By Mark E. Smith
| May 24, 2013 |
Organic consumers recently learned to their horror that three corporations had been including genetically modified ingredients in food products labeled organic or non-GMO. The reaction of these consumers, who want to know what’s in their food and who consider genetically modified organisms (GMOs) dangerous, was to increase their demands for GMO labeling. What they somehow missed, or perhaps are in extreme denial about, is that these food products were labeled. The labels said that they were organic or non-GMO. The labels lied.
There’s a reason that the labels lied, and that it is likely that many more labels are deceptive–and that getting mandatory GMO labels won’t change this situation at all. The reason is capitalism, the goal of which is to maximize profits. Since corporations can charge more money for foods that are labeled organic or non-GMO, they have a profit incentive to use such labels. Of course if they are caught lying, they might be subject to consumer boycotts or perhaps small fines, but they are very unlikely to get caught. In the case of these three companies, it was thanks to a whistle-blower that people found out, and whistleblowers are an endangered species these days.
As an organic consumer myself, I wasn’t surprised and, in fact, I’ve been predicting this for a long time. When I buy produce at the co-op or the farmers’ market and I know the organic farmer or the organic farm where it was grown, I know that I’m getting organic food. But when I see a label that says, “USDA Organic,” that tells me only that the government says it is organic. My government has a tendency to lie a lot and I don’t trust anything else they say, so why would I trust their label? FDA approved drugs, prescribed by a qualified physician and taken exactly as prescribed, are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Only after they have killed or seriously harmed thousands of people are they recalled. And the situation is similar with tainted food recalls. Only after many people have become ill will the government investigate. If you want to avoid being harmed in the first place, it generally isn’t a good idea to trust anything simply because it is government approved and has a label saying so. Torture happens to be US government approved, but that doesn’t mean we should rush right out and ask for it.
When foods are regulated, they can be tested to ensure that the products meet the claims on their labels. Of course not every item can be tested, as there aren’t enough inspectors, so perhaps 3% of food products are tested. That means that corporations have a 97% change of getting away with misleading labels. And if they are unlucky enough to get caught, the subsequent fines or boycotts can be factored in as a cost of doing business and will amount to only a very tiny percentage of the profits to be made. For the corporations it’s a win/win situation–no matter how badly they betray consumers, they can’t lose and have millions or even billions of dollars to gain.
Organic non-GMO food advocates are writing petitions, demanding legislation, pushing ballot propositions, and staging huge marches and demonstrations, none of which will hurt Monsanto or any other GMO producer or supplier in the slightest. In fact, it may benefit them. Should consumers succeed in getting mandatory GMO label laws passed, Monsanto most assuredly will appeal to the Supreme Court, claiming that it violates their Constitutional corporate right to make a profit, and the Supreme Court always rules in favor of Monsanto. Always. So the end result is likely to be that the Supreme Court will strike down all state and federal laws requiring GMO labels as unconstitutional, and from then on there won’t be any labels at all, not even voluntary labels which will become illegal.
The United States is a capitalist country and the business of the U.S. is business. The Domestic Terrorism Act even went so far as to say that anyone who even thought about interfering with corporate profits was a terrorist. If the government calls you a terrorist, you, as a U.S. citizen, can be arrested without charge, indefinitely detained without trial, and even extra-judicially executed. Legally. In the United States. And having to label all products with GMO ingredients would certainly interfere with Monsanto’s corporate profits. So everyone in the March Against Monsanto is likely to not only have their picture taken by the cops, but their pictures are probably going to go into a federal terrorism data base for future reference.
Those who think that they might pressure the government into helping consumers have safe access to healthy foods don’t seem to have noticed that the current Democratic Obama administration has appointed former Monsanto executives to high-level government policy-making and regulatory positions, and that Obama himself signed something called the Monsanto Protection Act. Of course the Republicans are even worse and nobody else has a chance of winning a majority in federal elections. But even if they did, the Supreme Court is still the highest law of the land and can easily strike down any legislation Congress enacted. Corporations fund the campaigns of candidates in U.S. elections, so no matter who wins, corporations get to determine federal policy. Those who think they’re voting for GMO labels are actually voting to keep Monsanto’s puppets in power, because no matter how they vote, if there is sufficient voter turnout for the winners to claim that it was a democratic election and that they were democratically elected and represent the will of the people, the corporations that control the government will remain in power. We have a winner-take-all electoral system in the U.S., so it doesn’t matter if people vote only for GMO labels and leave the rest of the ballot blank–they are part of the voter turnout and therefore legitimizing our capitalist system.
The GMO label craze is merely another ploy to get out the vote for rigged elections that grant government officials the right to make decisions which should be made by citizens, at least in any democratic form of government. The only thing a protest can accomplish is to help fill the prisons, bloat local treasuries with bail money, and, if big enough, increase the budget for Homeland Security.
There is a much better way to know that your food is healthy, unmodified, and that it isn’t adulterated with harmful chemicals. Buy unprocessed foods from organic farmers you know and trust. And if you really want to be in control of what you eat, don’t participate in any way in any U.S. election, because that delegates your decision-making power to government, giving government the final say instead of retaining that power in your own hands where it belongs.
Power to the people!