Archive for June, 2012

GMO Labeling in the News

GMO Labeling in the News




Some great articles this week and a wonderful YouTube video too.  Mom



How California’s GM food referendum may change what America eats

The vast majority of Americans want genetically modified food labelled. If California passes November’s ballot, they could get it


In the US, an estimated 70% of items on supermarket shelves contain GM ingredients, commonly corn, soy and canola oil products. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

Last month, nearly 1m signatures were delivered to county registrars throughout California calling for a referendum on the labeling of genetically engineered foods. If the measure, “The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”, which will be on the ballot in November, passes, California will become the first state in the nation to require that GM foods be labeled as such on the package.

This is not the first time that the issue has come up in California. Several labeling laws have been drafted there, but none has made it out of legislative committee. Lawmakers in states like Vermont and Connecticut have also proposed labeling legislation, which has gone nowhere in the face of stiff industry opposition. And the US Congress has likewise seen sporadic, unsuccessful attempts to mandate GM food labeling since 1999.

What makes the referendum in California different is that, for the first time, voters and not politicians will be the ones to decide. And this has the food industry worried. Understandably so, since only one in four Americans is convinced that GMOs are “basically safe”, according to a survey conducted by the Mellman Group, and a big majority wants food containing GMOs to be labeled.

This is one of the few issues in America today that enjoys broad bipartisan support: 89% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats want genetically altered foods to be labeled, as they already are in 40 nations in Europe, in Brazil, and even in China. In 2007, then candidate Obama latched onto this popular issue saying that he would push for labeling – a promise the president has yet to keep.

In Europe, only 5% of food sold contains GMOs, a figure that continues to shrink. In the US, by contrast, an estimated 70% of the products on supermarket shelves include at least traces of genetically engineered crops – mostly, corn and soy byproducts and canola oil, which are ingredients in many of America’s processed foods.

Given their unpopularity with consumers, labeling “Frankenfoods” would undoubtedly hurt sales, possibly even forcing supermarkets to take them off their shelves. In one survey, just over half of those polled said they would not buy food that they knew to be genetically modified.

Read more here:


This Hidden Food Poisons Your Family – Ignore These Cooked Up Lies

June 14 2012
By Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins

What do a former mouthpiece for tobacco and big oil, a corporate-interest PR flack, and the regional director of a Monsanto-funded tort reform group have in common?

They’re all part of the anti-labeling PR team that will soon unleash a massive advertising and PR campaign in California, designed to scare voters into rejecting the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Acti.

In November, California voters will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a law to require mandatory labeling of all genetically engineered ingredients in processed foods, and ban the routine industry practice of mislabeling foods containing genetically engineered ingredients as ‘natural.’ Polls show that nearly 90 percent of the state’s voters plan to vote ‘yes.’ But when November rolls around, will voter support still be strong? Not if the biotech, agribusiness, and food manufacturers industries can help it.

It’s estimated that the opposition will spend $60 – $100 million to convince voters that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safeii. They’ll try to scare voters into believing that labeling will make food more expensive, that it will spark hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers and small businesses, and that it will contribute to world hunger.

None of this is true. On the contrary, studies suggest just the opposite.

Here’s what is true: The opposition has lined up some heavy-hitters and industry-funded front groups — masquerading as “grassroots” organizations — to help spin their anti-labeling propaganda machine. You have the right to know what’s in your food. You also have the right to know who is working tirelessly to prevent you from ever having that right – and who is signing their paychecks. Here’s a partial lineup of hired guns and organizations behind the anti-labeling advertising blitz soon to hit the California airwaves:

Tom Hiltachk: Monsanto’s Man in California

Tom Hiltachk is the PR gunslinger behind the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP), an anti-labeling front group. A partner at the Sacramento-based lobbying firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, Hiltachk is no stranger to front groups. With a little help from his friends at Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, he helped organize the Californians for Smokers’ Rights group to fight anti-smoking initiatives in the 1980s and 1990siii.

He also helped form the Californians for Fair Business Policyiv – a so-called “grassroots” organization, but actually a front group to mobilize business opposition to anti-smoking initiatives. That organization was funded by an “academic” front groupv – the Claremont Institute – which was in turn funded by tobacco companies.

Hitachk also has ties to Big Oil, including a colorful history with California’s Proposition 23, a conservative-backed ballot initiative launched – and defeated – in 2010.

The initiative, supported by Big Oil, would have repealed California’s clean energy and climate laws. Hiltachk was initially an ally of Ted Costa, a veteran right-wing activist behind many conservative initiatives, including Prop 23, and head of the group People’s Advocatevi. But that relationship soured, according to ThinkProgress.orgvii, when Costa realized that Hiltachk’s main motivation was to funnel the $50 million that he hoped would be raised from oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce to himself and his friends.

Coalition Against Costly Food Labeling Proposition

The Coalition Against Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP)viii runs a website called, giving the impression that this is a group concerned about protecting consumers’ wallets. But the website lists only one consumer group in its coalition – Consumers Coalition of California. A search of the site turns up nothing on this group.

According to the coalitions’ 2009 990-Form published on, this Torrance, California-based coalition describes itself as: “Research and oriented community education studies and info for residential and small businesses advocating on issues affecting major legislation.” The group has no website.

