Letters — 01 March 2013 — by GMO AWARENESS MONTH Educational Campaign

Secrets about GMOs

Dear Editor,

Belize has been entertaining the possibility of planting Genetically Modified Crops for more than seven years now. Unfortunately, our current understanding of GMOs does not appear to be any better than when discussions first began. Roughly 95% of people asked on the streets in Belize this past month were unable to say what the letters “GMO” stood for. How did a laboratory-created food crop become so prevalent in the world environment with so many of us knowing so little about it?

The truth is, a tremendous amount of secrecy has surrounded GMOs since they were first released for commercial planting in 1996. One such secret is how the bio-tech industry was able to convince the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that GMO crops are the same as non-GMO crops. The FDA identified GMOs as “substantially equivalent”, meaning that no testing was required for either safety or nutritional standards. With the blessing of the FDA, Genetically Modified Organisms were permitted to be grown and put into our foods without any labeling requirements, without contest, and with no one really knowing if they were even safe to eat.

Another such secret is how GMOs were then issued patents. To be issued a patent, a food or drug must be defined as both new and unique. Hadn’t the FDA just deemed them to be “substantially equivalent?” How can a product be both new and unique and still be substantially equivalent at the same time? The concept of patenting a LIFE FORM was an entirely new concept in 1996, yet no public consultation took place before this momentous new legislation.

Religious communities, social scientists, and other individuals who hold the social conscience of society were never given opportunity to provide guidance or contribute weight to any discussion. How, why and by whom were these patents approved so quickly and so quietly? These are big secrets.

The secrets don’t stop there. Once patents were issued to GMOs, developers were able to claim proprietary rights, which allowed them legal right to prevent any independent group from testing GMOs in any way. Independent scientists wishing to safety-test GM food or feed were not able to test GMOs until they were commercially available to the general public. Scientists who actually did conduct research on GM foods have been attacked and discredited by GM crop promoters.

Along with the secrecy came propaganda that was used to sell GMOs to the farmers and to the population at large. Three big lies allowed biotech agro-business to secure the dominant position as seed providers in the world: (1) the lie that GMOs increase yield; 2) the lie that GMOs require less pesticide use; and 3) the lie that GMOs are needed to feed the ever-growing world population. Each of these lies has since been exposed.

Belizeans deserve FACTS. Decisions for Belize regarding GMOs need to be made from a place of truth and reality with data supported by documented evidence. Hopefully, everyone in Belize will soon know what a GMO is, and by the end of BAGMO’s GMO Awareness Month, will be able to voice his or her wish for the direction Belize takes regarding genetically modified organisms.

“Once exposed, a secret loses all its power.” ― Ann Aguirre, Grimspace

Sincerely,
GMO AWARENESS MONTH Educational Campaign

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