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no follower of genetically-modified fashion
bush steps off of the gm bandwagon (for now)
by steven goldman

The United States magnanimously decided today to stop pressing Europe on the issue of relaxing the ban on genetically-modified foods.

The reason they've stopped pressuring Europe is because they're too busy pressuring them about Iraq, and want them to give in on one issue at a time, rather than refuse on both demands, both of which are born of American interests that don't take into account Europe's concerns. The US wants to invade Iraq now, find weapons later – which smacks of cops planting marijuana on unsuspecting teens after pulling them over for a failure to signal – and wants to use genetically modified (GM) food for international food relief. Europe has banned GM food because their studies have shown enough adverse physical and environmental effects in the long run to make them harmful to the environment and undesirable to consumers. And Iraq? Well, aside from Tony Blair, few leaders in Europe stand to profit from the destabilization of the Middle East, and hence, want to be assured there’s a real threat.

So, with an itchy trigger finger resting on his holster, Mr. Bush chooses his battles, and opts out of this one…for now.

Let's back up now to the 2000 presidential election, back here in the good ol' U.S. of A. Before Pat Buchanan miraculously changed his colors from Republican to reformer, the Reform Party's front-runner for presidential candidate was a physicist named John Hagelin.

If you read the bio on his Web site, you’ll find that Hagelin’s a Harvard-educated quantum physicist, sits as Director of the Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Maharishi University, and spends most of his time trying to apply scientific and educational models to public policy.

All of which sounds great, despite the fact that Maharishi University is headed up by a Yogi and teaches Vedic principles to its students, including transcendental meditation (which reduces Hagelin’s credentials to that of crackpot in most Americans’ eyes).

Even so, I almost voted for the man in 2000. Hagelin had a scattershot but intriguing platform among the third-party voices: he wanted to bring meditation into public schools to help reduce violence; he wanted to establish Industry Zones within inner cities for urban revitalization, and he wanted to legalize all drugs that weren’t out-and-out dangerous (e.g. yes, pot; no, cocaine or heroin). But first and foremost, Hagelin wanted a U.S.-based ban on GM foods. He felt that U.S.-based corporations were far too eager for profit (which they are) and were willfully ignorant of the potential damage their GM crops could do to the ecosphere.

The man had something there. Environmentalists agreed with him. Europe would have, had they been voting for him. But agribusiness hated this viewpoint then as they do now.

Farmers are fuming now that not only has the Department of Agriculture created an official “ORGANIC” label for products free of pesticides and hormones, but that Congress passed a provision requiring all meat, fish and produce to be labeled with its country of origin. Big Agribusiness is afraid that once foreign consumers see that U.S. beef is full of Bovine Growth Hormone and much of our corn and potato crops are genetically-modified, they won’t buy them. And why should they? They see the big picture, and our modified crops aren’t part of it.

And Big Poppa Bush is staying out of it. For now. And as much as the prospect of a “war” with Iraq appalls me, at least it’ll keep the president’s mind and paws off of issues like these.


Brachiation is the key to species Goldmanicus Steveniosum's way of life. He bounds from tree to tree, occupation to occupation like he hasn't a care in the world...and who knows? Maybe he doesn't.

more about steven goldman


robert melos
2.5.03 @ 3:28a

I'm guessing this could be the reason I constantly have indigestion. Not your column, but things like Bovine Growth Hormone.

juli mccarthy
2.5.03 @ 9:13a

I've been given to understand that Bovine Growth Hormone is partially responsible for the fact that kids are hitting puberty way earlier than they used to.


steven goldman
2.5.03 @ 11:16a

As I understand it, BGH and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) aren't that dissimilar chemically. And since we tend to front-load kids with milk and meat early on in life "to build strong bones"...

(And it's nice to know that I'm not giving you indigestion, Robert. *smirk*)

tracey kelley
2.6.03 @ 5:02p

There was a story in the DSM Register just today about how some GMO pigs 'accidentally' got released into the general pig population. There's no accidental about it. The corporate farms save a lot of money if they can fabricate meat product.

Kind of like hot dogs.

elena siprova
2.11.03 @ 5:17p

What makes me laugh is that most Europeans have a serious problem with growth hormones yet have absolutely no problem smoking a pack a day. Health conscious my ass - don't get me wrong, I love Europe, am married to a smoking European, and spend time coughing there every year - but I think there's more to this than being concerned about their health. I'll take my chances with modified food which MIGHT harm me over something that's proven to shorten my lifespan, harm my potential children, and annoy the hell out of everyone around me.

adam kraemer
2.11.03 @ 5:22p

Well, not everyone...

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