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Green Living Healthy Living Toxin Alert!

Why Labeling GMOs in Our Food Supply Needs to Happen

www.mypicshares.com

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
There are plenty of other medical and scientific experts who have found these substances to be dangerous to our health:

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:

  • Horizon
  • Silk
  • R.W. Knudsen (subsidiary of Smuckers)
  • Santa Cruz Organic
  • Kashi
  • Larabar (subsidiary of General Mills)
  • Alexia
  • Cascadian Farm
  • Odwalla
  • Honest Tea (subsidiary of Coca Cola)
  • Horizon Organic (subsidiary of Dean Foods)
Please look for alternatives to these brand names who are trying to defeat Proposition 37 and our right to know what’s in our food.

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.

Doctors and practitioners are reporting the improvement or disappearance of health issues when their patients stop eating GMOs.  There have also been links made between food allergies and GMOs.

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.

Activism Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Stanford Study on Organics: Manipulating Consumers into Buying GMO Products

www.mypicshares.com
This last week news reports have flooded the print, online, and on-air worlds from various outlets about the recent study conducted at Stanford University on the nutritional content of organic versus conventional food.

The study was “an extensive examination of four decades of research” comparing organic and conventional foods which found that on average, fruits and vegetables from organic sources were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.

In other words, they weren’t uncovering any new information. It was simply a review of past research.

Yes, these studies have been done before. And, these findings have been more than adequately countered before by various sources.

So before you decide that organic food is just an over-priced product that you shouldn’t bother wasting your money on, let’s examine why results of this study were inconclusive, too narrow, and left out valuable information that you should be aware of.

Conflicting studies

In a 2011 study, a team led by Dr. Kirsten Brandt of the Human Nutrition Research Center of Newcastle University in the UK looked at much of the same literature as researchers in the Stanford study. These findings were published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences and discovered something quite opposite: organic crops yielded an increase of approximately 12 to 16 percent more nutrients than conventional.

Mother Earth News featured an article about this in 2009 about The Organic Center’s reasons for why organic foods is superior nutritionally to conventional food. Here are some of the reasons:

“The FSA [Food Standards Agency] review included studies over a 50-year period: January 1958 through February 2008. The TOC team included studies published since 1980. Most studies published before 1980 were found flawed for purposes of comparing the nutrient content of today’s conventional and organic crops.

Most of the older studies used plant varieties no longer in use, and did not measure or report total phenolics or antioxidant capacity (since these nutrients were just being discovered). The older studies used analytical methods that are now considered inferior, compared to modern methods.”

The Rodale Institute has published some very extensive studies and documentation showing just how organic foods are better for our health, and how sustainable farming is not only a viable way to feed the planet, but is much safer and sustainable.

In a scientific paper, professor of agriculture at Washington State University and former chief scientist at The Organic Center, Charles Benbrook, PhD, reviewed the Stanford study and much of the associate literature, found the results misleading:

“The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more  nutritious than conventional foods.” And: “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria.”

He also stated that several well-designed previous U.S. studies revealed that organic crops consistently showed higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamins than conventional. In crops such as strawberries, grapes, apples, tomatoes, milk, grains, and carrots, organic produce has 10 to 30 percent higher levels of various nutrients, including antioxidants, Vitamin C,  and phenolic acids in most studies.

Here are some additional sources talking about why organic food is nutritionally superior:

Tender Grassfed Meat’s Stanley Fishman: When organic tests no better, check the soil, and the bias

Why organic is better (never mind the study), New York Times

Organic food vs. conventional: What the Stanford study missed, Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth

Professor Adam Carey, BSc, MB, BChir, MA, MRCOG, NTCC:

 Why organics are not only about the nutritional content of food:

