By Dr. Mercola
During the 2013 ballot campaign to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Washington State, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) resorted to an illegal money-laundering scheme to protect the identity of members who donated funds to the opposing campaign.
Several major food companies had experienced major backlash from consumers who felt betrayed when their contributions to the 2012 anti-labeling campaign in California came to light.
Those donating to the Washington campaign certainly wanted to avoid the same fate. Fortunately, their scheme did not go unnoticed.
On October 16, 2013, Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against the GMA on behalf of the State of Washington, alleging the association had violated the state's campaign disclosure laws — both by failing to register a political committee, and by concealing the true source of its campaign funds.
According to Ferguson, the GMA began plotting and planning how to best defeat Initiative 522 back in December of 2012, placing particular emphasis on the establishment of a separate GMA fund to "combat current threats and better shield individual companies from attack."
Internal Records Reveal Intent to Lie and Conceal
The Attorney General's Office recently announced1 that documents related to the lawsuit have now been unsealed. This includes internal GMA memos and documents detailing the association's "systematic effort to conceal the sources of $11 million in contributions to oppose Initiative 522."
The GMA even provided "media guidance" to members about how to lie when confronted about their contributions to the anti-labeling campaign. According to the Attorney General's press release:
"Regarding possible questions on their 'position on the ballot initiative' or their 'financial support,' GMA suggested the following:
'Q: Is your company providing funding to the 'No on I-522' campaign in Washington State?
A: No. Company X is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and supports the work the association does on product safety, health and wellbeing, sustainability and a host of other issues.
We support GMA, and its position on genetically modified ingredients and the association's opposition to I-522 in Washington State. GMA's views and financial support for the 'No on I-522' campaign reflect the views of most food and beverage manufacturers in the United States.'
GMA rejected an initial draft statement where members would say that GMA 'uses the funds at our discretion,' finding that it 'will lead the press and or NGO groups right where we don't want them to go — meaning, 'are you assessing you [sic] members, or do you have a 'secret' fund of some kind.'"
Summary Judgment Asks for Minimum $14 Million Penalty
Attorney General Ferguson recently filed a motion for summary judgment,2 asking the judge to rule in the state's favor without the need for a trial. The hearing was set for February 19 in Thurston County Superior Court.
Ferguson has requested maximum penalties to be applied. As noted in his motion, "While proof of intentional concealment is not required, state law permits treble penalties if the fact-finder determines a person intentionally concealed the source of a political contribution or expenditure."
In this case, such proof does exist, and according to Ferguson, the GMA engaged in five separate acts of intentional concealment and the penalty should therefore be tripled for each count.
The GMA also violated "several state laws" by failing to file more than 58 disclosure reports of contributions and expenditures.
According to Ferguson's motion:
"GMA's conduct was so egregious that it ranks amongst the worst in state history. GMA worked to 'shield' the actions of major food companies from the very public entitled to know who was trying to influence their vote on Initiative 522.
This type of blatant disregard for state disclosure laws and the transparency demanded by the people of Washington deserves the Court's closest scrutiny. GMA's significant wrongdoing deserves an equally significant response by this Court ...
Applying even one of the statutory remedies, the Court should award — at a minimum — a penalty equal to the over $14 million GMA concealed from the public."
Can You Really Trust GMA Members?
The GMA's 300+ members include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food and beverage companies. 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.
In this case, 34 of these disease purveyors, including Monsanto, took part of this illegal money laundering scheme.3,4 And to what aim? To lie to you, and I do literally mean lie. I never knew that it is not illegal to tell bold faced lies in campaign ads that have no relation to the truth.
These lies prevent you from knowing what's in the food they sell. So far, Campbell Soup Company is the only company that has vowed to change its ways and give consumers what they want — the truth.
Vermont's GMO labeling law — the first in the U.S. — takes effect on July 1 this year. Campbell's recently broke ranks with the GMA and the rest of the food industry by announcing it will comply with the Vermont law.
Campbell's executives also said they will reformulate certain products to remove the GMO ingredients.
Moreover, Campbell's confirmed that food prices will remain unchanged — which is what we've been saying all along. Contrary to industry fear mongering, it really doesn't cost anything extra to add a few words to the label, and Campbell's has now confirmed this fact.
But aside from Campbell's, can you really trust any GMA member to be honest, open and forthright about their products?
