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Krupp: Right To Know GMO

(Host) It's estimated that more half the processed food we buy at the supermarket is now grown from genetically modified seeds - a development that concerns gardener, author and commentator Ron Krupp.

(Krupp) Michelle Obama is famous for her White House organic children's garden, for speaking out against childhood obesity and advocating for better nutrition in the schools. When Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott sent some organic seeds to her for the White House Children's Garden, Monsanto, the world's leading biotech seed company, sent a letter of protest to the First Lady.

In order to understand more about Monsanto, you need to go to California where there is a citizens ballot initiative being voted on in November called Proposition 37. It's basically a right to know law. Prop 37 requires the labeling of all food products containing genetically engineered ingredients commonly called GMO's. Vermont tabled a similar bill in 2011 because our representatives wanted to wait on the vote in California.

Today, nearly 50 countries around the world inform their citizens with simple labels if the food they eat contains GMO ingredients. This includes all of Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and even India. Surveys suggest that 90 percent of consumers in the U.S. want GMO labeling while 80 percent of non-organic processed food on US grocery shelves contain genetically modified ingredients, mostly corn and soybeans.

A huge war chest of $27 million dollars has been raised to defeat California's Proposition 37. Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Dupont - the same transnational corporations that brought us DDT and Agent Orange along with major food processors like General Mills, Nestle, General Foods and Coca Cola have all contributed. They've filled the airwaves in an effort to persuade voters into thinking that genetic labeling of foods is a bad idea. The opposition - including Organic Valley and others have raised $3 million so far - while other major organic industry giants have remained silent including Earth's Best Baby foods, which started in Vermont.

But there are legitimate concerns when it comes to GMO's. Monsanto had claimed that GMO crops would require fewer doses of the herbicide, Roundup Ready, but a new 16 year study indicates that in fact, the opposite is true. Super weeds have sprouted in GMO corn and soybean fields, so more Roundup is being used to combat them.

What's more, rats fed a diet of GMO corn or exposed to Monsanto's top weed killer died younger than rats fed a standard diet. Rootworms in corn are becoming a problem in GMO crops along with concerns over superbugs, nutrient deficiencies in the soil and liver problems in fish from field runoff.

Recently, Monsanto's Vice-President of Industry Affairs, Jim Tobin, spoke to the Vermont Feed Dealers Conference at the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington. The advocacy group, Rural Vermont, was there to protest the event. Their message was that in a democracy we should have the right to know what's in our food.

Ron Krupp is a gardener and author who lives near Lake Champlain on Shelburne Bay. His most recent book is titled: Lifting The Yoke - Local Solutions To America's Farm And Food Crisis.
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