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Organic Consumers Association
Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

The Emperor Has No Clothes, and Neither Do Monsanto’s ‘Scientists’

October 7, 2015
Organic Consumers Association

by Katherine Paul

The Monsanto public relations machine has done a stellar job in recent years of reducing the GMO debate to one that pits “pro-science advocates” against “anti-science climate-denier types”—with Monsanto portrayed as being squarely planted in the pro-science camp.

But that well-oiled machine may be starting to sputter.

Turns out that Monsanto executive solicited pro-GMO articles from university researchers, and passed the “research” off as independent science which the biotech giant then used to prop up its image and further its agenda.

We know this, thanks to thousands of pages of emails obtained by US Right to Know, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). And because a host of news outlets—including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, the StarPhoenix and others—are now running with the story.

For anyone who has paid attention, this latest scandal should come as no surprise. As Steven Druker writes, in “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,”  “for more than 30 years, hundreds (if not thousands) of biotech advocates within scientific institutions, government bureaus, and corporate offices throughout the world have systematically compromised science and contorted the facts to foster the growth of genetic engineering, and get the foods it produces, onto our dinner plates.”

Will Druker’s book (published this year), and this new wave of bad press be enough to finally expose Monsanto’s “science” for what it is—nothing more than an expensive, sustained and highly orchestrated public relations campaign?

The story behind the story

U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a nonprofit funded almost entirely by the Organic Consumers Association, launched an investigation into “the collusion between Big Food, its front groups, and university faculty and staff to deliver industry PR to the public.”

As part of its ongoing investigation, the group filed FOIA requests to obtain the emails and documents from 43 public university faculty and staff. The requested documents included records from scientists, economists, law professors, extension specialists and communicators—all of whom, as the group points out, were conducting work in public institutions, all funded by taxpayers.

Read More Here

Food Freedom News.

 

Monsanto Minion AwardsBy Organic Consumers Assn.

On Thursday, October 10, activists posing as biotechnology industry lobbyists and processed food industry insiders delivered “Monsanto’s Minions Awards” to the members of Congress who have worked the hardest to keep their constituents in the dark about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in America’s food supply.

The activists represented the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Occupy Monsanto.

Following the delivery of the awards to Congressional offices, the anti-GMO activists, posing as the Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee (BIAC), attempted to block entrances to the Congressional office buildings to stop corporate lobbying during the shutdown.

The action, modeled on the one Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies did at the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, involves dumping out briefcases of cash on the X-ray machines at the entrances where lobbyists are waiting in line to go through the metal detectors and enter the Congressional office buildings. The corporate lobbyists are expected to lunge for the fluttering bills just as the stock traders did, creating a melee that will shut down the entrance.

Lobbyists scurrying to grab dollar bills is an apt metaphor for what’s happening during the shutdown. They are here meeting with the Congresspersons they supported financially during the elections to create or protect federal laws that boost their profits.

“The legislative pressure-cooker created by self-inflicted deadlines and crises like the fiscal cliff, the shutdown and the debt limit are the worst way to write legislation. Corporate lobbyists are here to take advantage of the situation. That’s how we got the Monsanto Protection Act in March. We’re here to try to stop that kind of thing from happening again,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association, dressed for the day as Jennetta Kontamy-Nashun, Biotechnology Industry Awards Committee lobbyist.

Monsanto, the target of the anti-GMO activists’ ire, is a company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations in each election cycle and millions of dollars every year lobbying. In exchange, Congress subsidizes its genetically engineered food and makes sure it isn’t labeled or safety-tested.

Read More Here

 

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‘No Monsanto!’: World marches against GMO food

 

Published time: October 12, 2013 19:06
Edited time: October 13, 2013 01:44
Activists carry signs during a protest against chemical giant Monsanto in Durban on October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Rajesh Jantilal)Activists carry signs during a protest against chemical giant Monsanto in Durban on October 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Rajesh Jantilal)

 

Thousands took to streets across the world’s cities on Saturday to protest the use of GMO products, with Giant Monsanto being the main target. Over 50 countries have been taking part in the march for world food day, and across 47 different US states.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the March Against Monsanto campaign

Berlin, Strasbourg, Chicago, London, Sydney and Mumbai are just a few of the 500 cities worldwide involved in the rallies, with each one drawing hundreds.

