Fighting back against the Agro-Industrial Food Complex

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Food activist and writer Mark Winne, in town for this week's Food Policy Conference (more on that to come), spoke to a small group gathered at St. Mark's Episcopal Church downtown Wednesday night about the fight against our current Agro-Industrial Food Complex.

Winne's message wasn't all doom and gloom. Those pining for the rise of a sustainable, alternative food system have much to be excited over, he says. By his count, some 200 food policy councils have sprouted up across the country in recent years, all advocating for just, sustainable local food systems. Community supported agriculture, urban gardening, farm-to-school projects are popping up in under-served neighborhoods that direly need them, Winne says, in places like Detroit, Chicago, and even here in San Anto.

But Bit Ag's still king, especially when it comes to steering food policy at the national and state levels. Some 90 percent of our soybean acreage is now GMO (genetically modified organisms), as is 50 percent corn and 60 percent corn, Winne says. "Regardless what you think about it, we the people did not have much say over whether those products were allowed. And whenever we have tried to provide some protection.... the industry has come in and stomped it, has crushed all efforts to make any kind of change." In Vermont, where the state's proposing measures to make companies simply label GMO products, Monsanto's threatening lawsuit.

Or consider that 80 percent of all antibiotics we use gets pumped into livestock, something known to contribute to antibiotic resistance in diseases that affect humans. Though the feds last month announced a plan to stop overuse of antibiotics in factory-scale animal farms, critics say the measure lacks teeth -- consider the gaping loophole the FDA left industry, or that's the plan its current form is voluntary.

And Winne worries over projections that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by year 2030. It's even the main reason would-be soldiers are rejected from military service . "I would like to curtail a lot of american militarism," jokes Winne, "but being too fat to fight is not a good way to do it."

Watch the video below to hear some more of Winne's remarks:


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