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Win or Lose, State GMO Labeling Initiatives Are Changing the Game

November 19, 2013 | 200,608 views
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By Dr. Mercola

On November 5, residents of Washington State cast their votes on a law to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) foods. As of this writing, it appears the vote fell just a hair short of passing, losing 49%-51%.1

Just like California last year, the pesticide industry and the junk food manufacturers spent tens of millions of dollars, setting a record for the most money ever on a campaign in the state of Washington.

They certainly DO NOT want you to know what is in your food, and they are willing to put up big bucks to keep it that way.

This is despite the fact that many of these companies already sell non-GMO versions of their products to overseas markets that either don’t permit genetically engineered ingredients, or that label all genetically engineered foods... America is more or less the only major market left wide open for GE foods, which is why they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way.

Do You Need Dirty PR Tactics to Promote Clean, Safe Food?

The proponents of Initiative 522 raised about $8.4 million for the campaign to label GMOs; $2.6 million of which was raised within the state. Meanwhile, the opposition poured more than $22 million into their campaign, but only $550 was donated within Washington State.

The opposition’s coffers were filled by donations from multinational corporations that laundered their campaign donations through a “brand defense” account created by the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA) in order to avoid consumer backlash.

They didn’t get away with it, though. The GMA was caught red-handed and was sued,2 accused of intentional money laundering, and it looks like the association will be found guilty in February.

What must Washington voters think when $11 million was illegally funded by the junk food manufacturers' campaign? Luckily, the GMA has been forced to disclose who was hiding behind the front group, and now we have more information to ensure we all stop supporting these companies who continue to demonstrate such criminal behavior.

The identities of the companies paying to defeat I-522 contained the usual suspects: Pepsi, Coke, General Mills and Nestle – authorities of junk food and primary purveyors of chronic disease.

Winning by Losing...

You see, the GMO debate has never been a public debate at all in the US. It has been purposely avoided, since the pesticide companies had to deal with the public backlash over a decade ago in Europe. They decided to keep this modification to our foods hidden here in America, and what a successful strategy it has been... until now.

Beginning with Prop 37, and continuing with I-522 - they have finally engaged in the debate, and are now being exposed.  Prop 37 named the brands hiding your right to know, and they tried to hide from their customers in Washington.

Fortunately, more and more people are waking up to reality and are starting to pay attention to these most basic of concerns: What am I eating, really, and what am I feeding my children? And, might the food I’m eating be the reason why I don’t feel well, or why my child is chronically ill at such a young age?

GMA’s Three-Year Game Plan for Preventing GMO Labeling

The GMO labeling campaigns in California and Washington State have done what no one organization could ever have accomplished by itself. They’ve created a mounting wave of awareness across the US, awakening millions of Americans to the issues surrounding GMOs. State by state, we will continue to push for labeling, and it’s just a matter of time before the industry’s expensive PR machine won’t be able to confuse voters any more. Some of the state initiatives currently in the works include:

  • New Hampshire: HB 6603 would require labeling of “any human or animal food offered for retail sale” as of July 1, 2014.
  • Oregon: GMO Free Oregon has plans to begin collecting signatures to get a GMO labeling initiative on the 2014 ballot.4
  • Hawaii County, Hawaii: Bill 1135 would ban GMO crops from being grown on the island, with exceptions for some GE crops that are already being cultivated.
  • Richmond, California: The Richmond city council is drafting an ordinance that would require genetically engineered foods sold in its jurisdiction to be labeled.6

The food industry has completely avoided any discussion about genetic alterations to our food supply, and these state initiatives are doing what the food industry has tried to avoid – raising a discussion about what GMOs are and the fact that they’re in our food supply, and whether or not that’s a wise idea, considering they’ve never been proven safe for human consumption in long-term studies.

That doesn’t mean the pesticide industry and junk food manufacturers won’t do their best to keep the wool pulled over your eyes though. Remember, they view your desire to know whether their food contains GMOs as a THREAT to their business. They’re quite serious about keeping you in the dark about what you’re eating, and the tactics they use to ensure you remain ignorant should really raise some serious questions.

They actually think it’s preferable to break laws in an effort to lie to you than to stick a label on their products. Think about that for a moment. According to a recent report by Politico,7 the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has a detailed plan for combating any and all GMO labeling efforts across the US for the next three years. According to the report:

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association... has a five-pronged strategy aimed at keeping its members – which include the biggest names in the food industry – from having to label products that contain GMO ingredients, according to documents filed with the State of Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Some of the details revealed in the documents confirm earlier reports by POLITICO, like GMA’s intention to seek federal preemption on GMO labeling. But some of the details are new, such as how the group has several million dollars in an account, called “Defense of Brands Fund,” established specifically to fight labeling initiatives, like the one in Washington.”

Revealing Documents Unearthed in GMA Money Laundering Scandal

Some very revealing documents8 were released through the Attorney General’s investigation of the GMA money laundering scheme. The GMA’s plan includes the preemption of all state laws by creating a “voluntary” labeling standard, which is essentially what exists today. Furthermore, the documents, which I invite you to take a look at, contain redacted sections that may reveal as much as they hide.

Redacted sections include a portion under the heading “Industry Image Efforts” that appears to be related to the GMA’s plan for addressing “attackers,” i.e. people and organizations that are working toward letting you know what’s in your food, and anyone criticizing any food company that doesn’t want to label their genetically modified wares. Under the subhead “Industry Image Campaign,” it is revealed that PR firm of some sort, the name of which is redacted, “has been retained to help develop a comprehensive program for execution in 2014. More details relating to this plan are redacted.

