Senator Sanders: Protect Our Right to Know. Stop the DARK Act!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-07-30 17:41
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USAVT - Vermont

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is in a better position than anyone to stop H.R. 1599, Monsanto's bill to prevent states and the FDA from requiring food manufacturers to label the GMOs in their products.

We know Sen. Sanders supports labeling. But now that the House has passed H.R. 1599, we need Bernie to speak out loudly and often, in public, about this pro-industry, anti-consumer bill. We need him to tell the mass media, and his fellow Senators, that legislation to preempt mandatory labeling of GMOs is unconstitutional, and must be stopped.

Right now, the media is following Bernie's every move, and hanging on his every word. Will he help us get this issue the attention it deserves? Will he rally his fellow Senators against this bill? Will he filibuster this bill, if necessary?

We hope so. That's why we're trying to get 100,000 signatures on this petition, by midnight, Thursday, August. 3. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell Bernie Sanders: Protect Our Right to Know. Stop the DARK Act!Read more

Open Letter to Bernie Sanders: Please Lead the Effort to Protect Consumers’ Right to Know

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-07-29 21:22
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationJuly 28, 2015 bernie1.jpg

Photo: AP

Dear Senator Sanders,

On behalf of the Organic Consumers Association, which represents more than one million Americans, I ask that you take the lead in protecting the right of consumers to know if their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by issuing a public statement opposing H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, and by urging your fellow Senators to oppose a Senate version of this bill.

On July 23 (2015),  the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, a bill written by the biotech and processed food industries that preempts states’ rights to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and would prevent passage of a federal mandatory GMO labeling law.

In other words, if this bill becomes law, U.S. consumers will be permanently deprived of this basic information.

H.R. 1599 is a prime example of how corporate money corrupts the political process in order to create laws that protect corporate profits at the expense of American citizens. According to a report from Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics, the 275 members of the U.S. House who voted in favor of H.R. 1599 received $29.9 million in contributions from the agribusiness and food industries in the 2014 cycle.

H.R. 1599 legally sanctions corporate deceit by guaranteeing the legal right of food manufacturers to withhold the fact that their products contain GMOs.  In place of requiring food manufacturers to disclose this information—information that these same companies are required to disclose under labeling laws enacted in 64 other countries—H.R. 1599 creates a government-run, voluntary non-GMO labeling program that places the burden of labeling on producers of non-GMO products. Contrary to  what the bill’s proponents claim, it does nothing to ensure that the 90 percent of consumers who want GMO foods labeled will ever actually have this information.

H.R. 1599 gives the producers of GMO foods an unfair advantage in the marketplace by allowing companies to continue to deceive consumers. If GMOs are as safe as the industry claims, why not label them, and let consumers make an informed choice? Isn’t that how the free market is supposed to work?

H.R. 1599 is also a direct attack on the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights. In fact, it is being rushed through Congress specifically to head off enactment of Vermont’s Act 120, the country’s first GMO labeling law, slated to take effect July 1, 2016.

As a Senator from Vermont, an outspoken critic of corporate influence in politics, and a sponsor of the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore)  to establish a uniform federal standard for mandatory labeling of GMOs (this bill would be preempted by H.R. 1599), you are in the ideal position to draw mass media attention to this issue, and to convince your fellow Senators that it should not progress any further.

H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress on the basis of unfounded claims that mandatory labeling will raise food costs, that state GMO labeling laws will create a “messy patchwork” of regulations creating a financial burden for food manufacturers, and that there is scientific consensus that GMOs are safe. All of these claims have been proven false, over and over, by legitimate economists, scientists and journalists.

Please issue a public statement opposing H.R. 1599, and please lead a movement in the U.S. Senate to defeat this bill, or any version of a bill that would preempt state or federal mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Thank you.


Ronnie Cummins
International  Director
The Organic Consumers Association

Tell Your Senators: Defend States' Rights to Label GMOs!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-07-29 21:17
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

On July 23 (2015),  the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, a bill written by the biotech and processed food industries that preempts states’ rights to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and would prevent passage of a federal mandatory GMO labeling law.
The House vote was 275 -150. The “yay” voters received $29.9 million in contributions from the agribusiness and food industries during the 2014 cycle, according to a report by Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.
We need your help to keep this bill from becoming law, by stopping it in the Senate.
The sole purpose of H.R. 1599 is to deceive consumers by guaranteeing food manufacturers the legal right to hide the fact that their products contain GMOs. That’s why we call this bill the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senator: Support Consumer and States' Rights. Reject Rep. Pompeo's DARK Act—H.R. 1599—and any other federal legislation that would preempt states’ rights to label GMOs!Read more

BREAKING: You Don’t Matter. House Votes for Monsanto’s Right to Deceive Consumers

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-07-23 17:23
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationKatherine PaulOrganic Consumers AssociationJuly 22, 2015 2015 donate button

Dear Organic Consumer,

Today, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians voted against truth and transparency, against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling.

They voted against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs. They voted against the producers of non-GMO foods.

They voted against you.

Please help us raise $100,000 to prevent this bill from moving forward. Your donation today will go directly to fund additional lobbyists and grassroots organizers so this bill never becomes law. You can donate online now, or by mail or phone. Details here.

Now that the DARK Act has been approved by the House, we’ll have to stop it in the Senate. We have to move fast—because Monsanto is desperate to pass a bill that preempts mandatory GMO labeling laws at the state and federal levels, before Vermont’s GMO labeling law takes effect next year.

H.R. 1599 was sold to Congress via multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns built on lies and deception. The bill’s sole purpose is to support an industry—Monsanto’s poison-peddling industry—that was founded on lies and deception from the get-go.

Were the Congress members who voted against you fooled by Monsanto’s slick, deceitful packaging of this so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”? Or did they simply vote with their wallets, stuffed full of biotech and junk food industry cash?

We don’t know. But we know this: We can’t let this bill get through the U.S. Senate.

Please help us raise $100,000 to prevent this bill from moving forward. Your donation today will go directly to fund additional lobbyists and grassroots organizers so this bill never becomes law. You can donate online now, or by mail or phone. Details here.

Less than 24 hours before the House vote, the industry-funded front group behind H.R. 1599 was still pushing out the lies. The “Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food,” feigning concern for consumers, emailed members urging them to support the DARK Act because if we require mandatory labeling, it will increase the cost of your food by $500/year. That lie has been debunked over and over, by legitimate independent studies. It’s a lie based on a study funded by, and which remains the intellectual property of, the Council for Biotech Information—of which Monsanto is a member.

Less than 24 hours before the House vote, a staffer in the office of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pompeo, told a caller that the DARK Act gives consumers what they want: the means to know whether or not their food contains GMOs. “Consumers can choose to presume that all foods have GMO contents unless they are labeled or otherwise presented as non-GMO.  Meaning that it is knowable and it is known by the public which products have GMO and which don't,” claimed a Pompeo minion.

