Thursday, May 1, 2014

We the People, Genetically Modified? | Inspired Bites

We the People, Genetically Modified? | Inspired Bites:

A 16-year-old’s video about genetically modified foods titled “We the People, Genetically Modified?” was among  five documentaries to win a C-SPAN student video contest.
For Andrew Demeter, a student of Demeter’s Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School, it was his idea of fun, and he spent weeks, close to 150 hours, producing a seven-minute video that used C-SPAN footage to discuss a topic he’d like Congress and government agencies to address.
This week, the high school student went to D.C. to record a C-SPAN roundtable discussion about his video.  The show is scheduled to air at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.  He also met with representatives of U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown to discuss his belief that genetically engineered foods should contain disclosure labels.
Genetic engineering is a practice that was introduced by agribusiness into our farm system in the 1990s.  The first patent on genetically engineered products was filed in the late 1980s.  In the last twenty years, there has been a deluge of patents filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as the industry realized that they could privatize this practice for profits, then turn around and restrict the reselling of seeds, license the use of this technology and charge royalty fees, licensing fees and trait fees in order to drive revenue.
After joking that he plans to use his $3,000 prize to buy stock in the biotech company Monsanto, Demeter said he’ll probably use the money to make more videos for his “Teen Take” site on YouTube, where he produces videos about politics and current events.
The student has come to the conclusion that “messing with Mother Nature has not been proven to be safe.”   Those that argue that these are the most tested crops in the world would claim that anytime someone checks into a hospital for major surgery, that is “messing with Mother Nature” too.  But the student has a point.  Despite claims of “no evidence of harm” by the agribusiness and biotech industries, a more accurate statement would be that there is no long term evidence of safety.  It is based on this science that countries around the world have chose to either label or ban these products in their foods.  In China, a study to determine what the effects of feeding a genetically engineered crop to children might be was halted due to ethical concerns.
Here in the U.S., American children are fed these foods without informed parental consent since they have never been labeled, despite the fact that these foods are labeled for over 60% of the world’s population.
In the video, Andrew Demeter goes on to question a revolving door of employment between the Food and Drug Administration and biotech food companies.  It’s not the first time that science has been scrutinized like this.  Our grandparents witnessed the same “he said/she said” debate over the alleged safety of cigarettes.
“That documentary was so clever,” C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb.

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