'The Future of Food' In Question

Most people don't know where the food they eat comes from. Students in the Santa Monica College cafeteria put their dollar in a vending machine, take out a Coke or a bag of Sunchips and assume everything is fine.

After watching "The Future of Food" by Deborah Koons at the Santa Monica Main Public Library on Thursday, it's clear that there are more things in your food than meets the eye. An American that eats processed food on a daily basis will constantly consume a genetically modified corn or soy.

"The Future of Food," delves into the problems of GMO that all stem from the lack of labeling and accountability. America is one of the only industrialized nations that doesn't require companies to label GMOs they produce. Most countries on the world market don't even purchase GMOs.

The most widespread GMOs that are on the market today are "Roundup ready" canola, corn, cotton, and soy created by the Monsanto Company. Roundup ready plants are genetically modified to resist Roundup, a pesticide also made by Monsanto. This means farmers can spray Roundup on a field that is "Roundup ready" and their crop won't die, but everything else will.

There are many things potentially dangerous about GMOs, that haven't materialized yet. The biggest potential threat is a virus or bug that can infect Roundup ready plants. Diversity of foods that Americans eat has decreased over the last 100 years.

According to the documentary, 97 percent of the vegetables grown in 1900 are now extinct. There aren't that many types of corn around anymore. If a virus kills all of the Roundup ready corn, America is looking at very a serious food shortage.

Besides a potential food shortage, the dangers of GMOs are pretty ambiguous. It could pose potential health risks, but it may not. The documentary showed one news story of one woman that suffered an allergic reaction to Roundup ready corn. "Our bodies aren't used to that type of gene modification," part time SMC student Austin Draper said. "There could be all sorts of health risks and side effects."

This documentary focused more on the Monsanto Company rather than the larger picture. It portrays Monsanto as a very dishonest corporation. Koons argues that GMO corporations can get away without labeling their products because higher ups in the Environmental Protection Agency worked for Monsanto.

The most striking case was Linda Fisher's. She was a vice president for Monsanto that became a deputy minister for the EPA, but went back and forth between these positions three times, according to the documentary. Even Donald Rumsfeld, former United States Secretary of Defense, worked for Monsanto.

Monsanto receives assistance through government policies because the two are linked, the documentary argues. Only crops that can be genetically modified receive government subsidies.

The documentary also portrayed the government legally assisting Monsanto. In the past, Monsanto has sued many American and Canadian farmers because Roundup ready plants have accidentally grown on their property.

Monsanto patented their Roundup ready crops. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that farmers unintentionally growing Monsanto patented life forms could be sued. It's nearly impossible to stop cross breeding between GMOs and organic plants. Some people think patenting life is unethical. "A carburetor doesn't get up one day and begin replicating itself," lawyer Terry Zakreski said in the documentary.
According to "The Future of Food," most crops besides corn, soy, cotton and canola aren't patented or genetically modified. For the time being, it doesn't look like the world will succumb to the "menace" that are GMOs. It's unlikely that GMOs will become more widespread because the world won't buy them. Most countries today reject GMOs. The world is run off basic economics. If there isn't a market for GMOs, no one will produce them.