I found out that the professional signature gatherers have it wrapped up, and Safeway won't allow us amateurs to set up our table. Corporate giant and possible quisling Whole Foods flatly denies any signature gathering at their stores, but -- here's a good sign! -- they have made a special exception for this initiative. If the local manager allows it, our signature gatherers will be working the Whole Foods customers. Will you help me fire up the local folks to show the 'powers that be' we're done with having them use our food for their profit against our better judgment? Let's exercise our right as voting Americans to get our voices heard. We need the GM issue on the ballot in November so get out there and sign.
This whole "disclosure" issue is a major area of controversy in 2012 USofA. In the interests of preserving market share and maximizing profits, is it okay for dominant players in any arena to refuse to tell us what they're doing to change our lives? Is it okay for natural gas drillers to pump undisclosed poisons into the earth to "frack" the gas-bearing rock, at possible risk to our water sources? Congress thinks so, and explicitly excludes fracking liquids from environmental protection laws. Is it okay for large corporations, unions, and deep-pocketed billionaires to spend as much money as they want to manipulate elections without telling us? The Supreme Court, in "Citizens United," says yes. And here, with the food secrecy practices insisted on by the big food conglomerates and acceded to by the complicit Food and Drug Administration, it's okay to put ingredients that honest science shows may be dangerous in our food without telling us. Again and again, our leaders rationalize this by saying, "People don't need to know. They're too busy paying their credit cards and holding down their jobs. We'll just make this decision for them, and pocket the campaign contributions, thank you very much."
If you aren't already pumped up about this, here are some sources for you to consult to educate yourself further on the Genetic Modification issue:
The FAQ link on the Label GMO's website has loads of information on GM foods, a copy of the full initiative and contact information for local groups near you. Look especially at their great repository of resources.
Take a few minutes to view The GMO Film Project -- it says it all.
Loyal readers have been inundated with the GM story in past newsletters, but if you want to revisit my thoughts, here is my article about the Food Fight. And there was a "Food Fight" follow-up piece in the January newsletter. For more, there are several great sources on disclosure on the Food Links page under the heading "Food and Politics." And you can enter "food fight" into the handy "Search" widget on any page of my website, and Katey bar the door!
We've had lots of questions about on-line signing. An online signature does not count. In fact, we've heard that some of the corporate opponents are posting bogus "online signature" sites to make people think they've already signed! How rotten and cynical is that? To count in favor of the initiative going on the ballot, your signature must be a physical signature on an official petition. Your signature is liable to be verified -- your actual signature and your registered voting address, meaning no PO Boxes. If you can't find a petition call or email me and I'll find one for you. Every signature counts.
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