The politics of frankenfood, CRISPR and toxic pesticides.
National and global policymakers profess to set agricultural and food regulations on a scientific basis. Safety is always touted to be the top priority. Yet most often, when scientific evidence raises cause for concern, policy leaders place the desires of the industry — Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, Big Chema and their affiliates — as the first priority, ignoring consumer concerns and the safety of our food supply and our children.
For example, recent research practices on genetically engineered crops ignore all human and environmental impact limitations. Previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have bowed to industry desires for GMO crops and pesticide use. The current administration seems no different.
The latest rollbacks on regulations in 2017 have farmers feeling pleased with their favorable relationships in Washington, which continues to put profits before health.
Agri-Technologies are also quickly out-pacing any current regulations and policy oversight. There is resurgence in the use of Glyphosate and other toxic chemicals in one sector, while gene editing, splicing and manipulation is rapidly becoming a new norm in many others. But in this newest technology explosion, no in-depth guidelines exist to protect our food at the most fundamental levels.
The most recent articulation of this is CRISPR-Cas9, the next generation of bio-logical pesticides or biopestides. Scientists claim this new chemical makes plants naturally resistant to pests, not by controlling the insertion of a gene in a plant, but by extracting a section of DNA to control the expression that attracts disease or pests. “We finally have a mandatory GMO labeling law in the US. However, the regulations to implement the law are nearly two years from finalization,” said Beth Clay, POP Campaign advocate in D.C. “It looks like the regulations may be outdated before they are even finalized, given the pace industry is moving towards CRISPR and the removal of genes rather than the insertion of them.”
Gaps in government oversight for CRIS-PR food technologies are a huge concern as lines become increasingly blurred and positions collide in the new technical debate reboot. These openings have invited an onslaught of supposed new food strains that are proceeding outside of any effective regulatory process.
Bureaucratic regulators only ask for a surface reporting. They find it more efficient and advantageous to respond on a case-by-case basis with high-precision or controversial products. It is estimated that as many as 70 CRISPR crops are in the pipeline, and will soon appear in your neighborhood stores without any truth in labeling for consumers.
These synthetic, recreated fields are quickly becoming the norm, as the clear-cutting of regulations puts our foods and our families at risk. “CropLife International reports they have counted 586 arthropod species, 235 fungi and 252 weeds with resistance to at least one synthetic pesticide,” said Brian Clement. “Clearly this is the wrong direction on the freeway to health. A realignment of policies is needed; ones that clearly protect the true stakeholders of the world: We the People and We the Children.” From an even wider food safety watch-dog lens, there remain some international efforts to put layers of protection in place.
For instance, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is an outgrowth of the Convention on Biological Diversity involving 170 countries, has established an international agreement, and is gradually gaining more support.
It seeks to ensure the safe use, handling and transport of any modified organism from modern biotechnology that may have diverse effects on biological diversity. Although the pace is exceptionally slow, it is reassuring that these calls for responsible policy-making continue at so many levels.
Locally, recent headlines shifted attention to food policies in schools. This past May, the agricultural secretary halted a mandate to decrease salt in school meals and opened the possibility to allow school food policies that undermine current health standards.
We think this is ridiculous. To sacrifice decades of work on improving the quality of school lunches because students don’t want to eat whole wheat bread anymore is akin to relaxing education standards because students complain. We must be aware who is orchestrating these changes—food marketers—and put local control of school eating back into the hands of the people.
“As policy makers and parents, we get stuck in food ruts, follow advertisers and get caught in smoke screens,” said Rudhi Leonardi, food justice advocate and founder of the POP Campaign. “It is so reassuring that the Hippocrates Health Institute has an uncompromising FQ—Food Intelligent Quotient—a clear and sensible blueprint for health that is an impeccable compass for navigating our choices through these crazy times.”
The Hippocrates Health Institute and the POP Campaign hold to the integrity of organic standards and are committed to keeping them pure. The policy regurgitation we see at so many levels forces us to rethink and strengthen our positions and resolve to do the right thing for our families and children. We are committed with you to never be a policy-directed petri dish experiment. We will ensure you can always find the correct information to make the right choices and be informed.