I know I'm a little behind on American news and its major corporation's current PR, so you'll have to forgive me.
When we first got to Korea, I was a little concerned with what we were buying at the grocery store. What were we buying? Where is it from? How much of it is GMO? Just, how exactly does the Korean food industry work?
Five months later, I still can't thoroughly answer those questions. I have only a vague idea of how Korean agribusinesses work. One thing I have learned, though, is that Korean legislation requires all GM food to be labeled. I suppose it is my own country I should have worried about, as the US hasn't yet managed to pass that law. Click here if you're interested in signing a petition.
I've recently been reading up on the American agricultural biotechnology MNC Monsanto. Mansanto produces 90% of the world's GE seeds (think corn, soy, cotton and wheat). And if you eat anywhere like the average American (since most GM foods remain unlabeled), you consume food products from Monsanto with every meal. The company has recently recieved some negative PR because new studies have shown organ damage in animals (rats) that were fed three common types of GM corn consumed by people all over the world for 90 days. The rats showed signs of toxicity in their kidneys, livers, hearts, adrenal glands and spleens (original article here). Monsanto is simply denying the validity of the research. The company is also facing negative press regarding the level of herbicides they use. The GM crops the company has created are designed to be resistant to RoundUp (the brand of pesticide created and sold by Monsanto). Because the crops are resistant, the use of herbicides as gone up dramatically. Not only is this practice questionable for immediate health concerns, but new and more resistant weeds are popping up, creating a cycle of pollution (original article here). Lastly, the company is facing investigation regarding its business practices and possible monopolization of the industry (read about that here). Unfortunately, several former Monsanto employees are currently employed by US government agencies like the EPA and FDA.
I know that I am guilty of consuming food without thinking of its origin or safety. Actually, I consume Diet Coke while perfectly aware that Aspartame is a GMO and that Saccharin is a possible animal carcinogen. Ironically, I began drinking diet soda a few years ago when I began to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup (which I still consume, though I try to moderate it). It's damn near impossible to be perfect with agribusiness reducing our choices and, in some cases, completely mismarketing their goods to us. I haven't seen Food, Inc. yet, but I think we'll watch it soon. Here's a short interview (via Amazon) with the director, Robert Kenner.
We did, however, recently watch the movie The Informant! about the Archer Daniels Midland Company's price fixing scandal of 1993. I was unaware that companies had that kind of control and that enlightenment inspired all this research.
I'm hoping that, in the future, consumers will figure out that what they choose to buy affects the market, and therefore gives them control. Maybe then we'll see labeling on products. I'm hoping for real choice, not just the illusion.
What foods or food products do you stay away from? What do you indulge in regardless? Or do you prefer not to know?