CPUSA Document on The Biosafety of Genetically Modified Food
Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
kklcac at earthlink.net
Mon May 21 18:03:05 MDT 2001
COMMISSION ON RURAL LIFE, COMMUNIST PARTY USA: Discussion Document
The Biosafety of Genetically Modified Food and Other Agricultural
[Excepts; see <http://global-reach.com/cp-minn/biosafety.htm> for the
An estimated seventy percent of the foods marketed in the United States
have been genetically engineered. (The biotech industry prefers the term
genetically modified to genetically engineered, since it thinks the
public will regard the word modified as less threatening.) In many
countries, consumer concerns over the safety of genetically modified
(GM) foods have led toward either a ban on their sale or required
labeling. In the United States, consumers have no way of identifying
these foods. Why should we be concerned about this rapid and largely
invisible change in our basic food supply?
Sharp differences of opinion among scientists about the biosafety of the
current direction GM technology is taking do exist, just as was the case
with nuclear energy. Perhaps some present fears are exaggerated. The
fact remains, however, that corporate monopolies, being concerned only
with the extraction of capitalist profit, have no social consciousness.
The free flow of high-level personnel between the corporations and the
governmental agencies of the capitalist state that regulates them, and
the economic dependence of the scientific institutions on both for their
funding, undermine any confidence one might have in their assurances of
the safety of GM technology. We cannot rely on corporate good will or
market forces to protect our health and environment, as our experience
with the tobacco, power, and auto industries demonstrates. Consumer
advocates and the scientists on whom they rely have raised important
questions about the long-term safety of GM agricultural products and are
convinced that a process of long-term testing is necessary before these
products can be commercially released with real safety. The decision on
the safety of GM products must be placed in the hands of those who have
no financial interest in the application of this technology.
An open letter to governments of the world signed by 399 scientists from
52 countries has called for immediate steps to protect the worlds
population from the potentially destructive consequences of unregulated
and unrestricted genetic engineering. These steps include:
· A moratorium for at least five years on environmental releases
of GM crops and products.
· The recall and banning of patents on living processes,
organism, seeds, cell lines, and genes.
Until these proposals are put into effect, we would also add the demand
for a ban on the use of antibiotic markers in GM production and the
labeling of all GM products.
These proposals would give the world scientific and nonscientific
communities the time needed to consider whether or not our scientific
knowledge of genetic processes is adequate to set in place the necessary
safeguards for the application of genetic engineering to serve the
interests of humanity.
The relationship between genetic engineering and the problem of a
sustainable agriculture is even more critical in the less economically
developed countries than in the United States, since the tentacles of
our agbiogiants reach far beyond our borders. Recognized international
agencies such as the World Heath Organization, the UN Food and
Agricultural Organization, and the International Labor Organization
should all be involved in the development of guidelines for dealing with
genetic engineering in agricultural production.
The agribusiness monopolies seek to extract maximum profit from the
labor of every worker and farmer engaged in food production. Capitalists
use this profit to increase labor exploitation ruthlessly, regardless of
the possible long-term threat to the material basis of human existence.
Corporate greed, not human necessity, dictates the speed with which the
agbiogiants drive the application of genetic modification to
agriculture. This is the very nature of the corporate beast. The feeding
of humanitythe survival of our speciesrequires a socialist solution:
replacing production for profit by production for need, so that those
who do the labor assume control over the means and product of
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