is Bio-Democracy and Why Does it Matter?
-An essay by OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins
American Crystal, a large Wyoming-based sugar company and several other leading U.S. sugar providers have announced they will be sourcing their sugar from genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets beginning this year and arriving in stores in 2008. Like GE corn and GE soy, products containing GE sugar will not be labeled as such.
Since half of the granulated sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, a move towards biotech beets marks a dramatic alteration of the U.S. food supply. These sugars, along with GE corn and soy, are found in many conventional food products, so consumers will be exposed to genetically engineered ingredients in just about every non-organic multiple-ingredient product they purchase.
The GE sugar beet is designed to withstand strong doses of Monsanto's controversial broad spectrum Roundup herbicide. Studies indicate farmers planting "Roundup Ready" corn and soy spray large amounts of the herbicide, contaminating both soil and water. Farmers planting GE sugar beets are told they may be able to apply the herbicide up to five times per year. Sugar beets are grown on 1.4 million acres by 12,000 farmers in the U.S. from Oregon to Minnesota.
Meanwhile candy companies like Hershey's are urging farmers not to plant GE sugar beets, noting that consumer surveys suggest resistance to the product. In addition the European Union has not approved GE sugar beets for human consumption.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the White House is attempting to force famine stricken countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, to plant genetically engineered (GE) crops, as part of a $770 million aid package.
Untested and largely unregulated GE crops are controversial, not only in Europe and other industrialized countries, but in the developing world as well. At least 40 countries around the world have restricted GE farming and ingreients in foods by requiring mandatory labeling, while a number of nations and regions have banned genetically modified organisms in agriculture altogether.
Beyond health and environmental concerns, GE crops have not proven to significantly increase yields, but rather force farmers to stop saving their seeds and instead buy toxic chemicals and highly priced patented seeds from biotech companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dupont, and BASF.
In response to these ordinances and resolutions, the biotech industry and corporate agribusiness are striking back with a vengeance. 15 states have recently passed "Monsanto laws" taking away the rights of cities and counties to ban GE crops. Now legislators in California, Missouri, Nebraska, and North Carolina are facing the lobbying power of the biotech industry and are threatening to pass controversial "preemption" laws that would take away local rights to regulate GMOs. The OCA is actively involved in trying to stop these "Monsanto Laws" from being passed .
Disc 1, DVD: Unnatural Selection
Disc 2, DVD:
Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals
Disc 3, Audio CD:
Y ou're Eating WHAT?
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