[Marxism] Are You Eating Frankenfish?
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 15 17:13:21 MST 2015
NY Times Op-Ed, Dec. 15 2015
Are You Eating Frankenfish?
By TOM COLICCHIO
THIS month, Congress may decide whether consumers are smart enough to be
trusted with their own food choices. Some lawmakers are trying to insert
language into must-pass spending legislation that would block states
from giving consumers the right to know whether their food contains
genetically modified ingredients.
They must be stopped.
Nine out of 10 Americans want G.M.O. disclosure on food packages,
according to a 2013 New York Times poll, just like consumers in 64 other
nations. But powerful members of the agriculture and appropriations
committees, along with their allies in agribusiness corporations like
Monsanto, want to keep consumers in the dark. That’s why opponents of
this effort have called it the DARK Act — or the Deny Americans the
Right to Know Act.
As a chef, I’m proud of the food I serve. The idea that I would try to
hide what’s in my food from my customers offends everything I believe
in. It’s also really bad for business.
Why, then, have companies like Kellogg and groups like the Grocery
Manufacturers Association spent millions in recent years to lobby
against transparency? They say, in effect: “Trust us, folks. We looked
into it. G.M.O. ingredients are safe.” But what they’re missing is that
consumers want to make their own judgments. Consumers are saying: “Trust
me. Let me do my own homework and make my own choices.”
In fact, some of us have done our homework, and here’s what we found:
The use of G.M.O.s has led to unintended consequences. For instance,
most G.M.O. crops are engineered to withstand blasts of a powerful weed
killer that the World Health Organization has decided probably causes
cancer. New “superweeds” are appearing that require even more lethal
formulations. Since the introduction of G.M.O. crops, use of these
chemicals has increased 16-fold.
G.M.O. advocates like to label anyone who objects “anti-science.” It’s
true that genetic technology has had an amazing impact on the
development of medicine and the eradication of infectious diseases. If
G.M.O. foods were actually providing a clear benefit to the public, like
improved nutrition, lower costs or better taste, without creating a
spiral of ever-increasing toxicity in our environment, I’d be all for
them. And if G.M.O.s ever deliver on their promise to improve food
security, which they have yet to do in the more than 20 years since they
were introduced, I’d be over the moon.
Vermont recently passed a law requiring the labeling of these foods.
Other states are considering doing the same. That’s the impetus behind
this backdoor effort: Opponents want Congress to pre-empt Vermont and
other like-minded states from implementing these rules.
The federal government already requires labeling of ingredients and
basic nutritional information and regulates against marketing that
misleads the public. In this context, labeling G.M.O.s makes sense.
But that’s not what is happening. Consider the situation of genetically
Last month the Food and Drug Administration approved for sale to the
public the first genetically engineered animal approved for human
consumption — a fish they are calling the AquAdvantage salmon.
This “super” salmon was conceived by combining genes from Chinook salmon
that produce extra growth hormone with an “antifreeze” gene from a
bottom-feeder, the non-Kosher ocean pout. The result is a fish that
grows far faster and larger than non-engineered salmon.
The F.D.A. insists the transgenic fish is safe for humans, but many
experts believe they have yet to prove AquAdvantage will be safe for the
environment or other fish. Factory fish farms depend on the use of
antibiotics and pesticides to control disease and parasites that
flourish in high-density environments. The waste they release can
decimate other marine life and contaminate the water supply. Farmed fish
often escape into larger waters, endangering native species. While these
new salmon will be sterile, mistakes can happen.
Fine, you say. Enough already. If you don’t like the Frankenfish, don’t
But there’s the rub. This new engineered fish could be marketed as …
Atlantic salmon. There might be no way for consumers to identify it as
Consumers have a right to seek out food produced in accordance with
their values, and not be misled by an industry’s strenuous efforts to
keep them in the dark. When G.M.O. ingredients are clearly labeled,
consumers can exercise those rights.
Blocking the labeling of G.M.O. foods would be a step in the wrong
direction, away from greater accountability and responsibility. Congress
should reject these efforts to block our right to know.
Tom Colicchio is a chef, owner of Crafted Hospitality and co-founder of
Food Policy Action.
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