The demonstrators have been calling for the permanent boycott of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and “other harmful agro-chemicals,” according to March Against Monsanto’s official webpage. Protesters wielded large banners denouncing GMO products, and donned fancy dress: In Washington DC a group dressed as bees to highlight the impact of insecticides on bee populations.

 

Anti-GMO (genetically modified foods) protestors put a chain at the site entrance of US seed company Monsanto on October 12, 2013 during a day of action against the company, in Monbequi, southern France. Banner (R) reads: "No to a world according to Monsanto". (AFP Photo / Pascal Pavani)Anti-GMO (genetically modified foods) protestors put a chain at the site entrance of US seed company Monsanto on October 12, 2013 during a day of action against the company, in Monbequi, southern France. Banner (R) reads: “No to a world according to Monsanto”. (AFP Photo / Pascal Pavani)

The rallies  come four days ahead of World Food Day on Oct. 16 and are a direct attack on what the organizers term Monsanto’s “predatory business,” genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other harmful pesticides, which threaten “health, fertility and longevity.”

In Berlin, people expressed displeasure at the food giant for a number of reasons, ranging from long-term health concerns to the chemicals used in Monsanto products.

“There a Smartstax corn that Monsanto has made…it is a corn that resists six different types of herbicide, so you can spray it with six different chemicals and it won’t die,” Heidi Ostermannm, a nutritionist participating in the Berlin march told RT.

“It also produces two insecticides in its own kernels and you can’t wash it off – I don’t even know if technically that’s food. In my mind as a nutritionist, that’s no longer food,” she said.

 

Read More Here

 

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Health And Wellness Report

Corporate Assault on Our Lives And Our Health  :  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) – Poisons in Our Foods

Whole Foods confirms it knowingly sells products containing Monsanto’s genetically modified corn: Don’t ask, don’t tell!

foods

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association has been protesting Whole Foods for several years, demanding the company label the GMOs it sells. Whole Foods management has foolishly ignored him.

In fact, until recently his efforts achieved relatively little traction, but all of a sudden “he appears to be a prophet,” a friend told me yesterday. Yep, Ronnie Cummins was right, and the fact that Whole Foods has sternly resisted labeling the GMOs it sells has the company in a virtual P.R. panic.

Why? Because Whole Foods CEO John Mackey confirmed in a blog post three days ago that Whole Foods knowingly sells Monsanto GM corn in numerous products. And yet at the same time Whole Foods refuses to make its day-to-day shoppers aware of this horrifying fact. He says:

The YouTube video showing our store Team Members giving conflicting responses to a question about GMOs reminds us that while we try to keep all our 70,000 Team Members up-to-speed on the latest information, clearly we need to do more. Some products in our stores DO contain GMOs…

As a result, masses of Whole Foods customers and even employees are operating under the illusion that Whole Foods sells no products containing genetically engineered ingredients. This was confirmed by the recent Organic Spies video which was censored by YouTube because it dared to tell the truth about Whole Foods.

Whole Foods shoppers have been betrayed

Imagine the shock of brutal reality when Whole Foods shoppers learn the truth. They will be appalled. They will feel lied to… betrayed. Wasn’t Whole Foods supposed to be a place of TRUST? Where the food could be trusted? Where people don’t have to conduct their own investigations of all the ingredients because Whole Foods has already done that for them? Isn’t that why people are willing to pay a premium for the groceries they buy at Whole Foods?

It turns out that Whole Foods sells a surprising amount of the same GMO-infested processed junk foods that you can buy everywhere else: Safeway, Kroger, etc. It’s all emblazoned with the “Natural!” claim, of course, which usually means “Contains GMOs” because the word “natural” has absolutely no regulatory meaning whatsoever. And instead of doing something about it, Whole Foods CEO Mackey just says GMOs are “pervasive” as if there’s nothing that can be done about it. Does he not understand that Whole Foods could simply refuse to BUY foods containing GMOs?

Does Mackey not realize that if he had listened to Ronnie Cummins two years ago, his company wouldn’t be in this P.R. nightmare right now, with its own employees caught lying about the genetically modified foods sold by Whole Foods? When corporate giants fail to listen to intelligent critics, they only end up destroying themselves, of course. And Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM) may yet see extreme losses to investors and shareholders if it doesn’t get in front of this GMO issue immediately.

