29, 2005: The controversy around transgenic modified
foods just won’t go away.
Riceland Foods, a farmer-owned cooperative and the world’s
largest rice miller, has asked U.S. regulators to deny a request
from a competitor to grow about 200 acres of transgenic modified
rice in Missouri. Riceland Foods, as the largest marketer
of rice, fears for its world markets. It believes that transgenic
rice has no level of acceptance among consumers.
Almost a year ago the agricultural multinational, Monsanto,
announced that it had given up on further development or open
field trials for its transgenic "Roundup Ready"
wheat. That decision was a marketplace decision. Many overseas
wheat buyers do not want transgenic wheat. Many overseas countries
now have mandatory labeling rules for transgenics. Should
consumers choose to buy primarily non-transgenic foods, food
wheat will at great risk of being reduced to livestock feed.
As livestock feed it would compete with corn and drive feed
prices -- already at a 25-year low - still lower.
Also last year Mendocino County in California became the
first jurisdiction in North America to prohibit the “propagation,
cultivation, raising and growing of genetically modified organisms”
in a ballot designed to protect the health, welfare, economy,
and private property rights of residents. The concept of GMO-Free
Zones is catching on around the continent -- not without controversy.
There are currently nine US states with new legislation in
various stages of development designed to pre-empt the rights
of local cities and counties. In Iowa a new law blocks “a
local governmental entity…from adopting or enforcing
legislation which relates to the production, use, advertising,
sale, distribution, storage, transportation, formulation,
packaging, labeling, certification, or registration of agricultural
In the UK, farm scale trials of transgenic modified crops
have been completed. Of the four trial crops, three of the
conventional crop varieties tested better for the environment
than their transgenic equivalents.
Closer to home, the Prince Edward Island legislature has
asked its Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and
the Environment to hold public hearings on making Canada’s
smallest province a GMO-Free Zone. PEI is looking for ways
to differentiate its agricultural, fisheries and aquacultural
food products in the marketplace. The committee has already
held eight hearings -- presenters from all over North America
are still waiting in line to have their say. Meanwhile, a
Greenpeace-sponsored poll shows that 62% of PEI residents
are in favor of PEI being declared a GMO-Free Zone. Elsewhere
in Canada, 58% of respondents said they want their province
to go GMO-Free.
Finally, I note that the eleventh edition of the Merriam-Webster
Collegiate Dictionary has added a new word that means genetically
engineered food -- "Frankenfood."
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