No other national or California-based consumer groups are listed on the CACFLP site.

CACFLP’s website does list some powerhouse coalition members, however, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose members also include Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta, as well as many large food processors and supermarket chains, and the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) , whose members include Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta. Both groups are based in Washington DC. As of March, the GMA and the CBI had contributed a combined $625,000 to the CACFLPix – presumably to “protect” consumers from GMO labeling. Both groups have publicly opposed this initiativex.

Monsanto recently made the following statement in support of CACFLPxi:

“Monsanto is part of a growing coalition of California farmers, food producers, grocers, retailers, and others which has been formed to oppose the California measure. As a member of both GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) and BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), we support the organizations’ involvement in the California campaign to oppose the costly and extreme measure.”

Read more here:


And Oregon is starting up a ballot initiative too!

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It’s Time to Know What’s in Our Food

It seems that we are finally starting to pay more attention to our food. Where does our food come from? Who grows it, and how is it grown or raised? What’s in the food that we eat everyday? We are shifting in this country, towards really learning and caring about the quality of our food.

In the middle of last century, food became about convenience instead of nutrition and taste. We were all supposed to work as much as possible and eat our food from frozen packages, as this was considered an advancement of food technology.

Since the mid-1990s, we’ve been subjected to another supposed advancement in food technology: genetically modified organism (GMO) foods. Unfortunately this technology is often used without safety-testing and without consumer knowledge and consent.

A friend who just started learning about GMOs told me she felt badly that she didn’t know about them before now. It got me thinking, as I felt the same way when I first learned about what was going on with our food supply, how could I not know I was feeding my kids genetically modified food? And why didn’t I even know what they were?

The Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide says: “GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) are organisms that have been created through the gene-splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This relatively new science allows DNA from one species to be injected into another species in a laboratory, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Virtually all commercial GMOs are bred to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. None of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition or any other consumer benefit. Studies, meanwhile, increasingly show a correlation between consumption of GMOs and an array of health risks.” (See

Jeffrey Smith says, in The Big GMO Cover-Up: “Outside the carefully controlled laboratory setting, it is more difficult to confidently assign GMOs as the cause for a particular set of diseases, especially since there are no human clinical trials and no agency that even attempts to monitor GMO-related health problems among the population. ‘If there are problems,’ says biologist David Schubert, PhD, of the Salk Institute, ‘we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop.’”

“GM crops were widely introduced in 1996. Within nine years, the incidence of people in the US with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Visits to the emergency room due to allergies doubled from 1997 to 2002. And overall food related illnesses doubled from 1994 to 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and autism are also among the conditions that are skyrocketing in the US.” (See

So why didn’t we all know about GMOs? Because it seems as if Monsanto and the other biotech companies making them did not want us to know. Putting genetically modified organisms in our food was never presented to the American people; it was done without our knowledge or consent. The FDA—which, like the USDA, is now staffed with many former employees of Monsanto—allowed GMO seeds and food to be produced and marketed, based on the industries’ own assurance that their products are safe. Their basis for safety was that the seed was the same as the non-GMO seed, although at the same time they said it was also very different and that they should be able to patent it. (Genetically engineered seeds have NO consumer benefit. They only benefit the companies who hold the patents.)

There was never any safety testing done by the US government, and tests done elsewhere in the world have shown genetically engineered seed and the food grown from it to be unsafe and potentially dangerous. Our government (both political parties) have handed our food supply over to a private multi-national corporation. This is the corporation that gave us DDT and Agent Orange. They now own almost all of our commercial seed.

They are not doing this to “feed the world,” as their marketing campaign states; they are doing this to control our food supply in order to increase their profits. If these companies were creating GMOs for altruistic reasons, they would not be patenting their seeds, suing our farmers, or putting our seed cleaners out of business. Farmers have traditionally saved their seed to replant for the next year. They’ve done this for thousands of years. With all the commercial seed cleaners out of business, large farms can’t save their seeds anymore and have to buy new seed each year. (Read the excellent Vanity Fair article, “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear”:

Unless it’s organic, 80 percent of the processed foods in the supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients—mostly from soy, corn, canola, and sugar beets. These same foods are on the market in Europe without GE ingredients because the people spoke up and first demanded labeling, and also said they would not buy the food if it had GE ingredients.

Monsanto just got approval for genetically modified sweet corn, and they are working on genetically modifying chocolate (don’t mess with my chocolate!). They also say we should buy organic foods if we want to avoid GMOs, but their crops are starting to contaminate the organic crops. It’s time to stand up for our food supply and say NO to GMOs!

Don’t feel badly if you didn’t know about GMOs. It seems as if we were all kept in the dark intentionally, but we don’t have to stay in the dark. Educate yourself about genetically engineered food. Tell your family and friends. What we eat affects our health and the health of our children. It’s time to take back our food.

If you’re in California, you can join the effort to get Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods on the California ballot for November 2012. We have thousands of volunteers across the state and we have gotten enough signatures to get this on the ballot. Now we’re working on education and outreach. We have speakers and educational films that we can bring to your school, yoga studio, doctors office, or church.

To learn more, go to:;;; and

And watch, The Future of Food – link below.



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