>Subject: Choking Down Genetically Modified Food
>Information on this email course appears at the bottom.
>The Politics of Genetically Modified Food
>Fact or Fiction?: Genetically modified food will be vital to solving world
>hunger by increasing crop yields. By incorporating natural pesticides it
>can reduce the need for spraying herbicides and pesticides and add
>diversity to the gene pool by expanding genetic combinations not possible
>through natural evolution. Despite worries of unlikely experimental
>mishaps, life science companies are out to do their best to help farmers
>and feed the world.
>In "Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your
>Food," Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey reveal some deeply rooted problems with
>this rosy assessment.
>1. Early evidence suggests that genetically modified crops have per acre
>yields that are 10 percent lower, not higher than their unmodified
>2. By next year, Monsanto, one of the largest companies, is aiming to
>have 100 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. be genetically modified.
>Such monoculture will destroy, not enhance genetic diversity.
>3. While some genetically modified crops such as corn have been altered so
>that natural pesticides are built in, others like soybeans are genetically
>modified to withstand more herbicide spraying -- herbicides made by
>Monsanto. By selling the seeds, and forcing farmers to sign contracts to
>use their herbicide, Monsanto ensures a monopoly and a lock on profits for
>both seed and spray.
>4. Monsanto's herbicide, called Round-Up, can now be sprayed more heavily
>thanks to the EPA, which tripled the amount of Round-Up residue permitted
>to remain on crops.
>5. Crops that incorporate pesticides have other problems. Where once Bt
>was seen as a natural pesticide safe for use by organic farmers because it
>is an organism that occurs naturally in the soil, now widespread use of
>the Bt gene inserted into crops such as potatoes may end its own
>usefulness as bugs become resistant to it. But in the short term, it's a
>great way to build profits -- for the so-called life science companies.
>Dow chemical scientists estimate that, because of this growing resistance,
>the usefulness of Bt will end within a decade.
>6. Monopoly almost always means the ability to raise prices, which will
>further destroy small farms in favor of big ones. This decreases local
>self-reliance -- a lynch pin in the fight against famine -- in favor of
>corporate entities focused on maximizing investor profit.
>7. With no requirements for labeling, consumers have no choice but to eat
>genetically modified food. Worse, epidemiological studies that look at
>large populations, which are the only means by which health effects of
>these modifications could be determined, can't be carried out--because
>there's no way to determine who in a study has eaten what.
>These facts come from "Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate
>Takeover of Your Food" by Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey.
>Also available is the Beyond the Book interview with the authors, "You Are
>What They Want You to Eat," in which we ask them questions like: what's
>wrong with Monsanto's good intentions; they may be trying to make a buck
>but why do you posit ill will toward them?" Click
> for a complete list of questions and how to order the transcript of their
>TOMORROW: Using Hot Air to Deny Global Warming
>This is the free Political Literacy Course from Common Courage Press: A
>backbone of facts to stand up to spineless power.
>Email 53, November 16 1999. Week 11: The New Math of Science + Corporate
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