At a time when there is concern about the possibility of terrorists infecting and poisoning our food supply and an effort to be sure of food safety, it behooves us to broaden the dialogue on food safety to include the ways in which transnational corporations and our own regulatory agencies need to take more responsibility for food safety.
The Dominican Sisters of Hope in Ossining NY, along with ten congregations of Dominican Sisters across the country including Dominican Sisters in Amityville NY, Blauvelt NY, Elkins Park PA, Caldwell NJ, Grand Rapids MI, Houston TX, Racine WI, St Catherine KY Springfield IL and Tacoma WA call for a moratorium on the planting of genetically engineered crops pending environmental and human safety studies. “Until such time as this technology is proven safe” they say, “all food containing genetically engineered ingredients should be labeled.” They join thousands of others in support of the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, which will be introduced into Congress by Congressman Dennis Kuchinich calling for the labeling of genetically modified food.
Large transnational corporations are now involved in the genetic engineering of food. This means that companies such as Monsanto and Novartis are now involved in the practice of altering or disrupting the genetic blueprints of living organisms (plants and animals) patenting them and then selling the resulting food, seeds or other products for profit. The technology used to do this, still in its early stages of development, inserts genes of non-related species into other plants and animals, permanently altering genetic codes. These gene-altered organisms pass the changes onto their offspring through heredity. Gene engineers are now inserting, recombining, rearranging, editing and programming genetic material. Animal genes are inserted into the chromosomes of plants, fish and animals, creating heretofore unimaginable life forms. For the first time in history transnational corporations are becoming the architects and owners of life.
Some would say that there is no evidence that genetically engineered food is harmful to humans and the environment. Others claim quite the contrary stating that they clearly have the potential to be toxic and a threat to human health. Increased food allergies, damage to food quality and nutrition, genetic pollution and damage to beneficial insects and soil fertility are but a few of the damaging results of genetically engineered foods claimed by many.
Sound science adheres to “The Precautionary Principle” which states that if there are reasonable scientific grounds for believing that a new process or product may not be safe, it should not be introduced until there is convincing evidence that the risks are small and outweighed by the benefits. This is the rationale behind a moratorium on genetically engineered crops pending environmental and human safety studies. We must be sure that genetically engineered products have benefits for the consumer and are safe if they are to be introduced into our food.
1. Personally respond by withdrawing our energy from corporations that use genetically engineered ingredients in their food by buying only organic products, which by organic standards cannot include genetically engineered ingredients. This would mean supporting organic farmers and health food stores that ca
2. Join with hundreds of other people through organized efforts by using the actions suggested on the website www.organicconsumers.org. Go to their webiste click the icons on the right under Action:
Millions Against Monsanto – send a fax – keep updated on info about Monsanto
Biodemocracy – see how people in California organized to create “genetically engineered” free zones
“Genetically Engineered” Free Markets – see a sample letter that you could use for supermarkets in your own area telling managers that you have in the past frequented their store, but are now bringing your business somewhere else because they stock genetically engineered products. This would be effective only if we organized hundreds more to do the same.
3. Call and/or write to legislators asking them to co-sponsor Dennis Kuchinich’s Genetically Engineered Food Right To Know Act of 2005. Once that legislation is in Congress, organize a writing/call-in campaign to legislators asking for the passing of that legislation.
4. Find ways, through our diverse ministries, to get the information about genetically engineered food out connecting it to safety, democracy the future health of the planet and our personal responsibility. This could be related to our preaching of the truth.
5. Become informed about seed saving and find ways to begin to save seeds that are not genetically engineered.
6. When we are planting seeds in our own gardens, make sure we plant only seeds that are not genetically engineered. Seed companies that sell non-genetically engineered seeds are: Seeds of Change Johnny’s, High Mowing.
For more information contact Nancy Erts, OP at 914-941-4455.