Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where Have All The Cornfields Gone?

I wondered about that for a long time.

In all the years and miles of traveling throughout Mexico, we have never seen any giant fields of corn. For all the corn that gets consumed in this country, there have been very few cornfields. On our current trip around southern Mexico, we've seen mountainsides covered with corn (between Palenque and San Cristobal de Las Casas) but they were still only big enough to feed the locals. So where are the giant fields feeding the nation's appetite for corn?

Now we know. They are in North America.

After NAFTA, Mexico got flooded with cheaply grown, government subsidized GM corn from North America. It wiped out the local farmers, pushing many of them to emigrate (legally or illegally) into the US for jobs. Some states are resisting the wave of cheap GM corn, but fighting Big Ag is always difficult, so I suspect we have eaten our share of tortillas and tamales made with GM corn masa.

This is not democracy! This is capitalism and corporatism at its worst.

But the bad news didn't end there. Turns out Big Ag isn't doing this just to poor little Mexico. Big Ag's already done its work in the US and Canada. Seems that almost everything made in a factory has some GM ingredient or another. Look at the labels. If it doesn't specifically say the product is organic or GM-free, you're eating a GM item. Anything with corn -- cereal, corn oil, corn syrup, corn starch, even vinegar -- is using GM corn (the majority of it is Monsanto's RoundUp Ready genetically engineered corn.) Same with soy, rapeseed (canola oil) and sugar unless it uses pure cane sugar.

It's so disturbing. The manufacturers of GE seed are telling us how safe it is. Then why is it banned in so many countries in Europe? Why do so many countries have laws making labeling of items containing GM ingredients mandatory? (And why don't the US, Canada and Mexico have these laws?)

I've read scientific studies that point to genetically engineered foods being responsible for an increase in auto-immune disorders, liver and kidney damage, allergies, learning disorders, accelerated aging, birth defects... the list goes on.

There's a movement in California now to put the labeling issue on the November ballot. Big Ag is doing everything it can to prevent this. Because they know that most people do not want GE foods so if it gets on the ballot, it will surely be voted in. And once labeling is mandatory, consumers will stop buying the products containing GM ingredients, manufacturers will stop using them and the whole GM business (oh-so-lucrative now) will disappear. (Hurray for consumers!)

Don't believe me? Go and see for yourself.

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