Tag Archives: food

OPINION: Don’t copyright our crops

While the news media has focused its attention on the recent events in Boston and North Korea, Congress has been busy passing new legislation with some content.
The Farmer Assurance Provision, passed on April 4 as a rider to a budget bill, severely limits the ability of federal courts to restrict the planting and sale of genetically modified or engineered seeds, despite any possible consumer health concerns. The rider clearly benefits the biotech industry, likely spearheaded by the Monsanto Company, the nation’s leading producer of genetically modified crop seeds.
The Monsanto Company has a long legal track record of class-action lawsuits over health issues caused by their chemical products, as well as Monsanto’s defense of their many patents. Since the mid-90s, Monsanto has filed lawsuits against more than 100 individual farmers for alleged patent infringement. Although most of these suits settled out of court, Monsanto won the few that didn’t.
Monsanto’s rabid defense of its patents worries many people, myself included, and has even earned the corporation the nickname “biopirates.” This new bill will help Monsanto dominate the genetically modified food industry by making the federal government nearly powerless to stop the sale of Monsanto’s products for any reason; it may even help the corporation create a monopoly on food. With no threat of government investigation and the new legal protection given to their products, Monsanto can now continue to aggressively pursue farmers and rivals for patent infringements. Due to the natural spread of crop seeds, Monsanto will eventually be able to claim rights to thousands of fields and will put thousands of farmers in court. Farmers may be pressured to switch to exclusively using Monsanto seeds in order to avoid litigation, substantially increasing Monsanto’s profits and allowing it to dominate the food markets.
In addition to the damage Monsanto’s chemicals can do to humans, genetically modified seeds represent a huge threat to the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, genetically modified crops pose distinct threats to the environment, many of which may be unforeseen. Engineered crops can actually become weeds, which can damage surrounding crops, and modified genes may cross-pollinate other crops, turning them into weeds also. Crops engineered to produce certain viruses could spread the viruses or making them more potent, and plants engineered to produce toxins, such as pesticides, could harm crucial bee populations or wildlife that may eat the crops. Finally, these genetically modified crops could have a negative impact on crop diversity. Although there are multiple environmental issues stemming from the continued growth of these genetically modified crops, no major human health issues have been identified that are directly related to the consumption of genetically modified foodstuffs.
Congress must understand that their continued submission to big business will not be tolerated. This practice of industrial, pre-Progressive era profiting should have died with the monopolies of the early 20th century. Not only is this legislation in direct conflict with antitrust laws, it also allows the controversial practice of producing genetically modified crops to go on virtually unmonitored. Until the questions surrounding the threats that genetically modified foods pose to human health and the environment are answered, the federal government, namely the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, should keep a close eye on the products of companies like Monsanto, not cater to their every whim.

~Kerian McDonald, staff reporter


Taco Bell moving to new location

Our generation has witnessed many historic events, from the election of America’s first black president to the opening of the new building on campus. In April, we will see another groundbreaking event in our community – the opening of a new Taco Bell at 238 Broadview Avenue, the site of a former Exxon station.
“I’m so excited that I don’t think I can put it into words,” freshman Dominique Herring said. “It’ll be bigger and brand new. The Gainesville Taco Bell has a beautiful color scheme inside, so I’m hoping we’re lucky and get one just as nice.”
Taco Bell is moving because their 20-year lease at the current location expires on April 13. The new Taco Bell will be 2,420 square feet.
“The new Taco Bell will have two drive thru’s, rather than one,” manager Shakur Ackbar said. “It will also have a bar style set up in place of some tables. Everything will be brand new; we aren’t bringing anything over there from the current location.”
While some may find the changes exciting, others are dismayed by the restaurant’s new location. Junior Davy Savering and his friends go to Taco Bell every Thursday, and while the new location is closer to the school, their experience will be compromised.
“Before, it was closer to my home and that shopping center with Chipotle,” Savering said. “Now it’s all out of the way for me. We would mess around in that shopping center after we finished eating at Taco Bell, and it’ll be too far away to do that.”
Junior Chase Lacy, also a member of the Taco Bell crew, was extremely disappointed to find out that his beloved restaurant is moving.
“I like where it currently is. It’s like taco home,” Lacy said. “I don’t want to move my taco home. It’s been there for as long as I can remember. It won’t be the same.”
Lacy also said the prospect of a newer and more modern setting does not soothe the pain.
“My friends add the flavor, not the decor,” Lacy said. “I like the gritty, poor feeling you get when you walk in there. It’s plain and boring, but it’s Taco Bell.”
Nevertheless, Lacy said he will continue to give the chain business.
“[The Taco Bell Crew] will make it work, and we will certainly continue to go every Thursday,” Lacy said. “You cannot put a price on love. Even though the Bell has sinned, I will forgive.”

~Abby Seitz, online/associate editor