By Dr. Mercola
On April 16, the Vermont Senate passed the first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill (H.112) by an overwhelming margin.1 On May 8, Governor Peter Shumlin signed the historic bill into law.
The law will require food manufacturers to label genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in Vermont, and prohibits them from labeling foods with GE ingredients as "natural" or "all natural."
The Burlington Free Press2 recently ran an excellent article on how the Vermont GMO labeling bill was won. I would highly encourage you to read it, to get a real-world view of just how effective a grassroots campaign can be.
Ultimately, it boils down to letting your representatives know what you want. Long before the bill passed through the legislative branches, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) had openly threatened to sue, should Vermont pass such a law.
Still, despite these threats, Vermont legislators realized that their constituents were serious about wanting GE foods labeled, and they voted accordingly. As expected, on May 9 the GMA confirmed it will indeed sue Vermont in federal court, in an effort to overturn H.112. According to a recent update by Ronnie Cummins,3 National Director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA):
"Vermont is prepared to fight back. The state has already established a 'food fight' legal defense fund. Legal analysts say Vermont will likely win.
Vermont isn't the only state up against the multi-billion dollar lobbying group. The GMA, whose 300-plus members include Monsanto and Dow, Coca-Cola and General Mills, is pushing a bill in Congress that would preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws.4 [Editor's note: The "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,"5 dubbed "DARK" (Denying Americans the right to know) Act.]
It's time for consumers in every state to band together to defeat the GMA's full-on assault, not only on Vermont, not only on consumers' right to know what's in our food, but on states' rights and on our basic freedoms to protect our health and our communities."
Second Time GMA Sues for Right to Keep Secrets from You
This is the second time in mere months that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is suing a state for the right to pull the wool over your eyes. During the Washington labeling campaign, the GMA got caught in a money laundering scheme aimed at protecting the identity (and hence the reputation) of members who donated funds to the anti-labeling campaign.6
The GMA was forced to reveal the donors to the aggressive anti-labeling campaign,7 but shortly thereafter it sued the state of Washington, arguing they should be allowed to hide their donors—which is a direct violation of state campaign disclosure laws—in order to "speak with one voice" for the interests of the food industry.8
Since then, the GMA has again removed its online membership list. Clearly, there's a concerted effort to hide who is behind this radical front group. You can still find the cached members list on web.archive.org,9 however.
I recently named the GMA "the most evil corporation on the planet," considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights—just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.
The primary GE crops grown in the US are corn, soy, and sugar beets, and the primary ingredients in processed food are high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats), and refined sugar. Add in all the pesticides and hazardous fertilizers used in this chemical agriculture system, and you have the perfect formula for environmental destruction, disease, and premature death.
This is the business model the GMA is protecting, and labeling GE foods will surely severely cripple it. This is why the GMA is willing to resort to everything, from illegal money laundering schemes to irrational and wholly ludicrous lawsuits arguing for "the right" to violate disclosure laws.
Your health, your rights to make your own decisions, and your financial wellbeing have absolutely nothing to do with the GMAs objections to GMO labeling. They're not protecting you from confusion, unnecessary complexities, or higher prices. They're protecting their own profits, and those profits depend on widespread consumer ignorance.
History Being Made in Oregon: Two Counties Vote to Ban Genetically Engineered Crops
In addition to Vermont’s GMO labeling bill, against all odds we also defeated the pesticide producers and those that patent life in a historic vote in Jackson County, Oregon. There, residents have now voted to outright ban the growing of genetically engineered crops. The measure passed with 66 percent of the votes. This despite the fact that proponents for the ban raised only $375,000, while the opposition raised nearly $1 million.10 As reported by ABC News:11
“With most of the ballots counted in Tuesday's all-mail election, Jackson County voters approved the measure by a 2-to-1 margin. A similar, lower-profile measure in neighboring Josephine County led 58 percent to 42 percent with nearly two-thirds of expected ballots counted...”
'The voters here have many generations of fruit and vegetable growing, so they're among the most educated voters,' said Chuck Burr, president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association. 'The opposition spent a million dollars and couldn't convince the people.'
The outcome, however, won't start an immediate trend in Oregon because Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill last fall that prohibits local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops. An exception was made for Jackson County because its measure had already qualified for the ballot. Despite the bill, opponents of GMOs in Josephine County went ahead with their own measure, saying they'll let the courts decide if the vote is valid.
The banning of GMO crops in Jackson County is a pivotal win; one that moves beyond labeling and protects the entire food-to-consumer principle. As we move closer to changing the health paradigm, and people become more aware of the intrinsic connection between the food they eat and their health, we’ll begin to see a regeneration of health across the board. While it may be in its infancy, the decision taken in Jackson County is symbolic of what the future holds, and the important part we play in advancing the basic principles of health and the sanctity of life. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:12
“The passing of these two GMO bans in Jackson and Josephine Counties should send a clear signal to politicians that citizens not only reject unregulated and hazardous GMOs, but are willing to defy the indentured politicians who pass laws, like Oregon’s S.B. 863, that take away county rights to ban GMOs and obliterate a 100-year tradition of home rule and balance of powers between counties and the state.
This is a tremendous victory for the citizens of these two counties, and for the farmers who are determined to fight the threat of unwanted contamination by GMO crops. It is also a victory for the national anti-GMO movement as it builds momentum for similar bans in counties in other states.
