High Fructose Corn Syrup, Genetically Engineered Products and Corporate Control of Agriculture and Food are Causing Hunger, Poverty and the Epidemic of Obesity & Diabetes!
Stop Food From Becoming A Health Hazard
Diverse Women for Diversity has for many years worked to create a global women's movement for food security. Food security means accessibility to sufficient nutritious, healthy food and to culturally appropriate food.
Women fighting the corporate take-over of our plant have worked on the issue of farm subsidies and farm income in World Trade Organisation (WTO) meetings and in the World Food Forums conducted during UN Food and Agriculture Orgnaisation. We are committed to bringing about an international trade system that insures that every country can maintain an agricultural system that will provide a local food supply sufficient for their people. We have mobilized against the use of biotechnology to create “for-profit food” that is, food designed to increase the profits of the producer without regard to the nutritional needs of the consumer1. We continue our work on both these fronts, challenging the WTO rules and educating people about the claims made for genetically modified foods. Prestigious scientific groups in Europe and the United States have warned of the dangers of “GM” food. The National Academy of Science in the United States released a report warning that GM products “introduce new allergens, toxins, disruptive chemicals, soil-polluting ingredients, mutated species and unknown protein combinations into our bodies and into the whole environment”2. And, the report said, genetic modifications reduce the nutritional content of our food. We have fought the unrelenting destruction of our planets biodiversity and the end of local varieties of food corps.
Patents The patenting of genes and basic living material will undermine research and development, and threaten people's access to food, nutrition and medical cures, Broad species patents that will emerge from this directive will create monopoly control over the food system, destroying farmers' rights as well as consumers' right to know and choose. Patents on genetic material will block medical research and eliminate local/national pharmaceutical industry.
From the Civil Society Directive to the United Nations, 25 June 1997.
Now we are facing a new issue with respect to the health of foods in the form of a created sugar called high fructose corn syrup.
This sweetener is being used in many products as a substitute for other sugars, including in products, which were formerly not sweetened. This corn syrup has spread through the food supply in the United States and is moving into the food of other countries as well High Fructose corn syrup has replaced sure beet and sugar cane as the sweetener of choice in large transnational food products. Sugar from corn is easy and cheap to produce. Basically you treat corn with an acid and it becomes sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup is very stable, retains moisture, doesn't crystallize easily, and mixes will with other ingredients. And, more importantly, it is much cheaper that sucrose.
The United States is the largest producer of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Corporations that also receive the majority of farm subsides produce most of it. Most of the corn they grow is genetically modified. Such corn cannot find a market in many places in the world, as in the European Union, Uganda, and until recently Brazil, all of which refuse the import of genetically modified products.
The Mexican government's anti-dumping authority determined in 1998 that imports of HFCS from the US were being dumped in the Mexican market, threatening the domestic sugar industry. The US raised objections through a WTO dispute resolution panel, which said Mexico had not made their case for material injury. In September 2000. Mexico again went to the WTO, complying with the earlier WTO findings. However once again they were told that their case did not meet the “anti-dumping” criteria. HFCS form the United States made form genetically modified corn is moving into Mexico where some native Mexican corn varieties have already been invaded by genetically modified material.
There is an overlapping monopoly of food production in the United States. Ten corporations control 32 percent of the commercial seed market, and 100 percent of the market for genetically engineered or transgenic seeds. These same corporations control the global agrochemical and pesticide market. Just six corporations control two thirds of the world's grain trade. Monoliths like Cargill and Monsanto sit with trade delegations in World Trade Organisation policymaking negotiations. These corporations control not only the world's food supply, they control also the agricultural and trade policy of the World Trade organisation.
Food Products distributed by Phillip Morris (which has a net worth of $19.5 billion) include Kraft foods and its subsidiaries: Nabisco, Callard and Bowser, Balance bar, Capri Sun, Churny Crop, Kraft Cheese (Cracker Barrel Etc), Life Savers, Boca, Oscar Mayer, Planters, Cuchard.
