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The Trouble With GMO Labeling – What’s a Biotech Giant to Do?

| Thursday July 19th, 2012 | 57 Comments

Soybeans

The issue of genetically modified food touches a lot of nerves.  Some people believe that GMOs are going to be absolutely essential to feed the earth’s quickly rising population. Others react strongly against the technology, calling it unproven, a corporate power grab, unsafe for agriculture, and possibly unhealthy to eat.  Most folks fall somewhere in the middle, or just don’t know a whole lot.

As somone who took a genetics class in college at Monsanto Hall, who now lives in organics-obsessed San Francisco, I’d like to think I’ve had a reasonably well rounded exposure to the many arguments surrounding the issue - both rational and otherwise.

In recent years, a core food policy issue in the United States has been the debate over whether or not foods containing GMOs should be labeled, as they are in Europe, Japan and many other countries. Those who support labeling argue that there is sufficient consumer concern over the unintended consequences of GMOs that people wish to make purchasing decisions to avoid them. On the other hand, many agriculture and biotech companies oppose such labels on the grounds that they would complicate matters, raising costs and hassle for food producers and ultimately, consumers. Also, when it comes to human consumption there is very little evidence that GMO foods are any different, at least no more than foods not labeled “Kosher” or “Halal” (eco-systemic issues are another story). Another argument says that consumers can already avoid GMOs by buying foods labeled “organic.”

Nonetheless, any arguments for and against may soon be moot points if California’s Proposition 37 becomes law in November. The law would require most foods that contain genetically modified ingredients to be labeled (details here). Laws of this type passed in California are often “de-facto” national laws because of the sheer size of California’s economy. If the poll numbers are to be believed, this law has a very strong likelihood of passing.

So what’s the best move for a biotech company like Dow, DuPont or Monsanto?

Clearly there are two choices:

1) Spend millions trying to defeat the proposition in its tracks,  and possibly win (for now).

2) Let the ballot initiative pass, and let GMOs stand on their merits for consumers to decide (complications of labeling and claims of irrationality aside).

Yes, there’s a chance that a massive ad campaign could convince enough California voters to change their minds at the ballot, but it strikes me as a long shot.  Even if it’s successful, it risks the added problem of making biotech look even worse in the eyes of those already hostile to it, not to mention those bothered by corporate influence in government in general (and they’d have a good point).

A bolder, possibly riskier path might be to let the ballot initiative roll unopposed. The consequences? There would be a long debate about exactly what constitutes sufficient GMO content to merit a label. Then most bulk and processed food would wind up with some kind of little sticker saying “may contain GMO ingredients.”

Will it lead to a run on organic products and chaos in the industrial food system? Will consumers shrug and keep buying their Lucky Charms regardless? At the end of the day, no one really knows what will happen. But by not raising a hurricane of protest, biotech companies would score positive PR and possibly open the door to dialogue with those who have historically considered them arch-enemies.  At the very least, from a strictly self-centered perspective they’d avoid calling as much attention to the issue as a big public fight would.

I’m of the cautiously optimistic persuasion that GMOs may have a role to play in feeding the world (and possibly other things like algae-based biofuel). But there is enough evidence that ecosystem impacts and the rise of  corporate control of our food system present concerns worth fostering deeper discussion on a wider level. A label may provoke that.

What do you think?


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  • Dan K

    I suspect companies who have done their homework know this will impact sales of a lot of processed food.  Probably hurts people like Kellogg’s more than Monsanto.  But I also think there’s likely to be a lot of shrugging too.  Most people are pretty immune to this kind of labeling after a while.

  • Steve Ackerle

    Labeling GMOs is kind of like Voter ID Laws.  It’s basically a way to change the landscape by addressing a non-existant problem with something that sounds like common sense.  “Why shouldn’t people have the right to choose?  why shouldn’t people have to prove who they are? etc….”

    Ironically, I pretty much only eat organic and shun all processed, branded foods.  But there are many, many reasons for that that go way beyond GMOs.  This is just politics.

    • Nicholas Gower

      I very much disagree with this statement.  Our civil rights movement, among other things, addressed the needs of  people who were suppressed with Voter ID laws; people who had the right to vote.  Labeling GMO’s would not suppress the ‘rights’ of companies to sell without regulation. Certain laws have been put in place to protect our health. If 80% of Californians believe this could be a health risk, then it seems that it should be taken into account.  Regardless, they have the right to know the impact that these companies are having on their common goods & it is very evident that growing GMOs has a substantial effect on the long term health of our soil productivity, growing capacity, water, & climate.  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

        Nicholas, one thing people need to realize, is that in order to increase yield per acre, soil will always be depleted accordingly. This happens in organic fields as well. The higher the yield, the lower the amount of nutrients in the soil. IF you want to feed 7 billion, probably 8 billion before to long, you need high yield, low area crops. This is just a fact. Until our population explosion stops, and begins to slow down, or reverse, we must try to feed to world. It is our duty as the cultures that made our stance on the backs of the ones we now call the developing world…

        As to the effect of GMO on climate, water, and growing capacity… duh fuck? climate, no, if anything it might help to reduce climate change through engineered bacteria or fungi for ethanol production from cellulose, or reduced need of fossil fuels for tractors and labour… Water. No, not really. Fertilizers will impact water systems, but that is the same as with organic fertilizers (fecal materials). GMO will allow for crops to grow it was is becoming a highly drout based climate. Where I am now hasn’t seen rain for weeks (actually it is raining right now haha) but everything is dying. Water will actually be better used if less weeds growing, allowing more water for things we do want.

