BEAM member Linda Kennedy writes about why Genetically Modified food production and seed control is an issue that we should all be aware of.
On Saturday 25th of May I took the kids to the State Library to a protest called ‘March Against Monsanto’. Millions of people rallied at the same time in 436 cities and 52 countries globally to publicise a variety of concerns about the genetic manipulation of seeds, the safety and labeling of GM foods and the concentrated ownership of the seed supply.
The concerns about the power and control that the GM companies – Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont, Dow, BASF – have over seed and food supplies are many and varied:-
- Monsanto and a small cartel of other companies own over 50% of the commercial seed supply – GM and non-GM – globally;
- Some GM foods harm experimental animals so I do not believe they are safe for the environment or animals – yes, that includes us humans.
- Herbicide tolerant GM seed is patented and is sold with the Roundup chemical – so Monsanto makes a bucket load of money that they have used to buy up other seed companies so that Monsanto now owns well over 25% of commercial seed;
- It is VERY concerning that a small group of companies are in control of the majority of the world’s seed supply. There is too much power in controlling the world’s food!
- I am sceptical about the company’s claim to fix the world hunger problem. GM crops yield no more than the best conventional varieties and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food – Prof. Olivier de Schutter – points out that there is sufficient food to feed everyone adequately, but 30% is wasted and because food goes where it is most profitable, starving and malnourished people cannot afford it.
- Some governments around the world do not support labelling of ingredients derived from GM techniques. However, pressure is building, especially in the USA, for the right to know if a food ingredient is GM. GM labeling in Australia exempts GM vegetable oils, starches and sugars, and meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM, on the basis that they are refined and contain minimal GM DNA or protein.
- GM companies expect that if their products were properly labeled, we wouldn’t buy them, as this happens in Europe where every GM ingredient except animal products require a label;
- Farmers everywhere are becoming more dependent on hybridized and GM seed (seed that you cannot save and replant) and therefore have to buy new seed each season and pay royalties to Monsanto or other companies that OWN the seeds! These seeds were developed over several thousand years by traditional breeders but GM companies now add a gene and claim to have invented the seed, which allows them to patent.
Please google this issue and see what you can learn. There is a fantastic organisation called Gene Ethics which has been advocating, campaigning and educating for GM-free for 25 years. They are a good contact for more information.
There will be more events relating to our food safety later in the year:
- July 4, American Independence Day, Moms Across America and Australia are taking a stand for clean green and healthy GM-free foods for families.
- August 19 to 25, is Fair Food Week when Australians will celebrate the diversity and abundance of local fresh food supplies that should be available to all.
- September 14, food policy will be on the election agenda, with the Food Sovereignty Alliance launching the People’s Food Plan for affordable, safe, secure and locally-owned food supplies for all Australians.
- October 16, UN World Food Day, is expected to be another day of global action for freely available and labelled GM-free food and seed for all.