Tuesday, June 4, 2013

South Korea and Japan react seriously to GMO wheat from US

This is a potentially big story coming from the United States that affects South Korean food supplies, US – ROK relations, and a whole bunch of other things.

The spark for the story comes from Oregon, where a farmer detected GMO wheat, engineered by Monsanto, growing on his field.

Inlike corn and soybeans, where GMO product is now commonplace, the United States FDA has never approved a strain of GMO wheat. Yet this strain that was tested but eventually dropped by Monsanto has ended up growing in the wild. This has a lot of people very concerned.

You see, much of the rest of the world is frightened or at least put off by GMO products. No matter what proponents of GMO foods may say, splicing genes from a very different species, maybe one that's not even from a plant, onto the original plants is very different from slow-going crop selection within naturally occurring species that has been done for centuries if not millennia.

And those countries are concerned enough about GMO product that they are willing to buy their wheat elsewhere if the United States were to go ahead and allow Monsanto to turn our wheat into Frankenfood. Thus, it was not worries about GMO food and what we don't know about its hort-term and long-term effects that's prompted the decision not to approve it, but good old-fashioned concern for the bottom line. In short, if Washington were to allow Monsanto to put GMO wheat into the food supply, American exports of wheat could dry up.

And that's exactly what we see happening now, following the discovery of GMO wheat in the wild in Oregon. Even though the Monsanto GMO product was not approved, it somehow got out. That has prompted Japan to cancel an order of some 25,000 tons of American wheat, and South Korea is now testing its imports of American wheat to make sure that no GMO wheat is detected.

Americans who have fallen for Monsanto's GMO spiel, hook, line, and sinker, may cry foul at what Tokyo, Seoul, and even the European Union are doing, but they are simply reflecting the demands of a skeptical public within their own borders that worries about the unforeseen consequences of drastic manipulation of the food supply.

I am not categorically against GMO foods, but I am also deeply concerned about what we don't really know about the GMO foods that we have already produced. Companies like Monsanto are driven not by science but by profit, and they have been injecting GMO foods into the public sector faster than public health and other scientific fields can keep up. Even with solid evidence that neonicotinoid-based herbicides, which they incorporate into some of the seeds they produce, may be a major factor in the global bee die-off, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), this agricultural juggernaut is pushing ahead, as if their shortsighted, profit-minded actions are not endangering the food supply of billions of people.

I'm glad South Korea is doing this. We need to put the brakes on this, and people should be alarmed that an experimental GMO products whose testing was abandoned has shown up in the food supply. It is good that countries like Japan, South Korea, and the European Union are looking at this the same way they would a biological pathogen. I just hope the folks in Washington will wake up to this problem, now that it has become an economic hazard as well. But when so many of our politicians – not just Republicans but also Democrats – are in the deep, deep pockets of companies like Monsanto, I'm not sure that will happen.

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4 comments:

  1. Roundup is an herbicide, not a pesticide.

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    1. D'oh! I knew that! It's billed as a weedkiller, which makes it an herbicide, not a pesticide. That kind of sloppiness comes from writing an insomnia-fueled post.

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  2. What evidence is there against the herbicide, Roundup? You might want to verify that to back up your assertion of solid evidence.

    On my Texas farm, I liberally use Roundup and have not lost any of my bee hives to any die off other than a couple due to African killer bee takeovers. Then, I had to have those hives destroyed and re-queened and populated with new workers.

    It seems that the Roundup conspiracy theory loses a lot of its bite when you factor in the state of Texas where Roundup is used all over the place (Texas has a few ranch fence lines and farms), yet the bees are doing just fine there, and African killer bees are truly thriving. It's especially odd that California, with some of the most stringent pesticide and herbicide regulations in the U.S. is the state worst hit by the disorder that's killing off so many honey bees. So much so, that Texas bees are picking up the slack.

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    1. I misspoke, so I changed the original from this...

      Even with solid evidence that their Roundup herbicide may be a major factor in the global be die-off, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), this agricultural juggernaut is pushing ahead, as if their shortsighted, profit-minded actions are not endangering the food supply of billions of people.

      ... to this...

      Even with solid evidence that neonicotinoid-based herbicides, which they incorporate into some of the seeds they produce, may be a major factor in the global bee die-off, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), this agricultural juggernaut is pushing ahead, as if their shortsighted, profit-minded actions are not endangering the food supply of billions of people.

      Delete

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