More lies. The DARK Act creates a voluntary, government-run non-GMO certification program. Unless every producer of non-GMO products pays to have those products certified non-GMO, consumers will still have no way of knowing which products contain GMOs, and which don’t. And why should the burden of labeling fall on the producers of non-GMO foods, when the risk factor is associated with those foods that do contain GMOs?

H.R. 1599 would repeal existing state GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s Act 120, and would preempt any future state or federal laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods or foods containing GMOs. That’s unconstitutional, according to the Campaign for Liberty, which said this in a statement yesterday:

Whatever your views on GMOs, there is no Constitutional justification for the federal government to preempt state laws in this area. There certainly is no justification for Congress to preempt private sector efforts to meet consumer demands for non-GMO foods, while allowing those who support the use of GMOs to do so.

Yet 275 members of the U.S. House today voted against the U.S. Constitution. And if we don’t stop them, a majority of U.S. Senators could do the same.

You are part of a growing movement, informed by science and motivated by concern for your health and the health of the planet. Ours is a powerful movement. But we are up against powerful industries with bottomless pockets.

If we are going to stop the federal government from taking away our right to demand truth and transparency in labeling, we will have to double or triple our size and our impact. And we have to do it now.

Please help us raise $100,000 to prevent this bill from moving forward. Your donation today will go directly to fund additional lobbyists and grassroots organizers so this bill never becomes law. You can donate online now, or by mail or phone. Details here.


Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

Thank you!

P.S. Don't let the U.S. Senate kill the GMO labeling movement! Donations made to the Organic Consumers Fund, our 501(c) 4 lobbying arm, are not tax-deductible. If you want to support our grassroots advocacy and education campaigns to defeat the DARK Act, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 here.

Tell Ace Hardware and True Value to Stop Selling Bee-Killing Pesticides!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-07-23 16:04
Belong to campaign: Save the BeesCategory: All About Organics, Farm Issues, Honey BeesArea: USA

It’s time to talk about the birds and the bees, while we still have them.
For years we’ve fought to stop the use of neonicotinoid  poisons that chemical companies put in our food and gardens. And we’re winning. This April, Lowe’s joined a growing list of companies that promise to phase out and limit neonic products  from their store shelves. 
That’s good news. But our work is far from done. Ace Hardware and True Value continue to sell these proven bee killers.
TAKE ACTION! Tell Ace Hardware and True Value to Stop Selling Bee-Killing Pesticides!Read more

Consumers, Health Advocates and Farmers Mobilize Massive Movement in Opposition to Congressional “DARK Act” Aimed at Preempting Labeling and Safety Testing of Genetically Engineered Foods

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-07-22 17:30
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationOrganic Consumers AssociationJuly 22, 2015 stopmonsanto.png

Passage of HR 1599 by the House Sparks Outrage, Triggers National Grassroots Lobbying Campaign to Stop the Bill

July 23, 2015
CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul, 207-653-3090, katherine@organicconsumers.org

FINLAND, Minn. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, commonly known as the “DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know), a bill falsely represented by its sponsors as providing “certainty” and “clarity” for controversial genetically engineered foods, In fact, the legislation’s intent is to permanently preserve the right of food manufacturers to deceive consumers.

“We can only presume that the majority of Representatives who voted in favor of this legislation were duped by the multi-million dollar public relations and lobbying campaigns, funded by Monsanto and Big Ag, that falsely frame H.R. 1599 as pro-consumer, and perpetuate the myth that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have been thoroughly safety tested and proven safe,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association. “How else to explain why Congress would vote against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling, and against the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs?

“We are committed to stopping this outrageous, anti-consumer, anti-democracy legislation from succeeding,” Cummins said. “We will do so by mobilizing a massive opposition movement that transcends political party affiliations, and that unites consumers of all ages with organic farmers and retailers whose livelihoods are threatened by this legislation, and with the medical and scientific experts who are outspoken about the potential health and environmental risks associated with GMO crops and foods.”

H.R. 1599, deceptively titled the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” is sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), on behalf of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, of which Monsanto, Dow, Dupont and other chemical companies are members.

The bill would repeal existing state GMO labeling laws, such as Vermont’s Act 120, and would preempt any future state or federal laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods or foods containing GMOs.

H.R. 1599 would also codify the Food and Drug Administration’s position that genetically modified foods and ingredients don’t require labeling because they are as safe as those produced through conventional agriculture, thus ensuring that there will never be independent pre-market safety testing of GMO foods. The American Medical Association has recommended mandatory pre-market safety testing of these controversial gene-spliced foods, rather than the current system that relies on an FDA “voluntary consultation” process based on the industry’s own testing.

H.R. 1599 would also establish a voluntary “GMO-Free” labeling program, overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it would allow foods containing GMOs to be labeled “natural.”

H.R. 1599 has been sold to lawmakers on the basis of false claims. Contrary to what proponents of H.R. 1599 say:

1. There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs, according to hundreds of scientists. Moreover, more than 80 percent of GMO crops are genetically engineered to be heavily sprayed with the toxic herbicide, Roundup. Roundup was recently declared a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.

2. Labeling foods will incur little or no cost to food manufacturers or consumers. Food industry lobbyists have repeatedly used the “increased cost” argument to oppose mandatory nutrition or GMO labeling, basing their argument on a study funded by the Council for Biotech Information. But food manufacturers routinely update labels and numerous independent studies support the fact that labeling GMOs will not increase costs. In fact, many food corporations are preparing to implement a QR bar code system for labeling food ingredients, including GMOs—a system that would incur greater costs than merely adding the words “produced with genetic engineering” to their labels.

3. H.R. 1599 will create, not eliminate confusion for consumers, by allowing foods that contain GMOs, which are artificially created in a laboratory, to be labeled “natural.”

4. State GMO labeling laws will not create a “patchwork” of laws that would be cumbersome or costly for food manufacturers. State GMO labeling bills have been written using a single model, all of which would require the same wording: “produced with genetic engineering.”

“H.R. 1599 allows big corporations, such as Monsanto and Coca-Cola, to continue to deceive consumers,” Cummins said. “This bill not only takes away states’ rights to require labeling of GMOs, but also creates a government-run GMO-Free labeling system that places the expense and burden of labeling on organic and non-GMO food producers who do not expose consumers to risk, rather than requiring the perpetrators of the risks associated with cancer-causing chemicals and inadequately tested technologies to truthfully disclose the ingredients in their products. It’s no wonder that more than 90 perecent of Americans have lost faith in Congress. It’s time to hold every member of Congress accountable. Either they stand with Monsanto and Big Food in support of the DARK Act, or they stand with the overwhelming majority of their constituents for truthful labeling and consumer choice.”