        Growing capacity, GMO’s grow better. That’s it. Your yield increases if you don’t have to worry about insects or weeds. 

        • Squirrel Head

          If GMO corn will kill bugs, why should I think it’s safe for me. Food labeling gives us the right to choose not to be a guniea pig. 

          I believe Americans should have that right, even if you believe that Canadians shouldn’t.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

          Squirrel, all food kills bugs… this is something you don’t seem to understand. EVERY and I am not exaggerating here, every single plant on this planet produces natural insecticides and pesticides. These are an evolutionary development to try to one up whatever is currently eating them and not helping them evolutionarily. Crops we grow no longer produce things to kill us, because it would be beneficial, and we already distribute the seed.

          Something you don’t understand doesn’t mean it is evil. Senseless fear is stupid. Research GMO’s. Don’t only look at websites that confirm your own opinion, and always look towards the primary literature sources. I can provide you with some, whenever I come across an article that is interesting I keep a pdf if I can. It is something you should do. It allows you to go back to the information when you need it. 

          Science is a self correcting method. Grouping GMO’s is all together bad. If one GMO causes a problem, and none thus far have, then ban it, but it doesn’t mean all of them should be banned… 

        • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

           @093959aaf61b22d8c55efad767308733:disqus : chocolate kills dogs. Do you avoid that too? Protest it? Insist others don’t grow it?

          Or might there be an issue of species specificity….hmmmm

    • Thomas Warrynane

       There are serious health risks, such as allergic reactions to almond DNA that was modified into a soybean strain to increase protein. 
      The main reason they don’t want to label GMOs is that it would make it cleared why a kid who is allergic to nut dies of an allergic reaction after eating a soy-adulterated hamburger. 
      Allergic reactions are the risks we already know about.
      For the rest, the rest of the industrialized world is observing the health of American children to see what the results our.  Our kids are guinea pigs, courtesy of Monsanto.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

        Thomas, thus far no allergies have been a result or connected to GMO’s. What you don’t understand is allergies, and genetic engineering. A person is not allergic to specific DNA of a plant, we are filled with the monomers and short polymers of DNA, what we are allergic to typically is a specific protein or molecule that causes our immune system to go nucking futz and essentially end up killing ourselves. The proteins involved in nut allergies, or almond allergies (not sure if you classify almond as a nut since it is closer related to Peaches then a peanut).

        So long as the gene involved with the almond protein production is not introduced into the soy, almond allergy sufferers are not threatened by it. 

        I could eat almond DNA exclusively if I was allergic to it, but if I ate the specific protein I was allergic to, I would suffer an attack. 

        This is was celiacs disease is, it is an ALLERGY to GLUTEN, the specific protein involved from several cereal grains. We could potentially engineer out gluten from wheat, though I think it would just be better to develop a celiac disease treatment, mostly because gluten must make food taste better, because gluten free anything is terrible.

  • Susan Hopp

    It would be a very zen-like move for the food giants to take your second suggestion, Nick (and how refreshing!), but they won’t – they want control over any conversation and transparency embodied in  GMO labeling, goes against that.  Here’s to passing Prop 37 in November!

  • Escnet

    The biotech companies have already pledged to spend between $60 and $100 million to defeat this initiative. They will claim it will make food more expensive, be a hardship on family farmers, etc.  This is silly as it hasn’t had that effect in 50 other countries.   If you don’t think there is reason to be concerned about GMOs, just read “GMO Myths and Truths” written by two geneticists.  It is a 120-page summary of the vast amount of scientific studies (over 150 in peer-reviewed journals) over concerns over impacts on human and animal health, plant health and the enivronment.  It can be downloaded for free from earthopensource.org .  Even if one assumes that this paper has an anti-GMO bias, it is impossible to ignore the hundreds of legitimate studies that raise concerns and call for more research.  The biotech companies are well aware of these potential problems and don’t want consumers to be able to easily choose non-GM alternatives.  Asking everyone to eat organic if they want to avoid GMOs is certainly not the answer as organic only makes up 5% of food sales and most people can’t afford to eat all organic.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

      escnet, currently the funding for the anti campaign to this prop 37 is mostly from scientific organizations, not biotech companies…. It is currently at 10 to one in funding for the pro prop 37 side, with most of it coming from organic companies. Do you honestly think they don’t have an axe to grind. Organic sales will skyrocket if this passes. There is no second guessing that. People are afraid of science, and would rather trust something deemed as natural and better, when all it is; is farming from 300 years ago… but with tractors lol

      • http://www.facebook.com/nick.sobojian Nick Sobojian

        Brad, you raise an excellent point, the organic companies definitively have something to gain if this passes however the total amount spent for this proposition is only greatly exceeded by the opposition against it, The people who have monopolized food in america are the only real winners here if this prop doesn’t pass. There is a lot of information about studies that have been done regarding the negative impacts on GMOs, but for me at least, all i ever needed to hear was that the scientists in Monsanto lab who derive the modified seeds refuse to eat their product. Either way you get the choice if it passes so lets let the consumers have a choice for once.

  • RPSiegel

    Michael Pollan spoke about this issue last week at the Sydney Opera House. In light of all the claims about how beneficial GMO’s are to farmers and to the hungry, he says, if it’s so good, why not tell us about it?”

    He predicts that GMO;s will be gone in ten years.

    http://thefoodsage.com.au/2012/07/11/pollan-gm-debate-will-be-dead-within-the-decade/

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

      Not if I can help it. I will gladly switch my major if that happens. I full heartedly support GMO, maybe not the companies that make them, but the idea of them.