If I owned any stock in Whole Foods — which I don’t, of course — I would be SELLING it like mad right now… especially since I have a fairly good idea of what’s yet to come out about Whole Foods. It’s hard-hitting, I tell you. Their P.R. train wreck is about to get much worse before the November vote on Proposition 37. (There is a solution Whole Foods could immediately embrace to end all this, by the way. Simply announce a $2 million donation to Prop 37 and all the critics are immediately silenced. Problem solved.)

Introducing WholeSanto, the genetically modified corporate logo

All this also means that Whole Foods is a huge indirect financial supporter of Monsanto through the food supply chain. Whole Foods takes money from customers who buy things, then it sends that money to food producers who, in turn, send that money to farmers growing GM crops. Those farmers, of course, send that money to Monsanto for genetically modified seeds. So buying these GMO products from Whole Foods is essentially stuffing dollars into the pocket of Monsanto.

That’s why I developed the following image, which I call a “genetically modified corporate logo.” It’s a hybrid, actually, of Whole Foods and Monsanto:

Feel free to use this image to your heart’s delight. It’s all done as Free Speech satire for purposes of education and commentary in the public interest.

No excuse

Now, what makes all this really special is that Whole Foods flatly refuses to accurately label the products it sells as containing genetically engineered ingredients. So you, the Whole Foods shoppers, don’t even have an informed CHOICE about what to buy. Whole Foods is anti-choice, in other words, when it comes to GMOs. It’s all about just hiding the GMOs inside “natural” foods and then hoping their customers are stupid enough to not know any better. (Which, shockingly, turns out to be largely true as you’ll see in a follow-up article. The vast majority of Whole Foods shoppers are currently clueless about GMOs. That’s about to radically change, however…)

In its attempted defense, Whole Foods says it cannot label other companies’ products. This is a cop-out, of course. Much like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods has the retailing muscle to make precisely such demands of its product suppliers. If Whole Foods announced, for example, that all the products it carries must be accurately labeled with their GMO content by January 1, 2014, nearly everyone would comply. But no such announcement has ever been made by Whole Foods. Instead of demanding that products tell the truth, Whole Foods seems smugly satisfied with its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of looking the other way on deceptively labeled foods.

And so far that formula of deception has worked. Not only are many Whole Foods customers totally ignorant about this fact, but as the Organic Spies video recently showed, Whole Foods employees are also outrageously misinformed about GMOs, too. Many Whole Foods employees literally looked right into the camera and said, with a straight face, things like, “Whole Foods sells NO GMOs whatsoever.”

Really? Are they seriously that ignorant of the products they’re stocking on the shelves and helping customers purchase?

Now, granted, Whole Foods is a large company with tens of thousands of employees. You can’t expect every employee to know everything, of course, but this issue of GMOs is the No. 1 concern among informed consumers. It’s number one, folks. There is nothing else more important to them right now. So how can Whole Foods fail to at least release a memo to its employees on the number one health concern sweeping America right now?

What this failure reveals is that Whole Foods practices a cover-up culture. It’s almost a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about GMOs. It’s the shhhhh! secret at Whole Foods. Don’t talk about it! Don’t ask questions about it! And for God’s sake don’t label it! Because the truth would freak out all our customers! How dare you even ask about this? Hush! Hush!

Whole Foods has built itself on a treacherous lie

And so Whole Foods has built itself on a terrible lie: Whole Foods sells masses of products made with Monsanto’s genetically modified corn — the very same strain of corn that French researchers linked to horrifying cancer tumors in rats.

It’s only a matter of time, of course, before more and more Whole Foods customers figure this out. And as they do, the tide of anger against Whole Foods will continue to gain steam. There will be outrage. There will be protests. There will be masses of people returning products to Whole Foods and demanding their money back.

In fact, that day has already been scheduled. It’s October 16th, the “take your GMO junk back” day — actually known as “World Food Day” — where Whole Foods customers are being encouraged to return masses of GMO products they purchased at whole foods.

Much more coming soon

Folks, you have no idea what’s about to hit the ‘net regarding Whole Foods over the next three weeks. I can tell you it is the most hard-hitting tidal wave of grassroots activism I’ve ever seen in my ten years of writing about the natural health industry. By the time this is over, people will be dressing up as Whole Foods for Halloween because it’s so scary to shop there.

And it’s not just Natural News that’s openly and justifiably criticizing Whole Foods in the public interest. It’s a long list of grassroots activists, all doing their own thing, completely decentralized and individually motivated for their own reasons. You are about to witness a REVOLT against Whole Foods, the likes of which you have never witnessed before, and this revolt has no leader! It’s everyone who feels betrayed by Whole Foods and wants this company to change — IMMEDIATELY!

