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The Future of Food

now less than 2% of US pop involved in farming
20th century pesticides, transport, high yield, low prices, good availability
plant breeding-->the green revolution
"systematize agriculture" and solve starvation problem
monoculture propagation-->disaster, potato famine in Ireland but not in Peru
97% of veggies grown at beginning of century now extinct
4 varieties of potatoes now being propagaged

DDT widely used, then banned in 1972? or 78?
1970's Monsanto introduced roundup
the gene revolution
corn registered as pesticide: kills corn bore if eaten
crops roundup ready, planted with intention to spray
patenting seeds
food crops excluded from patenting on moral grounds in 1st amendment
1978 Chakerbartie oil eating microbe went to get patent GE engineer
took it to supreme court, they said you can patent a microbe
patenting life, genes, has not been voted on in congress or by the people
1995 stock market on the rise, pesticide industry bought seed industry
patenting GMO seeds and other seeds that have not been patented
11,000 patents owned by monsanto
Monsanto owns the food

Canadian farmer
wheat field
farming for 53 years, wheat, oats, canola, peas
Percy Schmeiser seed saver, seed developer
1997 he sprayed roundup around poles and some canola plants did not die
Montsanto found out about it and took plants/seeds from his land
and said it was roundup ready canola
Monsanto sued Percy for patent infringement
Monsanto withdrew allegations that he had obtained seed illegally
but still sued for patent infringement
Percy destroyed over 1,000 lbs of his own seed because it was contaminated
with Montanto's modified genes
hard loss
Monsanto accused other farmers too
9,000 letters to farmers who choose to pay to avoid lawsuits
100 active lawsuits in US as of movie
agreement not to discuss is required in settlement

first court ruling
didn't matter how genetic altered canola got into field
cross pollentaion, wind, birds, bees, fell off truck
still was violation of patent
any farmer's plant that is cross pollenated becomes monsanto's property
fact that he didn't use monsanto's product was immaterial

monsanto's gmo canola is contaminating farms all over canada
may 04 supreme court ruled 5/4 that percy had violated patent

1975 meeting re genetic modification
voted against moratorium on recombinant dna research

monsanto's engineering process
found soil bact immune to roundup
engineer dna from bact into plants
cut out sequence of dna immune to roundup
use e coli dna, with gaps, recombines with roundup resist
get dna into corn plant using soil bact that makes tumor in plant to get dna into nucleus
or use electrical stream to put holes in wall
gene gun shoots the dna in
all three need promoter gene
usu extracted from cauliflower mosaic virus
for testing insert antibiotic marker is gene resistant to specific abx
worry about antibiotic marker gene influencing other things
big biological experiment

flavor saver tomatoe was first genetically engineered food to reach table
may 1994
didn't hold up in shipping, consumers didn't like it
taken off market

2001 consumers become aware
anaphylactic shock from chicken burritos Grace Booth
corn market was in uproar
taco shells had genetically modified gene (star lane? starling?)
pulled from shelves due to possible allergic rxn
private testing discovered risk (not govt)

3 agencies for GMO
1)USDA dept of ag assesses envir impact of GMO crops and regs field testing
usda doesn't require envir assessment of any field test applications
2)EPA regs insecticides, BT a natural insecticide, is in the cells of BT crops
3)FDA responsible for food safety, must test novel substance in food
claim: GMOs "substantially equivalent" to classical breeding practices so don't bug us with regs, they are GRAS generally recognized as safe
but must be different to get a patent

common GMO products

industry beats farmers asking for labelling on GMO prods
80-90% of voters want GMO labelled
"right to know act" is still waiting

EU requires labelling of GM food
all countries agreed
labelling is how we can hold corporations liable for health effects

biotech industry claims these products increase yield
by farming worse land

roundup ready soybeans
first really big commercial product
didn't look at drought, plant pathogens:
root system shrinks 25% in drought system
no one looked at roundup effect on nitrogen fixing
farmers not always having good crops

SUPERWEEDS: new kids on block
some resist roundup
mare's tail killed only by 2,4,D
farmers spraying more, roundup not enough

