On November 6th in the state of CA, voters will be able to choose whether mandatory labeling should be instituted on products containing genetically-modified (GM) foods.
Transparency in our food system is something we haven’t had in many decades. Big agricultural and chemical companies have seen to it that consumers are kept in the dark about the products and foods they eat. The knowledge of how our food is produced is something we had some years ago, and must get back.
Since the Industrial Revolution, our food system has become more and more tainted with chemicals, additives, and preservatives that seek to improve the bottom line for food companies – profit.
There are plenty of laws in our government that were created for the food system to “keep it safe”. Our food authorities, government and politicians call our food system the “safest in the world”. And yet food recalls are numerous and only increasing, and food related illness continues to surface with alarming frequency. What isn’t accounted for is the actual safety of the food we eat.
And our commercial food system is far from safe.
We have witnessed food system safety becoming more complex and full of regulations, but these are not protective of our health or the environment. Food safety laws are issued by a government that protects corporations while neglecting the consumer and the small, sustainable farmers who do things right.
This is because our government is bought and paid for by the most powerful corporations, and regardless of how many laws they break or health they destroy, they continue on, reckless and unchecked. They make money while our population becomes sicker and sicker.
Here are a list of some of the usual arguments from the No on Proposition 37 side of the debate and proponents of GMO technology, and the reasons why these arguments don’t hold water:
Opponent claim #1:
No credible medical or scientific sources agree that GMOs are inherently dangerous
Except these organizations:
- American Academy of Environmental Medicine
- American Medical Students Association
- California Nurses Association
- American Public Health Association
- Physicians for Social Responsibility, California chapters
- Dr. Donald Huber
- Irina Ermakova
- Alberta Velimirov
- Claudia Binter
- John M. Burns
- A. Pusztai
- S. Bardocz
- Jack Heinemann
- Dr. Judy Carman
- Susan E Hankinson and Walter C Willett, et al
Source for those names not linked, Institute for Responsible Technology
Watch Genetic Roulette for more information on the dangers of GMOs (available to watch for FREE online through October 31st, 2012).
Opponent claim #2:
Cost of labeling would be too high on all fronts
The idea that the cost of labeling would be too high is simply untrue. According to Alliance for Natural Health, Joanna Shepherd-Bailey, PhD, tenured law professor from Emory University School of Law prepared a report which showed that labeling GM foods would most likely not increase the cost for the consumer. Labeling has not increased costs in the 50+ other countries where labeling is mandatory, so why should it be any different here?
Also, labeling changes are made on a regular basis, and no one seems to be objecting to that activity raising costs for the consumer. It will take 18 months for this measure to be instituted in the state of CA, so by that time, labels will likely have changed anyway.
It has also been said that it would produce more litigation from consumers who want to sue for possible damages from consuming these foods. This is ironic considering that in various states where labeling has been discussed, Vermont for example, the industrial food industry has actually threatened the state with litigation if the decision to label GM foods was made (other states have received similar threats).
In her report, Joanna Shepherd-Bailey showed why this claim is also untrue. From Alliance for Natural Health:
“Shepherd-Bailey shows that this is also false. She estimates that the cost to the state will be negligible: the annual costs for processing and hearing cases should be less than $50,000. And while there will be administrative costs to the state as its Department of Health begins to implement certain provisions of the law, her analysis found that these administrative costs will be less than $1 million—that is, less than 1 cent for each person living in the state of California—causing the department’s expenditures to increase by no more than 0.03% and total state expenditures to increase by just 0.0008%. That one cent is all it will cost for critical health information to be made available to the many consumers who want to know what is in the food they feed their families.”
Opponent claim #3:
Labeling is unnecessary because GMOs are safe (so says Monsanto, et al)
Monsanto uses the statement of “substantial equivalence” (created by former Monsanto lawyer, Michael Taylor, who is currently head of the FDA) to reason why these seeds are really no different than the non-GMO variety. Monsanto performs “assessements” on animals and plants which they claim allegedly have shown how GMOs are essentially the same as their non-GMO counterparts. To this date, no valid long-term health studies or safety testing has been done to examine toxicity, antibiotic resistance, and functional characteristics.
