Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “GMO”

Beyond Genetically Modified Food – Roger Ingalls

There’s a new food source coming and it makes GMOs (genetically modified organisms) look like child’s play. Soon, your food may be printed.

Normally I’m not in favor of manmade or DNA altered organisms getting into our food system because our bodies have not evolved to properly recognize and chemically breakdown many of these foods. It’s no accident that obesity and diabetes correlates to the rapid adaption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in processed food and drinks. HFCS is a manmade invention and the human body cannot adequately deal with it. However, 3D printed food may be a different but positive development.

picture from SMRC

picture from SMRC

If you’re not familiar with 3D printing, click here.

There are two basic reasons why I believe food printing could be a good thing. First, it will be a very efficient way to produce food and second, food could be composed exactly the way an individual may need it to maintain health. Fundamentally, food is made of proteins, sugars, oils, macro and micro nutrients and water. Like ink in a printer cartridge, these building blocks for food can be printed in layers to form an edible meal and the printer can have a built in hotplate to cook the food as it is being formed.

The fundamental elements would be in a powder form and could be stored for decades. This would greatly reduce food shortage all over the world because stocks could be built up during good production years. This type of food system would conserve valuable resources such as water and energy. Food would be assembled where needed (no or limited transport cost) so the energy goes straight into making the product and the same is true for water.

In 30 years the world population will grow from today’s 6 billion to 9 billion. We will need all forms of food production such as genetically modified factory farms, urban grown food, feed lot animals and aquaponics. 3D printed food assembled from basic elements will be just another needed source to feed the hungry masses.

Successes and an Important Failure in the 2012 Election- Tom Rossi

I’m mostly happy about the results of the recent election. Several of the propositions I supported passed, and a few Senate races went very well, including the big one – Elizabeth Warren defeating Scott Brown in Massachusetts. And yes, I’m quite happy that President Obama was re-elected, despite his shortcomings in his first term. I was willing to risk his losing in order to stand up for progressivism, but that doesn’t mean I wanted him to lose.

But the most important issue in the election, to me, was California Proposition 37. Prop 37 simply said that foods with genetically modified ingredients should be labelled. And it’s supporters managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

There’s plenty of blame to dole out to prop 37’s opponents – Monsanto Corporation and it’s allies. They stretched the truth, they made up some stuff, heck… they just lied. But I point the biggest finger back at the promoters of prop 37 themselves. They blew it, and I’m ticked off about it. This was important.

The first round of ads for prop 37 were pretty good. They made the point well that we should be informed as to the background and makeup of our food. After watching them, I knew that the opponents were taking their time to design an attack. They came right on time, with the expected techniques on display: Say it’s complicated and bureaucratic, say it’s unnecessary, say it’s expensive, and say it hurts somebody charismatic – firemen, our “troops,” or, in this case, farmers.

An early Right to Know ad:


The attacks on prop 37, though they were lies, were somewhat specific. And you can’t answer a specific attack, regardless of its lack of veracity, with a “Target style” commercial with women dancing around in red and white polka dots, carrying joy-inducing shopping bags. But that’s exactly what was done.

Childish fantasy response video:


When the attack ads came out, I waited. I waited for the refutation of the attacks by the good guys. I waited for our own people in doctor’s lab coats. I waited for scientists standing in front of test tubes – lots of scientists. They never came.

Instead, in answer to: “Prop 37 will cost consumers millions,” we got: “It doesn’t cost a dime.” In answer to: “Prop 37 is illogical in its labeling requirements,” we got: “It’s simple.” Piss poor. The response would certainly seemed like fluffy B.S. to me, had I not already known a lot about the issue.

When I saw the pathetic response by Right to Know, it was too late. They had timed their response correctly, saving their second round of advertizing spending for the final week, but it was too weak.

This chart from Mother Jones show what happened to the popular support for prop 37 once the opposition ads hit:

And now, because this defeat shows a lack of a strong movement for honesty in food labeling, President Obama will most likely put the issue on the back burner indefinitely. This failure has set the semi-existent “food movement” back years. I just hope lessons were learned here.

