February 13, 2012
By Caroline Jacobsson
There’s a story doing the rounds again, about how Monsanto, one of the world’s largest profiteers of genetically engineered (GE) food, banned GE food from its own corporate canteens!
Monsanto had its pants pulled down by Friends of the Earth in 1999, who revealed that the company was refusing to serve to its own staff the very same GE food that it incessantly foists upon impoverished nations on the premise that it will save populations from starvation. Although it has never been proved, Monsanto constantly claims that GE food is harmless – so why wasn’t it serving it in its own office?
In one canteen, run by external provider, Sutcliffe Catering, a notice read that a decision has been taken to remove, as far as practicable, GE soya and maize from all food products served in the canteen. “We have taken the above steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve”, the provider said.
“We believe in choice”, said Monsanto, while the company actually made sure that by not serving GE food in its canteens they did not give staff the opportunity to ‘choose’ whether or not to eat GE food as they de facto ensure that the staff did not get to eat GE food. Yet the same choice isn’t available to farmers around the world, who most of the time have no choice but to plant GE crops, thanks to a seed market that is often dominated by Monsanto.
Once the GE seeds are in the ground, a vicious circle is started; farmers no longer have the opportunity to choose, as once GE seeds have been released into the environment it is not possible to contain or control them, as an individual seed travels with wind or is swept away by rainwater and may set root in soil owned by a farmer who does not at all want to plant GE seeds. In a recent protest in a Manhattan courtroom US farmers said it is no longer possible for them to keep GE seeds off their fields due to contamination.
If Monsanto decided for its staff that it cannot eat GE food, and actually removes the staff’s own right to choose, how come the rest of us cannot have the same opportunity? Over 90% of all processed food in the US – such as breakfast cereal and the chicken nuggets often served to kids -are now contaminated by GE, even if the farmers who produced the food actually did not intentionally grow any GE crops.
In one Monsanto office location, staff was reportedly happy to eat GE food, as they preferred food sprayed with fewer pesticides. However, the widespread and increasingly intensive use of pesticides in association with the use of GE crops poses suspected further risks to the environment and human health, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and birth defects. Monsanto’s sales pitch to farmers continues to promise reduced labour and financial savings by simplifying and reducing the costs of weed control. The reality turns out to be somewhat different, with GE crops attracting increasing health, biodiversity and environmental concerns, and the development of weed resistance.
November 18, 2009
By David Gutierrez
Vegetarians are significantly less likely to develop cancer than non-vegetarians, according to a study conducted by researchers from universities in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and published in the British Journal of Cancer.
“These interesting results add to the evidence that what we eat affects our chances of developing cancer,” said a spokesperson for Cancer Research U.K. “We know that eating a lot of red and processed meat increases the risk of stomach cancer.”
Researchers followed 61,566 British adults and compared cancer rates among vegetarians, those who ate fish but not other kinds of meat, and those with no dietary restrictions. They found that the lifetime risk of developing cancer was 14 percent lower in vegetarians than in the general population. The protective effect was greatest for stomach cancer, bladder cancer, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and blood cancers. Vegetarians were less than 50 percent as likely to develop lymph and blood cancers as nonrestricted eaters, while their risk of a rare bone marrow cancer known as multiple myeloma was 75 percent lower. Fish-eaters had a lower risk of blood and lymph cancers than nonrestricted eaters, but their risk was still higher than that of vegetarians.
It is the first study specifically showing a link between a vegetarian diet and a lower risk of bone marrow cancer.
“Dietary advice to myeloma patients remains aligned with national guidance — that they should eat a healthy, balanced diet high in fiber, fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fat, salt and red and processed meat,” Myeloma U.K. said.