Sixty years ago, a landmark novel changed the way the world looked at government. The novel depicted a dystopian — the opposite of utopian — society in which everything a person did from birth until death was monitored by neighbors (especially children), ubiquitous video monitors and a Gestapo-style police force.
The book? 1984, by George Orwell, was meant to serve as a warning against the world’s love affair with socialism, especially in England after World War II.
The reason I bring it up? Monsanto, the world’s largest seed producer, has adopted the role of Big Brother in the farm world, spying on farmers, using its multi-national bulk to intimidate farmers and squeeze dry anyone who even thinks of violating Monsanto’s planting rules.
Mmm… corn. How wonderful does a great, big, sweet, freshly barbequed yellow ear of corn sound to ya (especially one spliced with virus genes, and genetically engineered to include a little bit of insecticide in every kernel)? What? You don’t like virus genes? Oh, and come on — you really can’t even TASTE the Roundup residue. Okay, okay. So, maybe that’s not so wonderful. But regardless of wonderful, that’s exactly what 75% of the corn grown in the United States is: Genetically Modified (GMO). I’ll say it again: 75% percent. Out with the kitchen apron and in with the lab coat. And the worst part is, though you may have heard of GMOs, knowing whether or not you’re eating them is a different story, since the U.S. currently has no labeling requirements on food crafted from biotechnology.
Corn, soy, canola and cotton — these are the big four to remember. Aside from being the largest crops grown on American soil, they’re also the crops most frequently grown using Genetically Modified Seeds. Referred to as GE (Genetically Engineered) and GM or GMO (Genetically Modified), these new “plants” are made up of DNA that’s been spliced with all kinds of different genes in the hope of making the crop hardier and more profitable. “Potatoes may be spliced with chicken genes, tomatoes spliced with fish genes, corn spliced with ‘virus’ genes, pigs spliced with human genes… bacteria, insect and animal combinations, and various plant combinations [are] produced.” (via Safe 2 Use)
Consumers drive America’s economy and very often advertising drives consumers. We are beginning to see a shift in that model as conscientious buyers, lead the way to healthier products and practices, by making choices that aren’t driven by mainstream media. Millions have made change in their lifestyles. Those changes are translating into a social shift in the marketplace.
Whether we focus on foods or fashions, transportation or trade, the way we spend our dollars has created a booming new industry of Greener choices. Every dollar sends a vote to the market and Green voices are growing louder. Green consumers are the wave of the future and the corporate world is working to win your support. On the other hand the corporate world is paying for Congressional support. Our voices are not yet a force in the legislative arena.
We know democracy is based on the idea that government must serve the public interest. Unfortunately, money talks and corporate interests have gotten much better support for their agenda than individuals have. From the standpoint of green consumers with ethical and fair trade policies, the new Millennium has seen monumental progress. Our values are shaping the free markets for the better. It is time to move those better values and practices to Washington.
By electing Members of Congress who support Green Living values, we can make even greater strides in America and around the globe. The first step is to have a clear understanding of our candidates and the policies they really promote. To help identify the candidates positions, Organic Consumers has created a nationwide candidate survey that will profile the contenders.
Years ago, researching the issues surrounding genetically engineered foods, it was hard to find many people who were knowledgeable or informed. Groups like Organic Consumers were trying to spread the word and build support, but the seeds of resistance and awareness were just being sown. As Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changin'” and the worldwide grass roots efforts are becoming a Green Force.
For me, the changes have been a treat on many levels. I no longer feel like part of a fringe cult when I talk about the GMO problems. Millions of others are not only talking about it, they’re doing something. Actually, they’re doing all kinds of things in every corner of the globe. Successful efforts, to promote fair trade and sustainable agriculture, preserve biodiversity, raise awareness and opposition to monoculture-agribusiness-GM crops and promote healthful local foods, are now everywhere.
For the last few months I have been part of a documentary film project that spans the globe covering the individuals and organizations involved in creating the change. We have focused on the battles and victories and the issues have become more personal as the people have shared their stories and touched our lives.
The Reel Deal
The support has been overwhelming and incredibly energizing for a muckraker like me who generally focuses on the transgressions of the biotechs. It is a refreshing change to look at the positive. With appreciation to some of our contributors the focus of this report is the positive news coming from the work they are doing. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos