While people like me were talking about gay marriage, our government was very quietly going about taking away more rights. As libertarians, we don’t often talk about food and our health, but it’s important. The right to eat healthy food, feed your children what you want, and grow and sell what you want is being taken away very slowly and methodically. And the government isn’t always basing its decisions on the health of American citizens.
The government’s latest action has been to pass the Monsanto Protection Act , which halts the ability of the government to step in in case of environmental damage from Monsato GMO crops. You can read the full text here. This leads me to beg the question: Why is such a bill necessary in the first place? If Monsanto and Round-Up and Round-Up readyGMO crops are safe, why would such a bill ever need to go into existence? If there was no harm, the lobbying for this protection would be a waste of money, right? The fact is, Round-up and Round-up ready crops have been cited to cause a whole host of problems, especially in animals, including birth defects and cancer. Genetically engineered (GE) seeds and GMO crops are banned either partially or entirely in EU states such as Austria, Italy, France, Norway, and Brazil.
Monsanto is a multinational company that has existed since 1901 when it began producing plastics and other synthetics. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the company began to modify seeds and pursue plant research. They fund research, including at Purdue University, and do what any other large corporation does best – lobby. And then there’s the always pesky problem of the government’s repeated attempts to ban the sale and interstate transport of raw milk, unfairly penalize small farmers, and pretty much tell Americans that they have no right to bodily health. Now, there is obviously nothing wrong with making a profit; Monsanto knows how to do that. But Americans are being taken advantage of without even knowing it. It would be one thing if our government were doing its job, listening to constituents, and forcing labeling of GMO foods and seeds so that American consumers had a choice. Or if the pressure from big companies like Monsanto didn’t keep out small farmers. But that’s not what is going on.
The government has pandered to private money for decades now. If you aren’t convinced that something is amiss, why not look at just a small list of ingredients that aren’t allowed in other countries but are allowed in the United States of America? Ingredients like BHT and BHA, blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, yellow 6, Azodicarbonamide, and Olestra. These ingredients are found in everything. And apparently it’s not too expensive to label or reformulate without these ingredients in Europe, because it’s being done now and food is, surprisingly, still edible overseas.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some genetically modified plants have been very helpful. But Round-up ready crops are not one of them. Why? Because they encourage farmers to be more liberal with their use of the potentially hazardous weed killer, which then gets into local water supply, affects other plants, gets into animal feed, and generally causes a mess of things.
What might the libertarian response be? I think it would be to get involved, as with everything else. If you can, plant your own garden.(You are eating real food at least, right?) If possible, buy heirloom seeds and learn organic gardening methods. Support local markets and local producers and buy organic when possible. Finally, visit organizations like the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Both of these organizations advocate for less governmental involvement in small farms and more government oversight of the big farms that get away with the salmonella and e coli outbreaks that sweep the nation every year.
I believe that we should be as equally appalled at the government’s deleterious oversight on food production as we are about other governmental intrusions. Because if we don’t have our health – what else do we have?