Friday | June 24, 2016
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Setting facts straight about GMOs

So we now have Monsanto (via Alan Takemoto) crying foul: calling for fair and factual reporting, wanting credible sources, reporting on benefits of GMO, etc.

I am a bit amused and bemused seeing someone representing Monsanto asking for fair reporting and fact checking. Do you remember Takemoto? He had many people on all the islands in an uproar and people crying foul because Senate President Donna Mercado Kim wanted Takemoto, a Monsanto lobbyist, appointed to the state Commission on Water Resourse Management nominating committee. There was a move by the people to get Takemoto’s appointment rescinded. The people pointed out that Monsanto has been turned down twice for bigger shares of Oahu and Maui water allotments. People were/are concerned that another pro-Monsanto water commissioner could tip the balance of power toward Monsanto next time it asks for a bigger water allotment.

I would say that Monsanto makes a mockery of our democratic process. Monsanto and corporations like it flaunt their money, connections and power in allegedly bribing our elected members. Last year, Monsanto spent nearly $6 million on lobbying, and its payoff was the “Monsanto Protection Act,” which was written anonymously, passed in secret and allows Monsanto to keep selling genetically engineered seeds even if a federal court says they may pose a health risk.

Let’s go back to the beginning of GMO and see how Monsanto doesn’t play fair. Our government has federal agencies that were set up to protect the people and environment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is required by the National Environmental Policy Act to carry out environmental assessments or environmental impact statements and the Endangered Species Act prior to any field test of GMO crops. For more than 20 years these protocols have never taken place — except when environmental, consumer and farm groups took the USDA to court to make them carry out the EA/EIS/ESA studies. USDA gave Monsanto and other biotech companies carte blanche in planting their Frankensteinian plants without following any NEPA procedures, which is against the law.

You might ask why would a federal agency, which is mandated to look after consumers, farmers and the environment, look after Monsanto interest instead? The answer lies in the revolving door policy where high ranking ag or food industry personnel move freely between federal agencies (FDA, USDA, EPA, etc), which are mandated to keep our food, farms, environment and consumers safe. The revolving doors compromises this because high-ranking industry personal have a conflict of interest. While they are working for FDA/USDA/EPA they are supposed to be wearing their regulatory hat, however, by their actions, they have never taken off their industry hat. Please read for many examples of government-to-Monsanto-and-back-again, revolving-door policy. FDA administrators stated in 1992 there were no dangers of GMO foods; however, in a court case against the FDA, documents revealed that its own scientist urged his superiors to conduct long-term studies, but was ignored. So much for fact-based truths.

Monsanto and GMO PR articles always talk about eliminating hunger. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, determined that current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. The same is true of the Monsanto claim that GMOs increase production. GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ 2009 report Failure to Yield —‚ the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield. Monsanto makes a mockery of our democratic processes, carries out research without peer review and makes claims that are bull. So please don’t talk about fairness and factual reporting.

Tlaloc Tokuda is a Kona resident.

Viewpoint articles are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily the opinion of the paper.