In an op-ed July 13, 2015, in the New York Times, Mark Spitznagel, founder and chief investment officer of Universa Investments, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan” and professor of risk engineering at New York University School of Engineering, wrote:

The G.M.O. experiment, carried out in real time and with our entire food and ecological system as its laboratory, is perhaps the greatest case of human hubris ever. It creates yet another systemic, “too big too fail” enterprise — but one for which no bailouts will be possible when it fails.

“To carry out a vast genetic experiment on the American public is outrageous,” Cummins said. “To continue to do it covertly, without full disclosure, is criminal. If necessary, we will mount the largest-ever food and food safety campaign in U.S. history to prevent Congress from turning the DARK Act bill into law.”


House Ag Committee Says ‘No’ to GMO Labeling, What’s Next?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-07-14 15:03
July 13, 2015Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering stopmonsanto.png

With no debate and only a voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture today (July 14, 2015) passed out of committee H.R. 1599, a bill to preempt states’ rights to label GMOs. Within hours, it was announced that the bill will go straight to the House floor, as early as next week, with no vote in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

If we don’t stop it in the House next week, the fight to stop this “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts” will take place next in the U.S. Senate, by early fall. In his opening statement this morning, Committee Chairman Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) (who shortly after today’s vote said he will co-sponsor H.R. 1599) couldn’t have sounded more like a Monsanto employee if he’d tried. Conaway nailed the biotech industry’s favorite talking points and mistruths, beginning with this one:

In testimony before this Committee, multiple representatives of the food and agricultural sectors commented on the cost burden that would be placed on our food system if we were to allow the 50 States, more than 3000 counties and nearly 20,000 towns and cities in the United States to establish their own laws regulating interstate commerce.

Time and again, independent experts have stated that the cost of labeling GMO foods and ingredients, to manufacturers, retailers and consumers, would be negligible here in the U.S., just as it has been in the more than 60 countries that already require labeling. GMO labels are costless, as pointed out in this Washington Post article. Companies regularly update their food packaging as they come up with new designs or marketing strategies.

And then there was the ultimate lie about GMOs, that they have been “proven safe:”

We all recognize that the overwhelming consensus within the science community is that these biotech products are safe.  We likewise understand that each and every biotech product in the marketplace today has been reviewed thorough a voluntary food safety consultation process at the Food and Drug Administration.

Wrong. Ever since GMOs were introduced into the food system in the 1990s, without adequate, independent, pre-market safety testing, there have been scientists and an increasing volume of of research indicating that these genetically engineered foods and the toxic chemicals that accompany them are hazardous to human health and the environment. The American Medical Association believes GMO foods should be subjected to pre-market safety testing. And there is surely no consensus, as hundreds of scientists worldwide have confirmed, on the safety of GMOs that have already been approved. That is a flat-out lie.

Conaway spoke instead about the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s “voluntary food safety consultation process” as if that were a valid means of proving safety.

Glaringly absent from Conaway’s statement was any mention of the toxic chemicals used to grow GMO crops, and allowed to remain as residue on GMO foods. Not one word was spoken about the World Health Organization’s recent determination that glyphosate, the chemical used on more than 80 percent of GMO crops, is a probably human carcinogen.

None of these statements, coming from a lawmaker with ties to Big Ag, were particularly surprising. But what should concern any consumer ,voter, citizen or just plain common-sense thinking human being, is that Conaway’s statement clearly focused on how to promote the profits of corporations, rather than on how to protect people from foods that have not been proven safe, and the arsenal of toxic chemicals used to grow them. It was all about “marketing,” and how we need a government program for food producers who want to voluntarily label their products as GMO-free, or containing GMOs.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has long been in the business of assisting producers to develop programs and tools to take advantage of market opportunities. The Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee recently examined the programs of the Agricultural Marketing Service.  The Subcommittee concluded that the agency has the resources and expertise to develop and administer a robust marketing program for those wishing to notify consumers of the presence or absence of genetically engineered ingredients in their food products.  What the agency doesn’t have is the law to make it work uniformly across the country like we did 25 years ago when we passed the Organic Foods Production Act.

Not one word on the devastation to the environment. Not on word on how chemical-intensive, fossil-fuel-intensive industrial agriculture is one of the largest contributors, if not the largest contributor, to global warming—and how if we don’t fix this system, we can’t be serious about averting a climate disaster.

As Pope Francis said recently, on the topic of genetic engineering and its use of toxic pesticides:

It creates a vicious circle in which the intervention of the human being to solve a problem often worsens the situation further. For example, many birds and insects die out as a result of toxic pesticides created by technology, they are useful to agriculture itself, and their disappearance will be compensated with another technological intervention that probably will bring new harmful effects… looking at the world we see that this level of human intervention, often in the service of finance and consumerism, actually causes the earth we live in to become less rich and beautiful, more and more limited and gray, while at the same time the development of technology and consumerism continues to advance without limits.

H.R. 1599 is an assault on consumer rights, an assault on democracy and states’ rights. And if passed, it will only escalate the assault on our health, and the health of Planet Earth.

Please help us continue to fight this disastrous and undemocratic piece of legislation.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.


Hillary: Where Do You Stand on GMO Labeling?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-07-08 21:35
July 7, 2015Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine Paul and Ronnie CumminsGenetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization Hillary Clinton

About a year ago, we (the Organic Consumers Association) launched a petition asking Hillary Clinton to support consumers, not Monsanto—or at the very least, support mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

We created the petition after learning about remarks Hillary made in her June 25 (2014) keynote address to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, Calif. In those remarks, Hillary expressed her enthusiastic support for GMO agriculture. She also perpetrated a lot of the same misinformation about genetic engineering that Monsanto and the rest of the industry regularly spout off about, including the lines about how there’s no difference between hybridization and genetic engineering, and how drought-resistant seeds and crops are a big part of the biotech industry’s game plan.

Her appearance at the convention served as a reminder of Hillary’s deep ties to Monsanto, ties that have earned her the title of “Bride of Frankenfood.”

At the time we launched our petition, Hillary had not yet officially tossed her hat into the ring for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Now it’s official. What isn’t yet official, is where Hillary stands on consumers’ right to know and states’ rights to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws.

Does her support for Monsanto and the biotech industry mean she opposes labeling? Or will Hillary come out as pro-biotech but also pro-consumers’ right to know?

The 2016 presidential election is about 16 months away, but the horserace has begun. And while Hillary was once thought to be the clear leader for the Democratic nomination, it appears now that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running as a Democrat, poses a realistic threat. The cast of characters on the Republican side continues to grow, but realistically, Jeb Bush, at least at this stage of the race, seems the likeliest of candidates.  Bush hasn’t publicly stated his position on GMO labeling.

