The Fourth of July is not just a celebration of our independence, but also a celebration of American ideals; universal concepts we all strive for and enjoy, like the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for starters.
Millions of Americans and plenty of American companies represent these ideals every day. But others, like Monsanto, the multinational St. Louis-based GMO (genetically modified organism) giant, and its contemporaries certainly do not qualify.
Their decision to foist GMOs on the American people through our food supply, without their knowledge or consent (widespread adoption first began in 1999), has unleashed a typhoon of unintended side effects that are just now beginning to be understood.
And like they have so many times throughout their nation’s history, the American people are rebelling, either out on the streets through mass protests like the March Against Monsanto or at the cash register by avoiding GMOs and buying organic more than ever before.
Even though plenty of Americans are still in the dark about the true effects of GMO foods and crops due to a lack of labeling and media transparency, the GMO-free movement continues to roll along, gaining strength along the way.
While genetically modified organisms and the problems they pose are mostly identified as an American creation around the world, they stand in direct opposition to many of the most ideals we all hold dear as a nation.
Here are the top ten reasons why GMOs are not patriotic, and why we should all do our best to avoid them at our Fourth of July cookouts and beyond:
[Related Reading: How to Avoid GMOs (And What the USDA Organic Symbol Means)]
1. Freedom of Choice?
One of the key tenets of freedom is access to choice, but thanks to the ubiquitous nature of genetically modified foods, Americans who wish to avoid them often don’t have a reasonable ability to choose truly natural and organic foods.
Since Monsanto has genetically modified the vast majority of two of the most common food crops, corn and soy, which are used in countless packaged food and restaurant food products, avoiding GMOs has become virtually impossible in many cases.
For example, as much as 80% of all food on grocery store shelves contains unlabeled GMOs, and GMO-free restaurant options are almost impossible to find in many areas.
2. They’re Harming Our Interests Abroad
In countries where natural and organic food is more highly valued, including Italy, France, and Russia among others, the issue of GMOs is a highly contentious one.
Consistent protests against GMOs and high levels of consumer rejection have kept these and other areas mostly GMO-free, but the U.S. refuses to relent; Wikleaks memos have even shown that the U.S. government has been pushing GMOs on other countries despite widespread opposition.
Other countries have rejected U.S. aid consisting of Monsanto and GMO seeds, including Haiti, whose farmers actually burned them following devastating earthquakes suffered in 2010.
GMOs are hurting America’s image, and yet our government continues to trudge ahead in opposition to the rest of the world.
3. The Right to a Fair Trial?
Cross contamination of natural crops from GMOs is an ongoing threat to organic farmers, who can be subjected to lawsuits over “patent infringement” for “stealing” intellectual property they never wanted in the first place.
In January of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a landmark federal case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto, denying family farmers their right to argue on behalf of gaining protection from patent litigation abuse by Monsanto, which has a history of suing farmers whose natural crops are contaminated by their GMOs.
“Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act that should they become the innocent victims of contamination by Monsanto’s patented gene-splice technology they could not perversely be sued for patent infringement,” the press release from OSGATA said.
Monsanto currently may sue farmers whose crops are contaminated with any amount of genetically modified material over the “trace” amount of 1%, but according to plaintiff-farmer Rosie Marie Burroughs, a 4th-generation organic dairy farmer from California Cloverleaf Farms, that amount is easily and accidentally surpassed in the fields.
“GMO contamination levels can easily rise above 1% and then we would have zero protection from a costly and burdensome lawsuit,” she said.
4. “In God We Trust”
Regardless of your own personal concept of God, or a love-based “source energy,” we all see this phrase printed on our dollar bills, and it’s a core value that most Americans subscribe to.
If that is indeed the case, then why is our government funding and constantly pushing GMOs, which are lab and man-made versions of the organic food that we’ve all enjoyed for thousands and thousands of years?
Monsanto and other GMO companies claim that their products are “feeding the world,” but several studies disagree, including recent United Nations research showing that small, scale, organic farming is the best way to feed the world, not GMOs.
5. “A Man’s Home is His Castle”
The basis of many laws in the United States, especially in individual states, can be traced back to English common law, specifically all the way back to the Magna Carta.
One common rule of English common law, “A Man’s Home is His Castle,” applies to countless situations in America — but not in the case of GMOs, that is, as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association President Jim Gerritsen notes in this interview.
It basically states that what a man does in his home, or on his place, is his own business, and his personal space cannot be trespassed upon or his rights violated.