History and legal fact is now against them, and if you care even in the slightest about the nature of the food you feed yourself and your family, I urge you to take a close hard look at your favorite brands to ascertain whether or not they can be trusted.
Boycotting GMA Members Made Easy
For the past three years, there's been an ongoing call to boycott GMA member brands until they cancel their GMA membership, and if you haven't done so before, now would be a good time to get serious about boycotting these traitor brands.
There's no two ways about it; by being members of the GMA, they are affiliated with a criminal element that destroys their reputation and severely undermines their integrity.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has created a smart phone application called Buycott, which has already been downloaded by almost half a million people, to step up the boycott against GMA member brands. The app also helps you determine ethical brands that deserve your patronage.
If you don't have a smartphone, or if you don't want to use your smart phone in the grocery store, it's even simpler. Don't buy any processed food or beverage, or any food whatsoever unless has one or more of these labels:
- "USDA 100% Organic"
- "100% grassfed"
- "Non-GMO Verified"
FDA Vows to Begin Testing Food for Glyphosate
Besides avoiding GMOs, another major reason to choose organic food is to avoid toxic pesticides. One of the most commonly used pesticides in the world, glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup — was reclassified as a Class 2A "probable human carcinogen" just last year.
Because glyphosate has been wrongly assumed to be safe — a claim Monsanto still clings to in face of all the evidence stacking up against it — it's never been on the list of pesticides that the U.S. government tests foods for.
Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally announced it will begin testing foods for glyphosate residues. According to Time Magazine,5 the decision "comes after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)6 rebuked the agency for failing to do such assessments and for not disclosing that short-coming to the public."
During its 2014 audit, the GAO found a number of deficiencies in the FDA's pesticide residue program, but the failure to test for glyphosate was specifically criticized.
According to FDA spokeswoman Lauren Sucher, "The agency is now considering assignments for Fiscal Year 2016 to measure glyphosate in soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs, among other potential foods." Start-up costs for the implementation of glyphosate testing have been estimated at about $5 million.7 As noted in the featured article:8
"Under the existing regulatory framework, the EPA sets standards — known as tolerances — for pesticide residues on foods. An arm of the USDA monitors meat, poultry, and processed egg products to ensure they do not violate EPA's tolerances, while FDA monitors other foods, including fruits and vegetables.
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service gathers annual residue data for highly consumed foods. But unlike the USDA, FDA holds enforcement authority, the ability to take action against a company, if residues exceed legal levels, though critics have charged the FDA's enforcement powers are weak."
Consensus Statement Reiterates Concerns About Glyphosate Risks
Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable limits for glyphosate in food in 2013, and there's reason to suspect that current allowable limits may be set too far high to protect human health.9,10 So, unless the allowable limits get a second in-depth review, you may be lulled into a false sense of security if FDA testing shows levels within allowable limits.
On February 17, a consensus statement11 on glyphosate risks was published in the journal Environmental Health.
Noting that "regulatory estimates of tolerable daily intakes for glyphosate in the United States and European Union are based on outdated science," the authors call for more independent studies, including biomonitoring studies and lifetime exposure studies, as well as more comprehensive studies to ascertain the risks associated with exposure during different stages of human development, and in combination with other chemicals.
Congress Presses EPA About Dow Enlist Duo's Health Risks
Pesticide exposure is finally starting to get the attention it deserves, although we still have a very long way to go. In related news, 35 members of the U.S. Congress are now questioning the EPA about its review of Dow Chemical's new herbicide, Enlist Duo, which contains both glyphosate and 2,4-D — a component of Agent Orange.
The weed killer is a next generation "solution" to combat glyphosate resistant weeds, and will be used on Dow's 2,4-D and glyphosate-resistant corn and soybeans.
According to the Chicago Tribune:12
"In a letter sent to McCarthy late last week, Democratic lawmakers from across the country said they were concerned about the health risks posed by Dow's Enlist Duo herbicide ... When the EPA approved Enlist Duo in 2014, the agency tossed aside evidence of kidney lesions in lab rats that Dow's own scientists said were caused by 2,4-D, clearing the way for children to be exposed to levels considered for decades to be unsafe...
'We were concerned to learn that, during this process, EPA dismissed a key study linking 2,4-D to kidney abnormalities based on one scientist's analysis, and in doing so, effectively gave the green light for 41 times more of the chemical to enter the America diet than was previously allowed,' the lawmakers wrote."