So then, why does Monsanto sue farmers when their seeds blow over or are transported into neighboring, non-GMO fields, and why do they have patent laws on these seeds? And why do they not allow farmers to “seed save”? These are all contradictions that many consumers may not catch, but they are very important and show the lies and deception of Monsanto and other seed companies quite well.
The company producing a product for the consumer market says that it is perfectly safe. But that’s biased…really, what else would they be expected to say? They aren’t going to admit that perhaps there are some problems, testing needs to be done, or that people are getting sick from consuming GM foods.
Have you noticed that most entities, organizations, and companies who oppose Proposition 37 and labeling have a vested interest in keeping labels off of food: it’s called making profits.
Here is a partial list of commercial companies and the money they’ve donated to defeat Proposition 37:
- Monsanto $7,100,500.00
- E.I. DuPont $4,900,000.00
- BASF Plant science $2,000,000.00
- Bayer $2,000,000.00
- Dow $2,000,000.00
- SYNGENTA CORPORATION $2,000,000.00
- PepsiCo $1,716,300.00
- Nestle $1,169,400.00
- Coca Cola $1,164,400.00
- ConAgra Foods $1,076,700.00
- General Mills $908,200.00
- Del Monte $674,100.00
- Kellogg’s $632,500.00
- Kraft $551,148.25
- H.J. Heinz $500,000.00
- Hershey $395,100.00
- J.M. Smucker $388,000.00
- Mars $376,650.00
- Council for Biotechnology Information $375,000.00
- Grocery Manufacturers Assoc. $375,000.00
- Hormel Foods $374,300.00
- Bumble Bee Foods $368,500.00
- Ocean Spray $362,100.00
- Sara Lee $343,600.00
- Bimbo Bakeries $338,300.00
- Pinnacle Foods $266,100.00
- Dean Foods $253,950.00
- Biotechnology Industry Organization $252,000.00
- Campbell’s Soup $250,000.00
- McCormick. $248,200.00
- Smithfield $228,991.85
- Cargill $226,846.30
- Rich Products $225,537.15
- Abbott Nutrition $187,600.00
- Dole Packaged Foods $171,261.61
- Knouse Foods $135,831.53
- WM. Wrigley Jr. $120,798.99
- Sunny Delight $96,952.57
- Bunge North America $83,239.32
- Land O’Lakes $80,835.48
- Hero North America $79,073.93
- Solae $61,207.43
- California Grocers Assoc. $56,000.00
- Mccain Foods $52,295.63
- Flowers Foods $46,685.32
- Welch Foods $44,248.45
- Godiva Chocolates $41,787.83
- Starlite Media $41,785.00
- Clement Pappas & Co. $32,493.78
- Clorox $32,114.83
- Tree Top $29,338.65
- C. H. Guenther & Son $24,189.18
- Faribault Foods $21,162.30
- Morton Salt $20,957.42
- Reily Foods $13,214.52
- Goya De Puerto Rico, Inc. $11,350.69
- Inventure Foods $11,343.80
- Bruce Foods $10,196.38
- Coca Cola Enterprises $10,000.00
- Sargento $7,185.27
- Idahoan Foods $7,181.81
- Goya Great Lakes $6,829.65
- Croplife American $5,000.00
- El Super (Bodega Latina Group) $5,000.00
- Hirzel Canning $4,709.14
- Bristol Farms $2,500.00
- Holiday Quality Foods/Sav More Foods $2,500.00
- California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corp. $2,050.00
- House Autry Mills $1,077.27
- Four K Farms $1,000.00
- JMR Farms $1,000.00
- Tri_Cal $1,000.00
- Nutricion Fundamental $500.00
- Kellog Company $250.00
- Richelieu Foods $165.80
Here is a partial list of “Natural” and “Organic” brands that also oppose Proposition 37:
- R.W. Knudsen (subsidiary of Smuckers)
- Santa Cruz Organic
- Larabar (subsidiary of General Mills)
- Cascadian Farm
- Honest Tea (subsidiary of Coca Cola)
- Horizon Organic (subsidiary of Dean Foods)
Better yet, buy your foods from local, sustainable farmers that avoid GMOs altogether. This way, you have complete control over what’s in your food, instead of letting a company decide that for you.
