GMOs: what are they and why should we care?

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October 31, 2012

This week’s topic: GMOs: What Are They and Why Should We Care?

until i can figure out how to embed the podomatic player, click here to listen to the podcast.

Interviews:
Jeffrey Smith, founder of Institute for Responsible Technology
Melissa Costello, vegan chef and author of The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook
Angelika Tesch, owner of Summerland Produce Co.

Featured Music:
Tranceformation, Roxanne Morganstern
Ramachandra, Sean Johnson & The Wild Lotus Band
Breeze at Dawn, Mirabai Ceiba
Kundalini Rising, Dev Suroop Kaur & Liv Singh

* * * * * * * *

knowledge is power. and when it comes to the food we eat, knowledge is health.

it was almost a year ago, on this very show, when i’d interviewed pamm larry, grandmother from chico and founder of labelGMOs.org (since renamed carighttoknow.org). she was busy organizing and training volunteers to collect signatures to put an initiative on the november 2012 ballot that had to do with labeling food containing GMOs (genetically-modified organisms).

at the time, i was one of those who believed that not only were genetically-engineered crops developed to make them more resistant to pest infestation and adverse weather conditions, but that they had also been tested and proven to be safe for human consumption. but thanks to the information pamm passed along, i realized that i had been misled, just like everyone else. it turns out that due to insufficient testing, there’s a possibility that GMOs may cause adverse health effects. so until proven otherwise, it makes sense to avoid them as much as possible. but how would i know if what i was eating contained GMOs, especially since most packaged food contains some form of soy and corn, two of the largest GMO crops in the country? that was pamm’s point, exactly.

fast forward to today. the initiative pamm pushed for is now on the ballot:

PROPOSITION 37 – GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS. LABELING. INITIATIVE STATUTE.

and, as expected, it is meeting with resistance from the companies with the most to lose if it passes: monsanto, dupont, dow, BASF, syngenta, pepsi, coca-cola, kraft foods, kellogg’s, and more.

so how do you get voters to vote YES on 37? by informing them about what GMO crops are, what effects they can potentially have on our health and on the environment, and more importantly, that consumers have a choice that they can make, just as long as they’re given the information they need.

which is why i invited jeffrey smith, the author of “genetic roulette: the gamble of our lives” and the filmmaker of the documentary with the same title, to talk about GMOs and the studies made about them.

i also invited melissa costello, vegan chef and author of the new “the karma chow ultimate cookbook“, to talk about how easy it is to cook healthy plant-based meals — because, as it turns out, the majority of the cows, pigs, and chickens sold at the market are raised with feed containing GMO corn. which means they likely have traces of GMO in their meat. eek.

and since many of us have busy lives and may not have the luxury of being able to search for and buy organic and pesticide-free produce, i invited angelika tesch of summerland produce company to talk about her CSA (community-supported agriculture) delivery service.

the songs featured on this show are from albums released this year: david ari leon and peter wolff’s “voice of life”, putumayo’s “world yoga”, mirabai ceiba’s “between the shores of our souls”, and dev suroop kaur and liv singh’s “kundalini rising”.

by the way, the photo shown above is from a postcard from groups involved with spreading awareness about genetically-modified organisms in our food supply: YES on 37, organic consumers association, institute for responsible technology, genetic roulette, and the cornucopia institute.

if nothing else, if  you don’t have time to listen to the entire episode, please watch this short “genetic roulette” trailer:

 

postscript — sadly, proposition 37 did NOT pass, with the NO vote beating the YES, 54% to 46%. and it’s no wonder, given the money the opposition spent to defeat it.

the day after the election, this was posted on the YES on 37 blog:

Yesterday, we showed that there is a food movement in the United States, and it is strong, vibrant and too powerful to stop. We always knew we were the underdogs, and the underdogs nearly took the day. Dirty money and dirty tactics may have won this skirmish, but they will not win the war.

Today, we are more than 4 million votes closer to knowing what’s in our food than when we started. This is a victory and a giant step forward. We are proud of our broad coalition of moms and dads, farmers, nurses, environmentalists, faith and labor leaders who did so much with so few resources to bring us to this point, and we will carry forward.

These results are also a reminder of the corrupting influence of huge multinational corporations on our electoral process. The world’s leading pesticide and junk food companies outspent Yes on 37 by more than 5 to 1, and beginning on October 1, spent about a million dollars a day on a hailstorm of false claims, misrepresentations and fear mongering over five simple words on a label. In the end, they spent enough money to hide the truth from the majority of voters. The food manufacturers are on the wrong side of history; they should not fight their customers, but join them.

Today is not the end of our campaign to secure our fundamental right to know what’s in our food. It is a strong beginning, and we thank the millions of Californians who stood with us. We are proud of our grassroots movement, our 10,000 hardworking volunteers, and the diverse coalition of health, faith, labor and consumer groups that stood with us. We will keep fighting for consumer choice, fairness and transparency in our food system. And we will prevail.

To Victory!

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