Because behind closed doors, even all of us who are criticizing Whole Foods secretly hope the company sees the light and comes out in support of Proposition 37 and GMO labeling. After all, Whole Foods is worth saving. Myself and countless others would love to return there one day and start shopping there again, and we’d love to publish words of praise instead of criticism. I’ve even written glowing reviews of Whole Foods in the past, and I’d like to do it again. But we won’t do it if the company hides behind deceptive labels and fails to do the right thing on GMOs.

I believe this is a do-or-die moment for Whole Foods. History in the making. If this company doesn’t come out in support of Proposition 37 in a huge way, I think Whole Foods is done for, and I think we will see it abandoned by its customersand then end in a downward spiral of bankruptcy. I don’t want to see that happen, though. Like I said, Whole Foods is worth saving. The question is: Will Whole Foods take the necessary actions to save itself? Or will its arrogance prove to be its undoing?

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Corporate Assault on Our Lives And Our Health – Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)  : Community  – Activism – Poisons in Our Foods

California Soccer Moms Face Off against Monsanto

 

 

A grassroots coalition of California citizens has an initiative on the ballot to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms. While Monsanto and other corporations have spent tens of millions to silence them, the initiative seems likely to succeed.

 

Prop37-555.gif

Children participate in a demonstration in support of Proposition 37 outside a California Wal-Mart store.

 

In November, California voters will decide whether or not retailers will be required to label foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The choice they make on Proposition 37 will have ramifications for the future of food across the United States.

In one corner of the ring are corporations with deep pockets and a stake in maintaining the non-labeling status quo: Monsanto, a manufacturer of GMO corn and soybeans; Dupont, which makes pesticide and herbicides; and companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and General Mills, all heavily reliant upon GMO crops.

On the other corner are small organic farmers, environmental organizations, and a grassroots army of thousands of volunteers. It’s Big Ag versus the people of California.

Because California is such a large market (10 percent of the country’s population lives in California), corporations know that a GMO-labeling initiative passed there will likely have national implications.

So what’s the big deal with GMOs? The debate over the harms or lack thereof associated with these crops could occupy an article ten times the length of this one, but a few key points are worth repeating. Genetically modified organisms aren’t just wheat with a few tweaks. Some of the “modifications” seem straight out of a science-fiction nightmare, like Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn. Spliced into the genome of this plant is bacterial DNA that causes it to produce its own insect-killing poisons. The safety of these products is questionable because no testing has been done to determine what happens when these mutant foods enter the human body. And the effects we do know about aren’t encouraging. Increasing numbers of peer-reviewed studies show clear-cut health risks associated with GMO products, including allergic reactions.

Previous attempts to label foods that contain GMOs in the United States have ended in failure. Nineteen states attempted legislation; none passed. A petition delivered to the FDA earlier this year with over one million signatures received a tepid response that amounted to, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Proposition 37, on the other hand, is quickly gathering steam and has companies like Monsanto worried. The ballot initiative process isn’t beholden to regulatory agencies stuffed with former industry insiders. It doesn’t need approval from politicians hungry for campaign donations. Proposition 37 will be decided solely on the basis of what voters do on November 6. And because California is such a large market (10 percent of the country’s population lives in California), corporations know that a GMO-labeling initiative passed there will likely have national implications.

An Army of Moms Takes Action

And all this from a California mom with no political organizing experience whatsoever.

Pamm describes a team of 130 volunteer leaders and co-leaders who have never worked on anything political before—an army of moms knocking on doors up and down the state of California.

“I started this in January of 2011,” says Pamm Larry, founder of the Right to Know campaign, “because I was tired of the collusion of government and business hiding what was in our foods.” There seemed to be no way forward, she recalls, “except for the people of California to be able to vote to get GMOs labeled. I had no experience, no funding, no connections. I just started and traveled around the state, talking to folks and eliciting their support for action on the streets.”

Getting an initiative on the ballot in the state of California is no small task. In order to qualify, supporters have to gather 500,000 signatures. The Right to Know team got more than double that. Now, with the campaign in full swing, the Right to Know team still consists of only a few paid staff working out of a small office in Oakland. Pamm describes a team of 130 volunteer leaders and co-leaders who have never worked on anything political before—an army of moms knocking on doors up and down the state of California.