      Spend more than a week eating and living in a developing nation and you will understand… Volunteer in a nation with impoverished kids (if you can afford it). 

      GMO’s are one of the ways we can all actually survive on this finite rock.

  • Squirrel Head

    GMO’s are nothing more than a ploy by corporations to use patents to steal what is currently the common heritage of everybody-seeds. Stealing life is immoral. The most subversive act of liberation anyone can engage in is plant a garden from which you save the seeds for the following year. Turn your suburban lawn into a garden. Get yourself elected to your HOA and raise a ruckus that only tulips are allowed. Demand your freedom to use your land productively. Smash the oppressive structures that are being imposed to control the most basic human activities. Buy raw milk for yoour health, and can/freeze food from your garden to boycott corporate oppressors. Turn public lands such as schools into edible campuses to bypass supermarkets. I do most of the above, and anything you can do to support fundamental food freedom would make you, too, one of the 1000 points of light seen by George Washington in his vision at Valley Forge!!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

      Don’t buy raw milk for the love of the god I don’t believe in… That has nothing to do with GMO’s it has to do with pasteurization… The risks are not worth the gain. I am speaking as a son of a large animal Veterinarian on this, it is not worth the risk. Cattle will never be fully safe to drink raw milk from. It is the same reason we cook our meats… we reduce the risk of infection.

      Also, saving seeds will cause resistance in the things we are trying to prevent. Farmers actually have to listen to those guidelines for the crops and herbicides, we do that for a reason. 

      • Squirrel Head

        Raw milk is legal in Texas, California, South Carolina. Farmers are aware that unpasteurized milk must be clean if unpasteurized. That’s why it does not have the blood and puss that pasteurized chemical laced bgh corporATE milk has. 

        I drank raw milk 4 years in France where you can get it from machines. Never got sick. Becquse they know it can’t be done in a CAFo.

        However, big companies know they are too nasty to make safe raw milk. So they want it illegal also for those who can. Better stamp out those niche markets by entreprenerurs befor they threaten the EVIL CORPORATE BORG.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

          … How do you think big corporations got to where they are… They were good at what they did. For example, organics is mostly produced by one company… because they got in to the organic market and flourished. With the size of our society big corporations are a fact of life. 

          It is not that raw milk can’t be sold safely, it is the fact that contamination can and will happen, and they would rather protect lives. It is a risk we can mitigate very easily, like wearing a seatbelt… or wearing a helmet on a bike. There is no reason to do something with a possible risk (even from small producers). I know this better than most due to my parent(s) both be veterinarians. Large animal bovines can have infected milk without symptoms. Milk production farms do not check every cow prior to milking, and can sometimes develop infections. Once a bacterium is transferred to milk, it is able to grow exponentially due to the contents of the milk (fats, sugars, water, everything bacteria need).

      • knowledge

         brad is obviously a monsato employee direct or proxy
        news flash when a company like monsato spends 100 million they dont just play tv adds they pay turds like brad to post 8-12 hours a day there propaganda

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

          LMFAO haha, no I do not work for monsanto, hell I can send you to my linked in. I am actually a STUDENT in CANADA lol. I am in my third year of biochem. Everything I have said is true. I will gladly provide proof of my status. I just fully support GMO food. I understand much of what monsanto does, I also accept they need more regulations. They shouldnt be able to sue farmers for transgenic ending up in their field, if It is something like soy I can understand, because the pollen would have likely required human transport because it is 98% self pollinated, and a 10m barrier is more than sufficient to contain it.

  • Squirrel Head

    By the way, I have learned to recognize the fake green movement. They are the ones who say that GMO’s are no different according to science. Of course, the science is only corporate funded science. There is plenty of evidence that GMO corn causes allergies and reproductive problems. The Green movement that is for humanity generally favors local food from small farms. The ideology promoted by this site is that of the pseudo green carbon tax crowd that uses fake environmentalism to shut down small farms and force us to get our food from big corporate CAFO food and patented GMO’s.   Wake up people. There is more than one form of green. The people’s green vs the corporate crony green of Al Gore and company.

    • Axel

      Squirrel, I suspect we probably agree, but when you try ranting like that it makes you look like a loony. That’s bad for the whole green movement.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

      You need to realize that the green movement is nothing but upper class people. An almost elitism. Local farms are nice, but small scale production doesn’t work, is worse on the environment, and raises food prizes. I grew up on a town with farms ranging from under 10 acres, to 1500 acres. The farms with 1500 acres are able to spend less money, produce more per acre, and the quality is still good. This is because they are more efficient. 

      Farmers markets are typically small trucks coming in from multiple sources, to sell food at increased prices higher than it is worth. The reason why it is actually better to get it from your grocery store is that they ship in bulk, saving on fuel, saving on money, and actually being better for the environment….

      Also, I would love to see these allergie and reproductive articles you mention. If you send me a link to a website not containing the article published via a credible source Ill be pissed.

      Anyone can claim anything on the internet. Cite or gtfo. GMO’s have been typically deemed as safer than most breeding technique crops.

      • Squirrel Head

        If they got the subsidies of Big Agri and had the connections of their cronies writing the legislation lilke Monsanto, these small operators could produce for cheap, too. 

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

          again, no they couldn’t. The larger an operation, the cheaper you can make it. Buying bulk makes it cheaper. This is the truth for everything. I like how you ignored my comment about showing me the sources you mention… 

          Monsanto started as a small company like everyone else, and grew because they were good at what they did. 

