Posts Tagged ‘ GMO Labeling ’

Did Monsanto Win Prop 37? Round One in the Food Fight of Our Lives

It was a mighty fight. And it’s far from over.

Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 6, 4.3 million Californians – nearly 47% of those who voted – cast their ballots in favor of what would have become this country’s first law to require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ban the routine industry practice of marketing GMO-tainted foods as “natural.”

That Monsanto and Big Food’s 4.8 million votes managed to scuttle Prop 37, one of the most widely publicized and closely watched state ballot initiatives of 2012, is almost a footnote to the real story. (As of today, with reports of almost 3 million votes still uncounted, some still question the “official” vote count and whether the No on 37 camp really won at all).

The real story is this. Prop 37, the grassroots-powered California ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods in California has focused a national spotlight on GMOs, and the serious hazards that transgenics pose to human health and the environment.

It has permanently altered the national debate surrounding food safety, chemical-intensive agriculture, and sustainability.  And it put the consumers’ right-to-know and truth-in-labeling on the table for millions of Americans.

Prop 37 has exposed the dark side of Big Ag and Big Food, and their desperation to keep U.S. consumers in the dark about whether or not our food has been genetically engineered, a fundamental right enjoyed by citizens in over other 60 countries.

This monumental food fight has underscored how dirty money, indentured media, and dirty tricks have polluted our democratic process.

Prop 37 has brought together an unprecedented state and national coalition of more than 3000 organic food retailers and public health, faith and labor, consumer and agriculture, and environmental and political groups, with combined email lists of over 10 million people. The campaign collected almost a million signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot. It mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers and raised more than $8 million, much of that from individual organic consumers and natural health advocates from around the country, not just from California. It spawned new networks like GMO-Free USA and the 30-state Coalition of States for GMO Labeling, alliances that will help raise public awareness and money, and streamline the process of writing state GMO labeling laws.

Prop 37 has awakened a sleeping giant. It has created a statewide and national Movement with the potential to transform the entire U.S. food and farming system, part of a new political awakening in which grassroots forces have begun challenging the power of the corporate and political elite.

Prop 37 may indeed symbolize the “beginning of the end” for agricultural biotechnology and industrial food and farming, a profoundly unhealthy, unsustainable, climate-disrupting system that has dominated American agriculture for the last 60 years.

The real story is this. Prop 37 has created an unstoppable Movement, one that is already preparing for a new fight, on the next battlefield.

Behind Monsanto’s Narrow ‘Victory’

What did Big Ag and Big Food win on Nov. 6? A closer look reveals just how narrow their victory was.

Pre-election poll results revealed that early voters and those who still planned to vote No on 37 supported Prop 37’s basic premise: that consumers should have the right to know what’s in their food.

So why did so many vote No? Because they heard over and over, via $46 million-worth of TV and radio ads, that Prop 37 was poorly written, “made no sense,” included special-interest exemptions, would trigger thousands of lawsuits, and would cost them money at the checkout counter. They were even led to believe, through blatantly fake voter guides mailed to their homes, that the Democratic Party urged them to vote No – even though the California Democratic Party had loudly and publicly endorsed the measure.

Prop 37 showed us yet once again what money can buy. And the No on 37 forces, led by the six largest pesticide and junk food manufacturers in the world, had a seemingly endless supply of cash to pour into their campaign of lies and deceit. Yet all that cash couldn’t convince consumers that they shouldn’t have the fundamental right to know what’s in their food, much less that GMOs are a good idea.

In the end, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola were forced to pretend they were on our side. They ultimately argued through their advertising that sure, consumers should have the right to know, but that Prop 37 was the wrong path to take toward consumer free-choice and truth in labeling.

Big Ag’s strategy? Convince voters that industry respected our right to know, but that they were so concerned about saving consumers money and protecting them from a law they portrayed as ill-conceived, that they just had to rush in with their millions to protect us from ourselves – as if they were the ones who were going to come back with a more consumer-friendly law.

Should we hold our collective breath for Monsanto’s new-and-improved version of Prop 37? A GMO labeling law written by grannies, not trial lawyers? A law that will ensure that meat from animals fed GMOs and shot up with GMO growth hormones must also be labeled? A stricter law, requiring that restaurant food containing GMOs be labeled so consumers can choose to avoid their laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods even when they dine out?