Another section redacted in its entirety is one titled, “Examining Options for Conveying Information to Consumers.” Also redacted is the name of an entity that “understands the need for continued opposition to efforts at the state level to impose mandatory labels and has directed GMA staff to continue to oppose such efforts.” Who is this mysterious, censored entity that has “directed” the GMA to oppose labeling efforts in the face of public demand for disclosure and transparency about what’s in their food? Also redacted are several pages-worth relating to the Association’s long-term plans to quench GMO transparency issues. Another section of interest reads:9

“At the meeting held on January 19, 2013, the GMA Board of Directors coalesced in support of a multipronged approach for our industry’s prospective engagement to address the challenges presented by proposals for mandatory labeling of any product containing GMOs. In general, the Board directed GMA staff to pursue the following course:

  1. To oppose all state efforts that would impose mandatory labels while efforts are taken to pursue a federal solution:
    • Engage in state-by-state campaigns to defeat ballot measures;
    • Oppose state legislation;
    • REDACTED
  2. Develop a transparency and disclosure platform based on consumer research: REDACTED
  3. Pursue statutory federal preemption which does not include a labeling requirement;
  4. Engage in efforts that protect the image of the industry while engaging in these efforts;
  5. Develop a long range funding mechanism for GMA companies to support these efforts and other Board approved initiatives in defense of the industry brands that provides greater financial certainly and reduces companies’ exposure to criticism.

Makes you wonder what efforts and strategies they’re planning that are “too secret” to share, doesn’t it? Still, while all of this can come across as mightily depressing, know that state ballot efforts ARE making a difference, and while it may appear as though we’re losing, we’re really making a lot of headway. Already, these efforts are causing junk food companies to divorce from Big Biotech, scattering in all directions and making individual decisions about what they’re going to do to stay in business.

This is good news for you, and not so great news for the likes of Monsanto that depends on these junk food companies to stick with using GMOs. If they don’t, who is Monsanto going to sell their seeds to? Farmers only grow what companies are willing to buy. More pressure also needs to be applied to confined animal feeding operations, which is where the vast majorityof GMO grains are used, and is a major hidden source of GMOs in your diet.

'Victory Gardens' – A Step Toward Fixing a Broken System

One of my most consistent messages through the years has been that, in order to take control of your health, you need to address your diet. Processed foods are one of the primary drivers of chronic disease, so switching from processed foods to natural (ideally organic) whole foods is the first step. Seeing how the food industry as a whole has no incentive whatsoever to sell and market whole foods, I’ve long promoted the idea of procuring your foods from local farms, farmers markets and coop’s. Another strategy, which I believe is a step toward fixing this broken food system – especially if done en masse – is to grow your own food.

The idea of planting War Gardens or Victory Gardens goes back to World War I and II, and was advertised as a way for patriots to make a difference on the homefront. Make no mistake, we are at war over the control of our food supply.

During the Second World War, an estimated 20 million Americans answered the call to action, planting over five million gardens on private and public land, producing up to 10 million tons of fresh produce annually. This amount equaled that of all commercial production of vegetables, and by the end of World War II, the food produced by private citizens exceeded $1.2 billion.

Over the last 60 years, the food industry has surrendered its morals and abandoned its original mission to produce and sell safe, healthy nutritious foods. Instead, they’ve shifted toward creating addictive foods that are inexpensive to produce with deadly consequences over the long term, yet they keep you coming back for more.

But despite obstacles, including agricultural subsidies that favor production of processed foods and junky snacks, I believe the current situation can change if enough people understand some simple truths about what makes for a healthy diet, which I detail in my free Optimized Nutrition Plan. The foundational premise of any health-promoting diet is whole food, and the greater the portion consumed raw, the better. For more tips on starting your own garden, please see my previous articles on the following topics. To browse through all the gardening articles on my site, see my Organic Gardening page:

'Victory Sprouts' – A Simple Way to Get Started Growing Your Own Food

Planting your own Victory Garden can go a long way toward healthier eating, and in the long run, it can provide incentive for industry-wide change, and a return to a diet of real food. One of the simplest, fastest and least expensive ways to put your toe into the water in this process is to start growing spouts.

Unlike a conventional vegetable garden, you’ll have food ready for harvest in about a week. Best of all, you can sprout seeds indoors in any season, which means you can eat fresh, raw nutritious food year-round. In fact, sprouts are among the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Depending on the sprout, the nutrient content can increase as much as 30 times the original value within just a few days of sprouting.

Topping the list are sunflower seed and pea sprouts, which are typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. Both also provide very high-quality protein. Broccoli sprouts, known for their anti-cancer activity, are another excellent choice. Sprouts are also a perfect complement to fermented vegetables which are also easy and inexpensive to make at home, from scratch.

Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day

The food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns – in California and Washington State – to prevent you from knowing what’s in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference. As stated by the Organic Consumer’s Association:10

“... As long as the food companies are under Monsanto’s spell, as long as there are uninformed people who buy into the propaganda, we have our work cut out for us. Labeling GMOs is only the beginning. Watch out, Monsanto. We have plans. And those plans include taking back our seeds, our food, our farms, our rights. Our health. We will keep gaining ground. Until we reclaim it for the people.”

I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you’ve learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beets, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.

If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:

For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the biotech industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients – regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.

[+] Sources and References