Through the dubious practice of attaching irrelevant riders (provisions) to bills in order to force them to get passed, a biotech law was quietly placed into HR 933, a national budget measure approved by Congress since it was needed to keep the government going. Though over 250,000 people quickly signed a petition asking President Obama to not sign the bill and to have the rider taken out, he did on March 26th, 2013. We now have the “Farmer Assurance Provision”, which has also been called the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
In essence, this part of the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013″, according to the International Business Times, “effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future.” Monsanto themselves helped create the wording of the rider in conjunction with Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, where the company’s headquarters is located, reported the NY Daily News. It is quite alarming when companies are allowed to help create the very laws they are supposed to be regulated under.
This shouldn’t affect anything since we have already been able to verify that GMOs are safe to eat, right? Not quite. GMOs have only been used as commercial crops for 17 years. That is not enough time to thoroughly assess the long-term effects. The American Academy of Environmental Science warns that “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.” More testing definitely needs to be done but with laws like the Monsanto Protection Act, the results may not matter.
Some argue that humans have been already genetically altering plants for thousands of years through the process of selective breeding. This is misleading. In selective breeding, with some exceptions, only plants that are closely related enough to be in the same genus can cross. There are some that occur between two different genera (on their own or with a little scientific help from natural resources like gibberellic acid), but they are still within the same family. Only plants that nature affords the ability to crossbreed are able to do so.
With GMOs, the sky’s the limit. Scientists are able to cross whole kingdoms by adding genetic material from animals, bacteria and other organisms right into the plant DNA. Allergens can be introduced and you would not know that they are there. There are also other assorted problems like increased pesticide use as Roundup-resistant weeds spring up and the threat of a crop being wiped out from lack of diversity.
There are currently a few different ways that you can avoid being a guinea pig for GMOs. First, you can grow your own food using seeds that are heirlooms or open-pollinated. These are varieties that run true to type, meaning that as long as it has not been pollinated by a different variety, you can save the seeds and it will have the same characteristics. They are not genetically modified by scientists and help preserve plant diversity. Hybrid seeds may not contain GMOs, but you cannot save the seeds and expect the offspring to be the same. eFoodsDirect sells a Survival Seed Vault that contains 20 different kinds of heirloom seeds.
However, not everyone has the time or space to grow their own foods. They have to depend on food available to them at the grocery store…food that currently does not have to be labeled as containing GMOs. The Non-GMO Shopping Guide suggests you can try avoiding products containing the commonly modified commercial crops, which are canola, corn, cottonseed, most Hawaiian papayas, soybeans, sugar beets and some zucchini and yellow squash. You will also want to avoid dairy that does not specify that it is free from hormones and sugar unless it is noted to be pure cane sugar.
A final way is to buy foods that are labeled as organic or GMO-free . In order to carry the designation of organic, products must be grown through natural means – no GMOs, no chemical pesticides, etc.
Here at eFoodsDirect, all products carry the Nutriversal Seal of Promise. Striving to be GMO-free and using all-natural products are part of this commitment to quality. You can store them for years, allowing you to bypass genetically modified foods as they test the safety over time. This is the only way to ensure that you can avoid these harmful GM foods in the good times as well as the bad.
One small consolation is that the measure of the rider is only for six months. We can hope that it will expire once the time limit is up if it isn’t somehow removed before. However, this door has been opened and it will be easier to extend it now that it already exists. Write your Congressperson and the President with your concerns. Petition for foods to be labeled. Fight the Monsanto Protection Act with your pocketbook by growing your own heirlooms and buying GMO-free food.