Prop 37 won in most coastal counties, including Los Angeles County and San Francisco, but lost in rural areas – areas the No on 37 campaign began pounding with anti-Prop 37 propaganda on Oct. 1, a week before early voting began. Flush with cash, they outspent us 5 to 1, running ads for almost a month before we were able to respond with our own campaign. Results showed that once we got our message out to those areas, the tide started to turn back in our direction.

The election result numbers shed a great deal of light on how powerful this consumer movement is: With only $8 million to spend, compared with their $46 million, we came within six percentage points of winning. And we are not going away anytime soon.

No Turning Back for the Alternative Food and Farming Movement

Prop 37 was the largest and most successful GMO labeling campaign yet, but it was not the first and it will not be the last.

In the last two years alone, 19 states have made a run at GMO labeling, either through citizens’ initiatives or legislative efforts. We’ve come a long way from the failed push for GMO labeling in Oregon 10 years ago, a campaign that barely made a ripple outside that state. We’ve put GMO labeling on the national map, and we’ve put Monsanto on notice: This movement is stronger than ever, and it’s not going away.

Activists in Washington State have already collected more than half of the signatures they need to put Initiative-522 on the ballot there in 2013. Oregon activists are eying a similar initiative in 2014. Plans are now in the works to restart campaigns in states like Vermont and Connecticut,  where laws don’t provide for citizens ballot initiatives, and reignite legislative those states’s efforts to pass GMO labeling laws. Consumer support in those states is running higher than the national average of 90%, yet previous attempts to pass laws in Vermont and Connecticut  those failed when legislators caved into threats by Monsanto to sue if they passed GMO labeling laws.

Prop 37 may change that, now that legislators have seen just how powerful this movement is – and how vulnerable their political careers may be if they continue to cast their votes against their constituents in favor of corporate lobbyists.

The Organic Consumers Association and our allies will now mobilize our growing base of organic consumers and natural health advocates to educate the public and pass GMO labeling laws across the country. Our narrow loss in California at the hands of dirty money and dirty politics has only strengthened  our resolve and energize our grassroots army.

Prop 37 has fueled Americans growing outrage toward the role of corporate cash and indentured media. In the wake of this bitterly contested battle, food activists will continue to expose companies such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Dean Foods, and Pepsi, who donated millions to quash Prop 37 and who make billions of dollars by deceiving consumers with their so-called “natural” brands, produced with genetic engineering, toxic pesticides, and climate-disrupting chemical fertilizers. We will not rest until consumers understand that so-called “conventional” or “natural” products are a fraud, posing unacceptable risks to public human health and the environment.

We hold out faint hope that our Monsanto-controlled FDA will respond to consumer demand for a national GMO labeling law, even though a GMO labeling petition garnered more signatures than any FDA petition in history. We’re equally skeptical that President Obama will honor his 2007 campaign promise to label GMOs, given his history of pandering to Big Ag and smoothing the way for faster approval of GMO crops. Yet we welcome these national grassroots lobbying efforts for their ability to broaden public awareness and build support for one of the most critical food policy issues of our time. So we’ll keep up the pressure on the Obama administration in their second term.

We are witnessing one of the greatest consumer awakenings in recent times. Consumers are more ready than ever to help us pressure the marketplace for truth and transparency in labeling, especially when it comes to GMO labeling laws. They’re ready to help us promote those companies who are on the right side of consumers, and expose those who aren’t. They’re willing to take on multi-billion companies like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s who can – and should – support  consumer’s right to know by immediately beginning to implement the voluntary labeling of the thousands of foods in their stores that contain GMOs.

So, go ahead, Monsanto and DuPont. Celebrate while you can. Your dirty money and dirty tricks have knocked us down. But we’re back on our feet, energized and battle-savvy.

Round one in the food fight of our lives is over. But the battle has just begun.

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Non Profit Sets Example With GMO Labeling Initiative

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. Everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to eat GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

The section below was taken from The Non GMO Project Frequently Asked Questions

What are GMOs?
GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

Are GMOs safe?

Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. In the U.S., the government has approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale. Increasingly, Americans are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to opt out of the GMO experiment.

Are GMOs labeled?
Unfortunately, even though polls consistently show that a significant majority of Americans want to know if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs, the powerful biotech lobby has succeeded in keeping this information from the public. In the absence of mandatory labeling, the Non-GMO Project was created to give consumers the informed choice they deserve.

