John Robbins - Photo: M Vincent
John Robbins, Author of Diet for a New America, spoke at Stanford University yesterday October 24, 2012 and discussed his book's positive impact on his father's illness, the fact that Climate Change unfortunately wasn't discussed in the US presidential debates, and California's Prop 37 Right to Know.
Highlights are below, as well as a follow-on Stanford Farm Bill discussion and Scientific Feedback I received from a Scientist and MIT alum at a large pharmaceutical company regarding GMOs.
When John's father, founder of the Baskin Robbins ice cream chain, was dying from Diabetes complications, his doctor told him that he should read Diet for a New America. At that time, the doctor did not know the Author and Father were related. His father then followed the book's advice and lived for 18 more years.
John Robbins also touched on the fact that Climate Change unfortunately was not mentioned in the US presidential debates. (I agree.) He also mentioned that the planet and all life on Earth are being affected and food is a large part of greenhouse gas emissions, more than transportation.
As many Gratitude Gourmet readers know. this fact and connection between Animal Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions is why I founded Gratitude Gourmet in May 2008.
Stanford Food Bill Discussion Photo: M Vincent
As to the Yes on Prop 37 Right to Know initiative, John mentioned that "the GMO industry wants to keep you ignorant - Ignorance is subservience - subservience to Monsanto and their agenda" and "we're going to pass Prop 37. " The Stanford audience enthusiastically clapped.
John's keynote was followed by Farm Bill Renewal Panel discussion including Buzz Thompson, Stanford Professor of Law and Co-Director Woods Institute of the Environment, Karl Hamerschlag, Environmental Working Group, Jon Scholl President, American Farmland Trust, and Michele Simon, President Eat Drink Politics. The bill is very complex to say the least, and here are a few points which were mentioned: There is a massive disconnect between the Farm Bill and Public Health needs. It's focused on the meat and processed-food-centric diet, however the ADA says that half of our plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Right now, the Farm Bill only includes a small sliver of a plate's recommended fruits and vegetables.
John Robbins suggested that a tax be levied on unhealthy foods to subsidize healthy foods, i.e. a tax on white bread to subsidize whole grain breads etc. Intriguing idea.
The Panel members at the end each gave one point that the audience should take with them, and they are:
- Go to the newly-launched website: Foodpolicyaction.org to see how your legislators voted
- Get Political
- Vote with your Dollars
- Share your opinions with people and family most important to you
- Go Vote & Go Eat.
Yes on Prop 37 Right to Know Supporters
I also met a scientist at a large pharmaceutical company and MIT alum, who gave a scientific explanation regarding GMO risks. This person asked to be kept Anonymous.
"I work in the pharmaceutical industry as a scientist and thus am very familiar with genetic engineering. We use it to engineer cell lines to produce the protein biologicals we engineer as medicines, such as antibodies. It is a common and well known concept that the species that one produces those proteins in matters very much, ie, if you take a single gene and express it in various species of cell lines, you will not get the same final protein due to something called post translational modifications. For example, the protein may have parts of it cut off, it may be folded differently, different phosphorylations may occur, or glycosylations (sugars) will get added on in different patterns. Sometimes those differences have little effect, and sometimes those effects are quite huge - you just don't know until you test it. This is what a lot of geneticists fail to convey when talking about genetic engineering. Sure, when you move DNA from species to another, that DNA is all made of the same nucleotides that exists in all species and you'll get the same string of amino acids resulting from it. But moving a gene from one species to another will not result in the exact same protein getting expressed. This is why our stuff has to go through clinical trials and post market surveillance, and rightly so. But the FDA requires no testing of our food which utilizes similar technologies." - Anonymous, scientist at a large pharmaceutical company and MIT alum
As Editor of Gratitude Gourmet, I urge Californians to Vote Yes on 37 - Because we have the right to know what's in our food.
Learn more on the Yes on 37 Website: http://www.carighttoknow.org/