As a Justmeans staff writer for the Sustainable Foods editorial department, I explore the disparity between consumerism and independence through the topic of sustainability. As a self-described 'urban homesteader' I look to find the balance between a sustainable lifestyle and use of corporate convenience. I don't necessarily want to live without electricity, but I want to be comfortable if eve...
We're Not Responsible For Your Choices, Right?
It doesn't even surprise me to hear the utter, inexcusable nonsense pasted all over Monsanto's website anymore. It seems the entire endeavor is nothing short of pandering propaganda aimed to the uninformed, the naive, or those looking to justify their own affiliations with such debauchery. In defending their right to not label GMO foods, Monsanto had the following to say:
"Individuals who make a personal decision not to consume food containing GM ingredients can easily avoid such products. In the U.S., they can purchase products that are certified as organic under the National Organic Program. They can also buy products which companies have voluntarily labeled as not containing GM ingredients. The law allows for voluntary labeling so long as the information is accurate, truthful and avoids misleading consumers about the food. Monsanto supports both options."
First, this doesn't say anything about how other countries can avoid GMOs. As practices of industrial farming toil the backs of third-world farmers, one can only assume that other countries don't matter.
And secondly, Monsanto has avoided their corporate responsibility by laying the sole responsibility of consumer "choice" to be knowledgeable enough to purchasing organic "to be sure" that it is not infected with GMO technology. It's like having to prove innocence: It's totally un-American.
Or is it?
As the line between GMOs and organics blend; rather, when Monsanto finally dominates the global food market by owning, literally, all the staple crops, it won't matter. The only way we'll be able to avoid it is by growing our own, and even then you'll risk "stealing" intellectual property by pollen drift.
They further pose the question: "What would be the benefits of labeling products containing GM ingredients?"
Well, the benefits would be numerous.
- The consumer could be more informed about what they are supporting when purchasing a product.
- The consumer can decide if the organic option is worth the extra cost if on a tight budget (because unaccountability long-distance farms, even organic ones, can lead to profiteering either through the farm or the grocer).
- The consumer could make the choice as to whether or not he wants to be a testing subject for genetically modified food that haven't been sufficiently tested in human consumption.
- It is simply the responsibility of any producer to label what unnatural things exist in their products. That's why we have labels in the first place.
To shift the responsibility to the consumer and assume the cost of organic certification onto the farm is unfair and bullish. Why should a farm be forced to certify organic just to prove it is not part of the genetically modified game? Many small farms are not certified organic because the cost in certification is prohibitive. Now their perfectly reasonable practices go by the wayside of certified organic farms.
In essence, by not labeling GMO products, the small farms might as well have been sprayed with RoundUp: it kills them.
This mindset is indicative of Goliath sized companies calling the shots and all the Davids of the world having to play ball. It's outlandish. If we learn anything from this experience at all, it should be that we all need to save and store heirloom seed whenever we can find it. The real green revolution is not in a petri dish; it's in our backyards, our front yards and our neighbors' farms.
Photo credit: Sabisteb