Where does the Non-GMO Project come in?
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization with a mission of protecting the non-GMO food supply and giving consumers an informed choice. We offer North America’s ONLY third party verification for products produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance (for more info, click here). Our strategy is to empower consumers to make change through the marketplace. If people stop buying GMOs, companies will stop using them and farmers will stop growing them.

Do Americans want non-GMO foods and supplements?
Polls consistently show that a significant majority of North Americans would like to be able to tell if the food they’re purchasing contains GMOs (a 2008 CBS News Poll found that 87% of consumers wanted GMOs labeled). And, according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53% of consumers said they would not buy food that has been genetically modified. The Non-GMO Project’s seal for verified products will, for the first time, give the public an opportunity to make an informed choice when it comes to GMOs.

How common are GMOs?
In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80% of conventional processed food. Click here for a current list of GMO risk crops.

What are the impacts of GMOs on the environment?
Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. As a result, use of toxic herbicides like Roundup has increased 15 times since GMOs were introduced. GMO crops are also responsible for the emergence of “super weeds” and “super bugs:’ which can only be killed with ever more toxic poisons like 2,4-D (a major ingredient in Agent Orange). GMOs are a direct extension of chemical agriculture, and are developed and sold by the world’s biggest chemical companies. The long-term impacts of GMOs are unknown, and once released into the environment these novel organisms cannot be recalled.

How do GMOs affect farmers?
Because GMOs are novel life forms, biotechnology companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

How can I avoid GMOs?
Choose food and products that are Non-GMO Project Verified! Click here to see a complete list.

The Fight Against GMO Technology

“In the end, perhaps this is where the fight against GMO technology will ultimately be won: not in the halls of congress or parliament, but on the dinner plates of an informed citizenry who have taken matters into their own hands and refuse to eat these GMO products.”

Below is the transcript for the video above copied from here.

In the face of yet more scientific evidence of the adverse health effects of genetically modified foods, country after country is working to ban, limit or restrict the cultivation and testing of GM crops.But as the biotech giants gear up the PR war against their opponents, the question of what people can do to avoid GMO foods is becoming more important than ever. Find out more about this topic in this week’s GRTV Backgrounder on Global Research TV.

TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=6029

Genetically modified food crops have long been sold to the public as the answer to humanity’s 21st century food supply problems. For decades now, the public has been told that they are safe for human consumption, that they will improve crop yields, that they will require less pesticides and that they will be the safest, most effective way to feed the world’s population as we head into times of severe instability in the global food supply. Although scientific research have long exposed these claims as biotech propaganda, a new batch of studies in recent months have garnered attention for upending every one of these claims about GMO technology.

Last month, a new study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that rats fed Monsanto’s patented NK603 gmo corn were more likely to develop tumours and suffer severe liver and kidney damage. The study followed 200 rats over two years, divided into 10 groups of 10 males and 10 females. Three groups were fed the NK603 corn alone, three groups were fed the corn treated with Roundup herbicide, three groups were not fed the corn but their water was treated with Roundup, and a control group was fed non-GM corn and plain drinking water. The researchers found that the rats that consumed the GM corn or the Roundup, separately or combined, were prone to serious health problems that typically did not manifest until the fourth month of the trial. Industry-sponsored rat feeding tests only span three months.

This is in addition to numerous studies in recent years showing that, contrary to the claims of the GM food supporters, GM crops neither produce larger yields nor reduce the amount of pesticides necessary for the cultivation of crops. A 2009 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists foundthat genetically engineered crops produced no significant yield increases, and what increases in yield were detected were almost exclusively due to traditional breeding and improvement in agricultural practices. This was affirmed in a report to the UN Human Rights Council last year showing that the scientific literature demonstrates that the greatest potential for increased yield in the future comes not from gmo foods, but from organic agro-ecological practices that are capable of doubling yields within entire regions in under 10 years. A 2011 study coordinated by the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture showed that GMO crops were promoting the creation of “superweeds,” contributing to food insecurity, and required vastly higher concentrations of pesticides to be sprayed.

As convincing as the results of this latest research is, it only adds to an already voluminous body of research in the scientific literature that has already undermined claims of GMO’s safety and efficacy. Earlier this week I had the chance to talk to independent journalist and researcherAnthony Gucciardi of NaturalSociety.com about these studies, and the detrimental health effects that have been tied to the consumption of genetically modified crops.

