Organic Locals Shut Down Corporate GMO Propaganda
Sean Gordon, 21.03.2013 06:38
The Chew on This Tour, part of the "Drive to Feed the World," made the first appearance of its national tour at the Jackson County Fairgrounds on Tuesday February 26. It featured a pumped-up pro wrestler mascot media blitz designed to discredit and marginalize the growing natural, organic, and non-GMO agricultural movement here in the Rogue Valley and across America. The Corporate Myth Machine's message however was solidly shut down by Local Organic supporters.
Corporate Myth Machine in Action at Jackson County Fairgrounds Feb 26th
They chose to begin their campaign in Jackson County, where informed Grange Co-op Members and others were outraged by what they saw represented. Members spent five days bombarding the Grange Co-op website, Facebook page, and phone lines to let them know they didn’t like what they were being fed. The turnout for the event was low, but the education level of the people who showed up was clearly higher than tour promoters expected.
Chew on This sponsors want Americans to believe that “there are zero health benefits to eating organic or all natural foods, compared to traditional fruits, meats, and vegetables.” More to the point, the sponsors would like us to believe that to feed an increasing world population, we have no alternative than to turn to the “efficiency-enhancing technologies” of conventional industrial agriculture.
What are these “efficiency-enhancing technologies?” There was no mention as to exactly what the phrase referred to, but it was repeated over and over again throughout the presentation, which took place on board a massive, custom-built traveling movie theater parked in the Jackson County Fairgrounds.
During the presentation, Jeff Simmons, the president of tour sponsor Elanco, claimed that “only four percent of Americans currently purchase food labeled as organic,” as though to diminish its importance. He went on to say that a fraction of that group of people are “influencing and restricting how food is used for the rest of us.”
Framing themselves as good guys, big industrial conventional chemical agriculture say they want to “feed the world” with their “efficiency-enhancing technology.” To accomplish this, they need to convince us that organic food and organic foodies need to get out of the way, and that people who want to eat healthy food from local family farms that are free from herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, do not have your best interest at heart.
The official sponsors of the tour — Elanco, owned by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, and Nutra Blend — are both companies that manufacture or distribute synthetic hormones and antibiotics for animal feed. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) website says that “U.S. producers are turning to certified organic farming systems to lower input costs, decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, and boost farm income. Organic farming systems rely on ecologically based practices such as cultural and biological pest management, exclusion of all synthetic chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones in crop and livestock production.” It follows that if the percentage of Americans who produce and eat organic food continues to grow, the market for Elanco and Nutra Blend products is diminishing.
The Chew on This Tour seemed to make a previously unplanned decision to come to the Jackson County Fairgrounds to blast off their national tour only five days ahead of the event. Plan for success, right? Citizens of Jackson County recently submitted enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would prohibit the planting of genetically modified crops in Jackson County. Measure 15-119 will be voted on in May 2014. Elanco and Nutra Blend did not mention genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or their use as food or feed in their presentation, or any other specific “efficiency-enhancing technology.” But they seem to have made a point to open the tour in Jackson County.
The Elanco website carefully avoids terms like genetic modification in its explanation of “the use of technology in food production,” and instead offers a rudimentary and misleading statement: “technology involves practices (doing something better), products (using new and innovative tools) and genetics (enhancing desired traits in plants and animals).” If genetically modified (GM) foods are safe and necessary to feed the world, why do they so carefully avoid using those terms? And instead of publicizing the tour schedule and the locations and times for their expensive tour ahead of time, why do they insist on keeping it secret until just a few days before they appear? What occurred here in Southern Oregon is as good an explanation as any.
What do we really know about GM foods? We know that about 85% of corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and cotton grown in the US are genetically modified to resist the herbicide Roundup. Since the introduction of these crops in 1996, the use of Roundup on these crops has increased as much as 300%, as is the case with cotton. GM foods increase the use of harmful herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizer regimes according to plan by their human designers. These are the very practices that have been causing the depletion of topsoil and degradation of human and ecological health around the world since the widespread introduction of industrial chemical agriculture shortly after World War II. Is it any wonder that the average American has an average of thirteen different pesticides in their body at any given time?
Have we learned nothing since the days of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, DDT, and Agent Orange? Corporations like Monsanto, the creators of Agent Orange, that are making money with these chemicals don’t have a problem with these continued practices and seem to have resorted to genetic toxification of the natural food supply in order to bring them back into increased use. The USDA recently approved new GMO crops engineered to resist such powerful chemicals as 2-4D, the active ingredient in Agent Orange, which is responsible for the birth of an estimated 500,000 children with birth defects in Vietnam, and killing or maiming 400,000 more.
The Institute for Responsible Technology reports that “FDA scientists repeatedly warned that GM foods could cause serious health problems, but political appointees at the agency — under instructions from the White House — fast-tracked GMOs without required safety tests.” Numerous doctors and medical organizations say to stop eating GMOs, and especially stop feeding them to children, who are most at risk.
Is this the country you thought you were living in? What are you doing about it? Vote yes on measure 15-119 banning GM crop cultivation in Jackson County, and stand up for your right and the right of local, organic growers to not allow the contamination of our food supply with genetically modified food and the dirty agriculture that comes with it. Don’t allow big agriculture to decide how your food is grown for you and fed to you. Stand up to all who stand in your way, in state government, and in the courts, and claim your right to determine and control the safety and quality of your own food supply. Give them something to chew on, and don’t stop fighting for true democracy in this country, which is the only way it has ever been achieved anywhere.
To learn more and teach others how big agriculture operates, visit www.foodmyths.org.
You can see the Chew on This Tour video at http://bit.ly/147EwFa.
Sean Gordon is a freelance writer, permaculture farmer, and community rights advocate involved in GMO-free efforts in Josephine County. To learn more or to contribute to these efforts, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and interact on facebook, GMO-Free Josephine County.