Currently, the Yes on 37 campaign enjoys a sizable polling advantage. A recent poll from Pepperdine University showed 65 percent of California residents in favor of GMO labeling. A lead of that size will be difficult for the opposition to overturn by November 6. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to throw everything they’ve got into the fight. Mostly, what they’ve got is money.

A Tsunami of Funding

The No on 37 campaign has raised $22.5 million dollars to defeat Proposition 37, relying on slick PR flacks and deceptive ads that play on fears of increased food costs and big government intrusion. The No on 37 campaign points to inconsistencies in labeling requirements and exemptions, and assures us that GMO products are perfectly safe.

“I’m really fussy about food, but have not seen any credible studies about negative impacts from GMO foods,” said Paul Betancourt, a California farmer aligned with the No on 37 campaign. “I would think, they’ve been used on such a wide scale for such a long time now, that we’d be able to isolate problems if there were any.”

Supporters of the labeling initiative are cautiously optimistic that voters will not be swayed. Statewide polls show wide support, and nationwide polls have shown support for GMO labeling as high as 90%. Despite the likely ramp-up in attacks from the No crowd, Yes on 37 backers remain confident that California voters will affirm their right to know what’s in their food come November.

Taking the Fight to Monsanto

Proposition 37 is just one effort in a broader movement against GMOs. Groups like Occupy Monsanto and Millions Against Monsanto are working around the world to raise awareness about genetically modified organisms.

Occupy Monsanto provides a decentralized space for organizing efforts exposing the company. An action at a Whole Foods franchise in August saw activists parking cars in the store’s lot with signs and banners warning customers that Whole Foods products contain GMOs. The police showed up, customers were curious, and a few mental light bulbs lit up about the presence of GMOs in a purportedly “natural” grocery store. Millions Against Monsanto, created by the Organic Consumers Association, provides a research base and advocacy platform for concerned consumers.

On September 17, Millions Against Monsanto and Occupy Monsanto will be teaming up for a global day of occupation at Monsanto sites. All told, the organizations list over 60 events, ranging from protests to dances to seed exchanges, a truly international affair stretching from Warsaw to Moscow to Honolulu.

Less than a month later, Proposition 37 comes up for a vote.

“This is a unique moment in time,” said Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, an agricultural policy research organization based in Wisconsin. “It won’t be influenced by lobbyists, or federal campaign funding. [Proposition 37] is totally in the hands of California citizens. This is winnable.”

Genetically modified organisms have been hiding in plain sight for decades. But with pressure coming at Monsanto and GMOs from so many angles, it seems likely that grassroots activism will provide a clear-cut victory for California consumers over the bankrolls of Big Ag.


Corey Hill wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. He is the Membership and Outreach Coordinator at Global Exchange.

Interested?

Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Corporate Assault on Our Lives And Our Health

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Why Are Some of the Most Popular Organic Brands Trying to Take Down Consumer Labeling Efforts?

You may be surprised by the companies siding with the likes of Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Dow and other behemoths over the right to know what foods are genetically modified.
September 12, 2012  |

Photo Credit: Lightspring/Shuttersock.com

 Inside the battle over California’s ballot initiative for labeling of genetically engineered foods, Prop 37, is another battle for money . It’s no surprise that more than $14 million of the over $26 million raised to defeat the “Right to Know” labeling initiative is from the biotech industry. And it’s not shocking that the nation’s largest food corporations – PepsiCo, Nestle, Coca-Cola, ConAgra, General Mills, Del Monte, Kellogg, Hershey, etc. – have kicked in most of the rest.

But then there are some surprises. Companies with no obvious stake in the GE foods labeling battle like Morton Salt, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and Godiva have contributed thousands of dollars. And conscientious shoppers may not be aware that they are buying organic products from brands owned by the companies fighting to defeat Prop 37.

The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog organization, recently published an infographic telling which organic brands are owned by major corporations that oppose GE food labeling – as well as which organic companies and brands are supporting the pro-labeling “Right to Know” campaign (full disclosure: I’m on the policy advisory board of the Organic Consumers Association, which supports the Right to Know campaign).

Coca-Cola might not want to label the genetically engineered corn used to make the high fructose corn syrup in its sodas, but it also owns organic and “natural” brands like Honest Tea and Odwalla. Likewise, PepsiCo, owner of Izze and Naked Juice, donated $1.7 million to oppose Prop 37 – more than every other donor except Monsanto and DuPont, and even more than the other four major biotech corporations (Bayer, BASF, Dow, and Syngenta).

