News of the Week

Organic Consumers AssnJuly 10, 2016

63 U.S. Senators voted to rob you of the right to know what’s in your food.
If you watched any of the Senate “debate” (limited to 30 hours) on the Roberts-Stabenow DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, you heard one after another of these 63 Senators misrepresent this industry-written bill as a “uniform federal mandatory labeling solution.”
If you’ve been working on this issue with us for weeks, or months or years, you know that’s a lie.
The bill passed last night is intended to hide information (behind electronic codes) from consumers, not provide it—in plain English, on a label.
The bill passed last night is intended to exempt the vast majority of GMOs from even having to be hidden behind codes, much less labeled in plain sight.
The bill passed last night is voluntary—it contains no enforcement mechanism, no penalties for non-compliance.
The bill passed last night is an attack on democracy, an attack on states’ rights. It not only overturns Vermont’s carefully considered and fairly debated mandatory GMO labeling law, but as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted in his speech on the Senate floor, this bill overturns nearly 100 other state laws. (Sanders pushed hard to stop this bill).
The bill passed last night is a fraud, an affront to the nine out of 10 Americans who want what citizens in 64 countries already have—the basic right to know what’s in our food.
The 63 Senators who sided with (and took hundreds of millions of dollars from) Monsanto and Big Food, stole your right to know, and whatever shred of belief you might still have had in the democratic process.
But they did not steal your power to boycott any brand or company that refuses to label GMOs. They did not steal your determination to take back an unhealthy, toxic, corrupt corporate food and farming system.
On Wednesday (July 6), during the cloture vote (which assured that the Roberts-Stabenow bill would not be open for discussion or amendments), OCA led a protest on the Senate floor. That protest led to the arrest and detainment, for over 24 hours, of our political director, Alexis Baden-Mayer. We didn’t change the vote. But we took a stand.
The Roberts-Stabenow bill will now go back to the U.S. House, which in July 2015 passed its own version of the DARK Act. If the House and Senate reach an agreement, Congress will vote on a bill to keep you in the dark. That bill will then land on President Obama’s desk.

Organic Traitors Team Up with Monsanto and GMA on DARK Act

June 20, 2016

Editor's note: This article was written and first appeared before the Senate voted on July 7 to pass the Roberts-Stabenow GMO labeling bill. 

"You (Gary Hirsberg from Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It) and the other Organic Traitors (Organic Trade Association, UNFI, Whole Foods, Environmental Working Group, Organic Valley) need to issue a joint press statement denouncing the anti-consumer, anti-states’ rights Roberts/Stabenow bill and telling Congress to step back and let the Vermont law do its work, forcing companies, including your bosses at Danone, to label or reformulate their GMO and pesticide-tainted foods." - Email from Ronnie Cummins to Gary Hirshberg and the Organic Elite on June 30, 2016.

Organic brands owned by large corporations who are members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Organic Trade Association (OTA), Whole Foods Market (WFM), UNFI, and a cabal of sell-out non-profit organizations have surrendered to Monsanto and corporate agribusiness by embracing the latest version of the DARK Act (the Robert-Stabenow Senate Bill) that if passed, will nullify the Vermont law requiring mandatory GMO labeling.

Despite the fact that GMO- and pesticide-contaminated foods are dangerous, despite the fact that at least 90 percent of American consumers want to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered, despite the fact that the now-enacted Vermont GMO labeling law is already forcing major food corporations (General Mills, Campbell’s, Kellogg’s, Danone, ConAgra, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola, Mars, Hershey’s, Wonder Bread, Starbucks, and others) to either disclose GMO contamination in their products, or reformulate and remove GMOs, a self-selected group of so-called “organic leaders” and Clinton Democrats in the Senate have gone over to the DARK side.

The growing list of Organic Traitors includes the head of Whole Foods Market, Walter Robb; Gary Hirschberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Farm and the pseudo-pro GMO labeling group Just Label It; the Environmental Working Group, represented by Scott Faber, former head lobbyist for the pro-biotech Grocery Manufacturers Association; UNFI, the largest wholesaler of natural and organic foods; and the OTA, led by “natural” brands such as Smuckers and White Wave, and represented by their Board Chair Melissa Hughes from Organic Valley.