Kraft Food includes General Mills, Kool-Aid, DiGiorno, Velveeta, Breakstones, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Baker's Chocolate, Calumet Baking Powder, Shake and Bake, Cream of Wheat, Cool Whip, Miracle Whip, Breyers, Oreos, Triscuits, Toblerone and hundreds of others.
These are the corporations that also control the world's food business: Cargill, Conagra, Nestle, Atria (formerly Philip Morris), Archer Daniels Midland. Because they also control large parts of the processed food system in the United States they have introduced HFCS into many foods, from orange juice to spaghetti sauce.
The product has several drawbacks. Research shows that HFCS can raise triglyceride levels, which may increase the risk of heart disease. In one study a diet with 17% of energy as fructose raised triglycerise levels in men by 32%3. Another study by researchers in Hawaii found that fructose rich diets have deleterious metabolic effects, including, including glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and liver dysfunction4. The global increase in diabetes, and particularly early onset diabetes, can certainly be related to the American diet. The WTO is not the place… …to be making decisions regarding how people will work, feed themselves or share their common inheritance of this planet because there is no place for public input. Decisions within the WTO, following the neo-liberal economic ideology are discussed, conceptualized and responsible to the idea of what advances market forces. Decisions about the use of resources, for example, the use of the planet's water, the safety and accessibility of food, health care and education must remain in public hands if there is to be a democracy.
In addition, HFCS use undoubtedly contributes to the obesity epidemic in the United States, it is addictive, as are all sugars5. This is the reason why children prefer some of the spaghetti products that have high levels of HFCS to homemade spaghetti.
It is no surprise that the largest producer of foods that stock the shelves of super markets, foods high in HFCS, is the corporate giant, Philip Morris. This company, you may remember, was also the corporation that knowingly peddled addictive substances in the form of cigarettes.
In order to stop this invasion of our food by a non-nutritious addictive substance we must educate consumers to pay attention to what is in their food and to develop boycotts to stop it. It would be a wonderful achievement if we could assure that every living being in the world had access to natural organically grown and produced foods and was not dependent upon processed foods. However that is presently impossible because the limited availability of organic food and therefore its cost makes it unavailable for most people. Therefore the campaign must be directed toward removing these substances form food while we continue to campaign for organic, locally grown food.
Humanity has evolved for thousands of years by adapting gradually to its natural environment – including nature's foods. Within just three years a fundamental transformation of the human diet has occurred. This was made possible by massive consolidations among agri-business. Ten companies now own about 40% of all US seed production and sales. Approximately two-thirds of all processed foods in the US already contain GM ingredients – and this is projected to rice to 90% within four years according to industry claims. In short, the human diet, from almost every front, is being radically changed – with little or no knowledge of the long-term health or environmental impacts. Source: Nathan B. Bataliom. 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods. Americans for Safe Food. Oneonta NY 2000.
We need to develop an international campaign against the use of fructose corn syrup in food and that means we must build a worldwide consumer movement. In order to stop the spread of this to the rest of the world it must be stopped in the US, where the majority of these products are created. Globally, the importation of processed food and the destruction of local food products must be stopped. 1. Marion Nestle. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkley: University of California. 2003. 2. Nathan Batalion. 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods. Americans for Safe Food. Oneonta NY 2000. 3. University of Minnesota Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. November 2000 and journal of Nutrition, December 2000. 4. Richard Wasnich, Medical Director and Jon Ruckle, Associate Medical Director, Radiunt Research, Honolulu, Hawaii. 5. Report of the International Obesity Task Force a research group affiliated with the World Health Organisation as reported in the NYT, October 31, 2003.
What is to be done?
Stop the creation and sale of genetically altered food products until and unless serious international studies are completed revealing the short and long term effects of these alterations.
Such campaigns need to be global in scope and orientation. It is not enough to protect our own food supply while letting others less able to protect themselves suffer. But they must be base on local initiatives consistent with local cultures.
Protect and expand local, organic, sustainable, agriculture.
Reduce the use of imported fruits and vegetables in favour of local seasonal products. Insure cheap, nutritious food for everyone.
Demand the end of unnatural additives to food that do not contribute to their nutritional value.
Press government officials to strengthen food and water regulations to insure a safe food supply for all.
Another World is possible!