Slow Food Upper Columbia is partnering with Meyers Falls Market to host an evening forum on GMO’s and the label it WA campaign. Join us on May 23, 6:30 Meyers Falls Market Community Room
The Fuss About GMO Foods
Last fall an initiative was on the California ballot to label foods containing GMO products. This initiative nearly passed (47% in favor) although the giant food companies spent millions in opposition. In fact, each vote cost the food companies $9.50. Now Washington citizens have the opportunity to vote on a similar initiative (I-522) on this fall’s ballot. There are initiatives in several other states as well. So, why all this fuss about labeling foods that contain GMO products and what are GMO foods anyway?
“GMO” stands for Genetically Modified Organism and the process is sometimes called Genetic Engineering or Genetic Modification. The food industry would like you to believe that GMO foods are just another step in plant and animal breeding that has been going on for thousands of years. However, this process is dramatically different and new. The normal cross-breeding process that has been going on in nature for ages and more recently in laboratories involves two related species. GMO foods are created by forcing genes from one species into another entirely unrelated species, forcefully breaching the naturally-occurring barriers between species. Some examples of transgenic methods include strawberries and tomatoes injected with fish genes, rice injected with human genes and goats injected with spider genes. GMOs are created exclusively in laboratories; there is no way in which they can evolve in nature.
Almost all of the corn, soybeans and canola grown in the United States are GMO crops. Almost all food products on the supermarket shelf contain ingredients derived from these crops. It may surprise you that most ketchups on the shelf contain high fructose corn syrup, a by-product of corn. The only products that you can be certain do not contain GMO products are those labeled 100% organic. Almost always, certified organic products are free of GMO intrusion, but there may be occasional exceptions.
Should we be concerned? The Food and Drug Administration has stood by their position that these foods are safe and substantially equivalent to non-GMO foods. However, this stance is based primarily on research funded or conducted by the companies that have a vested interest in GMO products. It is very difficult to conduct independent research since the modified plants or animals are patented by these companies and they refuse to give permission to use these products for research purposes. In brief, many groups and researchers are concerned about environmental, human health and economic impacts of these products.
Slow Food Upper Columbia is presenting an evening forum to explore some of these issues on May 23 at 6:30 in the Community Room at Meyers Falls Market. The film “Genetic Roulette” will be shown followed by a question and answer session with Thom Stahl. The question addressed by “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives” is whether the prime culprit behind many of our chronic illnesses could be GMO foods. Directed by outspoken GMO critic Jeffrey M. Smith, the film is an unsettling tour through a myriad of serious health conditions implicated with genetically altered crops, from allergies and intestinal disorders to diabetes and autism.
Frances Moore Lappé, a noted expert on food issues, wrote “Genetic Roulette unveils a world most of us have never seen. It raises alarming questions about GMOs, and we deserve answers. For all that you love, hear this message and act now.” This film is hard hitting and at times disturbing. That is why we have asked Thom Stahl to attend and answer questions. Tom Stahl, 4th generation Washington State Wheat Farmer, who resides in Brown’s Canyon, Douglas County on the land that his grandfather first homesteaded in 1883, supports Washington State Label GMOs I-522. Thom is also an attorney and very knowledgeable about GMO crops and their economic impact on our farming community.
This forum on GMO crops and foods is the first in a series sponsored by Slow Food Upper Columbia and Meyers Falls Market. Soup, beer or wine will be available before the program.
Ten Reasons to Say No to GMOs by Carlo Petrini
Slow Food’s Position on GMOs
Institute for Responsible Technology GMO Education. At this site is a downloadable non-gmo buying guide
Center for Food Safety
Washington Label it Initiative I-1522
Ten ideas from Gail Nickel-Kailing www.goodfoodworld.com
Get smart – Read as much as you can about the issue. We have listed a number of books of interest on the Good Food World reading list. A Google search will launch you on your way on the Internet. Get to know about the issues on “both sides of the fence.”
Get political – Contact your Congressmen and Senators and tell them how you feel. Let the President know by calling the President Obama Comment line at (202) 456-1111 or fill out the email form here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
Get active – Comment on all the blogs/facebook pages/websites you can find that are even closely related; and tweet away. Make your voice heard.
Get legal – Donate as much as you comfortably can to the Center for Food Safety – those folks are working hard on the legal front. There are several lawsuits in action right now and for a small group they are making a big difference!
Get cooperative – Many food co-ops are certified organic retailers for one or more departments. PCC Natural Markets here in Seattle – the largest consumer-owned food co-op in the country – has just signed on to the Non-GMO Project. The PCC also gives preference to non-GMO products as part of their purchasing policy. Many other food co-ops are developing similar policies.
Get apps – Here are three iPhone/iPad apps that you can use while shopping to select products that are GMO-free:
Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide
True Food – the Center for Food Safety Non-GMO Shopping Guide
Get labeled – The USDA and FDA do not require labels on GMOs or products containing GMOs. Talk to your political representatives and support the Center for Food Safety in their effort to use the legal system to require labeling of GMOs. It worked for BGH in milk. You can now buy conventional milk that does not come from cows treated with bovine growth hormone and is labeled as such.
Get organic – To date, the best way to ensure that you are not consuming GMOs is to buy organic food. The National Organic Program does not allows any GMOs in fresh or processed foods.
Get planting – Grow your own. There are dozens of seed companies across the US that offer organic seeds to farmers and consumers. When you grow your own food – even if it’s just lettuce in a patio pot – you control your own food.
Get together – Find other people who feel the same way you do. Learn more. Teach more. When faced with “insurmountable opportunities,” grab one and get going.