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President Obama signed a continuing spending bill this week. One of the provisions protects companies that produce genetically modified seeds from being sued, even if they become a public health risk in the future. Amber Binion reports.
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are plants that have been altered genetically to resist herbicides and pests. They also can be fortified to include nutrients like iron and vitamin A. It produces more sustainable food with fewer resources. More resistant plants allow farmers’ to do less work and harvest more crops. Alan McHughen, a plant biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside. He says the law is designed to let big and small biotech companies recoup their investments. He is explains why the provision is beneficial.
Farmers are business people. They have to make business decisions about what kind of crops they’re going to grow. And one of the factors that come into that decision making process is whether the seeds they buy will produce a harvest of seeds they can sell. There’s some anxiety in the farming community that lawsuits against certain crop varieties may interfere with their ability to harvest and sell the crop.
Supporters call it the Farmers Assurance Provision. It bars the federal court from stopping the sale of genetically modified crops and allows agriculture companies to sell what they’ve made. The most common GMOs on American farms are corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola. In other words, these are the most profitable crops. That means there’s a lot of money at stake. Opponents say it’s large companies that are more likely to benefit from the law, specifically bio-tech giant Monsanto. At a farmers market on the Upper Westside, anti-GMO advocates call it the Monsanto Protection Act.
Why should the largest company, food-processing company, in the world be protected by the government? The small farmers and the individuals need to be protected by the government.
Houghman is the regional coordinator for Greenmarket in northern Manhattan. She sells locally grown and GMO-free vegetables. She thinks there isn’t enough scientific research on the long-term effects of genetically modified food.
Well, we just don’t know. It might not be anything real serious. It might be something that shows up in a generation maybe, 2 generations. We just don’t know. And the potential for it to get out of control is huge.
Michael Lapone, a farmer’s market vendor for Hawthorne Valley Farm is just plain uncomfortable with the idea of GMOs.
Children should not play with fire. And playing with genetic engineering is playing with fire and they don’t know the outcomes. They haven’t done the research.
But they have done the research says the plant biotechnologist, Alan McHughen
Some people who don’t have any scientific background are suggesting that there are harms. But the US National Academy of Sciences has conducted numerous safety tests on these genetically modified crops and foods over the years and every time they say there are just as safe as conventionally produced foods and crops.
One thing both anti-GMO and pro-GMO advocates can agree on is the proper labeling of food products. McHughen says all foods need to have labels based on their content, for nutritional reasons. Food advocate groups are now petitioning for the government to label genetically modified food for consumers. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.