What’s in our food

Impacts of free trade

The viewpoint “A debate over food” published on Nov. 14 addressed genetically modified foods and GMO labeling. Jim Parison’s explanation of his and fellow A&E Committee members vote is an excellent essay. Comprehensive and thorough in almost every respect on this thorny issue of GMO product labeling, your readers have been well served by its presentation, with one caveat. A national debate has not been held. By rejecting the bill (HB660) choosing “to do no harm” and leave well enough alone, they acknowledge, without a whimper, corporate fascism is replacing citizen sovereignty here (and worldwide).

Doug Williams’ ardent support of the pending vote on HB660 has little to do with the merits of GMO labeling. He correctly posits “we are becoming insignificant citizens in a corporate nation” and N.H. legislators need a clarion call from voters demanding to know “what is in our food.”

Our nation’s sovereignty began to erode in 1995, the day we joined the World Trade Organization under a political banner emblazoned with “Free Trade.” The United States Congress, judiciary, and executive branches are no longer allowed to protect your interests.

Regulatory powers governing international trade are now vested in the 153 member-nation World Trade Organization. No member has veto power; each has one vote. Established in 1995, WTO has more than 23,000 pages of text spelling out member prerogatives, trading restrictions and violation penalties. Lobbyists employed by multinational conglomerates have drafted and achieved adoption of global “free trade” provisions that bypass consumer and environmental safeguards. These are scorned as too “costly, burdensome and complex” for industries seeking expansion in world markets.

Lawful protections in one member nation are judged to constitute discrimination against another. For example, biosafety policies of WTO are found in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. It prohibits any nation banning GMOs as “unfair trade practices.” Even laws requiring disclosure labeling of GMO foods are banned as “technical barriers to trade.” WTO’s “Agreement on Agriculture” fosters patent laws which assign to GMO plant breeds the intellectual property rights of patent holders. Farmers must purchase their seeds to avoid prosecution.

An agribusiness cartel including Monsanto, Dow, Cargill, ADM, Nestle, Unilever and DuPont uses WTO to co-opt the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FDA, EPA and our vaunted Supreme Court (which enshrined GMO patents in December 2001). U.S. grocery store shelves are lined with unlabeled GMO products. The European Union is winning GMO battles in a courageous fight to protect citizen health, freedoms and ecosystems.

The European Union, which includes 500 million people, passed legislation in June of 2007 embodying the Precautionary Principle: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.”

Chemicals, their derivatives and many other products to be traded in Europe must be registered, evaluated and authorized. Consumer products must include health-toxicity data to support objective professional evaluations.

Passing such progressive legislation followed many debates throughout the continents’ member nations. Debates and litigation continue over GMO-labeling and many other issues as EU citizens battle to preserve their health, freedoms and ecosystems. The acronym REACH applies to statute(s) involved. Learn more at www.REACH/EU/1971.

Laurance Foley lives in Dublin.

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