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  • it feels preposterous and maybe even embarrassing to stand here twenty

  • thirteen to say to you that we have the right to know what's in our food

  • that's exactly what i want to talk about tonight and i want to speak about

  • the fact that the U.S. does not mandate labelling of genetically engineered

  • organisms you would know GE organisms they are otherwise known as GMOs

  • these are plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to

  • exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs

  • and this is actually accomplished by the transfer of genetic material from

  • one species to another

  • in a way that could never happen in nature

  • or frankly through traditional breeding the leading biotech firms

  • will go to great lengths on their

  • websites to distinguish between

  • genetically-engineered crops patented crop to pay on

  • and those that they have developed through traditional breeding method and so

  • they really are

  • quite different and i wanna argued to you today that our federal government's

  • failure

  • to mandate

  • transparency to mandate labeling

  • of these new life forms is a complete breach

  • of its responsibility to we the people

  • and and i want to argue that we have a role

  • in making that happen and argue also that the federal government's failure to

  • be

  • actively engaged in the science of long-term risk assessment

  • of these new life forms is also a breach

  • now interestingly one aspect of our one part of a federal government absolutely

  • recognizes these crops as completely unique

  • but U.S. patent office has given out hundreds of patents identifying these as

  • absolutely distinctive new form that can be in fact owned

  • and as you know these patents have been very successfully defended with tens of

  • millions of dollars

  • farmers who

  • saved crops who saved seeds when their farms have been

  • inadvertently contaminated with genetic

  • uh... material or transgenic crops from

  • nearby farms of accident successfully prosecuted for patent infringement now

  • at the FDA

  • on the other hand we have the exact opposite point of view

  • the FDA's point of view for twenty years since nineteen ninety two

  • keep in mind of these cops were introduced in nineteen ninety-six

  • commercially

  • but since nineteen ninety two the FDAs

  • policy has been that these crops are substantially equivalent they are materially

  • the same

  • because they exhibit similar organ elliptic taste or smell

  • characteristics or similar nutritional

  • uh... characteristics and therefore it is determined that we

  • should not be uh... they're not material to us to know

  • and it's important to understand that this

  • voluntary guidelines opted by the FDA in nineteen ninety two was not a result

  • of input by the people are represented as this did not come out of congress

  • this is actually

  • a result of a process led by the council on competitiveness council

  • competitiveness chaired by then

  • Dan Quayle who you might recall

  • and they it was actually a very brilliant move on the part of industry

  • to enlist

  • vice president quayle

  • in creating this effort because this is in fact in the law

  • of the land today even though there have been enormous changes

  • over that time for example

  • ninety percent of selling now out there is genetically engineered eighty five

  • percent of corn

  • is now genetically-engineered

  • what this means is that over seventy five percent of the processed foods we're

  • eating

  • now contains genetically-engineered

  • materials been incredibly successful but the data as overwhelmingly clear but the

  • average citizen

  • knows nothing about this now interestingly

  • in fifty five nations around the world

  • actually take the exact opposite view that when these crops are

  • approved for commercialization

  • labeling is absolutely required

  • really progressive countries like well first of all of the EU

  • and most of our trading partners but really progressive countries like russia

  • china

  • even syria

  • have mandated labeling now you may wonder

  • why did these countries offer liberties to their status is that we in the land

  • of the free don't have

  • that I assure you is beyond the scope of my discussion today but it has

  • something to do

  • with corporate influence in washington i'm pretty sure

  • uh...

  • the reality is...the question that you must we must ask is are they safe

  • and that's a very important question

  • but it's actually not material to whether they should be labelled

  • this has become a kind of a smokescreen when these companies say well they're

  • materially the same and a perfectly safe

  • if a crop

  • or an additive or process is found to be unsafe it's not just put on the label

  • it's banned

  • this is not about whether it's safer not this is about the fact that under the

  • federal food drug and cosmetic act

  • the FDA is required is accountable to we the people

  • to make us aware of processes or ingredients that alter or materially change

  • the food in a way that is not obvious to us so in the case of irradiation where

  • we have mandatory labeling of irradiation nobody has

  • proven irradiated foods are harmful or not

  • uh... but there is a recognition in DC

  • that this process is of concern to our citizens it is therefore

  • material

  • and therefore labeling is required and it's important note that the irradiation

  • companies

  • have not five takes there actually proud of their technology and it's interesting

  • to contrast that

  • with the chemical companies who own these GE crops

  • the reality is is that we have lots of examples like this we have

  • farm raised versus wild, we have orange juice from concentrate we have country

  • of origin

  • these are processes where you can say it's safe or unsafe

  • and you can say that they're materially uh... similar but these are processes

  • that concern people

  • what i'm arguing is that we shouldn't be labeling we don't need to be labeling

  • because they're proven to be safe or unsafe although there is

  • something that i want to say about that in just a moment

  • but rather because we are introducing new bacteria, new genetic material

  • we are introducing new proteins that have never before been in these foods

  • that is material to us

  • now i do want to raise the

  • concern because it's widely held out there that the lack of independent

  • testing

  • to determine substantial equivalence or material

  • similarity

  • is is a problem

  • nearly all of the conclusions of substantial equivalence have

  • resulted from studies either conducted by the patent holders or funded by the

  • patent holders

  • and indeed this is important because

  • many of the promises by these very same patent holders

  • have in fact gone unfulfilled

  • for example

  • we have a corn out there that's widely used that has an insecticide built into it

