Join the Democratic Food Movement, Demand GMO Labeling
By Peter Lehner
Consumers have a right to know what's in their food. And in much of the world, they do, because of government labeling laws. For example, China, Russia and India are among the 50-odd nations that require labeling of genetically modified foods, or GMOs. Here in America, however, we can't get information on GMO foods. That’s because chemical companies and food manufacturers have a stranglehold on the system of government oversight that is supposed to ensure the safety of our food supply.
And it’s consumers who are stuck paying the price for this broken system.
Foodborne illnesses sicken millions of Americans each year. Intensive use of antibiotics in the livestock sector breeds resistant superbugs that now threaten people. Millions of pounds of toxic pesticides continue to be released into our environment, threatening farmworkers, farmers and our natural resources. The hormone-disrupting chemical BPA is still used in food packaging, despite reams of scientific data indicating cause for concern. Rampant overuse of chemical fertilizers has created a 6,800 square mile dead zone in the Gulf, now utterly devoid of life.
And so public trust in our food system, and on the government mechanisms that are supposed to ensure its safety, is rightfully crumbling.
But in a couple of weeks, California voters will have an opportunity to send a powerful message to food manufacturers—and to Washington—about the need for greater transparency in our food system. Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, will require the labeling of GMO foods and food ingredients.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is not opposed to the use of GMOs. Rather, we support increased transparency in our food supply. Advocates of the proposition are just asking for information. A label. There's no ban. Regardless of the potential costs or benefits of GMOs, consumers have the right to make informed decisions about the food they purchase. As Bill Maher quipped on his show Real Time, "We just want what Russia and China have. We just want to be as open as Russia and China."
This vote will also send a message to chemical corporations that are perpetuating the mounting and unsustainable use of toxic pesticides. The next generation of GMO crops promises to unleash widescale use of the older, more toxic herbicides 2,4-D (a component of Agent Orange) and dicamba. This trend is a vicious cycle NRDC is fighting. Replacing millions of acres of GMO corn and soy, engineered to tolerate the herbicide known as Roundup, with these new crops geared to withstand the application of even more toxic chemicals, will truly be a disaster for health and the environment.
California's vote on Nov. 6 is a bellwether for how serious we are about addressing the problems inherent in our industrial food system. If Californians stand up for Prop 37 and demand their right to know, we might, as Michael Pollan observed recently in the New York Times Magazine, really have a true "food movement" on our hands. A democratic food movement capable of effecting real, systemic, lasting change, through the government, on the way we produce and provide food.
Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.
Peter Lehner's post originally appeared on Natural Resources Defense Council's Switchboard.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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