Letter to the President

barack obama GE alfalfa president USDA

Many of you are aware that the USDA recently approved GE alfalfa, and you probably guessed I'm pretty upset. I rarely get involved politically in anything, but I thought I could at least fill out an online petition. But then I realized I didn't want to get lost in the mail. Instead of filling out a form on a website, I decided to actually print out and mail my letter to President Obama. Here is what it will contain. If you'd like to get involved, check out this article.

Dear Mr. President,

I was in Chicago when you were elected. I actually made eye contact with you as you were driving down 55th St in Hyde Park on Thanksgiving morning, if you recall. So I felt a great deal of pride and solidarity when you went into office and called for change. I believed that you were the president for my generation, that you would help us enact the change we were so desperate for. I wanted to work at your side, to bring back integrity to Washington, which is saying a lot because I cannot stand politics.

I voted for you because you said that you would help to create a government that paid more attention to the needs of its citizens than to special interest groups and corporate lobbyists. I feel let down by the fact that GE alfalfa has been approved by the USDA, despite the fact that the only people calling for its approval are those who have a financial stake in it.

I understand that biotech and food companies are technically citizens as well, and their interests are also taken into consideration. Nevertheless, when their interests lie only in making more money for themselves AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR HEALTH, I feel that the priority ought to lie with the rest of us.

There are no consumers clamoring for GE alfalfa. Nobody I meet says, "I wish I could find more genetically modified food at the grocery store." Food in this country is as cheap as it needs to get, and there is plenty of it. I see absolutely no reason for the use of the crop.

On the other hand, GE crops have a whole raft of issues associated with them. I'm sure you're getting a lot of letters following a standard format, so I'll spare some of the nitty gritty and simply share a story about my experience as a camp counselor.

Since I started working at my childhood summer camp in Minnesota, I've noticed more and more kids coming in with allergy medications. It has lately gotten to the point that every child has chronic allergies, asthma, or learning disabilities such as ADHD. Most of my kids were on some sort of medication.

I was too, until recently, when I switched to an organic diet free of processed foods.

This is just a personal anecdote, but it is compelling evidence to me that the majority of our health issues arise from our food, which is usually processed, irradiated, sprayed, or otherwise tampered with. And the worst part is, the people suffering are our children, who simply take their frailty for granted.

There are many, many families who have found that their chronic health problems disappeared once they switched to organic or locally produced, wholesome foods. This is not an isolated incident, but who is there to fund studies to prove it? Those interested are by definition small operations, either family farms, or locally-run grocers and market. There is no massive, well-funded clean food industry to pay for studies, and as a science major, I know how easy it is to tinker with the results of studies to get what you want.

My point is this: we do not need GE crops, and the potential risks are much more threatening than the potential gains. The argument that we need GE crops to feed a growing population is a lie: the world food problem is one of distribution, not supply. We are putting chemicals, proteins, and organisms into our bodies that they have never encountered in our history as a species. Problems are bound to occur.

I understand that you as an individual are not responsible for this, but as the President, you have a great deal of clout. If you do one thing to really make a difference to the American people, something tangible, that can be felt in the health and well-being of our children and our bodies, make it to support organic food in the fight against those food companies who would sacrifice our safety for their pocket books.

I have a lot more to say, but I know you are very busy. If you'd like to discuss more, let me know. I'd love to visit DC.