Santa Clara County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter

Genetically modified foods

By Edward J. Klein

Candidate for United States Representative; District 16

This information is provided by the candidate
Many scientists are concerned that genetically modified foods could put our food supply at risk. Safety testing of these organisms prior to their release into the environment should be required.
The same corporations that brought us some of the most dangerous polluting chemicals in the environment, are now attempting to corner the global food supply. Genetically modified foods are patentable, so corporations are now prosecuting farmers for gathering seeds from their own crops for planting the following year. Under the law that is now illegal. The farmer must buy the seeds each year from the corporations. To prevent rogue farmers from succeeding with this illegal activity, these corporations attempted to genetically modify plants so they would produce sterile seeds. Public outcry has forced them to put that development on the back burner temporarily.

If these corporations actually wanted to help the global food supply, they would have worked on foods that were more drought-resistant, or that would grow on more marginal soil, or that were more nutritious. Instead, they have developed plants that are immune to a particular herbicide, in order to sell more herbicide.

What about the safety of these modified plants? We do not know. Under corporate pressure, including the cycling of corporate executives through the FDA, our government requires no safety or environmental testing, nor labeling of these products. Scientists are concerned. We have no idea what cross-pollination of these modified plants could do to natural species. Historically, introduction of non-native plants has caused havoc with native species.

The Natural Law Party supports an immediate withdrawal of genetically modified organisms from the environment until proper, independent safety testing is completed. If genetically modified organisms are found safe to release into the environment, we call for strict regulation of their use, and labelling of their content in foods. For more information on this issue, please go to


For long-term protection of our environment, we need to reexamine our agricultural practices. Our present agricultural systems, using petro-chemicals, are some of the greatest stresses to the environment. Almost everyone is aware, by now, that the earth's resources are limited. Yet we are presently acting as if the earth has a limitless ability to absorb and disperse poisons. The evidence is otherwise. Petro-chemically produced foods are presently cheaper at the market than organically produced food only because we are deferring the environmental cost of the petro-chemical agriculture to our children and grandchildren. For example, there is presently a dead area in the Gulf of Mexico that is the size of a small state. It is the result of agricultural chemical run-off flowing down the Mississippi. Very few wells in the mid-west are not yet polluted by agricultural chemicals. So far, dozens of organo-chlorines can be found in the bodies of American childen. All that, and we are presently losing a greater proportion of our food crops to pests, than we were prior to the introduction of pesticides. In the few decades it has been around, petro-chemical farming has provided a short-term increase in productivity that is more than off-set by its long-term depletion of soil and by its poisoning of the enviromment. It is time to return to the type of farming that will preserve the land, and that worked for thousands of years: organic farming. If that sounds economically impossible to you, you must realize that petro-chemical farming is also heavily subsidized by the government, and organic farming is not. If that subsidy was shifted to the type of agriculture that can be sustained for the long-term future of our nation, then organic produce would not be substantially more expensive than conventional produce is now. Another way of looking at it, is that if the price we paid at the market included the environmental cost of petro-chemical food, it would be very clear that none of us could afford it.

We presently use the term "conventional agriculture" for petro-chemical agriculture, as if that were the normal and usual form of food producton. In fact, petro-chemical agriculture is a recent aberration that has been around for only a few decades, and it is already approaching the limit to which the environment can absorb its poisons. We should reserve the term "conventional agriculture" for organic production, the type of farming that has succeeded for thousands of years, and which preserves our environment. It is our hope for food production for the long-term future.

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