          For a small farm to produce cheap they need cheap materials and tools that is a fact. Farm tools are made cheaper by larger corporations… supplies made cheaper by larger corporations.

          They can also increase profit by increasing yield. Guess what, a GMO will do this for you… or they can do it by jacking up their prices…. that is what local and organics can and do. The only organics that are relatively cheap, are from large scale corporations that grow organic…

           You speak about things you do not understand, without even researching them. Have you ever grown up on a farm. Do you even understand what having something like the European Corn Borer infest your field mean? Farmers have it tough as it is… Monsanto isn’t perfect, and they need more regulations, but no, I do not think they are as evil as everyone makes them out to be.

        • david webster

          monsanto hurts small farmers like me by making my crop to become not able to sold in some markets

  • Squirrel Head

    I understand your sensitivities. However, I rejected the language of pseudo objectivity long ago that is found in academia. But just a few points. Why did Mr’ Global Warming Al Gore buy a multi-million  dollar seaside mansion ?Why do so many powerful greens push totalitarian carbon tax control but ignore real threats such as GMO’s and the patenting of life ? Did you know that Obama’s green initiative benefited global corporations to get their hands on sustainable farms by African peasants? The land is often reverted to reforestation so that these companies can get carbon credits or even worse, planted with massive corporate GMO farms. Meanwhile, the true sustanaible farmers are driven off their land villagers have occupied for 100′s of years to go become homeless beggars in Africa’s mega-cities.With little or no compensation. But the American consumer gets to watch a little blurb back home about corporations with conscience doing their bit for Earth’s ecology.

    Sorry, but the stilted language of academia just is not suited to expose the mafia. I am sick of languaage that has been castrated of passion. The kind of words sheeple learn to respect while in college.

    (By the way, this criticsm of democrats is not a republican endorsement.)

    • Axel

      Dude, I’m not defending corporat farms at all. But talking about “sustainable farmers” in Africa like its some kin I utopian ideal is nonsense. Ive been to Africa and people scraping by in rural areas are barly living much less getting education etc… Then truth is most people don’t want to be farmers. That is the driving force toward larger farms. Is not a corporate conspiracy. I have a few tomato plants and some chard. It’s great but growing enough food in my yard to serve 100% of my needs is never going to happen. I don’t even want it because I don’t want to spend dawn to dusk farming every day.

      I still agree with you on patents and so on, but the ideal of everyone being a farmer is long gone.

      • Squirrel Head

        The story of entire villages being destroyed  due to corporate conspiracies is a well documented fact. It’s true that most of Africa is poor. But it is unlikely that these peasants driven into cities found nice factory jobs. We don’t even have that here any more.

        • Squirrel Head

          Also, not wanting to farm all day is why we have permaculture. My 2 peach trees, Asian persimmon tree, 3 apple trees, 3 fig trees, grape vine, opuntia (nopales), asparagus, all produce every year. The reason we are all so dependent is the lack of land-use ethics. It should be common sense to buy a lot and plant a few fruit trees or nut trees. However, we are programmed culturally by big money interests. After 9/11, we were all told by Bush to go shopping. In the depression and WW2, people grew victory gardens. And (gasp!), the government encouraged it. Now, many municiplalities are even fining gardeners. 

          I do not know why conspiraacy is a dirty word. Look at Libor. What is that if not a banking crime conspiracy!?!

          But back to gardening. With a few 20 pound bags of Asian rice, dried beans, flour, spaghetti, you can get some staples for nothing. Afterwards, you can grow in much of the USA most of your fruits and veggies on a small suburban plot. Or at least a large portion. I even have an illegal chicken coup under my deck for eggs. (My back yard is surrounded by a 6 foot fence and sticker bushes + gonna get  a mean dog to help keep family secrets.)

          Imagine how our food security would be improved if government promoted self sufficiency rather than making people like me feel like they have to go underground to garden. Tax breaks for food security would be a great place to start. It would make the suburbs our secret weapon. Rather than an area certain greenies want to shut down because of PC eco-fascism. (remember, there are 2 green movements 1)-the food freedom self-sufficiency people and 2) the eco-fascists who want to shut down small farms/suburbs and force everybody into condos where they are dependent on our benevolent corporate CAFO’s and government food stamps to live.

          Inside the control grid.

        • Axel

          You’re not going to meet a single “greenie” who disagrees with anything you say about raising food and veggies.  In fact I’ve never met anyone who thinks that’s a bad idea.   Who are the “eco-fascists” you’re talking about? There is no real environmentalist who is against raising some food.   

          Yes I’ve heard the horror stories about a few HOAs gone berserk (the story outside Detroit last year comes to mind – and that lady won by the way).

          And yes, I’m appalled by the “let’s go shopping” to solve our problems nonsense. 

          But from the perspective of human history, I can 100% tell you that most people are happy to have freedom from backbreaking labor.  It’s human nature.  Maybe we’re lazy.  Maybe we’re selfish.  Maybe corporations take advantage of those things, but they don’t create them.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/47J4FKFZNMRPCPW7GX5TXAVZSE brad

          Squirrel, I live in Canada, where our growing season is not as long as yours. How am I supposed to get food during the winter? You disregard everyone but yourself. 

          You honestly don’t understand how much it takes to grow food. It is more efficient to grow via farming practices than small scale productions. The amount of land you have likely is greater than anything available to most of the third world and most of the developed world. With populations rising, cities need to be denser, meaning we need areas open for agriculture. You can’t farm in the city. With 7 Billion people you need cities, otherwise, you have no land for anything.

