Saturday, August 22, 2015

HR 1599/DARK Act Letter To Senator

Dear Senator ..................,

When I became a mother, I did not know that I should have studied medicine in college, but that is what it takes for me, and thousands of other mothers. My children, like so many others, suffer from autoimmune issues that the vast majority of medical professionals are not trained to treat. Today, 54% of American children have a chronic health condition. Children who suffer from allergies, autism, asthma, ADHD and autoimmune issues are now very common in every classroom, and the numbers are climbing. Massive collections of Epi pens fill the cabinets in every school nurse’s office. As parents, we need to be very careful about our children’s diet, and we need to know what ingredients are in everything. Parenting is not the same as it was when I was a child. When I was in school I did not know one child with a food allergy that could kill them. Now there are at least two children with such allergies in every class.

In fact, GMOs have been linked to allergies in the case of the Starlink corn.

The science is in no way settled on the matter of the safety of these foods. Many high-level scientists with impeccable credentials are NOT convinced that GE foods are safe.

A major concern that I have with GM foods is the level of pesticides used in their farming. Approximately 80% of all GM crops are what are referred to as “Roundup Ready” or glyphosate tolerant. So the foods are sprayed with glyphosate, which would normally kill the plants, but the GE plants are resistant, so they keep growing and they are sprayed sometimes 2-3 times before harvest. The problem with this technology is a growing weed resistance to glyphosate. So farmers are applying it in increasing amounts in a futile attempt to combat the “super weeds”.

Since the glyphosate is continuing to fail, beginning this year, they are ADDING Dicamba or 2,4-D to that mix. We have also found that contrary to industry claims, glyphosate actually bioaccumulates in our systems. In fact, in three different random samplings, two groups of nursing mothers in the U.S. and one group of mothers in Germany, glyphosate was found in their breast milk. In fact, the mother with the highest detectable level in Pennsylvania is living with the heartbreak of an infant with cancer.

These chemicals do not wash off, but rather, they are absorbed into the plant and its food, and it goes into our bodies.

Toxins in our bodies are a great concern on many levels. The addition of glyphosate to our food supply is frightening because the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, has stated unequivocally that it causes cancer in mammals and therefore is likely to also cause cancer in humans. Many countries are in fact moving to ban glyphosate, which is a key chemical for GM farming.

Toxins in children’s bodies today are higher than ever.

When infants are born, they have over 400 chemicals in their umbilical cords. The American Academy of Pediatrics links pesticides to increases in cancer, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral issues. It is our responsibility to protect children from public threats such as excess chemical exposure.

Whether or not there should be concern about the safety of GMOs and consuming glyphosate and other pesticides, it should be my choice to know which foods were genetically modified in a lab for pest control or other traits. I want to know what I am buying. If these products are different enough to patent, then they merit a label. After all, they were allowed into our food supply without any real testing by our FDA. They were simply labeled “substantially equivalent” and put onto the market without any identification.

However, in fact, a recently published study by MIT professor Shiva Ayyadurai that analyzes thousands of published studies of GMOs aggregately has actually uncovered some substantial and alarming differences in the makeup and nutrition of GM foods, including elevated levels of formaldehyde and decreased levels of glutathione.

As an American, I should have the right to know whether my orange juice is from concentrate, whether my clothing contains polyester, or whether my food has been genetically engineered. Then, since we live in a capitalist society, we as consumers can decide whether or not to buy this product or that one. We can vote with our dollars. As a mother I should have the right to choose, and hiding ingredients in food products is ridiculous. Knowing whether food is free from extra pesticides or lab manipulation should not be a luxury, it is the right of every American.

Because the patents to these products are held by the chemical corporations, there is very little independent science being conducted. Any studies that might show problems with GE foods is simply shut down and not approved for publication. No truly independent research can be legally conducted on GE crops. That's because patents on engineered genes do not provide for independent non-commercial research. For instance, the growers’ agreement from Syngenta prohibits research on their GE crops. They refuse to provide independent scientists with seeds, or they set restrictive conditions that severely limit research options. Ultimately, it’s impossible to know the long-term implications of a technology without appropriate research. So, well-performed epidemiology studies are still the best method for determining the human risk and the effects of environmental toxicants and those can’t be performed without knowing what’s in the food, so we need labels.
You might think the FDA thoroughly tests GMO foods to make sure they are safe. In fact, the FDA doesn't test them at all.  Read more:
Just because the FDA says these foods are okay (due to dubious regulation, in my opinion) should not mean that I have to buy it, unknowingly. That is what the dark act is really about HIDING GE ingredients in our food.

However, the American way is to have transparency and choice for the consumer, and information pertaining to the qualities of a product is paramount.

Many countries around the world label GMOs, and it is time for the US to follow suit. There is no additional cost. In fact, American companies label the same products that they sell here when they sell them abroad, and there is no additional cost. Consumer Reports put their top economists on it, and they came out with almost NO cost for each consumer if companies were to label their GE ingredients.

Mothers, and all consumers, are increasingly conscious of the ingredients in the foods they buy.

Their concern over carefully screening the backs of packages is not a fad, any more than the increasing numbers of health conditions, including allergies and cancer in our population, are a fad. We have to pay attention. We all know that food is such an important part of caring for our children’s health, and if we have a preference to buy one product over another, that should be our prerogative.

Please vote NO on the HR 1599, The Dark Act, and protect our right to know what we are consuming.


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