Opting for This 'Cheaper Food' Could Make You Age Faster
Twenty years ago today, former Monsanto lawyer and present FDA deputy commissioner Michael Taylor declared genetically engineered foods "substantially equivalent" and declared they would not need to be labeled for consumers.
Today is also the last day of the Money Bomb Against Monsanto Campaign, which launched on May 1. Earlier this month, volunteers and staff from the California Right to Know Campaign submitted nearly 1 million signed petitions from registered voters across the state of California to county officials, to place Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act on the Ballot for November 6.
This Act will require food manufacturers to identify genetically engineered ingredients on the labels of foods sold in California.
When California voters pass this ballot initiative, the Label Genetically Engineered Food Act will also not allow the common practice of mislabeling genetically engineered foods as "natural" or "all natural." But the biotech industry is not about to let this pass without a fight.
Industry Propaganda Aimed at Confusing and Misleading Consumers
The Council for Biotechnology and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have filed as formal opposition to this initiative. Not surprisingly, Monsanto is a member of both groups.
Big Biotech and major processed food manufacturers are pooling tens of millions of dollars together to spread their propaganda in an effort to defeat the California Ballot Initiative. In a recent Organic Consumers Association article, Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director of the Organic Consumers Fund writesi:
"Kathy Fairbanks, spokeswoman with the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition, says requiring labels on genetically engineered food would increase food prices.
What she doesn't say is that she's being paid by the trade association that represents both the biotech behemoths like Monsanto that engineer the GMO crops and the food industry giants like PepsiCo that use ingredients made from these crops in their products. PepsiCo., Kraft, Kellogg's and other top food processors market so-called "natural" protects at a premium that rivals what consumers pay for non-GMO and organic foods - even though these so-called "natural" foods contain unlabeled GMOs. The money these companies swindle from us as they trick us into paying top-dollar for GMO foods disguised as "natural" dwarfs the miniscule 0.01% of food costs attributable to GMO labels...
Maryann Marino, Southern California regional director of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse says GMO labels will make family farmers and small businesses vulnerable to lawsuits.
Her organization is a state chapter of the American Tort Reform Association (funded by Monsanto) which thinks it's okay for Monsanto to sue farmers in 143 different patent infringement lawsuits when their crops are unintentionally contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs, but it isn't okay for farmers to get together and bring one lawsuit against Monsanto to stop the harassment. Think they really care about family farmers or small businesses? Their only interests are protecting Monsanto's market share and helping companies sneak Monsanto's ingredients into their products without letting consumers know."
Why Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods Will Not Significantly Raise Prices
Baden-Mayer also explains why you shouldn't fall for such fear-mongering, as these scenarios have little if any bearing in factual truth. She writes:
"A 2002 Oregon State University study reviewed the true costs of actual laws requiring labels on genetically engineered food in other countries. According to the study, a law in the UK, like the one proposed for CA, increased food spending by only 0.01%. The most any GMO labeling proposal was projected to cost was 1.8%. (This was from a Canadian study where, the authors note, the costs of segregating crops, changing processing procedures and changing the label were exaggerated and came only from expectations expressed by industry spokespersons.)
The 0.01% to 1.8% increase in the cost of labeling GMO foods must be put in perspective by looking at what companies already spend and consumers currently pay to avoid genetically engineered ingredients. A 2005 University of Delaware study showed that consumers would pay 20-30% more for non-GMO or organicii.
The so-called "natural" food industry has taken full advantage of consumer interest in avoiding GMOs and consumer ignorance in where those GMOs may be lurking. A review by the Cornucopia Institute of "natural," non-GMO and organic cereals showed that so-called "natural" cereals that contained unlabeled GMOs were sometimes more expensive than real non-GMO and organic cerealsiii.
Once GMOs are labeled, consumers will easily be able to substitute products that contain non-GMO cane sugar for products made with GMO sugar beet sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and change from vegetable oils made from GMO canola to non-GMO sunflower or olive oil. They'll be able to eat more non-GMO wheat and rice and less GMO corn and soy. They can choose non-GMO fruits and vegetables and avoid the few that are GMO. Eating non-GMO won't involve paying a premium, just making a choice between the foods that are genetically engineered and the ones that aren't. Foods that are GMO won't be able to be falsely labeled as "natural."
Why GE Labeling Will Not Open Up Farmers and Small Businesses to Lawsuits
The claim that farmers and grocers may become more vulnerable to lawsuits as a result of the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act is also false and nothing but a scare tactic.
