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No, Ted Cruz: Opposing GMOs Is Not 'Anti-science Zealotry'

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on March 16, 2016 - 8:06pm

By: Erin E. Bowman

Back in March 2015, the Washington Times reported on an appearance by Ted Cruz at the Iowa Agricultural Summit.

Mr. Cruz said GMOs helped to provide food for people across the globe and strengthen farms across the nation. He said that people who oppose GMOs and want to buy organic food can do that. 'People who decide that is what they want, they can pay for it already, but we shouldn't let anti-science zealotry shutdown the ability to produce low-cost quality food for billions across the globe,' Mr. Cruz said.

No, Mr. Cruz, you are misinformed. While I don't think you actually intended to cast more than half of the country (those of us who cannot afford to buy all organic) to the mercy of Monsanto and the slow, miserable death of glyphosate poisoning, it's what you've done. 

You've said essentially that it doesn't matter what those of us raising a family on $30,000 or $40,000 a year think. You've said here that we should just thank our benevolent dictators in Washington for taking the time to make sure we can fill our cupboards and refrigerators, regardless of the fact that the food is contaminated. Cheap is better than healthy!

Except that it isn't.

Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, is toxic, quite clearly. Any agent sold to kill something is a toxin, and pretty much everyone can understand that. The World Health Organization and International Agency for Research on Cancer have deemed glyphosate -- sales of which generate $6 billion annually for Monsanto -- a likely carcinogen. 

There's nothing anti-science about understanding this. We're taught as children that consuming poison will hurt you; again, this is basic knowledge.

Roundup is sprayed directly onto fields of crops full of what are known as Roundup-Ready Crops, which are genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). These include "alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets and wheat." In case you're not aware how Roundup-Ready Crops work, farmers do not go into a crop field with a little trigger bottle of Roundup and give a squirt here and a squirt there to kill weeds. Instead, it's faster and much more effective to fill a self-propelled sprayer with 600, 800, 1,200 gallons or more of Roundup at a time and head out into the fields. The farmer then extends the spraying apparatus on either side of the sprayer, which are called booms, folding them out like huge wings, and begins spraying everything. Everything -- food, weeds, doesn't matter -- up and down the entire field. 

Monsanto specifically encourages this practice just before harvest, because "spraying glyphosate desiccates green foliage & stems" and "uneven maturity and green tissue delays harvest" (Here, page 27). After spraying Roundup on the fields, it doesn't all soak into the crops or the weeds. It gets onto the ground and into the soil. It turns into runoff and gets into our drinking water.

Mr. Cruz, would you spray Roundup on your food right before you were ready to eat it? Would you let your children eat corn or wheat that was doused with Roundup? How about a glass of water with a squirt of Roundup in it? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

I certainly don't resent farmers trying to make a buck by making their jobs easier. They have a particularly difficult and unappreciated job, and saving a buck is what we're all trying to do these days. 

What I resent is the implication that it's fine to risk poisoning the poor, and the rich will just buy organic. The millions of us who are working to take care of our families -- particularly those of us who do so without a helping hand from the government -- resent that. It's elitist, it's patronizing, and rejection of sentiments of this kind are exactly what this election is all about. 

I'm glad I saw this before I went to cast my ballot today, before I threw in for a man who does not care whether what I put on my children's plates is safe to eat.

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