  • Organic foods do not have chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, which are used in commercial and industrial farming and are linked to causing health issues such as birth defects, cancer, endocrine disruption and neurological disorders for humans and the ecology. Health effects of pesticides and other chemicals are cumulative in the human body, even if the levels of these chemicals falls below what is considered acceptable by the EPA.
  • Organic foods cannot contain hormones or antibiotics used in conventionally-raised animals and birds, which are also linked to health issues such as disease-resistant bacteria and hormonal and endocrine disruption in human beings and animals. The Stanford Study did note that there was an increased risk of consuming antibiotic-resistant bacteria – 33% higher than from organic pork and chicken.
  • Organic foods cannot be produced or grown with GMOs (genetically modified foods), found to cause many health issues.
  • Organic foods are grown in ways that use traditional farming methods that cultivate and enrich the soil, whereas commercial farming methods with chemicals only further erode and deplete minerals and good bacteria from the soil. Soil is the foundation of life. If the soil is dead, so will be the food.

Funding for the study

Who is funding these studies done by Stanford?  One source claims that that “no outside funding” was used to avoid the “perception of bias”. I read in various other news reports that the researchers made the same claim.  The Stanford School of Medicine site claims this as well:  ”The authors received no external funding for this study.”

But wording is very important. If you visit the Stanford Center for Health Policy web site, you can see that The Stanford Center for Health Policy has the following statement:

“The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) relies on support from its friends, as well as from national and international foundations and corporations, for the funding of the Institute’s research, teaching and outreach activities.”

The Center for Health Policy is a subsidiary of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

So I ask once again, who’s funding this study? Don’t you agree that it would be very educational to learn the identity of these friends, national and international foundations and corporations funding the research of FSI and its subsidiary, the Stanford Center for Health Policy?

Let’s find out. According to FSI’s 2011 Annual Report (page 38, .pdf), you can see the following sponsors:

  • Agricultural giant Cargill
  • British Petroleum (BP)
  • The Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation (heavily invested in both Cargill and big-agri giant Monsanto)
  • The Ford Foundation
  • Google
  • Goldman Sachs
  • The Smith Richardson Foundation
  • Other corporate-financier, Fortune 500, and special interest organizations and corporations

All of these companies and interests are well-known supporters of Big Agricultural interests, biotechnology, and some are well-known opponents to the Proposition 37, GMO labeling initiative going on in CA which will be voted on this November.

So when Stanford claims “no outside funding” was obtained for studies coming out of this branch of their school, that is an outright lie.

The fact is, most universities do not operate independently and are not without outside donators and interests.  Like most other universities, there was actually outside funding, from a large list of sources.

We all know, even science is not without bias and the results of this study were undoubtedly affected by those who donated.

After learning this, do you still hold Stanford Medical School in high esteem?

There has also been leakage that one of the main authors of this study has been found to have ties to the Tobacco Industry: Dr. Ingram Olkin, one of the same researchers who allowed lies to be told to the public that cigarettes were not harmful to human health.

The GMO factor

Stanford also failed to take into account the negative effects of GMOs on the foods we eat when comparing organic to conventional.  Conventional foods are highly contaminated with GMOs – corn, soy, canola oil, cottonseed oil, sugar, a lot of dairy products which contain rBGH bovine growth hormone, and now some zucchini and squash, and papaya.

Organic are now also contaminated due to the issues of cross-pollination from insect, wind, and other natural means of spreading seed.  And yet, Monsanto claims that co-existence of GMO with non-GMO seed is not only possible, but not a problem for anything or anyone.

At the same time, Monsanto has repeatedly engaged in lawsuits against farmers for patent infringement whose crops were cross-pollinated by Monsanto seed that they had no knowledge of and didn’t want. Monsanto has put farmers out of business and ruined their livelihoods over something that, according to them, wasn’t even supposed to be a problem!

Monsanto also maintains that there is no reason to prove the safety of GMOs, and that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GMO counterparts. The company doesn’t believe it has a responsibility to prove its product is safe, and refers to its statement of “substantial equivalence” to say that the product is no different than its non-GMO counterpart.

