Messing with Mother Nature 

The question is no longer "What's for dinner?" but "What's in dinner?"

You don't have to be Oprah Winfrey to be revolted by Mad Cow Disease, E.coli and other exotic contaminants creeping into our food supply, courtesy of the industrialized practices of today's corporate cowboys.

But if you find this worrisome, wait 'til you bite into the "Brave New Dinner" being cooked up in the laboratory by DuPont, Dow, Monsanto and other chemical giants.

The Wall Street Journal reports that these corporations -- which brought us such blessings as Agent Orange and Astroturf -- are now spending billions to buy up biotech firms, boasting that within a short time, "75 percent of the food we eat will come from genetically engineered crops." As a DuPont executive gushed, "The next Silicon Valley is plant biotechnology." Oh, yum.

The chemical boys say they can improve on nature, engineering new genes into our food that will cure everything from cholesterol to osteoporosis, whether you have those problems or not. Or, they say, they can mimic nature, turning soybeans into fake sirloin, chicken nuggets and crab.

Yes, but why? Will their faux food be cheaper? Get real. Will it have the full complex of nature's nutrients? They're not even researching that. What about people whose bodies are harmed by these exotic genes? Tough luck. Will consumers even buy this stuff? Not if they're given a choice.

And there's the rub. The companies' lobbyists have stopped any regulation requiring labeling of food with altered genes. In other words, you don't have a choice, because they're not telling which food is from nature and which is from the lab.

If they're going to mess with Mother Nature, they should have to tell us. The Union of Concerned Scientists is leading the charge for consumer labeling. Contact them at (617) 547-5552.

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