Other brands owned by Prop 37-opposing corporations include Lightlife and Alexia (owned by Conagra); Kashi, Gardenburger, Bear Naked, and Morningstar Farms (Kellogg); Cascadian Farm Organic, Muir Glen and Larabar (General Mills); R.W. Knudsen Farms and Santa Cruz Organic (Smucker); and Silk and Horizon Organic (Dean Foods).

By publishing this information, the Cornucopia Institute made quite a wave. “It’s amazing how many emails we’ve gotten from people saying, ‘I never knew that Kellogg owned Kashi!’ They feel betrayed,” said co-founder Mark Kastel. He adds that consumers might have been in the dark because, “You’ll never see General Mills on the label of Glen Muir or Cascadian Farms, you’ll see Small Planet Foods,” a practice he finds deceptive.

“People aren’t just buying the organic cereal, the organic frozen vegetables,” he continues. “They are buying the story behind the food, and organics has always had this romantic story about stewarding the environment and humane animal husbandry, and one of the reasons consumers assume organic food is more expensive is because economic justice for the farmer is built into the price.” He accuses large corporations with disingenuous organic brands of “farming by press release,” adding that, “It’s a lot easier to build a fancy press release and tell how much of your power comes from wind power than it is to deal with many small, family farmers.”

But Cornucopia doesn’t identify itself as “anti-corporate.” Kastel says, “These issues aren’t about corporate scale, they are about corporate ethics.” The infographic supports this by identifying a number of organic companies and brands that have donated to the Right to Know campaign, supporting Prop 37 and the labeling of GE foods. These include: Nature’s Path, Amy’s, Annie’s, Dr. Bronners, Nutiva, and more. In fact, since the infographic was initially released, he says some companies have donated to support Prop 37 and then asked Cornucopia to add them to the infographic.

Honest Tea, which was acquired by Coca Cola in 2011, assures customers that it retains 100 percent autonomy, even though its owner is one of the biggest funders of No on Prop 37. Honest Tea points to its own organic certification, its voluntary labeling of its products as free of genetically engineered ingredients, and even its funding of the federal labeling effort, the Just Label It campaign, as evidence of its commitment to the labeling of genetically engineered foods and its independence from its parent company.

You may be surprised by the companies siding with the likes of Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Dow and other behemoths over the right to know what foods are genetically modified.

The Just Label It campaign, funded by Honest Tea, Horizon Organic, Annie’s, Amy’s, Organic Valley, Stonyfield, and others, focuses its efforts on convincing the FDA to require labeling on all GE foods nationally. Honest Tea says it funds Just Label It but not the pro-Prop 37 Right to Know campaign because it feels the best use of its limited funds is focusing on the national campaign. According to the company, it does not have the funds to devote to smaller, more limited, statewide efforts around the country.

The Right to Know campaign’s co-chair, Dave Murphy, disagrees with this logic. “California is the eighth largest economy in the world,” he says, noting the impact that requiring labeling in this one state will have. Additionally, he lacks faith that the FDA, which has opposed requiring labels of GE foods to date, will be swayed in the near future. On the other hand, a majority of California voters (and a majority of Americans) support GE food labeling, and the ballot measure has a real chance of passing. That said, Murphy is adamant that he does not wish for anyone to boycott any organic products, no matter what their parent company is up to. “That will only hurt the farmers,” he says.

Kastel – a man not known for mincing his words – uses stronger language, calling Just Label It a “damage control scheme” that organic giants set up during a time when they were criticized for agreeing with the USDA’s call for “coexistence” between organics and GE crops. “Their kneejerk response was to thump their chest about how anti-GMO they are.” He adds, “Just Label It accomplished nothing and it never will. As long as we have the campaign finance system we have, it never will.”

The Cornucopia Institute hopes to add a “Missing in Action” section to its infographic, calling out the enormous corporations that have not donated to either side of Prop 37. That list will include Hain Celestial, Stonyfield and Whole Foods. “We’re hoping there will be some level of embarrassment,” he says.

Stonyfield’s director of organic and sustainable agriculture, Britt Lundgren, ensures customers that it has endorsed Prop 37 . “Although our financial donations have been solely to Just Label It, we support all efforts to require labeling of genetically engineered foods,” she said. “We believe that consumers have a right to know what’s in their food and that genetically engineered ingredients are fundamentally different from their non-genetically engineered counterparts and people have a right to make a decision about whether or not they want to consume those foods.”