          I grow things to, but I do it as a nice benefit to myself. It is nice to have something growing in my backyard, I understand though, first hand, what it takes to produce food. Quinoa and amaranth especially… fucking weed relative pseudocereals -.- 

  • Squirrel Head

    The most subversive thing anyone can do is plant a garden. Opuntia is a plant you can disguise as  an ornamental from HOA lawn Nazis. Easy to grow if you go on e-bay and get the one suited to your climate. They treat dibetes and cure hangovers because they stabilize blood sugar. Asparagus can be disguised as a decorative fern from most city folk. Edible amaranth with it’s bright read foilage can also gain the admiration of the next door MBA yuppie who avoids hippie rednecks like me. Fig trees are beautiful on any front lawn. I have ono tree producing gallons of fruit a day that I freeze/dry for smoothies/medicinal purposes year round. Even most suburbanites can escape the control grid in backyards. I am proud to say that over the past 10 years, through converations with hippies and rednecks and internet surfing, I have acquired the expertise to live in food freedom in the suburbs in spite of the dangerous ideologies implanted in my neighbors’ subconscious. The ideology that they will lose money and home value if they make productive use of their land. My own lawn is almost 100 percent food production. Perhaps 130 percent if vertical gardening can be considered to increase potential beyond 100 percent.

    Yes, listen to that university professor. I will not deny you will learn some useful things. But you might just have your brain spooned full of mush as corporations financcing all our institutions find subtle ways to incorporate their ideologies even in those who consider themselves anti-corporate.

    I am reminded of Frodo,Sam and Peregrin in Lord of the Rings walking through the mystical Old Forest. They believed they were walking down a path straight across the forest until they noticed that the almost imperceptive curve in the road was leading them towardd the middle from which there was no escape.

    • Axel

      That’s awesome man. And I don’t know what suburb you live in but Barring a few horror stories I’ve never met anyone who thought it was weird or wrong to make productive use of your yard. We always had a veggie garden growing up – in the front yard! Never heard anything but positive news about that.

      Maybe todays newer suburbs are worse.

      Anyway, nice work on the yard. 100% agree it’s a good idea and if any HOA is on your back you would rally that MBA neighbor and everyone else because I think you’ll hve more sympathy than you know.

  • Squirrel Head

    You do not know much about Home Owners Associations. It is the norm in most of suburbia not to be able to have a garden. The more anally retentive neighbor hood a block a way actually fined a Korean neighbor of mine 15o bucks for growing a few tomato plants. Welcome to the USA. Look at all the plentiful land!!Too bad you cannot use it!

    Talk about culture shock.

  • Squirrel Head

    Not a single greenie would be against raising food. Agreed. But the Rio people are using agenda 21 to persecute small farmers. Sure, the regulations also apply to Big. But the latter get around it with lawyers, lobbying etc.

    My favorite example of phony environmentalism is the scandalous persecution of small producers of heritage breed hogs in michigan (or Minnesota). The CAFO’s are immuned. Small farmers were required to slaughter their pigs for the crime of kicking big agri butt. Small farmers heritage breeds became labelled as feral hogs arbitrarily. People wanted different varieties of pork raised outdoors by local farmers under natural conditions. Most of these breeds are now illegal. Called un-environmental feral hogs.

    Corporatations used this Greenn Mask against that which is truly green. Because the ultimate goal is hellish CAFO concentrationss of livestock, urban concentrations of population and unspoilt nature where no human may tread (which would cut the human being off from the Earth and nature entirely. I personally cannot live without a hike in the woods or my garden). But just look at our national parks and beaches. More and more cut off to people).

    I just visited Okracoke Island in NC this week-end. My grandmother in the early 1900′s would walk around the island. 25 miles or so, straight beach. Now, humans are confined to a tiny beach area to protect wildlands. No long beach walkikng (although the jeep ban is perhaps sensible). The only reason the FEDS were able to impose this control as that their are no powerful Wall Marts or chains. Okracoke is all about small family businesses, Mom and Pop stores which get no sympathy from Washington (or definitely not the corporate controlled UN).

    I love the fact greenies are more apt to make an effort to spend money locally. But politically, they elect politicians/initiative that support the corporate control Borg assimiilation.

    Progressive environmental laws generally only apply to that which is small. Look at GE exemptions to coal emissions. Laws only apply to the small initiatives. Like community energy co-operatives in Texas.

    People would flock back to gardening if a few public interest TV info-mercials would tell people about how gardening is good for ecology, empowers individuals,, and patriotically protects our food supply through decentralization. (Sure, since the government is obsessed with terrorism, it could even be called an anti-terrorism measure, as centralized food production is more vulnerable). Most of our corn supply, for example, is dependent on a few railroad lines)

    But such scares will, (mark my words), only be used to centralize power, never decentralize. To put the sheeple under control of the elite. And the Green Mask is one of the tools in the corporate arsenal.

    • Axel

      What I the pig story? Can you send a link?

    • Axel

      I 100% agree with you that some decent public service messages could bring back backyard farming.  Heck, Michelle Obama tried it and you saw what the goon squad did about that – going so far as to call her a communist for suggesting organics.    So I’m on the same page with you about that.

      But calling National Parks a power grab?  Come on man.  If National Parks were not protected by the government, I assure you corporations would strip mine them.  Even smaller businesses would screw them up, look how horrible Niagara Falls is?  Same goes for the Outer Banks.  I’ve been the whole length of them and Okrakoke is the only part that’s not destroyed by crappy developments – it remains by far the nicest part. 

