Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Speech at press conference by NOFA's Executive Director, Bill Duesing

Here is the speech given by Bill Duesing, Executive Director of the Northern Organic Farmers Association. This brilliant speech reflects the views of so many of those involved in the GMO labeling effort. Thank you Bill!

Good Morning

Thank you for being here today.  Thanks to Representatives Phil Miller and Diana Urban for introducing GMO labeling legislation and to Richard Roy for championing this legislation last year.

It is great to be here representing the 800 members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, CT NOFA, and to be here as part of the GMO Free Connecticut Coalition.   It is really moms who care about what they feed their kids, especially moms who have studied nutrition and health, who are the heart of the GMO Free Connecticut Coalition.

CT NOFA members are farmers, gardeners, chefs, land care professionals, consumers, scientists, educators and moms.

GMOs are prohibited from use in organic farming and land care.  So it would be easy to say just “buy organic.”  We certainly encourage that, but we believe that the current crop of GMOs is so dangerous to the health of people and the health of the environment, that it is important for them to be labeled.

On average, we each eat our body weight in GMOs each year in a very large, uncontrolled experiment with human and environmental health.

The vast majority of GMO crops are designed as sales tools for specific herbicides; the majority of those sales tools for Roundup.  Roundup kills most all green plants that haven’t been engineered to resist it, so right off the bat we have a problem, since we depend on green plants for food, air and water.

Although the propaganda from the biotech industry claimed that GMOs would reduce pesticide use, a recent study found that herbicide use increased by over half a billion pounds in the 15 years between the introduction of GMOs in 1996 and 2011.

As a result, these herbicides and their breakdown products have increased presence in our food, our environment and our bodies.

This is not surprising.

The thing about Roundup is that it works by grabbing on to nutritional elements and holds on tight.  Plants die because they can’t get the trace elements they need.  There is evidence that because of this feature, genetically engineered plants are less nutritious and may even contain dangerous substances.

So GMO food has more pesticides and fewer nutrients.

But it is not just the herbicides and their residues.

Much GMO corn also is registered as a pesticide because it contains a pesticide in every cell.

A publication from the University of Minnesota lists possible problems as
Increased toxicity
Decreased nutritional value
And antibiotic resistance.

Recent published papers report a hidden viral gene has been found is several GMO lines.  Neither industry nor regulators had seen it before.

The writers disclosing this finding close with “The discovery will also strengthen the argument for GMO labeling: if regulators and industry cannot protect the public then why should they not be allowed to protect themselves.

There is a growing and vibrant local and organic food system in Connecticut- small farms, organic farms, urban farms, community farms and gardens, agriculture commissions, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture farms and more.  The great work of all these people is undermined by an industrial food system that hides the truth about the GMOs in our food system.

I encourage the Connecticut General Assembly to enter history by passing legislation to require labels on foods that contain GMOs.

Thank you.

Bill Duesing
Executive Director

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