The reason that this scientific refutation of the safety and efficacy of GMO technology has not reached the general public is hardly mysterious. The biotech giants whose very reason for existence is the promotion of the GMO myth have fought a long and protracted campaign to smear, undermine and cover up studies pointing out the disastrous consequences of the use of this technology. This process has been underway for years and, unsurprisingly, the GMO PR machine is once again revving into action to attempt to counteract the damage to the reputation of genetic engineering technology that this recent research has caused.

Immediately upon the release of the latest rat feeding study, a coordinated effort to undermine the study and its researchers began. Critics pointed to perceived flaws in the collection, reporting and analysis of the study’s findings. One of the key voices driving the campaign against the study was the Science Media Centre, a supposedly neutral party that connects journalists to scientists when important scientific discoveries are in the headlines. The Science Media Centre itself, however, is funded by bodies like CropLife International, a biotech trade association working to promote the interests of biotech companies around the world, and Syngenta, one of the key biotech seed giants. It has also received funding directly from Monsanto UK.

In the wake of the publication of the new study, the popular GMO information website GMWatch.org was targeted with an aggressive cyber attackthat succeeded in almost crippling the website. The site operators had to direct traffic from their main page to their Twitter account at the height of the attack, which they noted was not the first time that outside forces had attempted to take them offline. GMWatch is not funded by the biotech industry and regularly publishes news, information and studies demonstrating the health risks of GM foods.

The latest round of attacks and misinformation brings to mind for many the case of Arpad Puzstai, a renowned British researcher who was immediately fired from his position at a prestigious Scottish research institute after announcing in 1998 the disturbing findings of severe health effects on rats subjected to feeding tests of a new genetically modified potato variety.

Still, despite the best efforts of the biotech giants and their financially connected apologists, public skepticism over the benefits of genetically modified foods is reaching new highs, even as public awareness that GMO crops already account for a large percentage of the North American food supply is also hitting record levels. This awareness and understanding is slowly being transformed into action, as grassroots movements are prompting country after country to set up new barricades against the introduction and spread of these GMO foods.

In 2010, Germany announced a ban on the cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically modified corn. In January of this year, BASF, the last firm still developing genetically modified crops in Germany, was forced to stop working on GM crops because of widespread public backlash.

In 2011, Peru passed a law banning genetically modified ingredients for ten years to prevent, in the words of the Peruvian Agrarian Commission President, the “danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

Also in 2011, Hungarian authorities destroyed 1000 acres of corn which were found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, which are banned under Hungarian law.

In the wake of the French rat feeding study, Russia immediately suspended the importation and use of Monsanto’s GMO corn.

In India, the Supreme Court has just called for the Indian government to follow suit with a 10 year ban on all GMO crop field trials for the next 10 years.

In the United States, meanwhile, the fight for a proper, standardized labelling system for foods containing GMO ingredients is heating up. In California, citizens are preparing to vote on a ballot measure, known as Prop 37, which will require clear labelling for genetically modified products.

As promising and hopeful as it is that people are moving to ban GMO foods from their country, and as helpful as movements like the Prop 37 GMO labelling movement are in raising awareness of the issues, such activism runs the risk that the public will be placated into thinking that the legislative process can be relied on to keep this genome-altering technology in check. This thinking is ultimately utopian, seemingly ignoring the existence of the long-acknowledged revolving door between the biotech corporations and the institutions like the FDA which are supposedly there to monitor and regulate them.

In the case of Prop 37, draft proposals of the text show lengthy lists of exemptions that would allow animals that have been reared on GMO feed, or foods that contain as many as 10 GMO ingredients, being labelled as “non-GMO” foods. It is scarcely believable that any attempt to check the spread and use of these GMO foods by purely legislative means will survive the legislative process in a state that would render it ultimately effective.

Much more important, as always, is what individuals can do for themselves to insure that they do not purchase, support or consume GMO products. Although the process of sorting through the ingredients and production processes of various foods can be a bewildering experience, grassroots movements are now taking advantage of the crowdsourcing and networking powers of the internet to do an end-run around the government regulatory process altogether to create usable, practical lists of truly non-GMO foods that can be cross-referenced by anyone with access to the internet. Websites like that of the Non-GMO Project at NonGMOProject.org are helping concerned citizens to take matters into their own hands to empower them to avoid GMO products altogether and to stop supporting the corporations that are producing these foods with our own funds.

In the end, perhaps this is where the fight against GMO technology will ultimately be won: not in the halls of congress or parliament, but on the dinner plates of an informed citizenry who have taken matters into their own hands and refuse to eat these GMO products.