It’s been a rough few weeks for those concerned about threats from genetically manipulated (GMO) foods. First, in a recess appointment, President Obama gave the role of chief agricultural trade negotiator to a long-time lobbyist for the GMO crop industry. Next, news reports showed that farmers are facing increasing threats from GMO contamination of their natural and organic crops. And now, the Senate is expected to soon vote on a bill that requires agricultural research focusing on GMOs to be included in U.S. foreign aid projects.
Do we really want our tax dollars to support development and dispersion of these risky, experimental crops purportedly to help feed hungry nations, despite massive evidence that GMO crops use more pesticides, yield no more than natural crops, and threaten the food security needs of small farmers worldwide?
We don’t think so. But Senators Lugar and Casey, in their Global Food Security Act (S. 384), have included a clause requiring that research and development of GMOs be included in foreign aid research programs. This opens the door for a nearly $8 billion give-away to Monsanto and other biotech companies, so they can produce patented, expensive GMO seeds that ultimately increase the dependency of already struggling small farmers. Meanwhile, support for organic farm technologies that can offer truly sustainable solutions to small farmers around the world languish for lack of even basic research dollars.
If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it is. That’s why we urge you to click here and tell your Senators to oppose the Lugar-Casey bill unless the GMO provision is deleted.
Clearly we can’t count on President Obama to veto this nonsense. CEH and over 100 small farmer, health, environmental and consumer groups opposed Islam Siddiqui, Obama’s nominee to be the chief agricultural trade official, based on Siddiqui’s long record as a lobbyist for the pesticide and GMO crop industry. So Obama waited to appoint Siddiqui until Congress went on holiday. Then, when no Congressional opposition was possible, Obama placed Siddiqui in the post.
In other words, Obama didn’t use his recess appointment powers just to avoid criticism from his Republican enemies. He also used it to avoid opposition from the progressives he calls his friends.
Ultimately, Congress and the Administration’s support of the biotech industry will mean a continuing erosion of the integrity of natural food for consumers, as GMOs will continue to contaminate natural crops unpredictably and uncontrollably.
It is sad but unsurprising that a group of organic corn farmers say they can no longer avoid contamination by nearby GMO crops. Corn pollinates promiscuously, often over vast distances. What has surprised many is how widely GMO contamination has affected other crops. Even rice, which biotech proponents note is self-pollinating and thus safe for growing untested GMO drugs, was widely contaminated by an unapproved GMO variety, causing massive disruption of the international rice market.
To date, most GMO contamination incidents have involved crops grown in the US (although primarily due to stronger regulations, more incidents have been discovered in the EU). But with the Administration and Congress promoting development of GMOs around the world, it becomes increasingly likely that we will soon see contamination of US food imports by experimental GMOs grown in other countries.
The biotech industry has a long track record of pushing risky products without adequate testing or labeling. Our tax dollars shouldn’t promote the industry’s ongoing food experiments under the guise of food aid.
Take a few seconds and use our online tool to urge your Senator to say no to these GMO experiments today.