First of all, farmers and grocery stores are not responsible for listing ingredients on food labels. The only way a grocer could get into trouble would be if they knowingly mislabel their own store-brand product. They cannot be held liable if a food processor or food packer fails to comply with the labeling law.
The language in the Act is also very clear—it only requires labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. Each new genetically engineered crop must be deregulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which makes them easy to track. Once deregulated, farmers clearly know whether their crop is genetically engineered or not since they are required to purchase expensive patented seeds that are clearly branded and marketed as genetically engineered by the seed companies. So when they sell their crops to a food manufacturer, there's no question whether they're dealing with a GE ingredient or not.
Furthermore, under the proposed law, foods containing genetically engineered ingredients cannot be labeled as "natural." Food packers and processors are given 18 months to comply with the new labeling requirements—which is the typical timeframe within which labels are routinely updated anyway—so complying with the new regulations should not be a major problem. Baden-Mayer also points out that:
"Food packers and processors may decide to seek non-GMO sources to avoid the law's labeling requirements, and that may increase markets for farmers who grow non-GMO crops, but that is a different issue than simply complying with a new labeling requirement." And, "If PepsiCo continues to sell unlabeled genetically engineered food in CA once this law is passed, we'll definitely sue them (we'd rather see them comply), but this law creates no incentive to go after small businesses."
The Future of Your Food is at Stake
Although The Future of Food is five years old, this excellent film is more relevant now than ever. If you haven't watched it, please set aside some time to see it. It's required viewing for anyone who wants to understand what they're putting into their belly. If it's been awhile since you saw it, you may want to refresh your memory.
"This is a Flash based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices."
The Time for Action is NOW!
We need to send the biotech and food industry a clear message: We have the right to know what they put into our food!
Can we win? Yes, I believe we can! But we need to get the word out, which requires a strong campaign to educate the citizens of California to vote for the initiative on November 6. If you missed my recent panel interview with Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association, Pamm Larry, founder of LabelGMOs.org and Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now, in which we discuss the California Right to Know Campaign, please take a moment to listen to it now.
According to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, we stand a good chance of winning in California because:
- This time, we have far more scientific information and greater public awareness on our side. GE contamination is now a mainstream media issue. Monsanto has become the most hated corporation in the world.
- This time, we have overwhelming public support. Polls show that more than 8 out of 10 voters in California want mandatory GE labeling.
- This time, we have built the strongest coalition of concerned food consumers in history, for the exclusive purpose of passing this law.
So today, I ask you to invest in this Initiative. Invest in your future. And invest as generously as you can. If you've already sent in your donation, thank you! If not, please contribute to this historic and critical campaign today. And then please forward this email to your friends. Share it on Facebook and Twitter. Print it out, hand it to all your friends. Every action counts! As stated by Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association:
"Monsanto is one of the most powerful, arrogant and destructive companies in the world. For decades, they have controlled the world's food supply by buying off politicians and regulatory agencies, intimidating small farmers, manipulating the outcome of scientific studies, lying to consumers - and threatening to sue states like Vermont if they dare to pass a GMO labeling law.
... Despite Monsanto's claims to the contrary, scientists are clear: genetically engineered food has been linked to a wide range of health hazards, including kidney and liver damage, infertility, auto-immune disorders, allergies and autism, accelerated aging, and birth defects... We have the right to know if the food we buy has been genetically engineered.... It's time to take back our food. Our farms. Our power. It's time to show Monsanto what ordinary people like us can do when we come together."
Hundreds of thousands of people making small donations can help the coalition behind this initiative run a dynamic, effective campaign to bring down Monsanto and the rest of the Biotech Bullies
Now it's time to organize, educate, and promote this cause. We won't need to spend the tens of millions that the biotech bullies are using to fight this initiative - but we will need several million to combat their propoganda adequately.
So please, join us, and make a donation right now! You can donate online, by phone, or by dropping a check in the mail.
- i Organic Consumers Association May 5, 2012
- ii Department of Food and Resource Economics University of Delaware, Experimental Investigation of Willingness to Pay for Non-GM and Organic Food Products, Katie Gifford, John C. Bernard, Ulrich C. Toensmeyer, Richard Bacon, Department of Food and Resource Economics University of Delaware
- iii Cornucopia Institute, Cereal Crimes 2011 Report