This doesn’t apply to Monsanto and GMO crop cross contamination, as the previously mentioned OSGATA ruling notes. The responsibility of protecting themselves from GMO contamination falls on the shoulders of organic farmers, but this is often a difficult and costly task that can greatly harm their businesses and livelihoods.
“So, if for example, if we should be neighbors and I have a herd of cattle and you have a nice clover field it’s my responsibility to fence those cattle in so that they don’t cause damage or loss to your nice clover. It’s not your responsibility to put up a fence to keep out my cattle,” Gerritsen said.
“That respect for neighbor’s property rights has allowed Americans to peaceably live amongst one another for hundreds of years now.”
That respect is clearly lacking among GMO corporations and farmers in the United States, who refuse to take any initiative to stop cross contamination that they alone should be responsible for.
6. “…For Cutting Off Our Trade with All Parts of the World”
The authors of the Declaration of Independence included a list of grievances with the King of the England, including among them their dissatisfaction with the Crown’s negative impacts on the colonists’ trade ambitions.
In recent months, Russia, France, and several other nations have banned GMO imports, especially corn, and China has continually rejected GMO contaminated shipments to the dismay of American farmers who are suffering economically.
To make matters worse, organic farmers growing crops like wheat, canola and several other crops have lost key markets overseas due to GMO contamination and subsequent fears of more, in several international markets.
7. “For Imposing Taxes On Us Without Our Consent”
Another grievance documented in the Declaration of Independence, and one that could easily be made with our current government as well.
According to several sources, U.S. taxpayer dollars have been funneled into the pockets of international lobbyists who negotiated deals to benefit Monsanto, overseas.
That’s right, your tax dollars have been used to push GMOs on countries overseas on countries whose citizens do not want them, without your consent, and without even a peep from the mainstream news sources.
8. Consent of Governed Rights
The Declaration also states that governments are to be instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to abolish it).
In the case of GMOs, the consent of the people clearly was never given to completely alter the food system genetically, and the will of the people is clearly not being followed, as several polls have shown that an overwhelming amout of Americans at least want to see foods containing GMOs labeled, including a recent one from Consumer Reports.
In two previous cases where GMO labeling went up for a vote, in California and Washington (state), consumer efforts for labeling were badly outspent by corporate interests and defeated after preliminary opinions were shifted (pro-GMO interests were even accused of laundering more money that anyone else in election history by Washington AG Bob Ferguson).
Considering that the American people never asked for GMOs in the first place, a simple label sounds more than fair, doesn’t it?
A total of 64 nations in the world already label genetically modified food, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, even Russia and China, but Americans still don’t have the right to know.
9. “Certain Inalienable Rights, That Among These Are Life…”
This passage is part of the opening to the Declaration of Independence, and something GMOs (and the harsh pesticides sprayed all over them) are not especially compatible with.
While U.S. government agencies will tell you that GMOs are 100% safe, their assertions ignore the fact that, as former presidential candidate Ralph Nader pointed out, there is no mandatory pre-market safety testing for genetically engineered food.
Many scientists have weighed in on the issue of GMO safety, including in a statement released last year signed by nearly 300 scientists saying that “there is no scientific consensus about the risks of eating genetically engineered food;’ aother similar one signed by over 800 scientists from around the world was also sent out this year.
Even the FDA itself admitted in court in 1998 that it had reached “no dispositive findings” about the health risks of GMOs in the American food supply.
Supporters of the GMO-Free movement cite the many independent studies showing potential harm from genetically modified foods, however, including a study by Prof. Gilles-Eric Séralini of France showing tumors in lab animals fed GMOs for longer than the standard 90-day feeding period, that was recently published in theEnvironmental Sciences Europe peer-reviewed journal.
Is eating GMOs worth the risk, when they have been shown to adversely affect our pursuit of health and abundant life?
That’s up to each American to decide. Choose wisely.
10. “…Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”
As we’ve mentioned before, the concept of liberty is one that is also not compatible with farmers and GMOs.
Cross contamination is forcing many farmers to abandon growing certain crops like corn, soy and canola altogether, as Gerritsen notes in this article.
The U.S. government seems reluctant to do anything about it, but meanwhile, non-GMO farmers are suffering, paying exorbitant costs (in the tens of thousands of dollars and a “significant portion of their total income according to Gerritsen on small to medium-sized family farms) and continuing to see their international markets dwindle due to contamination.
The only way to support them and their pursuit of liberty and happiness? To stand up, make your voice heard, and vote with your wallet.
It’s something to keep in mind not only on Independence Day, but every day, as we move forward toward justice for farmers and a return to a naturally healthy, abundant and diverse food supply again.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone, and don’t forget to also remember and honor the legacies of the Native Americans who tended this great land.