The introduction of genetically modified foods and food ingredients into the American diet has been a smashing success for agribusiness interests and the food manufacturing companies. With the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration offering next to nothing in the way of resistance, GMOs have quickly moved into a dominant position in the corn and soybean markets in particular, and the sky appears to be the limit for an agriculture/industrial complex that is already raking it in by the billions thanks to the rise of biotechnology and the decline of more traditional styles of agriculture.
But in the public relations department, things are not going quite as well. GMOs and the companies who sell and promote them have been taking a pounding at the hands of a whole cadre of activists, scientists, and consumer advocates who have been sounding the alarm about the risks to human health and the environment that may be associated with this still poorly understood technology. No one really knows at this point how dangerous to people these genetically-engineered food crops might actually be, since GMO products are relatively new to the human diet and a sufficient amount of time has yet to pass for their effects to be fully revealed. However, a number of independent, peer-reviewed studies have already been published that have linked GMOs to a wide range of health problems including liver and kidney malfunction, auto-immune diseases, allergies, diseases of accelerated aging, and birth defects, just to name a few.
Playing the games with science that powerful corporations selling dangerous substances always like to play, companies profiting from GMO technology have attempted to counter these findings by sponsoring their own research which shows these foods to be safe (totally unbiased research, of course) while casting aspersions on the motivations of those expressing concerns about the safety of genetically-engineered products. They have also used their considerable political clout to resist attempts by legislative or regulatory bodies to control the spread of GMOs or require the labeling of food products containing genetically engineered ingredients.
But despite the best efforts of food manufacturers, genetically altered seed producers, and biotech research organizations to put a genetically-engineered happy face on the issue, there has nevertheless been a strong reaction against GM foods among the American public, and this groundswell of public opposition to the biotech revolution is showing no signs of abating. In November of this year, a major legislative battle taking place in the state of California will come to a head, as citizens will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative called the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act of 2012, which will require all foods sold in the state to carry identifying labels if they contain genetically-altered ingredients. Polls show overwhelming support for labeling among California voters and among the American public as a whole, and it may be only a matter of time before labeling becomes a universal reality despite the attempts of the biotech giants to delay the inevitable.
If this is indeed the case, in the years to come it will be essential for the manufacturers and sellers of GM food products to have well-organized and effective public relations campaigns that can persuade consumers to purchase products sporting GMO warning labels. Furthermore, keeping the market for these foods strong is also in the best interests of the companies selling genetically altered seeds and pesticides designed to be used with GMO crops, since farmers will not want to buy these products if consumers are showing a preference for non-GM food products. There may be hundreds of billions of dollars at stake here for the biotech industry as a whole, which perhaps explains why the purveyors of GMOs and other associated products are now attempting to change the public image of their industry by spreading the good word about genetic engineering and biotechnology to the youth of America through the public school system.
“Look Closer At Biotechnology”: A Closer Look Indeed
In order to reach the next generation of consumers, a non-profit organization called the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) has released a colorful workbook for children that introduces them to genetically modified seeds and food crops. Designed for use by elementary teachers looking for fun and interesting educational materials, Look Closer at Biotechnology introduces children to the thrilling amazing fantastic marvelous wonderful wonders of the exciting world of genetic engineering, which will allow farmers all over the world to grow mega-bushel after mega-bushel of the healthiest, most nutritious, most delicious foods that have ever been grown anywhere on earth at any time ever! Filled with sixteen pages of smiling cartoon characters, puzzles, games, fill-in-the-blank exercises, and an assortment of fun factoids that tell the “true” story of the biotech miracle, this booklet is now being offered for free download online, where it can be printed out and distributed to lucky students everywhere.
One would hope that most educators would see through this ruse and refuse to cooperate with such a transparent attempt to brainwash our children with propaganda that completely misrepresents the truth about GM foods. Or if some teachers do choose to actually use this material as a part of a science or social studies class, they could use it as a springboard for a more realistic and balanced discussion of what the rapid spread of biotechnology really means for the economy, the food supply, the environment, and for the health of the American people. But the wizards behind the curtain at the CBI (the organization is funded by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Agro Sciences, and four other GMO-connected corporations) are counting on the fact that many public school teachers will be too uninformed on the issues and/or too anxious to get new educational materials wherever they can find them to really look closely at the misinformation children are being exposed to on the pages of this workbook.
Helping our children take a closer look at biotechnology is not a bad thing by any means. But believing that this is what the giant biotech, chemical, and seed interests actually have in mind would be naïve to the extreme. The intention here is to propagandize and indoctrinate, pure and simple, and GMO companies know that if they can create an association between genetically-engineered crops and images of good health, nutrition, and environmental protection in the minds of youth now, when these fledgling consumers take trips to the supermarket in the future they will be filled with warm and happy thoughts every time they see one of those bright and sunny GMO labels.
Welcome To GMO Land!
Despite the numerous studies that have raised doubts about the safety of GMO products for human beings and the natural environment, and despite the fact that 90 percent of all Americans would like to see GM foods labeled so they would have the option not to buy them, there appears to be little doubt that the GMO revolution is here to stay. But even though the biotech giants have the government, the mainstream media, and the marketplace firmly under their control, they are still determined to counteract the negative publicity they have received firmly and decisively, before it has the chance to do any real damage to their profit margins.
Look Closer at Biotechnology represents an opening salvo in a campaign designed to co-opt the educational system and fill the minds of impressionable youth with an avalanche of pro-GMO propaganda. While there is no telling what else the GMO purveyors might have in store for our children, to really drive home the point about the wonders of genetic engineering it would not be surprising to see them eventually open up a biotech amusement park modeled after Disney World or Coney Island. There would be rides, games, contests, exhibitions, sideshow acts, magicians, and plenty of stands selling good, healthy, nutritious, yummy deep-fried or sugarcoated GM foods. And the giant biotech corporations will be standing by ready to help out our schools by covering the costs of field trips so thousands of students from across the country would have the opportunity to come and experience all the excitement and thrills that only a visit to GMO Land could offer.
Yes, the future possibilities truly stagger the mind.
©2012 Off the Grid News