Sunday, November 4, 2012

GMO & the Rules of Business

I'm going to just go ahead and dare you now - to name a company, any company, that ever innovated a product that everyone wanted, hurried to get it on the market and then didn't advertise it. If you thought of any at all, I'd wager your list is quite small (and likely consists of non-profit companies or open source programmers). Now, name just one such product-driven corporation with a product that everyone wants but which the manufacturer actually pays money to keep its distribution quiet... Coming up dry? Me too.

But that is what biotech companies like Monsanto would have us believe about them - that their genetically modified products (already being sold on the market and already a staple in the diets of most Americans - albeit largely unbeknownst to the general population -  since they were first introduced in 1996) are simply too wonderful to advertise! Too fabulous for a multi-billion dollar industry to want to take credit for them! And so amazing that, beyond not taking credit for them,  industry giants would actually pay BIG money to keep the curious and inquiring public blissfully unaware of which foods contained this impressive new food-stuff!

Ehem... Really? Does this behavior make ANY sense to anyone?? Aren't advertising and product promotion something like the very first rules of business?

I've been so busy with life, work, loved ones and activism these days that I wasn't sure whether I'd have time to write my own personal blog about the GMO labeling initiative here in California. But after receiving a flier in my mailbox this week, from well-funded opponents to Proposition 37 (to which a "Yes" vote would mean mandatory labeling of GM products), I figured I had better make the time.  

It was a slick presentation - one large piece of stock paper with a nice matte finish, one fold, full color, attractive graphics, big smiles, impressive credentials and - oh yes, a money salad... Mmmmm. Only it was full of lies - about how expensive the initiative would be, among other things. And give me a break. When every food item is already required to have a nutritional label, how much more expensive could it be simply to add a line stating that GMOs are or may be present? Seriously?? Perhaps food producers will see a decline in revenue on items that are labeled as containing GMOs and therefore necessarily have to adjust to actually providing consumers with the healthier, higher quality foods they really want (god forbid)... I can see that happening, but not the general increase in costs proposed by these lying buffoons. While conducting research recently for a popular online health journal to which I'm now a contributor, I also discovered that more than $40 million dollars had actually been poured into the "No on 37" campaign, by all kinds of heavy weights in big agriculture industry - companies like Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, who were themselves creating the genetically modified organisms they now (and apparently never have) wanted labeled.

My first thought was how insane that seemed. Even as biotech companies and the FDA ignore data from their own scientists, the message we hear over and over again is that these products (still largely untested) are completely safe for human consumption, though a recent test performed in Canada raised immediate and startling concerns to the contrary - indicating that the Bt pesticide bacteria used in the rather imprecise process of modifying GM foods actually continues to self-replicate in our bodies for years after we've stopped consuming it. And so, like the GM crop we consumed as food, now we ourselves are living pesticide-producing factories! Like something out of a science fiction novel or horror film, what it means is that we're essentially experimental hosts for alien (foreign, cross-species) lifeforms. And what of the pregnant women in the Canadian study? What of their unborn babies? If these women are growing children whose very cells are only just beginning to form while under the influence of this alien genetic material (before even the establishment of a blood-brain barrier, according to Jeffery Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology), what might the consequences be? Might this technology not already be compromising the very foundations of the human life process? 

I think it is. And this IMPORTANT documentary film ( which is free to watch through election day, November 6th) helps to explain why. Though more tests are required to confirm it, scientists acknowledge that the pesticide used in GM foods is designed to break open the stomachs of insects and kill them, and they speculate that, over time, the effects of its consumption by humans would result in much the same epidemics we are seeing now - dramatic rises in food allergies, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and other digestive illnesses - even some conditions which remain as yet unnamed and/or difficult to diagnose by conventional medical means... Plus, diagnoses of such conditions are happening at younger and younger ages. (Read about the Pottenger Cat Study at to learn more about why this path, if continued, will eventually lead to the extinction of the species.)  

But let's suppose for a moment that GM foods are NOT harmful to our health. If that were true, then why in the world wouldn't these biotech companies be bragging about their products, which they continue to tout have the ability to "feed the world"? Ignoring that this technology can't possibly feed the world because it's based on a mono-crop design that encourages the increased used of pesticides, effectively creating new super-bugs and super-weeds, while also draining the natural ecosystem and eliminating the biodiversity on which all of life depends... Again, ignoring all that for a moment, why else might they NOT want consumers to know which products contained GMOs... unless there were some underlying concern that people would ultimately reject them and their GM foods? 

So what, then, is behind this apparent fear of full transparency? Could it be they fear what a knowledgeable and informed public might eventually demand? Might it be they fear at last being held accountable for the many crimes perpetuated against the world's consumers which have resulted in innumerable hospitalizations, illnesses and deaths? Yes, yes, in fact, it could very well be that. And we may soon have a chance to see what happens when the tables are turned. 

My sincere hope is that Proposition 37 here in California will pass, helping not only to inform people as to what they're really eating (and as to what they're unwittingly feeding their own children), but also to provide greater incentive for merchants to make a better quality product available to consumers. I may not have earned the highest grade possible in economics courses back in college, but I did take away at least one important understanding: that consumers lead and businesses follow. When we make our demands loudly and strongly enough, supply must inevitably comply. 

In this sense - even in our currently twisted, unsavory, unsteady political state - the perceived rule of business is just an illusion. Ultimately, it is We the People who show the way forward... and, I hope, to progress.

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