So far, only Sanders has been clear about his stance on mandatory labeling of GMO foods and ingredients. In 2013, he introduced an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have guaranteed states the right to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 71 to 27. (Sen. Murkowski of Alaska, which in 2014 passed a law requiring mandatory labeling of GMO salmon should the FDA approve it, was the only Republican who voted for the amendment).

Monsanto and Big Food have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure they don’t have to label GMO ingredients. And the spending continues, as high-profile lobbyists descend on Washington D.C. in an attempt to pass a federal law (H.R. 1599) that would guarantee, among other things, a total lack of transparency about GMO ingredients.

As we’ve learned over these past few years of ballot initiatives and legislative battles on the GMO labeling front, issues of food and health, corporate greed and political corruption, transcend political party affiliations. Polling numbers continue to confirm that more than 90 percent of Americans want food manufacturers to be required to disclose GMO ingredients on their packaging.

With those numbers, and the H.R. 1599 threat looming in Congress, it’s time any serious presidential candidate show his or her hand on the GMO labeling issue. Which candidates will support mandatory labeling? Which candidates would instead support a bill like H.R. 1599, the “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts”?

We, the consumer movement for healthy food, a clean environment and corporate transparency, will have to demand answers if candidates like Hillary won’t voluntarily disclose their position on labeling.
On July 3, Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the board of JustLabelIt.org, former CEO of Stonyfield Farms and a public supporter of GMO labeling, hosted a $2700-per-person fundraiser for Hillary at his home in New Hampshire.  According to the Boston Globe, Hirshberg said the fundraiser didn’t necessarily mean he was supporting Hillary for president.

We were curious as to why someone so outspoken in the GMO labeling movement would host a fundraiser for a candidate so obviously pro-GMO, much less for a candidate he wouldn’t, at least yet, publicly support. So we reached out to Hirshberg through Scott Faber, executive director of JustLabelIt.org. Faber responded that he had passed our email inquiry on to Hirshberg. 

We haven’t yet heard back from Hirshberg. Did he force Hillary to disclose her position on labeling? Before, during or after the fundraiser? Will she take a stand on this issue before the primaries?
Inquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile, let’s continue to post on Hillary’s facebook page and sign the petition, until we get an answer.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.



We’ve Never Done This Before, but . . .

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-07-02 14:27
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationJuly 1, 2015 $180k

Dear Supporter,

A federal bill that no one took seriously last year is fast gaining traction in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It’s a bill written by Monsanto, for Monsanto. A shameful example of regulations written to protect corporations from people—from you—instead of the other way around.

Four times a year we run online fundraising campaigns. Until now, we’ve never extended a deadline.

But this time is different. This time, the stakes are exceptionally high.

We’ve extended our deadline to midnight Tuesday, July 7, so we can take advantage of two matching fund offers, from Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s. Can you help us raise about $20,000 to meet our goal and step up our efforts to defeat the Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts? You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

Hearings on H.R. 1599 have already been held in subcommittees of both the House Energy & Commerce and House Agriculture Committees. The hearings were dominated by false and deceptive testimony, delivered by Monsanto’s hired guns.

Based on what we know about those hearings, things aren’t looking great for consumers.

We used to call H.R. 1599 the DARK Act—because its intent is to Deny Americans the Right to Know. But the bill gets worse with every draft. It’s so bad now, we’ve renamed it the “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts.”

If we don’t stop this bill, Vermont’s GMO labeling law will be killed, and no other state will ever be allowed to pass a GMO labeling law.

If we don’t stop this bill, county bans on GMO crops will be killed, and no other county will ever be allowed to pass a GMO crop ban.

If we don’t stop this bill, there will never be any pre-market safety testing of GMO foods.

If we don’t stop this bill, food producers won’t be allowed to tell you their products are GMO-free—until and unless the USDA finalizes its own GMO-free labeling standard. Then, and only then, will food manufacturers be allowed to tell you their products don’t contain GMOs—based on a standard that will likely allow a much higher percentage of GMO ingredients than any existing independent certification, such as Non-GMO Project certification.

If we don’t stop this bill, you will lose any right you ever had to the truth about genetically modified food. And corporations will win the right to eviscerate the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

With the holiday weekend coming up, we know people are busy and distracted. That’s why we’ve extended our deadline, to give everyone a chance to contribute. And to give Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s a chance to triple the value of your donation.

In the meantime, we continue to organize meetings across the country, between concerned citizens and key members of Congress. We continue to reach out to state legislators with a request to sign a joint letter to Congress members, asking them to reject this attack on states’ rights and consumers’ right to know.

We are organizing letter-writing campaigns, making thousands of phone calls and planning a massive demonstration in Washington D.C.

If we don’t stop this bill, the GMO labeling movement will come to a screeching halt.

Can you help us raise about $20,000 by midnight July 7, to meet our goal and step up our efforts to defeat the Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts? You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

Thank you!


Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

P.S. Donations made to the Organic Consumers Fund, our 501(c) 4 lobbying arm, are not tax-deductible. If you want to support our grassroots advocacy and education campaigns, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 here.

No Labels, No Safety Testing, No GMO-Free Zones

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-06-23 13:03
Genetic EngineeringOrganic Consumers AssociationJune 22, 2015 125k_summer_2015_oca.png

Dear Supporter,

Thanks to millions of dollars in political donations, Monsanto is on the verge of closing two critical deals in Congress.

One of these deals would block every conceivable path to label or regulate GMOs foods. The other would clear the way to force unlabeled GMO foods and crops on countries that have well established GMO labeling laws and bans in place.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Monsanto is looking to buy chemical giant Syngenta, and relocate the newly-merged company to London—a move that would give the Biotech Bully unprecedented power to sue the entire U.S. government over any laws Monsanto believes will interfere with its profits.

Please donate today to help fight Monsanto’s unprecedented power grab. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

On Thursday, the Biotech Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee will hold the House’s second hearing on H.R. 1599, a bill that gets worse with each draft. H.R. 1599, once dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act has recently evolved into the “Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts.”

If passed, H.R. 1599 will not only preempt all state (including Vermont’s) GMO labeling laws, but it will also wipe out county bans on GMO crops—a direct attack not only on Democracy, but on organic and non-GMO growers who increasingly face the risk of contamination.

But that’s not all. H.R. 1599 intends to make it impossible for food manufacturers to voluntarily tell consumers their products are GMO-free, using reliable, independent labels and standards. And it would guarantee no pre-market safety testing of GMO foods—ever.

Please donate today to help fight Monsanto’s unprecedented power grab. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

Monsanto isn’t pinning all of its hopes on H.R. 1599. The Gene Giant has been closely involved in negotiating, in secret, global trade deals intended to force other countries to open their doors to a flood of GMO foods and crops.

Today, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on whether or not to give President Obama “Trade Promotion Authority,” which is a fancy way of saying the President will be allowed to ram through Congress a trade deal that, among other things, declares GMO labeling an “unjustified trade restriction.”

