Corporate bioengineers tinker merrily and dangerously with the DNA of food
Jim Hightower's newest book, Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush, is scheduled for release next month. Until then, Utne will be running a series of excerpts from the title.
As you're flipping through the back sections of your morning paper, do you sometimes come across a story that strikes you as the real news of the day? I'm talking about stories that are somewhere between reeeaaally important and jawdropping, and you ask yourself: Why did they bury this back here... Why isn't this the front-page lead with a screaming two-inch headline?
I had one of these moments recently when I came across this deceptively bland headline: "Modified Seeds Found Amid Unmodified Crops." Most people scanning the February 24, 2004, issue of the New York Times would either have missed this story entirely, since it was stuck down at the bottom of page 6, section C, or they would have not bothered to read beyond the boring headline, which made it seem like a farmer story.
A more appropriate headline would have been:
CONTAMINATING U.S. FOOD SUPPLY!
Yes, it needs that exclamation point, for this is a truly alarming story that should be the subject of ongoing reporting by every media source, perhaps matching the in-depth analysis the media establishment gives to such stories of national import as, say, Michael Jackson.
[A LITTLE BACKGROUND: For some time, the likes of Monsanto have had their white-smocked engineers tinkering merrily and dangerously with the very DNA of food, genetically modifying the natural composition of things like potatoes so they contain a pesticide in every one of their cells, or altering rice so it contains a diarrhea drug in every bite. This is no mere lab experiment, for unbeknownst to the vast majority of Americans, Monsanto and a handful of other global biotech giants have quietly spread the seeds of these genetically altered Frankenfoods to so many farms over the past decade that about a third of the foods on U.S. supermarket shelves now contain organisms with tampered DNA -- everything from baby food and milk to products made with soybean and corn. Thanks to well-placed campaign donations and powerhouse lobbying, this infiltration of our food supply has been done with practically no consumer awareness, since both Bill Clinton's and George W's administrations have let these foodstuffs be sold in America without so much as a label on them to tell us that we're buying something that our families might prefer to avoid. WE NOW RETURN YOU TO THE PRESENT.]
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