By Dr. Mercola
One of the “benefits” of genetically modified (GM) crops is supposed to be a significant reduction in the use of chemicals, such as highly toxic herbicides and pesticides.
The idea, theoretically anyhow, was that herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant plants, which make up the majority of GM crops, would make it easier to kill weeds and diminish crop loss to harmful pests.
They would require farmers to use far less chemicals to control weeds and pests, so the pesticide companies, like Monsanto, assured us. In practice, however, this “promise” has been consistently broken.
In 2012, research showed that GM crops have led to a 404-million pound increase in overall pesticide use from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011. This equates to an increase of about 7 percent per year.
The excessive use of agrichemicals by farmers has now, in turn, led to herbicide resistance, both in weeds and pests, leaving farmers to struggle with an increasingly difficult situation. More than two dozen weed species are now resistant to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.
But instead of getting to the bottom of the weed-resistance problem, which is the GM crops at its foundation, US regulators are adding fuel to the fire and getting ready to approve more GM crops that, ironically, call for even more use of herbicides…
New GM Crops Target Weed Resistance with More Herbicides
In a draft "environmental impact statement" (EIS), the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has recommended that Monsanto’s new GM cotton and soybean plants should be approved.1
The so-called "Roundup Ready Xtend” crops are resistant to both glyphosate and the herbicide dicamba. Since millions of acres of weeds are now resistant to glyphosate, farmers will be able to douse crops with both glyphosate and dicamba. APHIS also issued a final EIS for Dow AgroSciences’ GM “Enlist” corn and soybeans, which are resistant to glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, has already found rapidly increasing weed resistance is driving up the volume of herbicide needed by about 25 percent annually.
The new approvals could drive it up by another 50 percent, according to research published in Environmental Sciences Europe:2
"Contrary to often-repeated claims that today's genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.
If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50 percent.
The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
The final decision won’t be made until after a 30-day public review period, but it unfortunately seems the die has been cast. The approvals would come despite intense opposition from consumer, environmental, and farmer groups, which have voiced valid concerns that the increased use of herbicides on the GM crops will only lead to increasing weed resistance in the long run.
Even APHIS acknowledged that Monsanto’s Xtend crops could increase the chance of dicamba-resistant weeds.3 Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network North America, told Reuters:4
"We are outraged… Despite all of this public outcry, what these decisions show is that USDA is much more interested in working with Dow and Monsanto and getting their products to market than in protecting the public."
GM Crops Are Not ‘Substantially Equivalent’ to Non-GM Crops
From a regulatory perspective, GM crops are considered “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This means, in essence, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has (so far) not required labeling of GM foods because they are deemed to be “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. It is also due to substantial equivalence that no oversight or long-term safety testing has been required of GM crops. Monsanto put it this way:5
“As long as the introduced gene protein is determined safe (an initial step in the safety assessment) and the GM and non-GM crops are alike in all respects, the GM crop is said to be substantially equivalent, or ‘equal to,’ their conventional counterparts and are not expected to pose any health risks.
Experts in the field of food safety are satisfied that this approach is sufficient and reliable to assure the GM crops are as safe [as] their conventional counterparts. This expert community does not see a need and thus does not recommend long-term tests in humans in order to establish food safety.”
The problem with this approach? GM crops are not substantially equivalent to non-GM crops. As evidenced by a recent study published in Food Chemistry, there are marked differences between the two types of crops in terms of herbicide residues and nutritional quality.6
For instance glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and AMPA (aminomethylphosponic acid, the major degradation product of glyphosate).
On average, GM soy contained 11.9 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate, although the highest residue level found was 20.1 ppm. Meanwhile, no residues were found in conventional non-GM or organic varieties. (Similar results were found in a 2012 nutritional analysis of GM corn, which was found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to none in non-GM corn.)
Nutritionally speaking, the authors wrote that “soybeans from different agricultural practices differ in nutritional quality” and “organic soybeans showed a more healthy nutritional profile than other soybeans.”
Organic soybeans contained higher levels of protein and zinc and lower levels of omega-6. The 2012 analysis similarly found non-GM corn to be far more nutritious, with 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GM corn. The authors concluded: “This study rejects that GM soy is ‘substantially equivalent’ to non-GM soybeans.”
What’s the Big Deal About Glyphosate Residues in Your Food?
Glyphosate residues in the amount of “parts per million” might not seem like such a big issue, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe, a peer-reviewed report authored by Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant, and a long-time contributor to the Mercola.com Vital Votes Forum, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), reveals how glyphosate wrecks human health.7
They argue that glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GM sugar, corn, soy, and wheat, “enhance the damaging effects of other foodborne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.” Interestingly, your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s primary mechanism of harm.
Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway IS present in bacteria, and that’s one key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals.
Now, with the impending approval of the new GM crops, you’re going to see increased exposure to even more herbicide residues, including the highly toxic dicamba and 2,4-D. If you eat processed foods, most of which are made with GM corn and soy ingredients, you’re consuming glyphosate residues, and will then be exposed to the forthcoming dicamba and 2,4-D residues as well, probably in each and every bite. Knowing this, and the fact that tests show people in 18 countries across Europe already have glyphosate in their bodies,8 this should leave you very, very concerned…
Heirloom Seed Library Shut Down by Feds to Stop Agri-Terrorism
While the US Department of Agriculture has been busying itself with approving Monsanto and Dow’s latest GM profit centers, it hasn’t been too busy to do a bit of competition clearing for its pet companies. The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library earlier this year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”9
All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…
“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’
Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’... While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.” 10
The Great Boycott Is Here
The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to vote with your wallet and boycott every single product owned by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), 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.
This is just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo. This includes both natural and organic brands. You can start by using the list in the table below. The recent GM labeling victories in Vermont and Oregon clearly show 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," Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) writes.11
"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, avocados, 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 app 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"
To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont, and also help win the GMO labeling ballot initiative in Oregon in November.
Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference. By boycotting GMA member Traitor Brands, you can help level the playing field, and help take back control of our food supply. And as always, continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and share what you’ve learned with family and friends.