If Monsanto is so certain these products are safe, why wouldn’t they be proud to issue labels on them? All this, from the company which brought you Agent Orange and DDT many years ago…and claimed they were “safe”.
Now, they are producing our food.
Opponent claim #4:
No real studies have been done to disprove the safety of GM foods
Proponents of GMOs argue that there have been no “real” studies conducted which show GMOs are unsafe.
But there have been some very important studies done to show the damage GMOs do to health. A decade long feeding study of rats conducted in Norway found that when these animals were fed genetically-altered Bt corn, they became fatter and consumed more. They were also much less able to digest proteins because of changes sustained in their intestines. Researchers also found that the rats experienced modifications to their immune systems.
Recently, there was also a study conducted in France on rats which were fed a lifetime diet of GM corn or were exposed to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup), showed the development of massive tumors and sustained organ damage.
The argument that farmers have been hybridizing plants for centuries and those have been perfectly safe is also used. What’s not acknowledged by proponents of genetic technology is that there is a vast difference between hybridization of crops and purposefully inserting genes from one organism into another in a laboratory…and have also been engineered to resist the applications of toxic pesticides to the crops. Neither of those activities could ever, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed as safe or natural.
The many lies of the chemical and big agricultural industries
There are many myths about GMOs that are propagated by the industry. As an example, did you know that the herbicides are actually causing the birth of superweeds that cannot be killed with previously used amounts of herbicides? Did you know that the corn crops are now susceptible to the pests they are engineered to resist – the rootworm? Not so different than the situation with the overuse of antibiotics, the continued use of herbicides and pesticides that are causing resistance in weeds and pests will only worsen as time goes on. Does that sound safe to you?
Read about the other myths of GMOs such as the fact that they are supposed to feed the world, increase higher crop yields, and others. Here’s a report by Dr. Vandana Shiva showing why these claims made by the chemical industry are untrue.
It’s also important to know that the opposition might be slapped with a criminal charge relating to their use of an official-looking FDA-approval seal on a direct mail piece, stating that the FDA expressed the view that a labeling policy such as the CA labeling measure is “inherently misleading”.
Legal advisors to the campaign have commented that not only is the No on Proposition 37 committee’s use of the FDA’s seal a violation of federal criminal law, but it is also unlawful for any agency such as the FDA to show a preference on campaign propositions.
This is not the first fabrication by the opposition. Read about what they did with Stanford University where they misrepresented the school with an ad and also The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There is also the report which came out in September from Stanford University claiming that organic is no better than conventional foods, funded by big agriculture and biotech sources. This move is a clear manipulation by the industries to convince consumers to avoid buying organics in favor of conventional and GM foods.
The bottom line is, labeling is a threat to these chemical companies’ livelihood: companies and organizations who have already thrown over $35 million dollars at anti-Proposition 37 marketing, ads, and opposition to defeat the consumers’ right to know about the food they are eating. And they will stop at nothing, including telling far-fetched lies about why this initiative is bogus.
How you can make a difference:
The situation with our food system is dire. We need your help to change the future of our food, health, and planet.
- Please support the California Right to Know labeling initiative. If you live in CA, please vote YES on Proposition 37.
- If you live in another state, please watch for upcoming legislation in your state for this same measure. Currently, 23 other states are positioning themselves to adopt similar measures after the election occurs in CA.
- Help by educating others. Share this post with everyone you know.
- Avoid buying processed foods, the majority of which contain GMOs (yes, even products labeled “organic” and “natural” foods)
- Buy from local, sustainable farmers who use safe, traditional farming practices and ask questions when you buy
- Read 4 ways to avoid GMOs in the foods you buy
- Visit the Institute for Responsible Technology, Millions Against Monsanto for more information
I live in Idaho, which is one of the states that is planning a labeling initiative for the future. I’ve already spent a great deal of time educating the public about this issue. You can be sure I’ll be there on the front lines when our initiative comes in 2014.