  • called bt

  • a formerly effective

  • insecticide that has done a nice job of controlling

  • root worms but we were told

  • that this...at the time that this crop was being... was filing for approval

  • that this bt insecticide would never survive in the human digestive system in

  • fact that it would be

  • destroyed by our saliva within seconds of consuming it

  • now we have absolute input evidence and and published studies

  • from two years ago that show the bt

  • toxins are present in the core blood of pregnant women

  • we literally have ingested these insecticides

  • and they continue inside us

  • numerous national academy of science studies

  • revealed that

  • well there are all kinds of reasons to believe that we may be introducing new

  • toxins and new allergens

  • in these cops but unlike with drugs where we have mandatory testing on animals

  • mandatory human clinical trials

  • mandatory trials of carcinogenicity

  • of fetal impact, neurological impact

  • and at least some limited allergy testing

  • none of that is required believe it or not for these crops

  • so there may be chronic problems happening across the country there may

  • be links

  • to the explosion of allergies that everyone of us is seeing

  • around us

  • but we have, epidemiologists have absolutely no way of knowing because

  • without labeling we don't know if we're eating this stuff

  • now there are lots of reasons to label there are allergen concerns there are

  • concerns about independent testing

  • their religious concerns my friends in the

  • the religious community

  • refer to GMOs as god moving over, they just don't like messing with god's work

  • and i will tell you that the mellman group has done research showing that

  • ninety two percent of americans when given the choice

  • say that they prefer to know whether these crops or ingredients are in our

  • food or not

  • actually what they said there's no statistical difference between

  • republicans

  • democrats or independents

  • and in fact what they also said that ninety two percent of americans don't

  • agree on anything

  • so this is a very meaningful

  • meaningful statistic

  • now let me say what is material from my vantage point

  • we were told by these very same chemical companies on these crops when

  • herbicide tolerant crops were that which is the primary gene available in these

  • cops

  • when they were first introduced we were told that

  • they would actually result in a reduction

  • of herbicide usage

  • but here's actually what's happened

  • we have seen since nineteen ninety six since these crops were introduced

  • a 527 million pound increase

  • and herbicides in 1996 we used 14 million pounds of herbicides

  • on the three leading commodity crops, last year we use over 300

  • million

  • pounds of these herbicides

  • and the single dependence on these herbicides is creating all kinds of

  • issues

  • and never before really seen out there but for example the USGS, the united states

  • geological survey reports

  • that we are now finding glyphosate herbicide in the air

  • in the spring in the summer throughout our rural communities and of course

  • through drift everybody uh...

  • downwind from this is breathing this stuff so we're literally breathing

  • herbicides now and drinking it in our water

  • with insecticides

  • where again we've seen the second leading trait that's been developed is

  • insecticide tolerance

  • uh... we have seen a decrease actually

  • this is good news, of 123 million

  • pounds in the same period since these crops were introduced

  • but we have this problem now which is that new studies have come out in

  • the last year and a half, two years, that the corn borer, the corn root worm is

  • now becoming

  • resistant to what was used to be a very effective insecticide and again

  • as i mentioned

  • this insecticide is now present

  • literally in our bodies and we're carrying it around with us

  • and this indeed is uh... not uh... at all what was promised with these crops

  • now i wish i could tell you that this was the end of the problem it's actually in fact the

  • beginning

  • because going along with the overuse of these herbicides has been an explosion

  • of herbicide resistance out there

  • twenty three different weeds

  • are growing in more than half the states in this country on millions of acres

  • that are now

  • resistant they're no longer affected by herbicides

  • which in smaller doses

  • dosages used to affect them

  • and so what the chemical companies have said is well farmers need to use

  • stronger herbicides 2,4D, Dicamba, you may understand the last time you heard

  • 2,4D

  • is that it was fifty percent of agent orange and we're now using this

  • widely across the country

  • and in fact now new crops are being introduced that are genetically

  • bred to be resistant

  • to 2,4D and Dicamba

  • in fact the weed science society of america is meeting later this month

  • for a major uh... discussion and debate on this exact issue that we have

  • essentially sentenced ourselves

  • to chemical inflation, kind of an environmental and health

  • train wreck and we're becoming more and more depending on these chemicals

  • so this is a very brilliant brilliant business model

  • the crop, the companies that own seeds

  • make money by selling the seeds, they are patented

  • and then they make money selling the chemicals that we are now becoming

  • addicted to and required

  • and we need stronger and stronger chemicals

  • and indeed

  • uh... in 2010 the President's cancer panel

  • came out and reported that

  • forty one percent of americans are going to be diagnosed with cancers in our

  • lifetime