And just to guarantee its right to sue the entire U.S. government over any and all GMO-related laws, Monsanto’s potential move to London would give it the rights of an-out-of-country investor to challenge the U.S. in “international tribunals.”

Monsanto’s “cover all your bases” power grab sounds too diabolical to be true. Unfortunately, the threats are not only real, they’re imminent.

We are fighting on all fronts to prevent these attacks on Democracy. But we’re realistic—we know what money can buy in Washington D.C.  And we know how deep Monsanto’s pockets are.

That’s why, even as our staff is traveling all over the country to set up meetings with key members of Congress, in their home districts, we’re also setting up the infrastructure to test foods, and humans, for GMOs and all of the toxic chemicals used to grow them.

We will use that testing to apply relentless pressure on food manufacturers to clean up their acts.

We need your support to do this work. By donating today, you’ll triple your impact, thanks to generous matching funders.

Monsanto can run. But it can’t hide. Unless we let it.

Please donate today to help fight Monsanto’s unprecedented power grab. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

Thank you!

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

P.S. Donations made to the Organic Consumers Fund, our 501(c) 4 lobbying arm, are not tax-deductible. If you want to support our grassroots advocacy and education campaigns, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 here.

Monsanto: You Can Run But You Can't Hide!

Organic consumers - Fri, 2015-06-19 21:32
Genetic EngineeringOrganic Consumers AssociationJune 19, 2015 oca monsanto cant hide

Dear Organic Consumer,

You’ve heard the news by now. 

Monsanto is trying to buy up fellow poison-maker Syngenta, in a scheme that involves relocating to London, and giving the merged company a brand new name.

Sorry, Monsanto. You can run. But you can’t hide!

Monsanto can't hide the fact that its flagship product, Roundup, causes cancer. Or the fact that the world doesn’t want Monsant's toxic chemical-drenched, soil-depleting crops—or Syngenta’s atrazine, Agent Orange crops, or bee-killing neonics.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto on the run—until it runs out of steam. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here.

It’s taken us years. But the momentum against Monsanto and the rest of the Gene and Junk Food Giants is at an all-time high.

Thanks to the World Health Organization, we now have irrefutable scientific proof of what many scientists have been saying for decades—glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, causes cancer.

And thanks to you, and millions of conscious consumers, Big Food lost $4 billion in market share last year, while sales of local, organic, healthful, nutritious food soared.

You’ve got Monsanto on the run. But forcing Monsanto to set up camp in London, under a new name, isn’t enough. We need to run Monsanto out of business. And that’s going to take a long, strong, sustained campaign. 

We’re up for it. But we need your help.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto on the run—until it runs out of steam. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here

Over the next few months, OCA will continue to:

• Test for glyphosate, neonicotinoids, atrazine, metachlor and other toxic chemical residues in humans, drinking water and foods, and will widely publicize the results of our testing, which we’ll use to pressure the EPA, FDA and USDA;

• Mobilize a massive grassroots campaign against Rep. Mike Pompeo’s bill (H.R. 1599) to overturn and preempt state GMO labeling laws and state and local bans on GMO crops, prevent companies from voluntary labeling, further weaken GMO crop regulations and guarantee GMO foods are never subjected to long-term safety testing; 

• Pressure food manufacturers and retailers on the issue of truth and transparency in labeling, including calling for boycotts of companies like Starbucks that support toxic factory farms by refusing to switch to organic; and

• Research and fund organic, regenerative, scalable agriculture projects that have the potential to replaced our toxic, inhumane industrial factory farms.

• Organize a mass rally and March Against Monsanto in Washington, DC on October 17, with Vandana Shiva as keynote speaker, preceded the day before (World Food Day) with a major press conference at the National Press Club.

It's an ambitious agenda. But it's also a life-or-death agenda.

It’s your agenda. And we’ll need your help.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto on the run—until it runs out of steam. Your donation by midnight June 30, will be tripled, thanks to matching donations by Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. You can donate online, by phone or by mail, details here

Thank you!

Ronnie Cummins
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

P.S. Donations made to the Organic Consumers Fund, our 501(c) 4 lobbying arm, are not tax-deductible. If you want to support our grassroots advocacy and education campaigns, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 here.

Tell Vermont Gov. Shumlin: Thank You for Standing up to Monsanto and Big Food!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-06-18 16:12
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recently sent a letter to Vermont Gov. Pete Shumlin, complaining about Vermont’s GMO labeling law, exaggerating the implications of the law and implying that some (junk) food companies may stop selling their products in Vermont if the law is enacted.
So far, Vermont is the only state that has passed a strong, stand-alone GMO labeling law. Maine and Connecticut have passed laws, but they are ineffective, as they require four or five additional (and in the case of Maine, contiguous) New England states to pass similar laws in order for theirs to take effect.
Polls show that more than 90 percent of America’s consumers want labels on GMO foods—yet Vermont lawmakers, and their Governor, are the only ones who have had the courage to take on Monsanto and Big Food, who followed through on their threats to sue the state.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Vermont Gov. Shumlin: Thank You for Standing up to Monsanto and Big Food! After you sign our letter to Gov. Shumlin, please post a "thank you" on his Facebook page.
 Read more

The Crisis: Regeneration or Degeneration?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-06-18 12:16
Environment & ClimateRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationJune 17, 2015 bean seedling

‘If governments won’t solve the climate, hunger, health, and democracy crises, then the people will.‘ - Dr.Vandana Shiva, speaking at the founding meeting of Regeneration International, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica, June 8, 2015

When literally billions of people, the 99 percent, are hungry or struggling to survive with justice and dignity; when the majority of the global body politic are threatened and assaulted by a toxic environment and food system; when hundreds of millions are overwhelmed with chronic health problems; battered by floods, droughts, and weather extremes; when endless wars and land grabs for water, land and strategic resources spiral out of control; When indentured politicians, corporations and the mass media conspire to stamp out the last vestiges of democracy in order to force a “Business-as-Usual” paradigm down our throats, it’s time for a change, Big Change.

It’s time to move beyond degenerate ethics, farming land use, energy policies, politics and economics. It’s time to move beyond “too little, too late” mitigation and sustainability strategies.

It’s time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators, before it’s too late.

Connecting the dots

Melting polar ice caps, dying oceans, global warming? The corporate take-over of governments, commerce and the world food supply? The loss of the world’s fertile, life-sustaining soil and biodiversity, along with the loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge?

Dis-empowed, exploited people, overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday survival, don’t have the luxury of connecting the dots between all the issues and focusing on the Big Picture. It’s the job of Regenerators to globalize the struggle, to globalize hope and connect the dots between issues, communities and constituencies. Our guiding principle must be that everyone, everywhere can potentially be energized and mobilized, i.e. regenerated, by a “Do-it-Yourself Movement” that “tells it like it is,” that moves beyond mere mitigation, and instead offers a global roadmap and a holistic menu of regenerative solutions to our most pressing food, farming, health, climate, political and economic problems.

