Howie Hawkins calls for a ban on Genetically Modified Foods

Lawrence Opposes FDA Approval of Frankenstein Fish

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(Ithaca) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, today called for a ban on the planting of genetically modified crops in New York State. The Greens have previously drafted state legislation to impose a five year moratorium on the planting of such crops.

"Americans have become guinea pigs for the biotechnology industry due to the negligence of federal and state  policies to protect consumers. Genetic engineering represents nothing less than a going-out-of-business sale on genetic diversity.  GMOs should not be released into the environment since there is no adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health," said Hawkins.

Hawkins said the introduction of genetically engineered foods amounts to a dangerous global experiment by giant transnational biotechnology companies who control large segments of the world's food supply, including food patents, seed companies and other aspects of the food chain. The unpredictable nature of climate change increases the risk.

Cecile Lawrence, the Green Party candidate for US Senate, called upon the Federal Drug Administration to reject the AquAdvantage transgenic salmon as the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption. The FDA scheduled a hearing on this for Sept. 19th.  Any approval of GE salmon would represent another serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-made impacts. The human health impacts of eating GE fish are entirely unknown though some scientists have asserted that foreign growth hormones in transgenic fish may increase production of other compounds such as insulin in the fish.

Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally.  These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non-"GE" environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way.

"Short term commercial gain is being placed before the health and safety of the whole population. This could result in many unanticipated, irreversible problems leading to food shortages and large-scale health threats.," added Hawkins. "Equally troubling is the effort by companies like Monsanto to gain ownership rights through patents to seeds and thus our worldwide food supply. Nothing like this has even happened before in human history. Just because you can do it does not mean that you should do it," he noted.

Hawkins said that terminator seeds should also be outlawed as a crime against nature and humanity.

The Greens support interim measures such as labeling of GE ingredients, and the segregation of genetically engineered crops and seeds from conventional ones. The Green Party oppose all patents on all forms of life including plants, animals and humans, as well as patents on their genes. The genes of plants that indigenous peoples have used for centuries must be off limits to patenting in any form.

Potential hazards from genetic engineering include: introduction of an allergen into a familiar food; crops with unexpected characteristics or side effects (e.g., a food's nutritional value could change or a food could suddenly become more toxic);  the development of insect and weed resistance to pesticides (e.g., superweeds); injury or death of non-target species; loss of biodiversity; crop loss from seeds that do not yield or perform  as expected; genetic foods can promote antibiotic resistance.  Crops engineered to tolerate weed killers (herbicides) promote increased use of these herbicides and potential greater residue on food.

The Greens pointed out there is no logical scientific justification to suddenly change almost all our foods through irreversible genetic engineering. The genetic structure of plants has been nourishing mankind for millennia. Tampering with the genetic code of food is reckless and poses a serious threat to life. It could easily upset the delicate balance between our physiology and the foods that we eat. There is already ample scientific justification for an immediate ban on the release of all genetically modified organisms in order to safeguard our health.

A genetically modified organism is a man-made, patented organism created in a laboratory through genetic engineering. It is created when a gene from one species is inserted into the genetic material of another totally unrelated species.

Thirty countries have banned, or propose to ban GMOs, including many European countries. In the U.S., Gerber and Heinz baby foods, Frito-Lay, IAMS Pet Foods, Trader Joe's and even McDonald's and Burger King are now refusing GMO corn, potatoes, and other ingredients. Contrary to industry contention, GMOs have increased pesticide use and produced significantly lower yields than natural varieties.

The recent project to map the human genome showed that the science of genes is not near being understood. Scientists such as Barry Commoner have called genetic engineering junk science. In addition, genetic engineering is crude, imprecise and invasive.