We have yet another case of corporate experimentation with food genetics has been released into the food supply.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced late yesterday that U.S. commercial supplies of long-grain rice had become inadvertently contaminated with a genetically engineered variety not approved for human consumption.They say that genetic modification of foods is so that agriculture companies don't have to use so many pesticides. That's not quite true, is it?
Johanns said he did not know where the contaminated rice was found or how widespread it may be in the U.S. food supply. The agency first learned about it from the company, he said, after it discovered "trace amounts" during testing of commercial supplies.
The variety, known as LLRICE 601, is endowed with bacterial DNA that makes rice plants resistant to a weedkiller made by the agricultural giant Aventis.
And this is not an isolated case.
Bayer said in a statement it is "cooperating closely" with the government on the discovery. It added that the protein conferring herbicide tolerance "is well known to regulators and has been confirmed safe for food and feed use in a number of crops by regulators in many countries, including the EU, Japan, Mexico, U.S. and Canada."
Johanns acknowledged that the discovery could have a significant impact on rice sales -- especially exports, which are worth close to $1 billion a year. Many U.S. trading partners have strict policies forbidding importation of certain genetically engineered foods, even if they are approved in the United States.
Those restrictions reflect a mix of science-based fears that some gene-altered foods or seeds may pose health or environmental hazards; cultural beliefs about food purity; and political wrangling over trade disparities.
Is it any wonder? These companies are playing with fire, and have pressured the federal government into prohibiting the labeling of these Frankenstein foods.
If other countries cut off imports, the political and economic impact could rival or exceed that of the last such major event -- the discovery in 2000 that the U.S. corn supply had become contaminated with StarLink corn. StarLink, which was engineered to be insect-resistant, was approved for use in animal feed but not for humans because of its potential to trigger allergic reactions.
That's right. The world is a science project for corporations looking for bigger and better ways to make money off of what we eat.
Do the modifications make the food more nutritious? No.
Do the modifications make the food more tasty? Quite the opposite.
Do the modifications make the food prettier? Oh yes, packaging is everything.
Do the modifications make the plants more durable to stand up to even more massive sprayings of toxic pesticides? That's the point.
Don't worry. The Bush Administration is on the job. Doesn't that make you feel better?