An article published today in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine by two of the nation’s most respected experts on pesticides and children’s environmental health calls for the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) food. This comes after the House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would block states from enacting their own labeling laws and make it nearly impossible for the FDA ever to implement national mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Titled “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health,” the paper by Philip J. Landrigan, M.D. and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. focuses on the widespread adoption of GMO crops across the U.S. and the resulting explosion in the use of toxic herbicides – some of them, like Monsanto’s glyphosate, linked to cancer – and argues that labeling these foods is a matter of protecting public health.
Federal lobby disclosure forms from big food and biotechnology companies, and their trade groups opposed to mandatory GMO labeling reveal a surge in lobbying expenditures during the first half of 2015, according to a new analysis by EWG. A major reason for the explosion in lobbying money is the food industry’s support for the Deny Americans the Right to Know – or DARK – Act (H.R.1599), which the House passed last month by a vote of 275-150. The legislation blocks state GMO labeling laws, blocks state laws prohibiting “natural” claims on GMO foods, and makes it virtually impossible for FDA to create a mandatory national GMO labeling system. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents these and other food manufacturers, reported expenditures of $5.1 million that mentioned GMO labeling and hired 32 lobbyists exclusively to advocate for legislation to block state and federal GMO industry lobbying dwarfed expenditures reported by GMO labeling advocates, including EWG and Just Label It, which disclosed $2.5 million in the first two quarters of 2015, $2 million in all of 2014, and nearly $1 million in 2013. Since 2013, industry lobbyists have outspent GMO labeling advocates by 25-to-1. “The gap between the amount of money spent by Big Food and that spent by public interest groups is simply mind-boggling,” Foley said.
Food and biotechnology companies spent $63.6 million in 2014 alone to oppose mandatory labeling of genetically modified food ingredients, or GMOs, according to a new analysis by EWG. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, for example, disclosed $5.8 million in lobbying expenditures around GMO labeling in 2014, “up sharply from $60,000 in 2013,” according to the analysis. PepsiCo nearly doubled the amount it spent, dedicating more than $4 million to the anti-labeling effort in 2014, up from 2.6 million in 2013. Other iconic companies that spent big in 2014 to deny consumers the right to know if their foods contain GMOs include Kellogg ($2.1 million), General Mills ($2.6 million) and Coca-Cola, which put up more than $9 million – the most of any food company, according to the report.
A new bill to let food producers decide whether to label GMOs could prevent states from passing mandatory labeling laws. It’s expected to be introduced in the next few weeks—so we need to dissuade potential co-sponsors now! At the behest of the Monsantos and Cargills of the world, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is expected to reintroduce his Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act in the next week or two. If passed, it would nullify the efforts of ten states that are currently considering bills to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Although the US has the strictest food safety laws in the world governing new additives, the FDA has allowed GMOs to evade those laws. The sole purported legal basis for the marketing of GE foods in the United States is the FDA’s claim that they are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) – a claim that is clearly fraudulent. Documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the FDA reveal that the agency’s scientists warned superiors that GE foods pose greater risks than conventional ones – but that their warnings were spurned and covered up. Monsanto could never have implemented their global food takeover strategy had the groundwork not been laid by the deceptions of a number of prominent molecular biologists that began during the 1970’s.
Last week saw an inter-agency power grab. It begins with the weakening of organic standards—and could end with the term “organic” becoming practically meaningless. Action Alert! Tell the USDA to use a public and transparent process for all major changes to organic standards by publishing proposed changes in the Federal Register, and actively seeking public input and discussion. In addition, tell the USDA to enforce the sunset provision of the OFPA as it was originally intended—allowing synthetic products to remain after their “sunset” date only after public debate and a two-thirds vote of the NOSB. More than 100 synthetics will be up for sunset consideration in 2015. We must act now to protect the integrity of organics.
The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year, and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. What we need is not a new breed of chemical-resistant crops, but that’s exactly what we’re getting.
The U.S. continues to be isolated around the world regarding their lax GMO labeling policy. We are losing millions of dollars in exports because countries such as China, Russian, Japan, Korea, and most of Europe will not buy our products if they are contaminated with GMOs. A recent Congressional meeting, however, concluded that the push to label GMO products in the U.S. was due to the ignorance of the American consumer. One has to wonder where the ignorance actually resides?
The ink was barely dry on Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law when a national industry trade group declared it would seek to overturn it. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents cereal-maker General Mills, among others, said Friday it intends to sue the state to reverse the law. Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell said Monday the state is prepared. “We’re expecting to be sued and we’ll put the A-team on the case if and when we are sued,” Sorrell said.
The video here is Joel Salatin's speech making the claim against federal initiatives to label GMO foods. He spoke in a debate with Dr. Mercola, who presented the pro-government labeling side. The debate was a fund-raising event sponsored by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund in Atlanta. It should be noted that both persons debating are friends, and opposed to GMOs. Both sides actually make great points, but Salatin's message is the one less heard. He posted the transcript on the Polyface Farm Facebook Page here, which we copied below. It is a message that needs to be heard by all concerned about GMO products, and the dangers of relying on a government largely influenced by lobbyists from Big Ag and Big Food to do something to "protect" consumers.