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, is directly connected to the soil, biodiversity, and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems.  

Regenerative organic farming and land use can move us back into balance, back to a stable climate.

The regenerative bottom line for survival and well-being is that we must not only move away from oil, coal, gas and nuclear energy toward renewable sources of energy. We must also move several hundred billion tons of excess, climate- destabilizing carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil, where it belongs.

How do we do this?

Spreading the word

Although we don’t have the time or the space to go into great detail now, I, and others have begun to describe in detail how regenerative food, farming and land use practices, scaled up to the global level, can fix the climate and supercharge soil fertility and food nutrition over the next two decades.

In order to survive we must all become evangelists of Regeneration. We must explain the basic principles and practices of soil regeneration and natural carbon sequestration to everyone who will listen.

As Michael Pollan, North America’s most prominent food author, explains:

Consider what happens when the sun shines on a grass plant rooted in the earth. Using that light as a catalyst, the plant takes atmospheric CO2, splits off and releases the oxygen, and synthesizes liquid carbon–sugars, basically. Some of these sugars go to feed and build the aerial portions of the plant we can see, but a large percentage of this liquid carbon—somewhere between 20 and 40 percent—travels underground, leaking out of the roots and into the soil. The roots are feeding these sugars to the soil microbes—the bacteria and fungi that inhabit the rhizosphere—in exchange for which those microbes provide various services to the plant: defense, trace minerals, access to nutrients the roots can’t reach on their own. That liquid carbon has now entered the microbial ecosystem, becoming the bodies of bacteria and fungi that will in turn be eaten by other microbes in the soil food web. Now, what had been atmospheric carbon (a problem) has become soil carbon, a solution—and not just to a single problem, but to a great many problems.

Besides taking large amounts of carbon out of the air—tons of it per acre when grasslands are properly managed… that process at the same time adds to the land’s fertility and its capacity to hold water. Which means more and better food for us...

This process of returning atmospheric carbon to the soil works even better when ruminants are added to the mix. Every time a calf or lamb shears a blade of grass, that plant, seeking to rebalance its “root-shoot ratio,” sheds some of its roots. These are then eaten by the worms, nematodes, and microbes—digested by the soil, in effect, and so added to its bank of carbon. This is how soil is created: from the bottom up.

By all accounts, our planet is in deep trouble, and headed for worse. Sustaining a dying planet or mitigating catastrophic climate change is not an option. We must change the conversation about the climate crisis from “mitigation” to “reversing” global warming, by organically regenerating the soil, grasslands and forests. Even if the world moves to zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and “sustains” or stabilizes atmospheric CO2 at 480-500 ppm, we will still desperately need to remove 100 ppm or more of CO2 from the atmosphere in order to avert runaway global warming, mass starvation, and chaos.

A Movement is launched

In the first week of June, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and our global allies organized the founding meeting of Regeneration International, a global alliance designed to supercharge the global grassroots, the network of networks trying to feed the world and reverse climate change through regenerative organic food and farming.

The meeting took place in the spectacular rainforest area near the still-active Arenal Volcano on a tropical Biodynamic organic farm in Costa Rica, attended by scientists, activists, farmers, environmentalists and business leaders, representing non-profits, universities and corporations from 21 nations.

Sixty global leaders participated in an intensive three days of workshops, presentations and late-into-the-night conversations. We shared ideas, (organic) food, and the common belief that so far, our governments, healthcare systems and global non-profits are failing us when it comes to real solutions to climate change, hunger, health and economic security.

We shared a sense of urgency, and a spirit of hope.

Urgency because, behind the scenes, many climate-change ”experts”  admit that if we achieved zero carbon emissions tomorrow, we’d still go over the climate-disaster cliff. As evidence, one presenter quoted NOAA Senior Scientist, Susan Solomon:

The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.

A spirit of hope, because, as the farmers, activists and scientists among us confirmed, we actually do have the capacity to reverse climate change, and eliminate global poverty, hunger, health, economic injustice and environmental devastation.  The answer lies in the soil—in promoting organic, regenerative agriculture and land use that sequesters carbon, produces higher yields of more nutritious foods, and strengthens local economies.

Regeneration International—next steps

With a formal steering committee composed of Vandana Shiva (India writer and activist) Hans Herren (Millenium Institute), Andre Leu (IFOAM/Organics International), Steve Rye (Mercola.com), Ronnie Cummins (Organic Consumers Association), and Tom Newmark (The Carbon Underground), Regeneration International has embarked on a wide range of activities, including the global mapping of regenerative activists and campaigns, best practices, alternative and mass media contacts, a translations bureau, a global media and communications team, and a science peer review committee.

Activities over the next six months will include a mass March Against Monsanto protest and rally in Washington, D.C. on the day after World Food Day, October 17; participation in the alternative climate summit in Paris December 1-10; and the drawing up of national Regeneration Charters in every country following the Paris Summit.

We left the first Regeneration International conference energized, and ready to start regenerating.

We agreed on a plan to expand on the existing science around carbon sequestration through organic regenerative agriculture, and to reach out far and wide to the global scientific community, to connect scientists all over the world.

We agreed on a plan to mobilize farmers and activists globally, to advance regenerative organic farming and grazing practices and techniques, and to share best practices for adapting techniques to different climates and cultures.

We are developing a global media and communications plan, to counter the corporate-funded messages that focus almost exclusively on industrial, GMO agriculture as a solution to world hunger, and emissions reduction as the solution to global warming. Our plan will promote the science around the relationship between nutritionally sound food and health, and around carbon sequestration through organic, regenerative agriculture.

Plans are being developed, test projects are under way, commitments have been made, energy is high, and urgency is on all of our minds.

Because we are running out of time.

In his book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, David Montgomery writes that the history of dirt suggests that how people treat their soil can impose a life span on civilizations, that Rome didn’t so much as fall, but crumble:

A common lesson of the ancient empires of the Old and New Worlds is that even innovative adaptations cannot make up for a lack of fertile soil to sustain increased productivity. As long as people take care of their land, the land can sustain them.”

Ancient civilizations never came face-to-face with global warming. Today, global warming is in our face. And according to a growing number of scientists, we are running out of time.

Will we regenerate our soils, our food, our health, our economies, and our spirits? Or will we continue to degenerate, to stumble down the path toward destruction?

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the Regeneration International steering committee.

ACT NOW: States' Rights to Label GMOs in Danger!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-06-17 19:14
Organic Consumers AssociationJune 15, 2015 stopmonsanto.png URGENT CALL TO ACTION!

