Yesterday the Boy and I headed over to the farmers market to pick up some fresh produce and drop off some baked good to one of the vendors with whom I barter. The market is hosted by Peoples, a local food co-op, and while there we noticed that the co-op would also be hosting an ice cream social with a talk by Jeffery Smith that evening.
Smith was speaking the dangers of Genetically Engineered foods. Many have questioned why it is that while consumers in Europe have the right to know through labeling which foods contain GM ingredients and thus to make an informed choice consumers in the United States, purportedly the bastion of freedom, democracy and the "free market" in the world are denied this same right. Polls indicate that the great majority of Americans who are aware of the issue want labels. Attempts to accomplish some kind of labeling have repeatedly been rebuffed due to tremendous opposition from biotech cooperations, which fear loss of sales if people know. In 2002 Oregon tried and failed to pass just such a labeling initiative. The campaign cited big money and misinformation propagated by biotech as contributing to the defeat.
Despite biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe, Internal FDA documents made public from a lawsuit, reveal that agency scientists warned that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Although they urged their superiors to require long-term tests on each GM variety prior to approval, the political appointees at the agency, including a former attorney for Monsanto, overrode the scientist's concerns. Manufacturer can introduce a GM food without informing the government or consumers. A January 2001 report from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it was "scientifically unjustifiable" to presume that GM foods are safe. Likewise, a 2002 report by the UK's Royal Society said that genetic modification "could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods," and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies.
A growing body of scientific research demonstrates the dangers of GM foods. One study showed evidence of damage to the immune system and vital organs, and a potentially pre-cancerous condition.12-13 When the scientist tried to alert the public about these alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit. Two other studies also showed evidence of a potentially pre-cancerous condition. The other seven studies, which were superficial in their design, were not designed to identify these details. In an unpublished study, laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.
In a now infamous scandal involving Monsanto, Fox news reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were fired from the Florida station they worked at, for refusing to weaken their story regarding rBGH or Bovine Growth Hormone. The BGH Scandals--The Incredible Story of Jane Akre & Steve Wilson recounts how Akre and Wilson rewrote the story 83 times in an attempt to mollify a threatening Monsanto, the new Fox station manager Dave Boylan and Fox attorneys yet remain truthful at the same time. They won a "landmark whistle blower lawsuit" against the station and were awarded $425,000 in damages. However, Fox appealed and prevailed February 14, 2003 when the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality: the appeals court agreed with Fox that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation to deliberately distort the news on television.
The Boy and I have been trying to avoid GM ingredients, and increasingly difficult task. One of Smith's major points is that if it's not labled "Organic", it's not food (not safe food, anyway)
One of the few non-organic food treats I have allowed The Boy is Freschetta pizza. Now that I am aware of how severe the dangers of GM ingredients are, especially to children, and of the fact that one must assume that packaged foods have GM ingredients unless otherwise labeled, I don't want to allow him to have it. A second point that Smith makes is that the public wields a great deal of pressure in their purchasesing power. We literally vote with our wallets. Knowing that companies in Europe bowed to public pressure, the Boy wants to bring similar pressure to bare with the makers of Freschetta, and he wants your help!
Please contact Freschetta and ask that they commit to using only non-GM ingredients, and that they put that commitment in writing and on their packages. You can find sample letters, as well as more information on the dangers of GM food at this link
307 West College Dr. Marshall MN, 56258
1 866 373 7243
More on the 4% solution:
I found a cool site designed to help you calculate you savings and possitive environmental impact in using various alternative forms of transportation. My one critisism is that they give you a flat number of calories burned per mile in cycling, obviously, variable such as terraign (hills, etc), wind resistance, your own weight, etc. your results will vary. Still, it can fun to plug in the distance of your trip and other details, and get some idea of the good you are doing by not driving.
The sites calculations are based on:
* $0.73 per mile cost of driving private vehicle (Based on 2005 AAA formula using June 2006 gas prices)
* 152 calories burned per 20 minute mile (3 mph) Walking
* 36 calories burned per mile (12 mph) Biking
* 0.0512 pounds carbon monoxide emissions (posionous gas) produced by private vehicle per mile