Legislation by Blackmail?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-11-19 15:44
Organic Consumers AssociationNovember 19, 2015 None of Your Business nutrition label

Dear Organic Consumer,

According to reports, Monsanto has convinced Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to push for a rider to the end-of-year appropriations bill. The rider would keep corporations from having to label GMOs.

We also learned today that the FDA has approved GMO salmon. Alaska is the only state that has a law in place to require labels on GMO salmon.

Sen. Stabenow's rider probably won't preempt labels on GMO salmon because it's an animal, not a plant. But the rider will make it impossible for states or the FDA to require labels on foods containing GMOs derived from plants.

We will do everything in our power to stop this rider, or any last-ditch effort to stomp out GMO labeling laws. If we fail, we will ramp up the largest Big Food Boycott in history.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto and Sen. Debbie Stabenow from blackmailing Congress into taking away your right to GMO labels on your food, and to help us prepare a massive Big Food Boycott. Donate online now, or donate by mail or phone. Details here.

Sources told PoliticoPro that Stabenow wants to preempt states from enacting their own GMO labeling laws, before Vermont's law takes effect in July. Under her plan, according to PoliticoPro, her bill would "sunset" after an unspecified period of time, unless corporations come up with a voluntary, not mandatory, labeling scheme.

How will Sen. Stabenow convince her fellow Senators to pass a law that is opposed by 90 percent of Americans?

By forcing Congress, and the President, to either support the legislationor risk shutting down the government.

It's blackmail, pure and simple. Brought to you by Monsanto, Big Food and the politicians who represent their interests, not yours.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto and Sen. Debbie Stabenow from blackmailing Congress into taking away your right to GMO labels on your food, and to help us prepare a massive Big Food Boycott. Donate online now, or donate by mail or phone. Details here.

Sen. Stabenow's GMO labeling "solution" will likely allow corporations to voluntarily slap a QR barcode on their products. Assuming you have a smart phone, experience using QR codes and plenty of time on your hands, you would scan the QR code. This would bring you to a company's slick website where, somewhere in fine print, might appear the words "contains GMOs."

It's an elitist, anti-consumer, anti-democratic, pro-corporate plan.

And by forcing Congress to choose between passing this law, or a government shutdown, it's blackmail.

Congress must pass a budget by December 11. That's how long we have to stop Monsanto and Sen. Stabenow.

Monsanto and Big Food have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to corrupt Congress and deceive the public. We will continue to fight this new blackmail attempt until midnight December 11.

After that? We will mobilize a boycott against every food corporation that refuses to tell us, in plain words, in plain view, if their products contain GMOs.

Please donate today to keep Monsanto and Sen. Debbie Stabenow from blackmailing Congress into taking away your right to GMO labels on your food, and to help us prepare a massive Big Food Boycott. Donate online now, or donate by mail or phone. Details here.

Thank you.


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

P.S. We have until December 11 to stop this blackmail attempt. Please make a generous donation today. Donations made to the the Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) are tax-deductible. Thank you!

Monsanto’s Roundup: The Whole Toxic Enchilada

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-11-19 09:45
November 19, 2015Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulGenetic Engineering, Millions Against Monsanto haz_mat_suit_hazardous_420x280.jpg

Last week, while we waited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to announce whether or not the agency will give Monsanto’s Roundup a free pass by green lighting the use of glyphosate for another 15 years, the EPA’s counterpart in the EU made its own big announcement.

Glyphosate is “unlikely to cause cancer” said the authors of the new report by the European Union Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

That headline, music to Monsanto’s ears, seemed to fly in the face of the findings published earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO). After extensive review of the evidence, all 17 of WHO’s leading cancer experts said glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen?”

Sustainable Pulse (SP), publisher of global news on GMOs and other food-related issues, quickly reported the glaring omission made by the majority of news sources reporting on EFSA’s findings. 

According to SP, what EFSA really concluded is this: Glyphosate by itself doesn’t cause cancer. But products like Monsanto’s Roundup, which contain glyphosate and other additives and chemicals that are essential to making the herbicide work? That’s another, or in this case, the rest of the story.

According to the EFSA report: 

It is likely, therefore, that the genotoxic effects observed in some glyphosate-based formulations are related to the other constituents or “co-formulants.”

Bingo. Take some glyphosate, mix it up with other chemicals, and you’ve got yourself a cancer-causing concoction. (Genotoxic means “damaging to DNA and thereby capable of causing mutations or cancer). Remove those additives (or adjuvants as scientists refer to them), and you’ve got yourself a weed killer that doesn’t work. From SP: 

Independent scientists have long warned that pesticides are authorized for use based on medium- or long-term tests on laboratory animals carried out with a single chemical ingredient, which is known as the active ingredient because it is assumed to be responsible for giving the pesticide its pest- or weedkilling action.