Congress will soon begin voting on the DARK Act (H.R. 1599), a bill that could bring the GMO labeling movement to a screeching halt.

If passed, the DARK Act will overturn Vermont's GMO labeling law and prevent other states from passing GMO labeling laws. The same will hold true for local GMO crop bans. H.R.1599 will also prevent food manufacturers from labeling their products GMO-free using independent certification, such as the certification offered by the Non-GMO Project—the only non-GMO label allowed will be a USDA-approved label under standards that have yet to be developed, and will likely be inferior to independently developed standards. 

The bill, which we’re now calling the Mother of All Monsanto Protection Acts, would also guarantee the FDA never conducts independent, pre-market safety testing on GMO foods.

How do we stop this outrageous piece of legislation? By letting every member of Congress, beginning with those who serve on key committees, know that we oppose it. We’ve prioritized U.S. Representatives who are members of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, or the Biotech Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. These subcommittees held hearings on the DARK Act on June 18 and June 25, respectively. The first vote on the DARK Act hasn’t been scheduled yet, but is expected to take place in one of these committees.

So far, with help from volunteers in key districts, we've met with 17 members of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and spoken or emailed with others. We've also been able to determine where some of the members of the Biotech Subcommittee stand on the bill. But we still have a long road ahead if we're going to reach out to all of the members of both subcommittees before the bill is voted on.

That's where you come in. Below, we've listed the names of committee members we've either already met with (no asterisk) or still need to meet with (asterisk in front of the name). We also indicate whether the committee member intends to vote YES or NO on H.R. 1599, or whether he or she is still UNDECIDED.

If your Representative is listed below, with an asterisk, and he or she is UNDECIDED or planning to vote YES on H.R. 1599, can you attend a meeting/rally at your Representative's district office? We can help organize the meeting, but we need constituents to attend. If you'd like to participate, please contact alexis@organicconsumers.org or call (218) 226-4164. If your Representative is planning to vote NO, please call or email him or her to say Thank you!

Time is running out to reach all of these key Representatives. Please review the list below and let us know if you can help. If you're not a resident in the district of one of these U.S. Representatives, we still need your help. All members of Congress need to hear from their constituents—you—that you want them to oppose H.R. 1599. Please call Congress at 202-224-3121 (Tips for calling). and ask for your Congress member's office. Then ask your member of Congress to vote NO on H.R. 1599.

Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee

*Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.): 202-225-6311
*Marcia Fudge (D- Ohio): 202-225-7032
*Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.): 202-225-5614
*Gwen Graham (D-Fla.): 202-225-5235

*Rodney Davis (R-Ill.): 202-225-2371
*Jeff Denham (R-Calif.): 202-225-4540
*John Moolenaar (R-Mich.):202-225-3561
*Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.): 202-225-5816
*Austin Scott (R-Ga.): 202-225-6531
*Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.): 202-225-5121
*Ted Yoho (R-Fla.): 202-225-5744

Ann Kuster (D-N.H.): 202-225-5206
Jim McGovern (D-Mass.): 202-225-5759

Health Subcommittee

*Joe Barton (R-Texas): 202-225-2002
Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.): 202-225-5755
*Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas): 202-225-7772
*Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.): 202-225-6131
Kathy Castor (D-Fla.): 202-225-3376
Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.): 202-225-2464
*Gene Greene (D-Texas): 202-225-1688
Morgan Griffith (R-Va.): 202-225-3861
Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-Mass.): 202-225-5931
Leonard Lance (R-N.J.): 202-225-5361
Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.): 202-225-6190
Tim Murphy (R-Pa.): 202-225-2301
Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.): 202-225-4671
*Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.): 202-225-2006
John Sarbanes (D-Md.): 202-225-4016

*Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.): 202-225-2811
*Susan Brooks (R-Ind.): 202-225-2276
*Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): 202-225-4636
*G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.): 202-225-3101
*Chris Collins (R-N.Y.): 202-225-5265
Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.): 202-225-4531
*Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.): 202-225-3501
Billy Long (R-Mo.): 202-225-6536
Joseph R. Pitts (R-Pa.): 202-225-2411
*Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.): 202-225-5711
John Shimkus (R-Ill.): 202-225-5271
*Fred Upton (R-Mich.): 202-225-3761
*Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.): 202-225-3115

Lois Capps (D-Calif.): 202-225-3601
Doris O. Matsui (D-Calif.): 202-225-7163
Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): 202-225-2111

Calendar: 2015 Stop the DARK Act Congressional Meetings and Rallies

So far we've held 17 meetings with members of key subcommittees. We're just now organizing the next round of meetings, and as we confirm them, we will list them here.

Friday, July 17
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.)
: 1 p.m., 1575 Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 180, Kalamazoo, Mich. To participate, contact alexis@organicconsumers.org

Want to help us organize a Congressional district office meeting and rally? Here's what you need to do to get started! (Or just email alexis@organicconsumers.org and/or call (218) 226-4164).

1. Contact one of the district offices for your U.S. Representative and ask for a meeting with their staff in the next few weeks. If you can't get a meeting, you can still hold a rally outside the district office and invite the media.

2. Email us at campaigns@organicconsumers.org to let us know about the meeting and we'll get the word out to our supporters in your district.

3. Print an 11x17 poster for your Congressperson and take it to the meeting or rally. Download 11x17 posters here. If you're Congressperson doesn't have a poster on this page, email us and we'll make one.

4. Contact us at 218-226-4164 if you need coaching on discussing the DARK Act, states' rights to label GMOs, and why we need mandatory, not voluntary, GMO labeling laws with your Representative's staff. DARK Act fact sheet here.

5. We'll also send out a media advisory out to local press about your meeting or rally to help generate media coverage.

Not sure? You can use these links to identify your member of Congress, and find out if he/she is on the House Agriculture or Energy & Commerce committees, where the next votes will take place.

Find your representative

Find out if your Congress member serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Find out if your Congress member serves on the House Committee of Agriculture

Find out of your Congress member is already a sponsor of the DARK Act (H.R. 1599)

Download a poster to bring to the rally




Tell Costco: Please Don’t Sell GMO Salmon, Ever!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-06-04 13:23
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Millions Against MonsantoArea: USA

Thanks to consumer pressure, more than 60 grocery retailers across the U.S., including the #1 and #2 grocers, Kroger and Safeway, have committed to either not selling GMO salmon, or to at least labeling it, if they do choose to sell it.

Conspicuously absent from that list? Costco.

The U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) could approve AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage GMO salmon any day now, despite the 1.8 million comments the agency has received from the public and from scientists who warn of the environmental and health risks posed by this “frankenfish.”

Once GMO salmon is approved, it will be sold in stores, with no label to distinguish it from non-GMO salmon.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Costco: Please don’t sell GMO salmon, ever!Read more

Tell Congress: No Fast-Tracked Trade Deals for Monsanto!