      I don’t like bureaucracy either, but I’m not an anarchist.

      • Squirrel Head

        I am for national parks etc. I am just talking about how people are more and more confined when they go to the parks. (I love national parks). BUt it was a culture shock to me when I first visited California in the 80′s. There were ropes through all the countryside. Humans were not allowed off trails. I saw what the PC protection of nature was. It was the separation of humans and nature, the worst sort of psychological alienation. 

        And the way the local people can no longer walk on Ocracoke beaches is scandalous. More and more, we are actually allowing the government to round us up like sheeple in limited tourist, consumerist locations. Once you destroy the rugged individuality of people that develops through contact with nature, freedom will also disappear. 

        The new government tamed generation is afraid of nature. I spent an hour with my wife cutting a 3 foot black snake caught in my blueberry net the other day because I know it protects my garden against copperheads (of which I have killed a few of them this summer). Sam the blacksnake is alive and well. See him every couple of weeks now.

         The sheeple generation is either too terrified to set foot in an area where there have been snakes, or thinks they all should be kiiled to protect us. No individual interaction, independence of thought, ability to deal with nature. 

        All this is the result of moralizing academics who have their texbook academic PC pristine nature theories. But no interaction because of fear. That’s true alienation.

        And now I see California PC environmentalism coming to Dixieland. Oh, my God.!!

  • Squirrel Head

    Clarification. Cut the blueberry net, not the snake. Hope that was clear.

  • Squirrel Head

    Michigan slaugther of heritage breeds:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/035403_heritage_pigs_farms_Michigan.html

    This is what corporate environmentalism looks like. These are also the lobbies in control of the USDA, FDA, and UN Rio crowd. Destroy the little guy by using fake environmentalism.

    These are the eco-fascists. (Fascism is the merger of state and corporation. You do not know where one stops and the other begins. That way, people obey the power of money. they obey a priviate security person as if he was law enforcement with democtatically elected government authority behind him. And private corporations merge with government and write legislation. Like the UN agenda 21 stuff that goes after small farmers through regulation.

    • Axel

      Wait a minute….   the “eco-fascists”?  No, your beef here is with bureaucracy.  Bureaucracy sucks, and often makes mistakes like this.   If that article is true (and judging by the nature of that website I’ll bet it’s totally exaggerated) then you’re totally correct.  It’s an insane law that makes no sense.  But I’m willing to bet it will fail once enough people make a stink about it.   This has nothing to do with fascism, and is entirely unintentional.  It’s just sloppy government.

      And please don’t start ranting about Agenda 21, that puts you straight into the loony bin.

      • Squirrel Head

        The fact that you find this article difficult to belive shows you are out of touch with the gravity of the situation. At the farmer’s market the other day, they all knew about it. Check the multitude of other sources. Easy to find. We all have the Library of Alexandria at our fingertips.

        Opinionated, lacking the pseudo objective tone that academics love, does not mean wacky. I prefer people who have abandoned double speak. NPR for example, takes the objective tone but they heavily censor information.

        Natural News knows they had better get their facts right because they are so agressive. They know they lose credibility if facts supporting accusations are not substantiated. I follow them and their critics. And their critcs generally find themselves in the hotseat aand exposed.

        They are unabashedly activivist. BUt they have their act together.

  • Squirrel Head

    Brad, land use ethics is the key.Suburbs can produce a lot anywhere. There has been little effort by authorities to encourage small independent production where possible. And I know about food production from experience. Gardening and family farming. My grandfather, for example, was a dairy farmer until the late 60′s. His profits plunged ( in the 40′s or 50′s, I believe) when government forced him to stop selling healthy raw milk to customers. He had to go through a corporate middle man. Forced consolidation was already under way. 

    Actually, in the early 70′s, it was official policy of the Nixon administration, Get Big or Get Out!!. Times have changed. Now, politicians like a little photo-op with the small farmer. But behind the scenes, they continue to favor the mega-farms. 

    I do not know what the growing conditions are in Canada. But I do know that a small bio-dynamic milk producer was also shut down recently (in Ontario, I believe). But I still recommend looking for small crops that can grow there, too. I presonally expeirimented with 6 different varieties of nopales before finding the right one for NC. Great permaculture crop.And if suburbanites learn to mind their little plots of land, it could be very sustainaible. But once again, many cities, such as the one I live in, will not allow you to chop down pines and replce them with nut and fruit trees. This would be so sustainable. And would be a wonderful foot in the mouth of eco-nazis who say the suburbs cannot be sustainable. Just today, my buddy sent me a link in Huffington post about a municipality forcing a suburbanite to tear up his garden. Once again, it shows how the fake greens want to make the unsustainability of suburbs a self-fulfilling prophesy. I personally plan to put solar panels on my own home after I refine my landscape project a little more and save up some money.Actually, if you go around the country, more and more municipalities are penalizing off the grid people who put solar panels on their house, grow a little garden patch, give no money to corporate power countries. However, LA county is harassing these people. Finding a trivial rule to condemn their homes and force them off their land. Should they really be forcing people out of the countryside with these totalitarian means. These people paid for this land and spent a lifetime working on it. And then some self righteous PC ideologue destroys with a stroke of a pen all they worked for their whole life.I saw this ol’ cowboy dudeon you tube with a home he built himself with solar panels. Rather than give him a medal of commemdation, LA county used green zoning laws to make him tear his home down. It’s all a war on rugged individualism. (I have read many similar stories about LA county over the years.

