Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I May Move Back to Europe

I enjoy innkeeping. I like life in the USA. It's great to be able to walk at the ocean whenever I feel like it. I really do not want to be obliged to move back to Europe, yet daily news makes me wonder if that option will not soon become the most attractive choice ...

Yesterday, on NECN, I heard about plans for genetically modified apples, apples, which will look appetizing forever. The underside of the introduction of Frankenfruit into our food supply will be that a GMO apple a day may not keep the doctor away. Oh, no, not at all. Consumption of GMO apples will probably send us all running to doctors with major health problems. In France, and in Sweden, two countries with which I am familiar, people buy and consume apples that would have been discarded before leaving an American orchard. Do Americans really demand immaculate fruit or is this another crazy industry idea? I think we need to change this mentality, not modify apples so they look forever fresh. Misshapen fruit is still good to eat.

Not only are GMOs bad for human consumption. They appear to be bad for bees, too. Our food supply needs pollinators if we are to survive. We are all wondering why bees are dying and now here is an article that suggests some scary reasons. Why is no one in our government paying attention?

On Cape Cod, we continue our effort to stop the utility company from spraying herbicides under the power lines. (Read the latest report here.) Once herbicides enter the water supply, they remain in drinking water for generations, and we will all need to buy professional water filters if we intend to remain healthy.

I am stunned that profit and the chimera of a new national source of energy has deluded those in charge of public safety in Pennsylvania and New York, where shale drilling has not been stopped by the public outcry of citizens who have watched the documentary Gasland and realize the decision to inject toxic chemicals into the ground will pollute local drinking water. Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security has even put actor/activist Mark Ruffalo on a US terror advisory list. (In an historic vote yesterday, the New York State Assembly enacted a temporary ban on fracking, which will remain in effect until May 15, 2011.)

In a Yale Environment 360 interview this weekend, endocrine-disruption specialist Frederick vom Saal explains why BPA should be banned and why our government has not yet done so. Government institutions like the FDA and the EPA apparently lumber along, slothlike, and are not flexible enough to embrace research that contradicts antiquated science. Scientists have warned that even trace amounts of toxic chemicals can disrupt a hormone system. Last Thursday the European Union banned BPA in baby bottles. How long will it take for new research to influence current policy in the USA?

I have also been following the debate on the Food Safety bill, or rather, attempting to follow. The vote should take place today. As of last night, the Tester amendment was still in the bill. For those of you who are not familiar with S. 510, get a quick update from Michael Pollan and Eric Scholosser. (11 a.m. Update: S.510 PASSED the Senate 73 to 25 with Tester intact. Next the House has indicated it will accept the Senate version of the legislation. If so, the bill goes to President Obama for signature. Then the rulemaking phase begins where the legislation gets translated into FDA regulations. This is apparently a critical stage to make sure the provisions make it into the on-the-ground regulations.)

Do you care about GMOs and toxic chemicals in the environment? As we struggle to eat local, do you worry about corporate influence on policies that affect the food available for Americans to eat? Do you think I'm crazy to be dreaming today of a nice little inn in the South of France or on the West Coast of Sweden?