By Dr. Mercola
The video above features three distinguished guests:
- Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now
- Ronnie Cummins with the Organic Consumers Association, and
- Pamm Larry, founder of LabelGMOs.org
Here, we discuss one of the most important projects we have ever been involved with, namely the labeling of genetically engineered foods, to give every consumer the right to know what's in their food and to choose whether they want to buy and consume it or not.
Extending through May 26, a broad coalition of farmers, health groups, and organic food manufacturers, will attempt to raise one million dollars to support the California labeling initiative. Battling against the labeling initiative is the entire biotech industry, led by Monsanto.
They have deep pockets, and will do everything they can to defeat our attempt to get genetically engineered foods labeled, so I urge you to make a donation to the Money Bomb Against Monsanto campaign, no matter what state you live in, because if California passes this law, its impact will reverberate across the entire nation. Donations can be made online, via regular snail mail, and over the phone.
How One Grandmother's Conviction Led to a Consumer Revolution
The California Right to Know grassroots campaign was initiated by Pamm Larry, a grandmother and former midwife and organic farmer from the small town of Chico in northern California. She had no formal training, no major resources, no connections, and no previous political experience. But what she did have was passion—for healthful food, for the truth, and for doing the right thing. In this interview, she shares her inspiring and empowering journey.
"I have always cared about nutrition, whole foods, and unadulterated foods," Pamm says. "I mean they just taste better... They're more nutritious... Genetically engineered foods started coming on my radar about eight or nine years ago... The more I learned, the more horrified I got, wondering what kind of a planet I was leaving my grandchildren.
What were we doing? What were we not doing as people?
Like everybody else that I have talked to on the streets, we all feel pretty powerless, because here we've got this huge multinational corporation; a conglomerate—it's not just one company. It's a number of them. But they seem to be kind of in cahoots with our government. In the fall of 2010, I got actually very depressed about this... The Organic Consumers Association came out with their Truth-in-Labeling campaign. I immediately wrote to them [offering to volunteer]... But it just wasn't enough for me. I was increasingly depressed, crying a lot...
[Then] it hit me, just like that. I literally sat up and it was like, 'Okay, then. It's your job from now until November of 2012 to do everything you possibly can to just get something on the ballot, because nobody is doing this for us... Nothing is working. People are working really hard, but we the people, have got to stand up and take over.' My depression went away... I have been angry, I have been frustrated, I have been enraged since then, but I have not been depressed one second!"
At this point, volunteers and staff from the California Right to Know Campaign have submitted nearly one 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. Now, the campaign is in urgent need of funds—to counteract the propaganda put out by Monsanto, and to educate millions of registered California voters to show up at the voting booths and vote "Yes" for the Right to Know Act.
"We all have this communal belief that there's nothing that we can do, because we aren't up there in the high powers. We don't have megabucks. We don't have this. We don't have that. We believe this lie, so it gets perpetuated. If everybody says, "No, this can't happen," whether you're an individual, a business, or a nonprofit organization, if you all decide that "this isn't going to work," then it's not. My new question is: What happens if we all just decide to say yes?" Pamm says.
The Organic Consumers Association was the first organization to get involved, although Ronnie Cummins was initially a bit skeptical. The Organic Consumers had worked to do the same back in 2004, but could not raise the funds to complete the task of labeling genetically engineered foods.
"We had gotten an email from Pamm Larry, who's starting this new group. We said, "Well, the odds are pretty low that we can raise the millions of dollars that we need to win the ballot initiative in California." However, people on the street are ready to do it, especially the moms and grandmothers. So, we said, "Let's tell our network in California... Let's tell them about LabelGMOs.org, and let's see if they volunteer and get in contact with Pamm..." We did, and it caught on."
Next, they decided to bring it to the attention of the organic industry at a national meeting, as well as other non-profit organizations and public interest groups. Like Cummins, a lot of the leadership in the organic industry and the nonprofit world were skeptical at first.
"They said, "Well, this is a David versus Goliath type of thing. What makes you think that grassroots action can defeat the most powerful combination of corporations in California, biotech and corporate agribusiness?" Ronnie says.
"But gradually, over time, a number of organic companies stood up, like Nature's Path, Eden Foods, and Lundberg Family Farms. Then the decisive factor was we said, "There are a hundred million people in the United States who are interested in natural medicine and who are reading websites like Mercola.com and others. If we can get the alternative food and farming movement together with the alternative health movement, this combination can create a massive movement."
And that's exactly where we are today. We're all tired of the biotech bullies dictating the rules and deciding whether we have the right to know what we're eating or not. We're all tired of the industry simply bribing their way through the political landscape in an effort to create a monopoly on food that threatens the health and welfare of people everywhere. If you're sick and tired of it too, then I urge you to take a stand, and participate in any way you can.
Why the Biotech Industry is so Afraid of Labeling
As Ronnie says, it's quite clear that the biotech industry knew the only way their genetically engineered foods would ever get put to use is if they could keep consumers in the dark.
"There's not a ban on genetically engineered foods and crops, for the most part, in the European Union," Ronnie explains. "What there is, though, is a requirement for labeling.
You'll see that companies like McDonald's, for example, are GMO-free in the European Union. You know, Wal-Mart subsidiaries are GMO-free in the European Union. Now, why is this? Is it because they have a bad conscience about force-feeding people genetically engineered food in Europe, but they don't have a bad conscience about doing that in the United States? No. It's because in the European Union, they can no longer conceal from the public that they were pushing these controversial, likely-hazardous foods on them.
In the United States, they have managed to squelch democracy now for 20 years. We now have an opportunity in California to break this control that the biotech industry has over what we're eating. We have an opportunity for consumers to regain their right to know how their food was produced.