    • Axel

      Dude, there is nothing “rugged” about living in suburbia.  If you want to be rugged individual, go live in a rural area.   

      I think you seem to not like cities, which is your prerogative, but there are many reasons cities are great, and I’m not talking about sardine can living, I’m talking about nice, urban areas which can *also* have farms, including vertical farms, built into them.   If you care about sustainability you can’t possibly want to be forced to drive a car everywhere you go which is the case in new suburbia.

      That said, I’m 100% in favor of retrofitting suburbs with farms, bring it on.   I most definitely sympathize with your frustration about annoying zoning laws, HOAs, unenlightened governments etc… and so would most people.  

      • Squirrel Head

        Since you asked about me personally..I

        I  adore cities, country, and suburbia. I love the freedom to choose. At one point in my life , for abour 8 years actually,, the compact, dense, morning subway in Japan suited me. Loved how they rationalized living space. We should get better at that.But I resent the green movement trying to shove that down our throats. People in the cities only have their liberty because of the difficulty to control people in the country. When everyone is forced  inside the urban control grid and tamed, then urban freedom will also disappear.(my opinion). There will be no place to run as we will all be under the eye of Big Brother. Especially if guns are confiscated (although I personally do not own a gun). But if I move out to the country, I will definitely get a hunting rifle.Grew up in suburban USA where I live now. I actually consider myself a green suburban lifestyle revolutionary.Peaceful and non-violent, of course.  I am working in my neighborhood and high school where I teach after school with food clubs to encourage cooking from scratch and to implant gardening in suburbia. Not to force people, but to influence the culture and establish the liberty to do this.Through HOA and community politics for example.And by showing kids how to garden. I want to encourage suburbanites to utilize their land producitvely. Foster land use ethics (while admitting anybody who wants to be an unethical TV junk food slob also has that right).

        I love the country, which is where I want to return, start a small farm in about 5 years if I make it to retirment. So I am very concerned about the plight of small farmers. Especially, as I come from a long line of farmers (and school teachers for that matter). We still have an abandoned dairy farm where I hope to grow tomatoes and veggies. Livestock is too rugged for me. Afraid of getting kicked by a cow.

        • Axel

          Nobody is being “forced” into cities.   Just because government planners (who have hardly any power by the way) approve of it doesn’t mean it’s being shoved down anyone’s throat. 

          What *was* shoved down people’s throats was the suburban expansion of the 1950s and 1960s.  That is what killed most of our cities.   Forcing people to purchase automobiles and use them at all times or starve to death!

          Today people have wised up and are returning to cities because they are now less racist and realize it’s a major hassle to have to drive everywhere to only chain stores to some horrible office park.   This is precisely the anti-corporate rebellion you speak of and it is cities that are driving it.

          There is also great independence in rural areas.  Pretty rare in suburbia, IMHO.

          When government planners talk about sustainable development they are trying to offer people MORE freedom, not less.  Right now it is ILLEGAL in most of suburbia to allow a commercial development near people’s homes (ie, it’s illegal to walk to the store).  Same goes for schools which require parents to buy kids a car at 16 or drive them around all the time.

          Good urban planning hopes to change that.   It is not the enemy.

  • Squirrel Head

    http://www.naturalnews.com/032201_pesticides_birth_defects.html

    GMO birth defect link. 

    Actually, Monsanto scientists refuse to eat their own GMO food. If you want to eat that stuff, go ahead. I prefer my garden. And even if it is better, why don’t they label it??????!!!!!

    • Axel

      Pesticides are linked to birth defects, not GMOs.  Even that paranoid article admits that.

      I’ve been looking around that “natural news” site and it’s a caricature of every bad green cliche – paranoid ranting about nonsense.  A bad, spammy website.

      I don’t like GMOs because I think they’re actually about patenting seeds and controlling production – that’s really what they’re all about.

  • Squirrel Head

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eilDbdLAyFs
    GMO pigs/farmer, sterility. 

    By the way, there is plenty of research out there, esy to find. I did about 2 minutes looking for this (like the other article) as I really don’t have the studies I have read over the years at hand.

    However, regardless of the research, we agree that people have the right to choose.I really don’t care why someone agrees with me. GMO’s are evil corporate conspiracy food and I don’t want to be a guinea pig.

    Natural News is very opinionated by the way, but they link to credible sources to support their opinions. 

  • Squirrel Head

    Brad, don’t badmouth amaranth. They are our summer collard greens. Have 2 good patches of edible amaranth. Good stuff. If they are causing problems for GMO producers, that does not upset me. After all the contamination and lawsuits caused by Monsanto, they deserve it. 

    These office boy farmers might just have to roll up their sleeves and do some real work pulling weeds rather than spending their time filing lawsuits small growers who practice agriculture with integrity.

    (Vive le pig weed!!   Roll up them sleeves all y’all Monsanto lawyers!! Bend y’all’s  backs!!Get out in the hot sun and pull up that aamaranth cousin pig weed!!)

  • Anthony Brown

    Biotech companies are facing two problems these days. One is labeling and second is people protesting about GMO crops. After reading the following article, I came to know that future is dark for companies - 
    http://www.rosebudmag.com/truth-squad/corporate-crops-gmo-technology-communities-fight-back

  • Squirrel Head

    Hey, Anthony, cool website!  A little left of me, kind of like this one.  But they get to the bottom of a lot. I really love hhow the web is reviving that muckracking populist tradition. If anybody theses days gets away from the academic or psuedo objective tone of TIME magizine, then they are loonies.