So why the choice to fund one and not the other? “Stonyfield invested in supporting Just Label It long before the idea of having a California ballot initiative came to our attention so we made that decision and we invested our funds there,” Lundgren explains. “We only have so much money that we could put toward these things, unfortunately.”

Unfortunately, even though Prop 37 is now polling at 65 percent support, its passage is by no means a slam dunk. So far the campaign in support of labeling has raised $4.5 million, but needs $6 million to $10 million just to try and compete with other side’s deep pockets. And money counts, as illustrated by a failed California ballot initiative to tax cigarettes and use the proceeds to fund cancer research that the state voted on in June. It received 67 percent support in March 2012 – before tobacco companies spent nearly $50 million to fight it. By Election Day, June 5, the measure lost narrowly.

You may be surprised by the companies siding with the likes of Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Dow and other behemoths over the right to know what foods are genetically modified.

It is certain that the food and biotech industries will bury the Prop 37 campaign in a flood of corporate cash. But what is not yet known is whether the Right to Know campaign will receive the resources to counter that cash in time for the election on November 6.

Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It..

 

Activist Mother Launches National Movement to Boycott GMOs

Katherine Paul
Organic Consumers Association
Gmo diana reeves

© Unknown
Diana Reeves, organizer of GMO Free USA

Diana Reeves was furious when her state legislators caved into threats by Monsanto to sue the state of Connecticut if it passed a GMO labeling law. Lawmakers effectively told Connecticut’s voters, who had clearly expressed overwhelming support for GMO labeling, “oh well.”

Unlike her gutless state legislators who rolled over, Reeves is determined to keep the fight for transparency in GMO ingredients alive – and she’s taking her fight national. She’s started a group called GMO Free USA which plans to pressure food manufacturers into revealing which of their products contain GMOs. The ultimate goal is to organize national boycotts of those companies that refuse to switch to non-GMO ingredients.

GMO Free USA is Reeves’ first foray into activism. The mother of three was on the fast track at a major accounting firm when her son was diagnosed with cancer. She walked away from her job to take care of him.

“I never looked back,” she said. Her son died before he turned five.

“This is one of those things that act as a catalyst, that bring people together,” Reeves said. “You learn to live with it, to try to make some good come of it, to find better ways to channel the grief.”

Having lost one child to disease, and with two daughters who were also suffering from health problems, Reeves became increasingly interested in the relationship between food and health, About 4 or 5 years ago, she began reading about the potential hazards of GMO. “I started sending emails to my friends, telling them to ‘say no to GMOs,” she said. “I was probably driving them all crazy.”

Then a few months ago, a friend introduced her to NonGMO Hartford, which eventually led to her involvement with the Connecticut Right to Know group which was pushing for a state labeling law. She began distributing information, and campaigning for HB 5117, which included a provision for mandatory GMO labeling.

With overwhelming public support for the Connecticut GMO labeling law, Reeves and others were sure it would pass. But at the last minute, under threat of a lawsuit by Monsanto, the bill was eviscerated behind closed doors, and the labeling provision removed before it was voted on by the House.

“I was so angry that our legislators didn’t do their job, that they didn’t stand up to the corporations – especially because the majority of voters wanted this law,” Reeves said.

Just as she had channeled her grief, Reeves now channeled her anger. She decided that if the government wasn’t going to do its job, she would go directly after the food manufacturers.

She started GMO Free USA. The group’s first task is to attract a significant number of like-minded members (5,000+). Once they reach that critical mass, they’ll identify one company per week, and members will bombard that company with emails. The emailers will express concern about the health risks of GMOs, ask the company if they are sourcing GMO ingredients, and express their intent to boycott their products unless the GMOs are removed.

“We’re going to hit them from every angle,” Reeves said. “It’s going to be thousands of people speaking directly to food manufacturers.”

In order to make their voices heard by companies with very high sales volume, Reeves said they will need to mobilize thousands of people to act independently. So they’re trying to find a minimum of 5000 people who will commit to the campaign, before they begin emailing food manufacturers.

“The more people who join this consumer email initiative, the more powerful the campaign will be,” she said.

Anyone who wants to get involved in this national campaign can sign up on facebook or Yahoo