World food prize? Consider going organic

Here’s some tasty, juicy news served up for you to digest. The World Food Prize is an award given to honor outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.

It originated in 1986 and recognizes any field in the world food supply, including food and agricultural science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics and poverty alleviation.  

This year, the World Food Prize Foundation selected three winners: Dr. Marc Van Montagu, the founder and chairman of the Institute for Plant Biotechnology Outreach; Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton at Syngenta Biotechnology; and Dr. Robert Fraley with Monsanto

The copy read that their pioneering work in the field of agricultural biotechnology has improved crop yields, and conferred plant resistance to insects and disease, thereby helping farmers in many countries to feed a growing global population.

Further, the acknowledgment stated that transgenic crops have contributed to food security and sustainability by increasing crop production valued at $98.2 billion and allowing less pesticides to be used.

Currently, about 12 percent of the world’s arable land is planted in biotech altered crops, as there have been dramatic increases in the total acreage planted.

Corn, soybeans, canola and cotton are the biggest biotech crops grown commercially and have become a fundamental part of international agricultural production and trade.

The World Food Prize Foundation also commended these three award winners for developing a wide range of “useful genes” that have transformed many economically important plants, including a large variety of fruits, vegetables and trees.  

Protesters have objected to the awards given this past October, stating that the biotech companies have ruthless business models, impoverish farmers, monopolize the “food” supply and kill bees with the pesticides that are bred into the plants that they have developed.

As well, protesters question the nutritional safety of the genetically modified plants.   

In March, President Obama signed a bill passed by the Senate and the House known as the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013” in order to keep funding various governmental agencies. One of the hidden provisions of the act is what has come to be known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”

The Farmers Assurance Provision, it’s official title, prevents activists from appealing to the courts to force farmers to abandon or destroy GMO or genetically engineered crops that have already received USDA approval, even though such crops are being investigated for safety.

The provision bars the courts from taking part in ensuring the safety of food products, allowing companies such as Monsanto to avoid legitimate challenges to their products.

And, it prevents the courts from halting the sale or planting of controversial GMO or GE seeds, no matter what health issues may arise.

It may seem that the Farmer Assurance Provision has little to do with farmers, and much more to do with assurance and protection of the developers of genetically modified/engineered crops.

This bill, including the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been extended until mid-December.       

Interesting state of affairs wouldn’t you say?. Eat local. Eat clean. And go organic.

• Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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