The Fight for Labeling Rights: What Agribusiness Doesn’t Want You to Know

They Are Alive!!!

There is an ever-growing controversy that most of us have never heard of. Though it is hard to believe, the American food supply is nearing its twenty year mark of
being overrun with dangerous biotechnology. As with so many other life changing
innovations, the greed of mankind has pushed biotechnology too far in the wrong
direction. A mound of controversy has arisen over the inception of food
modification into the world’s food supply. Critics immediately deemed GMOs as a
science project gone wrong; the term Frankenfoods was soon used interchangeably with GM foods.

There has been a long debate over the safety of modified foods. Researchers have found the safety of GMOs to be questionable to say the least. Anything short of buying certified organic food leaves the consumer in a dangerous game of Russian roulette. With all the labeling issues found with organic and modified food alike, the knowledge that the food you are eating is now a difficult thing to come by. How are we supposed to know what food is safe to eat and what is not?

Got GMO’s?

Who in the world hasn’t had a big, cold glass of milk? It is safe to say that
most people have had milk as a young child. Milk has always been held in high regard with our children’s healthy growth for its high calcium content, as well as protein and vitamin C. Any oreo cookie commercial will show how our culture has been taught to drink milk. What if there was evidence that several harmful substances were being included in the milk that you drink? What if this has been going on for 17 years? Human input strikes again at the health of the public. The FDA approved the sale of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone in 1994. Thanks to all of our friends at Monsanto,
recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is now used in dairies across the
nation. This hormone is injected into dairy cattle during the lactation period
to force them to produce higher amounts of milk. rBGH has caused numerous
problems with the nutritional content and overall safety of a glass of milk.

First off, the average person would agree that healthy milk would undoubtedly come from a health cow. This hormone has been found to raise the appearance of mastitis, an udder infection sometimes found in dairy cattle. Some investigations have found that
the use of rBGH can raise the appearance of mastitis in cattle as high as one
third higher than in untreated cattle.

Right away this causes a problem for consumers, because this infection causes high amounts of pus to collect in milk samples. As gross as that is, it makes sense in a way due to the fact that your standard gallon of milk has to pasteurized before consumption. The process of pasteurization is essentially a way to heat milk to the point of killing any
bacteria that might harm the consumer. Therefore, we can deduce that there must
be something that was in the milk to cause producers to pasteurize it. Also,
this process has failed to keep outbreaks of salmonella at bay and reduces the
vitamin content of the milk by at least half that of raw milk. This is the milk that we are feeding our children with everyday!

In addition to the pus and the nutrient deficiency, rBGH milk will also contain traces of antibiotics. This one is a no brainer. If the cows that are injected with hormone are
getting sick with mastitis, there has to be some treatment to keep the cows
from dying. In comes the doses of antibiotics to ward off mastitis, or at least
keep the poor animal alive enough to keep producing product.

So let’s map this thing out. Corporations want to produce more milk. Certain helpful companies create a hormone that does just that. The injections cause infection in the
cattle, which is remedied with antibiotics for the cows to live and nutrient robbing pasteurization to make the milk safe for human consumption. This leaves us buying unhealthy, unsanitary milk, all in the name of making money. If this wasn’t enough, we have secretly been sold this terrible milk for years without any knowledge of it until recently!

Did I Mention Who Marketed rBGH?

Yes. You have read correctly. Monsanto was one of the first companies to put bovine growth hormone on the market. For those of us who may be a little less familiar with Monsanto, here are a few fast facts of this colorful company:

  • Known for their production of harmful chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs were found to be potent carcinogens (i.e. cancer causing agents) and the cause of several reproductive, developmental, and immune system disorders in the 1960s.
  • Has been fined in court for withholding important information on the health hazards of certain products several times. Monsanto paid $225,000 dollars for mislabeling their herbicide Roundup on 75 different occasions in 1998. Overexposure to Roundup has been related to heart palpitations, nausea, reproductive problems, chromosome aberrations, lung damage, etc.
  • Producers of the artificial sweetener aspartame. In 1996, the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology concluded aspartame increased the number of brain cancers.

Can we really trust foods that are being treated with products from a company like
this? In addition to all the pertinent information that Monsanto has kept from
the public, it has made a tremendous effort for others to keep their mouths
shut about possibly crippling evidence. There are several instances of farmers,
scientists, press members, and agency members being fired, paid off, and
threatened or the like. The video below gives a brief glimpse into the
underhandedness of big agribusiness practices.

Your Right to Know

 A report from the Organic Consumers Association says that the state of Ohio
recently decided that it will not continue to pursue any further regulation for
the labeling of organic dairy products. Ohio disputed the labeling of organic
dairy products as free of synthetic growth hormones, pesticides, or
antibiotics. Disputes like this have become a common theme for organic
producers because conventional competitors do not want their products to be put
in jeopardy. But isn’t it the right of the consumer to know the facts behind
the food that they are eating? Are we really buying into the idea that it is
not our place to know whether our food is safe if the feelings of a company
might get hurt?

The Sixth Circuit Court of appeals has already ruled in 2010 that rBGH dairy is compositionally different from normal milk and that the hormone elevates the risk of cancer. No one can deny these facts, but agribusiness is not going down without a fight. Companies will continue to shadow the harmful effects of their modified food products and protect their livelihood. It is now the responsibility of the consumer to be aware of the current situation and to stand for the health of our people buy refusing to buy
these products and demanding retailers to carry organic.

                                                                                                         –     Jackson H. Smith

Works
Consulted

Baden-Mayer, Alexis. “Victory for Voluntary GMO-Free
Labels!.” Organic Consumers  Association.
N.p. 3 Nov. 2011. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.  http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_24246.cfm

Tokar, Brian. “Monsanto: A Profile of Corporate
Arrogance.” Say No To GMO’s. N.p. N.d. Web.
6 September, 2011.  http://www.saynotogmos.org/monsanto_1.htm#arrogance

“Real Milk.” Food Renegade. N.p. N.d. Web 5, Nov. 2011 http://www.foodrenegade.com/the-basics/real-milk/

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