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Today, I joined a rally in front of the Oakland Federal Building to protest the too-close relationship between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Monsanto Corporation.

I handed out flyers and spoke to many people coming and going to the building and passing by on the sidewalk, as our group flanked Clay Street holding colorful signs to make a showing for our message and chanting to let people know why we were there.

I was encouraged and touched by the response I got from members of the public, who would take the flyers, and some of whom thanked me for being out there getting the word out, because they were truly concerned.

One man, walking on crutches, was one I hesitated to approach, thinking he had no free hands to take a flyer, but when I said, “Maybe you don’t want to take a flyer,” he said, “I’ll take a flyer.” And he actually took two! One summing up why to vote YES on 37, and one explaining the revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA. He seemed glad to get them both, as I explained what they were.

Everyone, from any neighborhood, of any age or state of health, in any kind of job, of any race, color, creed, or national origin has a reason to be concerned about what this means for our food supply, since we all eat, and a whole lot of the food that is out there to buy, is genetically engineered and is being sold without any label to tell us that.

Some people already know something about this problem. But even though it’s a complex problem, and not necessarily even that easy or quick to explain exactly what genetically modified organisms or genetically engineered foods are, it is pretty easy in very few words to get across that our status quo of having no safety testing and no labeling of them IS a problem, even if the person was not aware of it before.

FDA, according to the U.S. government’s own website, exists to ensure public health. Monsanto exists to make as much money as possible, and they do that by selling genetically engineered (GE) crops and unprecedented amounts of herbicides, which are required to help these weak, unnatural crops survive and compete against the natural weeds.

What we object to is the fact that the decision makers at FDA are not only friendly with Monsanto people– they ARE Monsanto people. Some have worked for FDA, and then move onto jobs at Monsanto, and others get positions at FDA after working at Monsanto. Some have gone back and forth between the two.

FDA policy allows new, untested crops into the field and the food supply on Monsanto’s word they are safe. Safety has not been ensured for these crops, and yet they are in stores for us to buy, without being labeled as the experimental foods they are. As consumers, we have all been turned into the lab animals, without knowing or consenting to that.

In the relatively few studies that have been done, animals have shown organ damage and other serious health problems arising from their consumption of genetically engineered food.

GE food is also linked to numerous serious–some brand new– human health problems, in the past 16 years since they have been in our food supply. Ill patients get better very quickly when they follow doctor-prescribed diets free of GE food.

There are many health problems that appear they may be caused by genetically engineered foods, but the causes are impossible to track fully, since GE foods are not labeled in the United States, as they are in about 50 other countries around the world, covering 40% of the world’s population.

Our proposed remedy? VOTE YES on PROPOSITION 37– California Right to Know, Label Genetically Engineered Foods. So ALL of us can know what’s in our food.

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