The same “Target style” technique was attempted by the advocated of prop 38, the alternative to Governor Brown’s tax bill – prop 30. The prop 38 ads had angelic little voices saying: “I’m a cute-voiced little school kid and here’s what I want you grown ups to do to take care of us – vote yes on prop 38, yay!” That one went down like the Hindenburg.

Our side shouldn’t insult the voters’ intelligence. Let the other side do that while we gain real respect by showing that we’re unafraid to tell the whole truth. This is a movement that depends on people understanding somewhat complex ideas and looking ten years or more into the future. Let’s not pretend we’re joyfully going shopping.
Of course, some well-done humor can’t hurt…

Prop 37 spoof ad video:


-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


Vote Yes on CA Prop 37 – Tom Rossi

The California proposition we should all be aware of, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone else, is prop 37. Prop 37, despite claims to the contrary, is simple: if a food product is made with ingredients that came from a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), the label should say so.

This seems so simple, so obvious, so harmless, and so clearly a good idea that I can’t understand how anyone could oppose it. But the corporations that profit from the genetic manipulation of our foods have geared up the public relations powerhouses to protect those profits.

The main argument put forth against prop 37 by the likes of Monsanto corporation (including Eli-Lilly, American Cyanamid, Dow, and UpJohn corporations) is that the it’s labeling requirements are “illogical.” In TV commercials, they show things like meat and milk and alcoholic beverages and say that they are “exempt.” Well, prop 37 doesn’t require labeling of the upholstery in you car either. The food-biotech industry may have unwittingly shot themselves in the foot with this one…

Prop 37 calls for labeling of foods that contain genetically-modified ingredients. That is to say, foods that contain ingredients which have, themselves, been genetically modified. But let’s look at milk, for example. Milk is, for better or worse, pretty much the stuff that comes out of a cow, possibly with a vitamin or two thrown in. The mild itself has not, to this point, been genetically modified. The cow, however and in most cases, has been modified, or at least it’s milk production has.

Cows (not the ones that produce organic milk) are, in the majority of cases in our wonderfully modern country, injected with hormones, specifically to make them produce more milk or just grow faster and bigger. The hormone for increased milk production is recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST). This and other hormones given to cows are synthetic versions of natural bovine hormones.

This process is not covered by prop 37. I would say that situations like this would be a great next step. But it’s logical, practical and much more politically feasible to start with GMOs.

Another argument from the Monsanto PR machine is that labeling foods as genetically modified would be “misleading.” This is claim is due to the ironic idea that people will interpret the GMO label as meaning that it’s something bad. That’s pretty interesting. Maybe we should stop labeling food period. Sugar content? It’s OK, all you need to know is that our government has determined that it won’t kill you… today. MSG? Sodium nitrate? FD&C red #40? They have all been determined to be “safe.” So you don’t need to be informed, just eat up! Only a small percentage of you will get sick or die, and that’s perfectly acceptable – on a statistical basis.

The anti-prop 37 commercials also claim that people’s food bills will go up if the bill is passed. The “research” that came to this conclusion was done by, you guessed it, the biotech industry. It’s not an independent study and not from a credible source. Food companies will have to change the labeling on processed food packages, it’s true. But, as it is, these labels change all the time anyway. In fact, I often see the same product on a shelf in the store with two different labels. The only difference is a different color or typeface.

This whole issue is incredibly simple. We, as citizens of the United States of America and as human beings, have the undeniable right to know what’s in our food, period. We also have the right to know when we are eating something that has been produced in a way that could threaten our environment and future food production, as many of these “Frankenfoods” are doing.

And as for the claim that prop 37 is a “complex set of regulations,” it’s only complex if you can’t read very well. If you are interested in reading the actual text of prop 37, you may do so here.

Prop 37 is a stand against the people being turned into Guinea pigs. Vote “Yes” on prop 37, and call your friends and make sure they will, too.

-Tom Rossi


Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.


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