FoE President Says Concern over Exports Justified
Agribusiness Puts Your Safety at Risk
U.S. bioengineering raises crop of disturbing issues
by Brent Blackwelder The biodiversity agreement being negotiated in Cartagena, Colombia, should conserve the great diversity of life on the Earth rather than be a green light for modern industrial agriculture, with its steroids, antibiotics and genetically modified seeds.
While the American public is vitally concerned about safe food, the Clinton administration is more interested in trying to force Europeans to accept beef raised on hormones and genetically altered food. Europeans are quite right to adopt a precautionary principle and refuse to accept a "Brave New World" of industrial agriculture from the United States. Unfortunately, as a result of recent trade agreements, Europe may be forced to accept food it does nor want.
In fact, the Clinton administration has already won a challenge at the World Trade Organization to force the European Union to accept hormone-fed beef from the United States. How sad that the export-minded administration did not accept the food preference of Europeans instead and promote American free-range, hormone-free beef for export!
The objection to hormone-fed beef and genetically altered food is based both on a precautionaty principle and on a view that agriculture must be conducted on an environmentally sustainable basis, with an ethic of stewardship for the land and humane treatment of farm animals. There is a long list of serious concerns about bioengineered crops. For example, are they going to create a new generation of suprrstrong weeds? How can you stop them from polluting other fields?
The inclusion of a terminator gene, which prevents saved seeds from germinating the next season, poses a frightening picture of starvation for poor Third World countries as well as the potential for gigantic biotech companies to control the world's food supply.
A year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture promulgated a proposed label for organic food that would have permitted genetically altered food and irradiated food to be counted as organic. The overwhelmingly negative public response of more than 200,000 replies should have sent a powerful message to the administration and Congress to stop acting as mouthpieces for industrial agriculture.
This op-ed was written in February by Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth.
Why is agribusiness so out of touch with what people want? Is it easier to get corporate welfare than to sell a product legitimately? Tell The Progress Report:
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