of biotech to investors often dissipate quickly once solutions are implemented and shown to fail to meet expectations. Agricultural technologies cannot provide complete solutions to hunger and food sovereignty. Social, political and economic factors must first be addressed in order to ensure food access and appropriate development. A more proactive regulatory approach toward biotech solutions could help to buffer developing nations against the harmful impacts of the implementation of new biotechnologies. The failures of policy and decision makers to generate a buffer are illustrated globally where the utilization of GM seeds required higher crop prices at the market to offset the investment costs of expensive seeds and fertilizers. This generates difficulties with selling crops and contributes
to issues of food waste. In fact, a significant challenge for farmers with GM produce is the lack of partnership with EU nations for the sale of GM products, leaving farmers with a surplus of crops without a market. These conditions are not orientated toward the goal of achieving food sovereignty and addressing hunger issues in Africa. Instead, they are the product of top-down interventions that accumulate profit for their shareholders. The International Institute for Environment and Development, a leading proponent of revised food sovereignty policies, has outlined principles to define food sovereignty as empowering citizens to define their own agricultural management system unrestricted by intellectual property rights and GM patents. Civil rights author Maya Angelou has a saying: “I did the best that I
knew how to do. When I knew better, I did better.” Non-profits and foundations working to address global health issues are presented with the arduous task of creating infrastructure for healthy and sustainable development to enhance food security in nations where very little economic or political structure exists to address these needs. While many mistakes have been made due to the masquerading of GM seeds as the best solution to food security and hunger, now is the time to know better. Natalie DeGraaf is an intern at the Council for Responsible Genetics. She is pursuing a Masters in Global Public Health at NYU, a cross between Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Steinhardt School.
Consumers Call on FDA to Label GE Foods After being left in the dark about what they’re eating, consumers call for labeling of genetically modified foods. By Colin O’Neil Americans cherish their freedom of choice. If you want to choose food that doesn’t contain gluten, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, transfats or MSG, you simply read the ingredients label. But one choice Americans are not free to make is whether their food contains genetically engineered ingredients. Unlike most other developed countries—including 15 European Union nations, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered
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foods. Yet polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans—over 90% in most polls— believe GE foods should be labeled. Citing this overwhelming support, last month the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a groundbreaking legal petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding that the agency require the labeling of all food produced using genetic engineering. CFS prepared the legal action on behalf of the Just
Label It campaign and a number of health, consumer, environmental and farming organizations, and food companies are also signatories to the petition. A Choice Deferred In 1992, the FDA issued a policy statement that GE foods were not “materially” different from non-GE foods and thus did not need to be labeled. The agency severely constricted what it called “material,” limiting it to