Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bill in Congress Would Prohibit Mandatory GMO Labeling

The debate about labeling GMO foods can't seem to stay out of the news. The overwhelming majority of consumers would like GMOs (genetically modified organisms) to be labeled, according to an ABC News poll. Much of the concern comes from the development of so-called Roundup Ready plants that are genetically modified to resist the chemical weed-killer Roundup. These plants allow greater use of herbicides on food crops and produce seeds that are sterile, forcing farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto every year.

Crops at sunset
Image by jovom via Flickr

The World Health Organization recently stated that glyphosate -- the active ingredient in Roundup -- probably causes cancer. Food safety advocates have been pressing for mandatory labeling laws, and one would think that this announcement would put these laws on the fast track for approval.

Not so fast. In spite of this announcement, a bill known by critics as the DARK Act was re-introduced in Congress that would actually prohibit the state and federal governments from requiring GMO labels. Critics of the bill call it the Deny Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act because the proposed law would indeed leave consumers in the dark. Today Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) re-introduced the bill, officially called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,

With the news that a widely used weed-killer probably causes cancer, it is more important than ever for consumers to make informed choices about the food they put on the table. Labeling GMOs would give consumers an important decision-making tool.

There is a way to add your voice to this debate. The Environmental Working Group, Food Policy Action, and Just Label it have created a petition to stop the DARK Act. You can read about the petition and sign it here.

You can find out more about the DARK Act at the Environmental Working Group. At Food Policy Action, you can learn about this and other food policy issues.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Water Day 2015: A Thirsty World

We know that water is essential to life. We need water to drink, to grow crops, and to wash our hands -- and it's often a matter of simply turning on a faucet. In may parts of the world, however, it's not that simple. Today is World Water Day, a great day to discover and appreciate this precious resource.

As the United Nations points out, 50 to 60 percent  of the adult human body is water; that figure jumps to 78 percent for babies. Our health depends on the availability of safe drinking water as well as clean water for personal hygiene and food preparation. Some of us must go to great lengths to provide water for our families. Women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions spend up to a quarter of their days collecting water

Adding to the stresses of water shortages and poor sanitation is the privatization of water by corporations. When water is privatized, rates often go up in order to maximize profits, and a company will have exclusive distribution rights for up to 30 years, notes Public Citizen, Corporations that privatize water, after all, are accountable to shareholders instead of consumers. These are just a few reasons why privatization of water is probably not the best idea.

But you know what? Keeping water in public hands and investing in clean water and sanitation in developing countries is an economic plus that benefits all of us. Every dollar invested in improved sanitation creates a a 5.5 to 1 return, according to the United Nations.

We do live in a thirsty world -- a world that thirsts for dignity, love and respect as well as H20. Access to clean waster preserves health as well as dignity.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6 (NRSV)

Let's set aside some time today to learn more about water and its vital part in our lives. Here are some resources to get started:

World Water Day 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Water Privatization

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why I Love Communion

On the last weekend of every month, my church has worship service on Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning. The lowering sun shines through the stained glass, and the fact that it is evening seems to make the service extra special. I look forward to the Saturday service every month, especially because it includes communion.

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, 
he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 
"This is my body, which is given for you. 
Do this in remembrance of me." 
Luke 22:19 (NRSV)

As I wait to walk up the center aisle to receive the bread and grape juice, I am moved as I see fellow church members standing in line. Some are alone in their thoughts, while others stand arm-in-arm. We walk together and as individuals to the communion table. We bring our tragedies, celebrations, insecurities and accomplishments, and are equally welcomed and fed.

I was baptized in this church two months ago during an evening service, and communion was especially sweet that Saturday. Walking up the aisle with baptismal water still dripping down my forehead, I was keenly aware that I had become a member of a body as well as a church. 

This evening, we once again gathered for our Saturday service and received the bread and grape juice. We do this every month in remembrance of the One who was broken for us, and we bring our broken hearts, broken lives and broken communities to Him. We are fed, and the restoration begins.