The margins of victory for these two measures also bode well for passing Oregon’s Ballot Initiative #44 in November 2014, a statewide ballot measure to require mandatory labeling of GMO foods and foods containing GMO ingredients, sold at retail. And finally, these victories make it clear to agribusiness giants like Monsanto and Dow that the day has come when they can no longer buy and lie their way to victory.”
The Great Boycott Is Here
The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I join Ronnie Cummins in his encouragement to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. The victories in Vermont and Oregon clearly shows that you have the power to incite great change. In this case, you can help change the food system by taking decisive action with your food dollars.
"We flood their Facebook pages, tarnish their brand names. We pressure financial institutions, pension funds and mutual funds to divest from Monsanto and the other GMA companies. Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don't buy them. Don't sell them. Don't grow them. And don't let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them," Cummins writes.13
"As soon as the GMA files a lawsuit against Vermont, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by a growing coalition of public interest groups, will launch a boycott and divestment campaign directed against all of the 300 GMA companies and their thousands of brand name products—including foods, beverages, seeds, home and garden supplies, pet food, herbicides and pesticides."
So far, between 2012 and 2014, Monsanto and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million! These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries.
Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:
"Until now the GMA colossus has ruled, not only in Washington DC, but in all 50 states. But now that Vermont has passed a trigger-free GMO labeling law, and Oregon is poised to do the same in November, the balance of power has shifted.
Monsanto, the GMA and their allies are in panic mode. Because they know that when companies are forced to label or remove GMOs, and also are forced to drop the fraudulent practice of labeling GE-tainted foods as 'natural' or 'all natural,' in one state, they will have to do it in every state. Just as they've been forced to do in Europe, where mandatory GMO labeling has been in effect since 1997."
Are You Supporting Those Who Have Repeatedly Taken a Stand Against Your Health and Right to Know?
To defeat the GMA lawsuit against Vermont, money must be raised for legal assistance to the state. We must also intensify any and all efforts to educate others and put pressure on the marketplace to quell the GMAs radical power grabs. To this end, please make a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund today.
Other ways you can help is by refusing to invest in GMA member companies—even if indirectly through retirement and mutual funds. With enough pressure, we can pressure institutional investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, and State Street to dump the stocks they have in these companies. Moreover, we need to boycott ALL of the 300 companies who are still members of the GMA. Combined, they produce more than 6,000 brand name products, and all of these products are on the boycott list. This includes:
Foods Beverages Seeds Home and garden supplies Pet foods Herbicides and pesticides for home and professional use
This may seem as a monstrously difficult task... but if we work together and individually make an effort, collectively we can do it. There are 400 million Americans, and each person makes multiple purchasing and investment decisions each and every day of the year. Every action you take from here on counts. Pro-organic consumer groups will also launch programs placing emphasis on boycotting "Traitor Brands," meaning natural and organic brands that are actually owned by members of the pro-GMO GMA. As noted by Cummins:
"Health-conscious and green-minded consumers often inadvertently support the GMA when they buy brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Odwalla and others whose parent companies, all members of the GMA, have donated millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522)."
As a sign of solidarity, please sign the Boycott Pledge now.
While I cannot list all of them here, some of the 50 "natural" and/or organic Traitor Brands targeted by this boycott include those listed below. The reason for not focusing the boycott on the conventional parent companies is because pro-organic health-conscious consumers rarely buy Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi, or sugary breakfast cereals to begin with. The only way to really put pressure on these parent companies is by avoiding the brands they market to organic consumers; the brands you actually typically buy.
"Let's be clear. Junk Food and beverage companies who are members of the GMA are gobbling up organic and 'natural' brands because they recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their brands, they know there's a good chance we'll find alternative brands. And we might never look back," Cummins writes.
Natural/Organic Traitor Brand Owned By/Parent company IZZE PepsiCo Naked Juice PepsiCo Simply Frito-Lay PepsiCo Starbucks Frappuccino PepsiCo Honest Tea Coca-Cola Odwalla Coca-Cola Gerber Organic Nestle Sweet Leaf tea Nestle Boca Burgers Kraft/Mondelez Green and Black's Kraft/Mondelez Cascadian Farm General Mills Larabar General Mills Muir Glen General Mills Alexia ConAgra Pam organic cooking sprays ConAgra Bear Naked Kelloggs Gardenburger Kelloggs Kashi Kelloggs Morningstar Farms Kelloggs Plum Organics Campbells Wolfgang Puck organic soups Campbells RW Knudsen Smuckers Santa Cruz Organic Smuckers Smuckers Organic Smuckers Dagoba Hersheys Earthgrain bread Bimbo Bakeries Simply Asia McCormick Thai Kitchen McCormick
Nine Additional Ways to Take Your Power Back
In addition to not buying Traitor Brand foods or beverages (even if they're certified organic), here are nine ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that make up the Grocery Manufacturers Association:
- Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocadoes, organic pastured meat, dairy and eggs, and raw nuts
- Buy most of your foods from your local farmer's market and/or organic farm
- Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
- Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods made by GMA members for their meals
- Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
- Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are "OMRI Approved," which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they're using OMRI Approved products as well
- Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don't buy it
- Download the Buycott app14 for your smartphone, which allows you to scan products to find out if they're part of the boycott before you buy them
- Join the Organic Consumers Association's new campaign, "Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know"