These self-selected “Good Food” and “Organic” leaders have been telling Congress behind closed doors—and now publicly—that they and the organic community will accept an industry-crafted DARK Act “compromise"—the Stabenow/Roberts bill— that eliminates mandatory GMO labeling and preempts the Vermont law with a convoluted and deceptive federal regime for QR codes and 1-800 numbers that is completely voluntary, with no firm guidelines for implementation, and no provisions whatsoever for enforcement. Perhaps even more outrageous, the legal definition of “bioengineered” foods under the new DARK Act means that 95 percent of the current GMO-tainted foods on the market, including foods made from Roundup-resistant and BT-spliced corn and soy, would never have to be identified.

Several of the Organic Traitors are now trying to avoid the ire of the organic community by pretending that they are not fully in favor of preempting the Vermont law with the Roberts/Stabenow DARK Act. Anger and resentment are mounting, with calls for companies to pull out of the OTA and renewed calls for boycotts of the Traitor Brands, who are also members of the GMA.

As the Center for Food Safety pointed out earlier today:

… by our calculation the OTA has brought along a minimum of 7-10 Senators against us that were with us before. That is their margin of victory. There is no way to sugar coat this. Should we be defeated a major force that changed from our March victory to this uphill battle is the OTA backroom deal.

In lobbying for the DARK Act, the OTA has employed the notorious Podesta Group (the same PR firm hired by Hilary Clinton and the Biotechnology Industry Association) to convince Senators to stab consumers in the back.

GMO Bill Passed in Vermont


Why would the U.S. Senate vote to keep the words “produced with genetic engineering” off of food products—when 90 percent of Americans want this basic information? And 64 other countries require it?

In comments he made July 1 in Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders sums it up this way:

"The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which sued and lost in trying to stop Vermont’s law, has 34 lobbyists working on this issue alone. They spent $8.5 million lobbying between 2015-2016, and they’re still lobbying . . . . The food and biotech industries and their trade associations have spent nearly $200 million to oppose state labeling initiatives, like [Vermont’s] Act 120. When combined with Washington lobbying expenditures that mention GMO labeling, the total amount spent by corporate interests is close to $400 million."

It doesn’t matter which political party you belong to. It doesn’t even matter if you support mandatory labeling of GMO foods. What matters is this: As long as we allow corporations to buy votes, we can’t claim to have a democracy.

Fatter Subsidies - Fattier Foods

We can think of a lot of reasons we as taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize millions upon millions of acres of genetically engineered corn, soy and other crops—monoculture crops that destroy biodiversitydeplete soils, and contribute to global warming. Now, a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine confirms that the crops our government subsidizes also produce food that’s bad for us.
From PoliticoPro:

The researchers used 24-hour dietary recall data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They calculated what portion of caloric intake was from subsidized foods for each individual and then looked at health outcomes, including body mass index, abdominal fat and blood pressure, between 2001 and 2006.

The researchers found that about 56 percent of all calories consumed were from subsidized commodities. Adults in the top quarter of subsidized crop calorie consumption had a greater risk of a higher body mass index, higher cholesterol and other health concerns. They found no statistically significant association with subsidized food consumption and blood pressure, however. The paper says shifting subsidies to fruits and vegetables might be worth exploring, pointing to a time when Finland helped dairy farmers transition to berry production, which increased local berry consumption.

From 1995-2014, your tax dollars subsidized $94.3 billion worth of GMO corn alone. Isn’t it time we started subsidizing regenerative agriculture, instead of degenerative GMO commodity crops?

Read Time magazine coverage

Read the abstract 

Essential Reading

How the World’s Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change

Genetically Engineered Crops: the Grand and Failed Promise

Side Effects of Long-Term Pesticide Exposure
Systemic Corruption at FDA Reported
From Mommy Bloggers to Clandestine Spies, Here's How Monsanto's PR Company Controls the GMO Debate