A Lubbock farmer planted GMO cottonseed on his farm back in 2005, believing the claims of the biotech industry that it would be cheaper to grow. But he has since learned that the crops don’t only perish due to super weeds, but are also full of genes which resist herbicides and pesticides – not something he thinks you or his own family would want to eat. Where once he thought he could save money on labor, he is now realizing that he was sold a health-risk he isn’t worth taking, nor is he willing to sell his friends and neighbors. Eric Herm, the Texas farmer; however, is one of the few people in his neck of the woods educated about GMO crops.
Herm is now a huge advocate for GMO warning labels, and is among a small group in the Republican-dominated state in support of labeling genetically modified organisms. His attempt to defeat big agribusiness is up against some major disinformation campaigns.
“I haven’t had a single constituent mention support for GMO labeling to me,” said state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, a member of the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee. Rep. Springer says that even if a measure to label GMOs was introduced, it would likely be ignored.
Herm realizes he has a steep mountain to climb – but attempts to educate people regardless of the lies being told by biotech. “Where I live, 90 percent of the people were looking at me like I was saying the aliens are coming,” he said.
Texas farmers are part of the burgeoning GMO cash crop business, which includes cotton, corn and soybeans – also some of the most contaminated crops in the US, considering the prevalence of genetically modified seed used to plant these seeds, specifically. Almost 90% of these crops are currently GMO, according to the Center for Food Safety, which supports GMO labeling. The problem with legislation at the moment is that the US FDA only supports voluntary labeling – which of course, the Big Ag companies aren’t going to do.
Though GMO labeling has been passed through states like Maine and Connecticut, Texas currently has no such requirement.
A spokesperson for the Texas Farm Bureau, Gene Hall, and advocate for Big Ag says that labeling GMO will bring unnecessary attention to the ingredients of a product – slowing sales. Exactly! If something is ‘absolutely safe’ as Hall states, then why not label it?
Activists in Texas are stepping up their game, though. You can check out GMO Free Texas on their Facebook page, and also get involved locally by telling your representatives just what you think of GMO. Texas is a big state, and halting GMO sales there would have huge ripple effects for the rest of the country. Help them tell the Farm Bureau and Big Ag ‘No to GMO!’