  • Maria

    May Monsanto and its spawn be gone forever. We don;t need to be genetically engineering our crops, biodymanic and organic technologies are far more sophisticated and work better with the elements, enriching the soil, retaining carbon thus reducing global warming and providing nutrients for the surrounding landscape. DOes not pollute our water like Roundup/glyphosate and 2 4 D which they are dusting off for use once again because of the weeds and pests that were SUPPOSED to be defeated by Roundup (monsanto’s frankenbaby) are now resistant to it and so the diabolical cycle goes on if we trust in the biotech /chemical industry to become the growers of our food. Growing food is the hardest livelihood, but it is not true that folks don;t want to farm. It is also amazingly satisfying and when done right, bearing in mind the land the air and the water and working with those, can yield loads of food and allow the environment to heal itself and retain its virility. Bad farming practices as in overloading with chems and growing gmobcrops which is in an unhappy marriage with roundup, is toxic for the environment and does not allow the soil to interact the way it is supposed to with the plants. There are less nutrients in crops raised this way and  more toxins released into our air and water as well. We support organic, natural certified, biodynamic, permacutlure growers who are not interested in making $$$ by anyone else’s standards but their own. Brad, you should get yourself a copy of the ORganic Manifesto by Maria Rodale who is a 3 generation organic farmer and pay attention to what these growers are doing. Do not buy into the propaganda by the biotech industry, and listen to some of the growers who are bringing farming to a level that is helping restore our agriculture system to what is could and should be. Good bye Monsanto and good riddance. GMO, not wanted, not needed. 

  • Lauren Ayers

    What’s more natural than GMOs, and also faster,
    cheaper, more versatile?

     

    Genetic modification is often touted as a
    solution for scarce water and heat waves.  Nevertheless, GM plants take
    time, even if they are faster than traditional methods for breeding traits into
    plants.  Fortunately, researchers in New
    Mexico, working on plant microbiomes, seem to have found a faster and safer way
    to adapt plants to new conditions, and it appears to be cheaper and more versatile
    than the GM approach.

     

    Here are some excerpts from the July 28,
    2012, issue of New Scientist, “Superplants May Beat the Heat,” by Sara Reardon:

     

    One shortcut might lie in the plant
    microbiome — the consortium of fungi, bacteria and viruses that live in
    the root systems of every plant.  Plants
    that live in extreme environments, such as the slopes of Mount Everest or the
    deserts of Utah, use the microbiome to survive stressful conditions.  “Plants can’t do it on their own,”
    says Russell Rodriguez of the University of Washington in Seattle.

     

    In exchange for nutrition, the symbiotic
    microorganisms help the plants take up nitrogen from the soil and protect them
    from heat, drought and disease-causing organisms….

     

    To test the idea, Rodriguez and his
    colleagues isolated spores from D.
    Lanuginosum’s endophytes and sprayed them onto wheat seeds, which normally
    grow at temperatures up to 38’C.  With
    the spores, the wheat could grow at 70’C and needed up to 50 per cent less
    water than normal (The ISME Journal, DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2007.106)

     

    Different microbiomes can confer a range of
    superpowers to a number of crops. 
    Rodriguez’s group have also isolated endophytes from a salt-loving
    dunegrass (Leymus mollis), and a
    strawberry plant (Fragaria Vesca)
    that grows at high altitude at temperatures as low as 5’C.  Rice plants that have been sprayed with the
    fungi became able to tolerate salt and cold, respectively.  They also grew five times larger and
    needed half the water of normal plants (PLoS
    One,
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014823).

     

    The results were immediate: within 24
    hours of being sprayed, the seeds began sprouting a greater number of longer
    roots than untreated seeds, and the team found that they expressed genes
    involved in stress-resistance and drought-tolerance.  That suggests endophytes could help crops
    cope with droughts like the one afflicting the US.

     

    Rodriguez thinks the fungi are
    jump-starting the plants’ metabolism, although the exact mechanism is still
    unclear.  “The plant has the ability
    to do all this, it just can’t get its act together without the fungi.” He
    says.

     

    While attempts to genetically engineer
    plants to become drought-tolerant involve switching on metabolic pathways one
    at a time — a costly, drawn-out process — the fungi appear to activate
    them all in one go.  “Nature’s
    figured it out, we haven’t,” says Jerry Barrow, now retired from New Mexico
    State University in Las Cruces.

     

    Regina Redman, Rodriguez’s collaborator and
    partner, has developed the spores as a powder than can coat any crop seed.  The pair have started a company, Symbiogenics, which is carrying out
    field trials on rice sprayed with the fungus Trichoderma, isolated from dunegrass.  The fungus allows the rice to grow at cold
    temperatures in salty environments; rising sea-levels due to climate change
    makes salt-tolerance a sought-after trait….

     

    “Biotechs can’t work fast enough to meet
    the pressures of 7 billion people and climate change,” says Mary Lucero.  “To meet food demands, we need to adapt
    quickly.  Microbial communities have
    always adapted quickly.”

     

     
     

  • Simran Sethi

    The notion of substantial equivalence of GMOs to non-genetically altered food is tenuous. There is scant evidence because there are few studies on the longterm effects of said exposure, academic scholarship is sometimes tied to what corporations will fund, etc. That does NOT mean health challenges don’t exist. (There is a wealth of information on how studies have also been suppressed, but that gets us pretty far off track.) The studies that have been done indicate there are GI impacts on livestock and that GE crops have crossed the (human) placental barrier. One final point: I would look closely at the body that is determining substantial equivalence. There are clear relationships between regulators and industry that should raise eyebrows, if not suspicion.