You may have been living in a cave high up in the Himalayan Mountains for the past five years - in which case you MIGHT not have heard about the hottest and most critical public-health-and-safety issue to come down the pike since Freedom Of Speech was a novel political concept, namely the Global scandal known as "G.M.O.s".
"G.M.O." stands for "Genetically Modified Organisms" and refers to food and other organic substances which have had their gene-structure altered in the laboratory.
A detailed history of the subject and the controversy surrounding it would take more time and space than you are probably willing to tolerate here, so let's just settle for a thumbnail-review of the facts. Well over a decade ago some major bio-technical companies (most notably Monsanto - the wonderful folks who brought the world the cancer-inducing Vietnam War defoliant "Agent Orange") began producing strains of food and medicinal materials into which they had introduced genes from various species of animals.
One example was a variety of tomatoes in which had been implanted genes from pigs. The explanation was that this would make the tomatoes bigger, make them look redder and riper, and permit them to stay on grocery shelves longer before rotting.
Next, these genetically altered foods were sold to supermarket chains and put on the shelves for public consumption. All well and good, except that no adequate testing had ever been done to determine if perhaps in the process of eating this Frankenstein-food there might be harmful effects to human health. And, to further muddy the waters, these Genetically Modified Organism foods were not labeled as such. The public had no way of knowing - when considering purchasing these items - that they had been genetically altered.
TODAY, APPROXIMATELY SEVENTY PERCENT OF ALL SUPERMARKET FOODS CONTAIN GENETICALLY MODIFIED INGREDIENTS, AND THEY REMAIN UNLABELED.
The public has been made the unwitting guinea pig of a genetic experiment which - it has now been proven - has the potential to greatly increase the incidence of cancer and a host of other ghastly health nightmares (including total sterility within 3 generations, and a doubling or tripling of the rate of premature death in test animals).
Does this sound like some paranoid conspiracy-theory hallucination? I only wish that's all it was, but the facts and evidence are in, and they confirm the worst fears of opponents of GMOs - they are every bit as deadly and dangerous as they were suspected of being.
Take a look at just one recent comprehensive study performed by French scientists - which resulted in the outright ban of the importation or sales of Monsanto's Genetically-Modified corn in Russia and several other countries around the planet - go to this link (A Russian Television News Network story on this study) :
This, by the way, is exactly the same Monsanto genetically modified corn that is used in one form or another in well over half the products available on your local corporate-supermarket shelves - being sold to you without your knowledge and consent because nothing on the package informs you that you are buying and consuming GMO food.
THIS IS WHAT PROPOSITION 37 ON THE UPCOMING BALLOT IS ALL ABOUT : REQUIRING THE LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS SO THAT THE CONSUMER CAN MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION ABOUT BUYING AND EATING THEM.
Do not be taken in by the deceptive and misleading advertising campaign being mounted by the anti-prop 37 forces - the major players in the bio-tech and corporate food industry communities - and funded by them to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Nothing less than the lives and health of the Global population is riding on this issue. The public has a right to know what it is consuming, and this initiative intends to secure that right by mandating that GMOs be labeled.
Enter the Venice Whole Foods Supermarket
We've all heard of the Whole Foods Supermarket chain. Many of us are loyal customers. It is known to be a champion of the rapidly emerging trend towards the new, healthy, non-toxic lifestyle. It's very name means "food which has not been compromised by toxic processing". It is considered by many experts to be the most successful retail business in America - generating an annual revenue of around ten billion dollars a year.
Certainly we can count on Whole Foods to not carry GMOs…right? Right? I mean, a hidden-camera video has recently been released in which Whole Foods Markets employees from several different stores state repeatedly that there are absolutely no GMOs in Whole Foods Markets.
Right? Right?? . . . WRONG!!! (Here's the link to the undercover-camera interview video)
Sadly, it has been discovered that one out of every three products sold at Whole Foods Supermarket contains GMO ingredients - mostly provided by Monsanto. In a ten billion dollar a year business, this means that Whole Foods generates THREE BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR in income from the sales of Genetically Modified Organisms - and that a healthy chunk of that three billion dollars goes directly into the pockets of Monsanto Biotech Corporation.
Oh, the humanity!
Does that make our local Venice Whole Foods Market the worst criminal public enemy since "Bugsy" Siegal? The answer may surprise you. The answer is "No".
Our very own Whole Foods Market - located in the Lincoln/Rose Shopping Center - has been one of Venice's best and most socially-conscious and contributory neighbors ever since it opened its doors for business. In addition to championing a healthy and socially responsible alternative to the toxic malnutrition offered on corporate food-industry supermarket shelves, it has consistently donated time and energy to any number of supportive, community-oriented and worthwhile activities.
One shining example (see the photos attached to this article) is the Venice Whole Foods Market weekly Boardwalk feeding of hundreds of the unfortunate homeless in our midst. In the face of an orchestrated onslaught of political and legal attacks from the forces of Venice-gentrification (who - despite their transparently false protestations to the contrary - would like to see ALL public assistance to the poor and needy among us halted), Whole Foods has persisted for many months in providing one hot, well balanced, delicious, healthy and (mostly) non-toxic breakfast a week to those among us most in need of a good meal. While the food is contributed by an anonymous doner, Venice Whole Foods Market picks up the tab for operational expenses and many of its employees volunteer precious Sunday-morning time to come down and man (and "woman") the serving tables.
This kind of community-service absolutely deserves our recognition, appreciation and respect.
The Venice Whole Foods Market is one of the good guys in our little world. Unfortunately, it has been caught in the crossfire of the greed and deceptive practices of those at the top of its corporate family structure. It is the senior management of the Whole Foods Empire who are at fault for letting three billion dollars in additional annual revenue blind them to their responsibility to their core principles and to their customers…cause them to sell-out to the enemy - Monsanto and the bio-tech GMO industry.
OK. This article has gone on long enough. I am hoping that you take two things away from the reading of it :
1 - Proposition 37 MUST pass. The health and safety of the entire global population depends on knowing what dangerous and deadly ingredients may be in the food it eats, and it can only know this if those who produce and sell this food are compelled to label it with a list of ALL of its ingredients. Remember the old adage : "Think Globally, Act Locally"? Well, this change starts with us. We must each become ambassadors of information about the issue of GMOs and the need to VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 37.
2 - While we are obligated to condemn the actions of the Whole Foods Market chain in failing to inform its customers when they are purchasing GMO foods, and must insist that they begin labeling their own GMOs, and offering more than lip-service in their stated support of Prop. 37, let us not focus too much blame on our own local Venice Whole Foods Market. It has been the victim of a corporate policy it is powerless to change. Let's remember that - despite this scandalous black-eye - Venice Whole Foods has been a powerful force for good in our community.
Yes, we need to read the labels on Whole Food Market products. It they contain corn or soy and they do not say "organic" or "made without GMOs" then it is a pretty good bet that they contain Genetically Modified Organisms, and smart-money will avoid these products.
But, at the same time, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. While we expect the Whole Foods Corporation to atone for its sins and correct its mistakes, let's continue to support the Venice Whole Foods Market with our patronage while we watch and wait for its parent corporation to establish new, and more honorable and transparent, policies regarding the existence of GMOs on its shelves.