Legal fight for GMO labeling

Recently, we’ve seen various measures proposed across a few of our states in the U.S. for the disclosure of genetically modified foods (GMO). What we have seen is a huge backlash against such measures, and exorbitant amounts of money infused into these campaigns to keep secret how our food and seeds are commercially processed.

Some of the names behind these campaigns aren’t a big mystery. Among the proponents can be found industries such as DuPont, Monsanto, Bayer, and DOW. Companies who have a huge interest in not only keeping their names under wraps in this fight, but also the more obvious reasons for keeping the truths about their GMO products as quiet as possible. What they would like is for us as citizens to not know what we are consuming. They have fought this battle with rhetoric questioning the legitimacy of the science behind whether GMOs are actually harmful to us. The fact remains, that whether it be proven or not, our food and seed productions are being altered… genetically altered, and for many of us, we simply wish to know what’s being genetically engineered so we can make a choice as to whether to consume these products or not.

The popularity over organic foods has been growing, plant based diets are on the rise, and an awareness of the man-made restructuring of agriculture is increasingly becoming a hot topic. Personally, I couldn’t prove to you the detriment of consuming GMO foods, or growing GMO seeds, but that has actually been rather irrelevant over this debate. What is relevant is the suspicious nature of using the science behind such practices to try and keep these practices quiet. Whether it is seriously harmful to our bodies or not doesn’t need to be proven. If my food is being restructured somehow, then I, like many others, feel we have a right to know which foods are being restructured genetically.

The fight against GMO labeling that comes from industries such as DOW and Monsanto are particularly troubling considering these are the companies who have brought us Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. A product used for the mass destruction of vegetation in the fields of Vietnam, and long known to cause serious health issues. Now Monsanto has genetically engineered seeds to withstand the effects of their powerful herbicides. They have done this by infusing herbicidal genes into the seeds themselves. These seeds, and their herbicides are what we consume, along with a myriad of pesticides.

There may be plenty of people who have no problem with consuming these foods, but there are a growing number of people who would obviously choose not to. The fight isn’t about banning these consumables, but simply shedding a little light on the matter, and giving us a choice, plain and simple. It is outrageous to think that 40 million dollars, matched against 13 million dollars was used in California to to kill Proposition 37 which would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food. One wonders why such a gross amount of money was spent to to kill a seemingly harmless bill. Who would lose out if they were labeled? Do companies such as Monsanto not want us to know what they’re doing? Why not? And it is especially disconcerting to learn that the fight against GMOs has been waged by both political parties. It was in California that the Democratic committee, when sending out fliers on which measures the Democrats supported, a No on 37 was included in that. I won’t even go into the absurdity of a political party suggesting what measures to vote on with no argument for against the measure, as though we were all blind sheep.

The Cannabis Legalization Debate: Federal v. State

In light of the Justice Department’s decision to use prosecutorial discretion in the pursuit of marijuana offenders, and the latest release made by the department stating that it will not “sue to block laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia…” (New York Times), this might be a good time to analyze some of our current prohibition laws concerning cannabis, and the juxtaposition between State’s rights and the Federal laws that stand in contradiction. It is not my opinion that the federal government has any right to regulate the intrastate commerce of the cultivation and use of marijuana, even if it is for commercial use. So long, of course, that that use is contained within a given state where the voters have declared it legal for recreational use (i.e. Colorado, Washington).

My opinion notwithstanding, the Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Gonzales v. Raich 2005 that Congress does in fact hold jurisdiction on the regulation of any article of commodity under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Drawing on the case of Wickard v. Filburn 1942, the Court has found that the regulation of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act 1970 by Congress, albeit intrastate commerce, has a reasonable affect on the entire market of marijuana cultivation. Concluded are the similarities between Gonzales v. Raich, and Wickard v. Filburn, where in the latter it was ruled that wheat production fell under the Commerce Clause, giving Congress the authority to tell farmers when and how to grow their own wheat, even if only for personal consumption.

What this means is, according to these rulings, Congress has full authority to tell you what you can and cannot grow. Let’s replace marijuana, or even wheat with more common garden vegetables, such as tomatoes. Most people with gardens will grow tomatoes, and Congress, according to the Court, has authority in regulating a particular garden hobbyist’s cultivation of something as innocuous as tomato cultivation. The Court ruled since the cultivation and consumption of a particular commodity may affect the overall market of that commodity, in aggregate or otherwise, it may be controlled by our federal government. If you were to grow and consume anything, then that may prevent you from buying them somewhere else, and if we all grow our own vegetables, and were self sustained, Congress would have full authority to end this practice. Therefore, cannabis cultivation, if grown and consumed within a state, and not for commercial use, may be outlawed, because “If Congress decides that the ‘total incidence’ of a practice poses a threat to a national market, it may regulate the entire class.” (law.cornell.edu). Marijuana cultivation poses a variety of difficulties for all who enforce the laws contained within the Controlled Substances Act, being the DEA et al.

Eric Holder simply chose to use prosecutorial discretion on this matter. In my opinion, it is due to the large task at hand of using limited resources to undermine the people of Colorado, and Washington’s new laws. There is a quote I recall from which I cannot remember the author. That quote may loosely state that the people can be policed only as much as the people choose to be policed. There is only so much law enforcement can do when a great majority is in violation of a given law. I believe that the further decriminalization and legalization of marijuana from state to state will only confound and undercut any administration’s efforts to control what their own constituents have approved per state.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1454.ZS.html

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0317_0111_ZO.html