Dan Quayle 1992 lets GMO run free
FDA said no (worried)
Michael Taylor (was monsanto senior councilor) brought into US govt
Linda Fisher exec VP of monsanto now deputy minister of EPA under GWB
she has gone back and forth between
lidia watrud
anne veneman
michael friedman
william ruckelshaus
donald rumsfeld
lots more names overlap between industry and US govt
john ashcroft asked supreme court to protect corporations,
also he got big campaign contribution

Ignacia Chapela

canola corn cottn and soybeans on 3.7 acres 1996
100 million acres in 2003
1998 mexico banned planting of GMO corn to protect corn heritage
popcorn invented by aztecs
7000 yrs ago maize domesticated in Mexico
teocintle wild corn is pest resistant
land races are plants that small farmers maintain in small plots
selecting for conditions of plot

1970 corn blight in US
millions of acres destroyed
land race corn from mexico resisted blight
gm corn has been found there
farmers planted it not realizing
crossed with land race corn, contaminated genetic line
cheaper to buy imported corn than to buy it in Mexico
american corn is subsidized by taxpayers
mexicans still prefer local corn
still some may bring it in because it is cheaper
nov 2001 in Nature GMO contamination revealed
jorge soberon
modified gene in old corn is big problem

traditional knowledge not protected by patent system
applications for patent for tortillas!!?
should life be patented???
we need to talk about this

by 2003 us sold millions of pounds of corn to mexico for less than cost of growing it
world resistance to US exported GMO increasing
$300,000,000 lost in exports of corn to europe
farm crisis in N america compounded

large corporations extracting large revenues
family farmers have no market power
$1.50 for bread loaf, farmer gets a nickel
governent subsidies support: corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton

2002 Shrub signs large subsidy bill
keeps farmers interested in costly production systems
taxpayers subsidize agricultural biotech industry

US subsidizes crops
europe subsidizes farmers
canada and mexico subsidize neither

60% of processed food has genetically modified product in it so give up?

farmers are resisting in Canada
serious concern in North Dakota
research plots across the state-->risk of contamination
Thailand unhappy to find export from Portland US contains GMO wheat
Monsanto threatens to pull research dollars from Universities
and anti-commerce ???

Universities 1970's asking questions about GMO
industry gives money to universities-->favorably promotional findings and media
biotek industry attacks scientists who question safety of GMO
depressed immune sys of rats fed GMO potatoes: scientist
john losi caterpillars fed BT corn pollen died unexpectedly
nature mag retracted paper when biotek disputes

convential wisdom is that ag industry is progress
not much questioning of that
corporate control of genetic research not just ag
also breast cancer research: can't use genes because of patents
biotek sues researchers for using genes that should be common property

consolidation of food supply world wide
scale is advantage
average citizen doesn't get it
ex: 80% of beef processed by 4 companies
seeds from 4 clusters of co's
heffernon projects that all food will be controlled by 6 firms
one of those is american: walmart

2 billion more people in next 30 years
800 million people starve every day (now)
most of starving were farmers
now are food dependent, can't grow own food, lost land to corporations
John Vidal "will not end world hunger"
overproducing commodities, farmers can't recover production costs
when wealth countries subsidize crops they undercut developing countries
international rules on patenting?? needed.

resistance to globalization
must stop corporations

biotek created terminator technology
after one planting can't use seed
15 patents on suicide technology
what happens if it gets out?
US govt co-owner of terminator gene patent
out crossing, new technology to stop it

working on technology to limit use of seed
farmer has to spray field to get seeds to germinator


thousands of test sites for new GMOs in US
pig vaccine manufacturing mixed with corn
looking at livestock, poultry, insects, trees: GM?

1500 miles average distance food travels
apples from China

community supported agriculture
encourages farmers to diversify
customers want variety
human relationship to agriculture

spendings on organic food: one billion 1990, thirteen billion 2003

275,000 wrote USDA demanding organic standards be kept pure
organic farming as real alternative to farm crisis
counter-revolution: buying local
farmer's markets increasing dramatically

South Carolina and Nebraska ban non-family farming
in state constitutions



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