... Fifty countries across the world required labeling, but the biggest producer of genetically engineered foods, and the most powerful nation in the world, will not. So, we're going to turn the tables in California."
Polls show that 80 to 90 percent of the public want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. Most people do want to be able to read the label and determine whether or not it contains something they want, or don't want, to eat.
"It doesn't matter if Monsanto and their allies spend 50 billion dollars lying to people, saying, "It's going to raise your grocery bills, it's an undue burden on California farmers, and the Feds should be the one doing this." We're going to beat them. This is going to be – I believe – a watershed for democracy in this country," Ronnie says.
If Politicians Won't Do it, Will YOU Stand Up to Protect Your Child's Future?
People are finally waking up to the reality that the big corporations that control everything are NOT invincible. When consumers get together, organize, and use the tools of democracy that are still available to us, we can force the will of the people on the politicians.
"But it's not going to be easy. We can't afford to lose this strategic battle," Ronnie warns. "We've got to win. We've got to raise millions of dollars. Even more importantly in California, we have to convince six or seven million Californians to go to the voting booth on November 06 and vote "Yes" for labeling of genetically engineered foods."
I hope you'll join us in this campaign, either by volunteering your time in California, or by making a financial contribution. Dave Murphy was instrumental in getting Barrack Obama to make his promise to label genetically engineered foods while he was still a Senator and a hopeful Presidential candidate. He made this now-famous pledge at the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Summit in 2007.
"We recognized it was a unique moment, and a unique opportunity to have... a Senator of his caliber... on video saying that they would label genetically engineered foods," Dave says. "He didn't say it in Berkeley. He didn't say it in Brooklyn. He came to Iowa, the heartland of genetically engineered food production, and made it in front of farmers. He got applause. ... We're certainly looking forward to the day that he does label genetically engineered foods."
In this interview, Dave Murphy describes a number of other successes his grassroots organization Food Democracy Now has accomplished.
"The most important change in American history has always come from the grassroots," he says. "It's always risen from the bottom up. It happens faster and it lasts longer when it happens that way. I think today, Americans are really awakening to the fact of how harmful the industrial food supply is to their health, to their environment, in all aspects in life, but even more important their democracy. If we don't stand up now, we'll lose it permanently."
Genetically Engineered Food Industry is Based on Multiple Lies
Ronnie Cummins also lists a few of the many lies that the entire genetically engineered food industry is based on, such as:
- Genetically engineered foods are equivalent to conventional foods.
"That's absolutely not true," he says. "These are patented foods that are gene spliced with bacteria, viruses, and genetic constructs that humans have never eaten before. The whole process of gene splicing is quite imprecise, unpredictable, and hazardous... For 10,000 years, farmers have been looking at their crops, noticing which seeds work in certain conditions, saving the seeds, trading the seeds with their neighbors or with other people in the region, and coming out with improved varieties.
But you could never cross an apple tree with a pig. You could never put genetically engineered bacteria into the genome of a potato. You couldn't take a soil microorganism like Bt and put it into corn. Nature does not allow this sort of trans-genetic transfer. They've learned how to do this in laboratories, but they didn't do this for any other reason than to have stronger patents on the seeds."
- Genetically engineered crops were created for an altruistic purpose; to save a starving world from hunger by increasing yield.
"Unfortunately, even the statistics from the USDA have shown that this is not the case," Ronnie says. "Genetically engineered crops do not produce higher yields. In fact, studies after studies have shown that they produce lower yields. Because when you forcefully inject a foreign DNA into a genome of a plant, you harm that plant. The plant may then be able to survive enormous sprayings of toxic pesticides... but they're not going to grow as well...
And when you look at the era that we're going into now, climate chaos and long droughts, torrential downpours, the weird weather, and the March summer we have just had across the United States, not only do genetically engineered crops have a yield drag or produce the least, but they don't grow at all under adverse conditions—whereas organic crops grow 20 to 50 percent better in these adverse conditions of too much rain or too little rain."
- Genetically engineered foods are more nutritious.
"Not a single genetically engineered crop that they have ever applied for commercialization has even made the claim that it will be more nutritious," Ronnie says.
Ronnie also points out that there are literally hundreds of studies in the developing world demonstrating that organic farming outproduces chemical farming and genetically engineered crops by a factor of anywhere between 10-100 to 1.
"Genetic engineering is really a tactic, if you will, to starve the world into submission; to get them into a position where they have to depend on giant chemical farms and giant transnational corporations in order to eat," Ronnie says.
It's Time to Take Back Control
About 20 years ago, the FDA decided to deny consumers the right to know whether their food was genetically altered or not. This shameful regulation was spearheaded by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer who transferred into the offices of the FDA. Taylor is not the only ex-Monsanto employee that ended up in a position of power within the U.S. federal government and its regulatory agencies, and this is precisely why previous efforts to get genetically engineered foods labeled have been blocked.
Not so this time! Ballot Initiatives like the one in California is one way for citizens to take back control from compromised politicians and government officials and bypass them entirely. According to Ronnie:
"If we pass the law on November 2012, it's going to have the same impact as a national law. Because a company like Kellogg's, for example, they're not going to label their cornflakes as genetically engineered in California and then not in the other 49 states. This will be a terrible public relations disaster for them. So it's going to have an impact on national labeling."
To offer further incentive to participate, a group of "Right to Know" public interest organizations and organic companies have pledged to match the first one million dollars raised in the nationwide "Drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto Campaign." These "Right to Know" groups include:
|The Organic Consumers Association
||Food Democracy Now
||Lundberg Family Farms
||The Organic Consumers Fund
||Institute for Responsible Technology
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients.
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- Sign up to learn more about how you can get involved by visiting Yeson522.com!
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.