Sounds a lot like the Stanford study results, doesn’t it? There’s no difference between GMO and non-GMO seed, and there’s no difference between conventional and organic food. They must think the consumer public are all complete idiots!

From Monsanto’s web site:

“Substantial equivalence, more technically, means that the range of concentrations for components of the GM crop falls within the typical range for the non-GM counterpart.”

“There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods–the only exceptions being highly refined materials like oil or sugar from which all cell material has been removed. Thus, DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard.

When a new protein (not normally found in that plant or in other commonly consumed foods) is introduced into a plant, the safety of that protein does need to be addressed. It is standard practice to use animals to test any introduced proteins. Animal testing requires very high doses of the test substance be given. These levels are, by design, many times higher than those which people would actually consume. In GM crops and foods derived from them, introduced proteins are usually present only in minute amounts. Because the levels of protein are so low, it is impossible to test high doses by feeding crops directly to animals. Instead, a purified version of the introduced protein is used in animal studies.”

These statements are ludicrous because even if the “range of concentrations for components of the GMO crop falls within the typical range for the non-GM counterpart” those elements of the GM crop are not the same as what occurs in nature.

Any thinking scientist would disagree with this since GMOs are created with an unnatural process to begin with which extracts foreign DNA and bacteria and inserts it into the seed in a laboratory. If Monsanto is confident their seeds are safe, why don’t they want labels on the products they produce?

GMO seeds are lacking in nutrition and also contain pesticides to eliminate insects on the crop such as corn or soy. This causes the digestive tract of the insect to explode when eaten. If it does this to insects, what is it doing to us?  There are no third-party studies in existence that examine the long term effect of consuming these organisms on human beings.

These statements, studies and other efforts are a way to confuse consumers and get them on the side of conventional, commercial farming and to support an anti-labeling initiative against Prop 37.  Monsanto produces the chemical herbicide Roundup. They also produced DDT and Agent Orange. We were told the last two were safe for many years. The chief funders for the anti-labeling campaign are the same ones who told us these toxic chemicals were safe.  So much for that promise.

By coincidence, the initiative to label GMO foods is coming this fall to the state of CA. Voting yes on Prop 37 would make it mandatory to label GMO foods as it is currently in many European, Asian, and other countries around the world. 

There is great opposition to this initiative. Monsanto and many large corporations are spending millions and millions of dollars to make sure labeling doesn’t happen and that consumers remain in the dark, and don’t understand how their food is produced.

In my local area there is an activist group called GMO-Free Idaho.  Jenny Easley and Leslie Stoddard, founders of the group,  have been very active over the last year doing presentations, organizing potlucks, rallies, and events to raise awareness about the issues of GMOs in our food supply.

This weekend GMO-Free Idaho featured an event to show the film The Future of Food, which highlights the issues both farmers and consumers face as a result of the increasing deregulation of GMOs in our agricultural sector and food supply.  The people involved in the sustainable food community here in my area understand what’s at stake, and we want this initiative to go through.

Voting Yes on Prop 37 means you support labeling on GMO foods which has already been implemented in the U.K. and other European countries, Russia, China, and Japan. We can’t trust big food companies to be truthful about their products. We need labeling to increase consumer awareness.

Videos/interviews:

Future of Food movie trailer, an eye-opening look at what’s really happening with GMO foods, the crooked politics and bad science behind it, and how you can make a difference

Health dangers of genetically modified foodsJeffery Smith, Institute of Responsible Technology

Watch this video of a 12-year old girl pleading with consumers to think twice about GMOs in our food and environment

GMO-Free Idaho – Fighting for our right to know what’s in our food! Interview on Chew on This, Radio Boise

Watch my interview with Kevin Brown on the Liberation Wellness site about the dangers of GMOs and the labeling initiative in CA that will be voted on this November. 

More information about GMOs:

4 ways to avoid GMOs in the foods you buy

Busting Myths about GMOs

Institute for Responsible Technology

Photo credit: Wakeup World