Twelve years ago Monsanto’s New Leaf GMO potatoes were driven off the market when consumer pressure caused McDonalds and other major buyers to shun the product. They were right to do so, as GMOs are a dubious, more costly, inferior product with no benefits for anyone but the GM corporations. Frankenfoods like GM potatoes meant to be used directly as food are especially hazardous.
The GMO industry was concerned enough about the health risks of GMOs that it propagated the lie (and probably convinced itself) that genetically modified material would be destroyed in processing, animal digestion (as GMO feed), cooking, and/or digestion. Today we know that all this was a lie, and that some GM material does infest the gastrointestinal tract and makes it to the bloodstream. The health effects of this can be profound, as many kinds of autoimmune and allergenic disease have surged since the widespread entry of GMOs into our diet. This is in addition to how GMOs and glyphosate are linked to birth defects, reproductive disease, cancer, genetic damage, neurotoxicity, organ damage, and acute toxic reactions. I’ll be writing lots more on the health and safety risks of GMOs and glyphosate.
Frankenfoods, GMOs which are directly eaten rather than first being processed like field corn and soy, are perhaps the most dangerous gram for gram since these have the fewest barriers between inception and the bloodstream. These include GM potatoes (Monsanto’s New Leaf was rejected, but Simplot wants to try again), tomatoes (previously commercialized in many places but no longer on the market anywhere), Aquabounty GE salmon which is currently awaiting the FDA’s rubber stamp, and Okenagen Specialty Fruit’s “Arctic Apple”.
These direct GM “food” products, all of which would be unlabeled, are especially offensive to consumers and citizens, and cause great ambivalence for industry groups and big buyers. Thus Alaska’s congressional delegation has led the way in Alaska’s labeling policy for salmon, to protect the state’s salmon industry from future contamination from the GM fish. Similarly, USApple and the Northwest Horticultural Council publicly oppose the Arctic Apple.
Now Friends of the Earth reports that McDonald’s and Gerber have affirmed their continuing rejection of GMOs in (some of) their products by pledging not to buy the Arctic Apple. Meanwhile FoE’s campaign against GMO salmon campaign continues, with such chains as Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and many others having pledged not to carry the product. If we consumers and citizens keep up the pressure, this will shoot down the product completely. We can do for the Arctic Apple, the FDA Frankensalmon, and any new GM potato the same as we did for New Leaf, the FlavrSavr tomato, and many other Frankenfoods the GMO cartel tried to force upon us.
This is more evidence of the potency of consumer rejection, where it’s organized and channeled, to fight GMOs and drive them out of our food. We must look for every opportunity to focus consumer negativity this way, and consider the efficacy of acting as a marketplace pressure group, up to and including boycotts and picketing, as a complement or alternative to labeling campaigns, as the main form of reformist action.