As a foodie, author and blogger I love looking for new exciting healthy recipes to try. However, this is not how I only spend my leisure-reading time. I regularly read up on articles that interest me in regards to food, health and the environment. Because of my genuine concern about our food, how it is produced and impacting our health and environment I seek out information that is often hidden from our view or buried. It is unfortunate that the majority of our learning comes from marketing and advertisements. Most of the information thrown at us is one-sided. We as, the consumer, are purposely kept in the dark about where our food comes from, how it is made and generally what is in it. This gives more power and money to corporations who do not care about our health and well-being.
I wrote in my book, Eating Myself Crazy, that the general public is not fully informed, from farm to fork, about our food. Most of today’s food is over-processed and modified in order to meet a greater demand for cheaper food. Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean healthy as we are starting to discover with the high rates of health issues that are burdening our health system. But our health concerns have no interest to the agriculture or food conglomerates that spend millions of dollars lobbying to keep the general public naïve and having less rights. The last few years the big fight has been over labelling GMOs. One side wants labelling in order to keep the consumer informed for personal decision-making and the other side feels labelling will only cause confusion in the consumer’s decision-making. It does seem there are a lot of truths and myths out there and it is difficult to feel confident that we are heading in the right direction in regards to new advancements in food production.
This debate doesn’t sound much different than the fight against sugar labelling. There was a time when scientists stated sugar (fructose) was not connected to metabolic or chronic diseases. Ironically these same corporations who fought against sugar labelling (and funded scientific research that would be altered in their favour) also are fighting against GMO labelling: Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
One thing for sure is a few of the companies who are pro-GMO have no credibility with me. Corporations have spent gobs of money lobbying against GMO labelling totalling 63.6 million dollars in 2014 and continue to in 2015. The question I ask is if GMOs are as safe as Monsanto and Syngenta claims, than why are they putting so much manpower and money to fight against labelling? They state stigmatism. My belief is that there would be more trust in GMOs if the corporations producing them didn’t have such deceitful pasts. Monsanto being labelled as the most evil corporation on the planet didn’t get that title for being misunderstood. Even has far back as 1995 they were ranked fifth for U.S. corporations dumping the most toxic chemicals, 37 million pounds of it in the air, water, land and underground. (Censored, 1999: The News That Didn’t Make The News). Monsanto knowing that they have some serious PR issues have even taken to hiring protestors and anonymous internet “trolls” or “shills” to make harassing posts or shut down websites completely. It has gotten that crazy!
If you can’t rely on the big food and agriculture companies responsibly and accurately informing us then who can we turn to? The mainstream media certainly isn’t very helpful either for two reasons. One, the stories in the media are more geared to entertain us rather than informing us. There is a better chance of me learning about Taylor Swift’s latest tweets or Kermit and Miss Piggy’s break up more so than how Nestle is sucking up all the water in drought-stricken California. Number two reason is that most of the board members of the big media corporations have financial interests in keeping some stories out of the public eye. Due to their strong influential connections to Wall Street and politicians use the media to push their own agendas (as well as their powerful friends’). Project Censored, a documentary, explains how corporations and the government manipulate the media. Whistleblowers, environmentalists, researchers/scientists and journalists who are in opposition of the mega corporations’ vested interests are discredited and harassed. Seldom do these stories hit mainstream media.
Food and drug corporations are generally left to regulate themselves. The FDA does not do research but relies on the research findings and peer reviews from the food and drug companies. My guess is if we truly were informed and heard stories that did not always support the research of the major food, drug and agriculture companies we would protest for change and improvements. We would be more engaged and the government would have to do something about it. Corporations do not want more regulations and want to continue to regulate themselves. Consumer action drives change, corporations know this therefore spend a large part of their budget keeping the consumer stupid. I don’t want to be stupid and end up as a “boiled frog” casualty. I am certain neither do you. Power is in knowledge and collectively we can push towards ensuring we have a healthier food system, society and planet. In the last five years I have already seen a positive difference. I think it is because we are waking up, asking questions and demanding better ethics and practices from food companies and producers.