Crazy enough, the EPA claims 2,4-D is "so safe that nobody would be harmed even if every corn and soybean farmer in America sprayed Enlist Duo." As usual, it seems much of the "confidence" in toxins like 2,4-D comes from its longtime use, but just because something has been used for a long time does NOT mean it's safe.
2,4-D and other herbicides of this class have been linked to a number of health problems, including immune system cancers, Parkinson's disease, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems. Last year, the World Health Organization's cancer research agency classified 2,4-D as "possibly carcinogenic."
So when you add a probable carcinogen (glyphosate) together with a possible carcinogen (2,4-D), what's the likelihood, really, of that combination being safe?
USDA Inspector General to Investigate Charges of Censorship
The unfortunate reality is that various industries have grown so exceedingly powerful and greedy; they pose a serious threat to human health by manipulating and censoring the science that would thwart their enterprise. The chemical industry in particular has a long history of this kind of behavior. Many if not most of our regulatory agencies also have a history of protecting industry interests over public and environmental health.
In the first week of November 2015, Jonathan Lundgren, who spent the last 11 years working as an entomologist at the USDA, filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency, claiming he'd been harassed and retaliated against after speaking about research showing that neonicotinoids had adverse effects on bees.13
In the U.S., nearly all corn, about 90 percent of canola, and approximately half of all soybeans are treated with neonicotinoids. And, as the use of these pesticides has gone up, bee and Monarch butterfly populations have plummeted. After publicly discussing his findings, Lundgren claims: "USDA managers blocked publication of his research, barred him from talking to the media, and disrupted operations at the laboratory he oversaw."
According to Agri-Pulse,14 the Agriculture Department's inspector general, Phyllis Fong, has now received so many complaints about harassment and censorship, she's opening a broad investigation to assess "whether there is a systemic problem in the department."
It's time to take organics to the next level. In the video above, Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and its Mexico affiliate Via Organica, discusses the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture's (IFOAM) initiative called Organic 3.0.
In the last few decades, the organic market has grown into a multi-billion dollar market, and we've now come to realize that organic farming offers solutions to many pressing problems, including a number of environmental problems, such as rising CO2 levels and water shortages.
It's time to take organic farming seriously, because the alternatives are unsustainable. We simply cannot continue to poison our soil, water, air, animals, and our own bodies with toxic chemicals. As Ronnie says, "We know things now that we didn't know 20 or 30 years ago, about the soil, about how regenerative farming practices can actually suck down a lot of the excess carbon that's in the atmosphere."
We also understand the destructive impact of factory farming of animals, and that there's a much better way to raise food animals, through holistic herd management. Consumers created the organic market, and consumer demand has allowed it to steadily grow. It's imperative to keep the momentum going, as organic farming is the solution that will ultimately ensure healthy food for generations to come.
Reject Any and All Attempts to Preempt or Delay Vermont Labeling Law!
As expected, industry-friendly politicians are hard at work trying to come up with ways to avoid mandatory GMO labeling. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has created a bill that would require the Agriculture Department to set a voluntary standard for GMO food labels, which would pre-empt state labeling laws and require the USDA to provide consumers with information describing the benefits of biotechnology!
According to Roberts: "This chairman's mark serves as a framework to find a solution for a patchwork of laws, and I will continue to work with members of the Agriculture Committee on potential amendments."
Senator Debbie Stabenow has announced she backs Roberts' effort, saying: "I support Chairman Roberts' urgency to address this critical issue and remain committed to working with him to find a solution that provides consumers with access to information they desire and certainty for our food industry. There is still a lot of work to do to get to a bill that can get the broad bipartisan support needed to pass the U.S. Senate."
This bill is completely unacceptable, and must be stopped. As must any amendments to the bill. I urge you to contact your Senators today, and tell them NOT to compromise on GMO labelling! As noted by OCA:
“As proposed, Roberts’ bill would preempt Vermont’s GMO labelling law, and replace state mandatory labelling laws with a federal voluntary labelling plan.... Senate Democrats will likely try to amend the bill with unacceptable compromises, in order to ram it through the Senate before Vermont’s law is set to take effect on July 1.”
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Dial 888-897-0174 to call your Senators, and ask them to reject Sen. Roberts' version of the DARK Act, and to oppose any compromise that would block or delay Vermont’s GMO labelling law. You can also sign the OCA’s petition to the Senate.