Thursday, July 12, 2012

Organic DNA, President Obama and My NO GMO Vote

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, a novella about two women who died and became legends in the historic seacoast town of Marblehead, MA, available now on Amazon. She is also the author of Atlantis, political poems about the United States being another Atlantis.

     My first vote was for Shirley Chisholm in 1972; I was 21 years old. You can see I was ready even then for a change.
     When President Obama won the election in 2008, I cried. Like many other people, I thought, “Now, there’s hope.”
     Today, I am disappointed.
     I have been macrobiotic for over 35 years. I have watched this country go from thinking diet had nothing to do with health to seeing an organic garden at the White House. I’m glad about that. Thank you, Michelle. Now, future generations will understand how good quality food affects the quality of their lives.
     However, while creating a lovely photo op of the organic garden, President Obama’s administration has, behind the scenes, ignored America’s requests for more organic farming methods, and, most importantly, no GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in our food and agriculture.
     I know that a President cannot do everything, that President Obama is a delegator, and that he trusts the man he appointed to be Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, a highly respected man in agri-business and friend of the bio-tech industry and the man he appointed to be Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, former lawyer for Monsanto, the biggest manufacturer of GMOs. I know that the process of feeding billions of people is complicated and changes cannot be made overnight.
     However, I also know the dangers of genetically altering the DNA of our food. Perhaps modern science has not learned or proved yet how our DNA is made, but as a macrobiotic person, I believe our DNA comes primarily from the food we eat. Traditionally, most peoples stayed in one place, and therefore, grew food there and ate from that location. People of different areas, like families, took on distinctive traits from that area, as from family recipes.
     Now, with so many GMOs in our food system, 90% of all packaged foods on our shelves have some Genetically Modified ingredients, we are playing a dangerous game of roulette with the genes of our children.
     I cannot vote for President Obama unless he comes out against GMOs, or at least for more study into their dangers.
     I’m sure the Obama administration has heard of the initial studies that did find dangers, but these studies and the scientists who did them were silenced. Also, they have heard of the farmers’ suicides in India and Prince Charles’ statements against GMO seeds.
     Of course, not voting for Obama also means I will not be voting for his Republican opponent. After all, it was a Republican who “de-regged” GMOs in the first place. 
     Most organic food proponents are demanding GMO labeling right now, and they are disappointed in Obama because he has failed to keep his campaign promise to label GMOs.
     I am not disappointed about labeling.
     I think GMO labeling is a waste of time.
     Americans should not wait for labeling. They should stop buying all packaged foods immediately and go straight to organic bulk and fresh foods. What would happen if everyone, all at once, stopped buying their packaged breakfast cereals? Baked goods? Chips? Frozen dinners? Pizzas? Fast foods of all kinds.
     I know one thing that would happen: everyone’s health would improve.
     I am also very disappointed in Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” program, which promised to fill “food deserts” in our inner cities with markets of fresh produce and real food for healthy meals instead of the fast food convenience stores that exist now on virtually every corner. I don’t understand why the First Lady cannot get food stores into cities. What is taking so long? Or, why isn’t the success of this program, if I am wrong and it is a success, in the news? (NEWS!) I have not heard of even one market that has gone into an inner city “food desert” or one major food chain that has taken on this challenge of getting fresh food to the people. (Correction - Just heard of markets rising to the occasion from a friend, Green Consciousness on Facebook. Click on NEWS! Should have been on page 1 everywhere! Food deserts are so bad, even GMOs are better than nothing - for now.) Meanwhile, more talk about how bad food deserts are.
     I purchased an Obama/Biden button from his site in 2008. I lost it one day in Barnes & Noble. I actually crawled on the floor to find it because I valued it so much, still believing he would change this country. I found the button, but I had to put it away after learning about his continuing GMO policy, because I couldn’t bear to look at it.
     I want to be able to wear a new 2012 Obama button. But, I cannot. And, I cannot vote for Obama this year.
     Oh, I’m very happy that President Obama came out for gay marriage and for Planned Parenthood. These are, in a way, more important issues than GMOs because they are more immediate issues. Just hearing Mitt Romney say, “Yeah, Planned Parenthood, we’re gonna get rid of that.” Made me want to jump up and run out and vote for Obama. Especially since I was watching a Law & Order SVU marathon at the time.
     However, GMOs are not so obvious because GMOs will sneak up on us perhaps years from now and bite us on the behind. Do you really want to risk the snowballing effect one gene alteration could have on another and then, on another, on another, etc when that gene could be in your grandchild?
     My feelings are ones of sadness that the United States, the greatest country in the world, does not have 100% healthy food for its people. GMOs are dangerous and they are being consumed even as I write in everything from baby formula to cake mix.
     Currently, the GMO industry has been putting riders on our Farm Bills that would eliminate all restrictions against GMOs, even government, EPA or USDA restrictions. 
     The earth may or may not be able to rejuvenate from GMOs.  We simply don’t know how genetically modified organisms will effect the planet. Super Weeds that are resistant to the pesticides in GMO crops are being formed out in the fields. Even the sacred corn of Mexico, preserved for thousands of years, has been polluted by GMOs. (WARNING: The first half of this video contains GRAPHIC IMAGES of the results of Agent Orange, another bio-tech product. Mexico sacred corn, from 4:06 on.)
     Even as I write, plans are being made to release Genetically Modified mosquitos into Florida. President Obama, please do not allow this action! Americans do not want GM insects released!
     President Obama, please do something about GMOs in our food supply. Please come out against GMOs and I will vote for you.
     There is still a chance for hope.

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©Patricia Goodwin, 2012