Organic consumers - Fri, 2015-05-29 14:46
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

Monsanto hates democracy. That’s why it loves the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), trade deals that have been negotiated mostly in secret, by corporations like Monsanto, and that are in danger of being passed without due democratic process.

What’s in the trade deals for Monsanto? Plenty—including a provision to override GMO labeling laws, here in the U.S., and in countries that have had these laws in place for years. So it’s no wonder Monsanto has joined with hundreds of other corporations, and sadly, President Obama, to push Congress to “fast-track” these corporation-friendly trade deals using something called “Trade Promotion Authority.”

Take Action! Call your Congress members today and ask them to reject the “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority Bill and its Monsanto Protection Provision!Read more

Chipotle Makes a Sound Business Decision

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-05-28 17:00
Genetic EngineeringRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationMay 27, 2015 Judy at Chipotle

Editor’s note: This article was written at the request of USA Today, which published it as an “opposing view” on May 17, 2015. USA Today took the same position as most of the rest of the corporate media, which is that by providing a product that consumers want, the restaurant chain is “pandering to ignorance.”

Since when does the mainstream media, in a country that worships at the altar of capitalism and the free market, launch a coordinated attack against a company for selling a product consumers want?

When that company dares to cross the powerful biotech industry. How else to explain the unprecedented negative coverage aimed at Chipotle’s, merely because the successful restaurant chain will eliminate GMO foods from its menu?

The biotech industry has a long history of discrediting scientists who challenge the safety of GMOs. That intimidation campaign worked well, until consumers themselves connected the dots between GMO foods (and the toxic chemicals used to grow them), and health concerns. Once consumers demanded labels on GMO foods, the biotech industry responded with a multi-million dollar PR campaign. Yet despite spending millions to influence the media, and millions more to prevent laws requiring labels on products the industry claims are safe, Monsanto has lost the hearts and minds of consumers. Latest polls show that 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

Chipotle has made a sound business decision. That decision has forced the biotech industry to stoop to a new low: vilifying businesses. Sadly, the mainstream media appears all too happy (manipulated?) to go along with the attack.

Only in the U.S. does the biotech industry wield such power. That power is arguably having a negative effect on the free market here. Take McDonalds. In the U.S., the fast-food chain is in trouble. Yet in the UK (and other countries), where McDonald’s is GMO-free, the chain is profitable.

In March, World Health Organization cancer researchers concluded that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is a “probable” carcinogen. In 1985, EPA scientists drew the same conclusion. According to hundreds of scientists worldwide, there is no consensus on the safety of GMO foods.

A growing number of consumers don’t want GMO foods. Chipotle is responding to that demand.

Biotech’s attack on Chipotle is an act of desperation. Mainstream media’s complicity is a failure of the institution of journalism.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association.  

Tell Congress: We Need Real Chemical Safety Standards. Oppose S.697!

Organic consumers - Fri, 2015-05-15 14:24
Belong to campaign: USDA WatchArea: USA

What do you get when you let the chemical industry write a “chemical safety” bill?
A bill that protects chemical companies, not consumers.

Almost 40 years after Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Americans are being exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals that have never been safety tested by the EPA. These chemicals, more than 80,000 of them, are in the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the homes we live in. 
It’s time for reform. But unfortunately, the bill before the U.S. Senate right now—S.697—falls far short of accomplishing real reform. 

That could have something to do with the fact that the chemical industry has spent $190 million lobbying for this bill. Democratic Sponsor Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) campaign received $49,050 from the Chemical industry in the 2014 cycle, plus $23,500 from lobbyists employed by the American Chemistry Council. Republican sponsor David Vitter’s (R-La.) campaign received $20,600 in the 2014 cycle, and $14,300 from American Chemistry Council lobbyists.
Tell Congress: We Need Real Chemical Safety Standards. Oppose S.697! Read more

USDA Develops Government Certification Program that Creates Burden for Producers of Non-GMO Foods

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-05-14 17:17
All About Organics, Genetic Engineering, Millions Against MonsantoMay 14, 2015 canned-food-shelves-labels_420x280.jpg


May 14, 2015

Contact: Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association, katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207.653.3090

USDA Develops Government Certification Program that Creates Burden for Producers of Non-GMO Foods

FINLAND, Minn—The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today responded to an Associated Press article reporting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a new government certification and labeling program for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients.

“This is yet another gift to the biotech industry,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s international director. “Instead of requiring the manufacturers of GMO foods to label their products, the USDA wants to penalize producers of non-GMO foods by making them pay for a label to prove their products are GMO-free. If we follow the biotech industry’s talking point that the cost of GMO labels would be passed on to consumers, are we now going to force consumers to pay more to avoid GMO food products—products whose safety has been called into question by hundreds of scientists and doctors? Instead of the other way around?”

Cummins continued, "We already have a good, third party independently verified non-GMO certification process in the USA, in place for over a decade. It's called 'USDA Organic' and it prohibits the use of GMOs. Furthermore, for foods in transition to USDA Organic, or foods that may have been inadvertently contaminated by GMOs, we have a lab verified and verifiable labels such as 'Non-GMO Project.'"

“Consumers, more than 90 percent of whom want mandatory GMO labeling laws, should be outraged that their tax dollars will be used to support a program that puts the burden of identifying non-GMO ingredients on food manufacturers whose products are GMO-free, while letting the manufacturers of GMO foods off the hook,” Cummins said.

From the AP:

The certification is the first of its kind and would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a "USDA Process Verified" label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.

The new program mirrors the one proposed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as part of HR 1599, the bill he is pushing on behalf of the Grocery Manufacturers Association which is intended to preempt states’ rights to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws.

“The industry’s so-far unsuccessful attempt to stop Vermont’s GMO labeling law, Act 120, from taking effect July 1, 2016, has the biotech industry-loving USDA in a panic,” said Cummins. “This unnecessary, and unfair program, will be used as a desperate ploy to convince lawmakers in those states with GMO labeling bills in play, that they do not need to pass these important consumer-protection laws.”

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.

Tell Congress: Support the AWARE Act to End Animal Cruelty at the USDA

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-05-07 15:47
Belong to campaign: USDA WatchCategory: Farm Issues, Politics & GlobalizationTags: animal crueltyArea: USA

A January 20, 2015 New York Times investigative report uncovered a disturbing pattern of systematic animal cruelty, spanning decades at, the Nebraska-based U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.
The center, funded with $200 million in taxpayer money, is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report prompted legislators from both parties in Congress to introduce H.R. 746 (S. 388), the AWARE Act, intended to expand protections for farm animals at federal research facilities. Animals involved in scientific research enjoy basic protections under the Animal Welfare Act, but farm animals in agriculture research are exempt. The AWARE Act would close that exemption.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Support the AWARE Act to End Animal Cruelty at the USDA

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