However, the complete pesticide formulations as sold and used also contain additives (adjuvants), which increase the pest- or weedkilling activity of the pesticide. These complete formulations do not have to be tested in medium- and long-term tests – even though they are the substances to which farmers and citizens are exposed.

That would explain the difference between EFSA’s conclusion, based on its assessment of glyphosate alone, and the WHO findings, based on studies of glyphosate in combination with the other additives .

EFSA’s statement, and strong warning to EU member states that they might want to take a closer look at the whole toxic enchilada before they draw their own conclusions about glyphosate and Roundup, was anything but music to Monsanto’s ears. Because EFSA’s findings could, and should, change the way agencies like the EPA and EFSA study the toxic effects of herbicides.

We checked in with André Leu, author of the “Myths of Safe Pesticides,” for his take on the EFSA report. 

“No surprise,” said Leu, who told us he’s devoting a whole chapter in his new book to how the pesticide industry has corrupted EFSA and the EPA. “I’ll reveal the background on how Monsanto's ‘Glyphosate Task Force' wrote the EFSA glyphosate reassessment report almost word for word to justify lifting the residue limits.”

According to Leu, both glyphosate alone, and formulations like Roundup, are genotoxic. He said research has shown that glyphosate “can cause genetic damage, developmental disruption, morbidity, and mortality even at what are currently considered normal levels of use.”

Leu cited a study published in 2004, which found that glyphosate-based herbicides caused cell-cycle dysregulation, which leads to cancers. Researchers involved in that study said: “Cell-cycle dysregulation is a hallmark of tumor cells and human cancers. Failure in the cell-cycle checkpoints leads to genomic instability and subsequent development of cancers from the initial affected cell.” The researchers behind the 20014 study tested several glyphosate-based pesticides and found that all of them caused cell-cycle dysregulation.

Leu also referred to the article “Differential Effects of Glyphosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase,” published in 2005  in Environmental Health Perspectives. The article revealed evidence that glyphosate damaged human placental cells within 18 hours of exposure, even at concentrations lower than those found in commercially available pesticides and herbicides. According to the scientists who conducted the study “this effect increases with concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants.”

And then there’s the study published in the journal Toxicology.  Scientists studied four different commercial glyphosate formulations and observed breaks in 50 percent of the DNA strands in human liver cells at doses as low as five parts per million. This damage affects the way DNA sends messages to several physiological systems, including the endocrine system. According to the study’s authors, Leu said, this is significant because the liver is the first detoxification organ and is sensitive to dietary pollutants.

“The good news is that this may be the beginning of testing pesticide formulations for chronic and non-contagious diseases,” Leu said. “Currently some pesticide formulations are tested for acute toxicity—the amount that will kill you in two weeks—but not for all the long-term diseases like cancer, endocrine, nervous, immune metabolic, birth defects, and on and on. Not one of the thousands of formulations that are used on our food are tested for these longer term diseases.”

We’ve heard from EFSA. Now it’s time to hear from the EPA, an agency known for not heeding the warnings of its own scientists, at least not when Monsanto’s profits hang in the balance.

Please ask the EPA to ban glyphosate and Monsanto’s Roundup. Once and for all.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association. 

Tell the EPA to Ban Dow’s Child-Poisoning Chlorpyrifos!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-11-18 20:40
Belong to campaign: Appetite for a ChangeCategory: Health IssuesArea: USA

You would think that even the smallest bit of evidence suggesting a pesticide causes birth defects, brain damage and mental disorders in children would be enough for our government to ban the use of that toxin on our food.

And yet, it’s taken nearly a decade—and a court ordered mandate—to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose banning Dow’s child-poisoning chlorpyrifos from our food system.

Chlorpyrifos, better known as Dursban and Lorsban, is a neurotoxic organophosphate. According to Beyond Pesticides, studies have documented that exposure to even low levels of organophosphates like chlorpyrifos during pregnancy can impair learning, change brain function, and alter thyroid levels of offspring into adulthood.

The evidence of the neurotoxic dangers associated with chlorpyrifos’ exposure is extensive and consistent. Yet the EPA currently allows low-level residues of chlorpyrifos on food, in spite of recent studies which suggest that low levels of chlorpyrifos and other endocrine disrupters may actually be more toxic than higher levels.Read more

Organic: The Future of Farming

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-11-11 15:53
November 11, 2015Organic Consumers AssociationMelinda SuelflowAll About Organics, Environment & Climate, Genetic Engineering FFA 2015

The theme at this year’s National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Convention and EXPO in Louisville, Ky., was #AmplifyFFA. Amidst the sea of flashy corporate displays complete with gimmicks, games and giveaways to attract young FFA students, I had to wonder what message, exactly, is FFA trying to amplify at the National Convention and EXPO?

At the convention, I spoke briefly with a Bayer CropScience employee, who assured me that I don’t need to worry about the impact of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides on our pollinator populations because Bayer has some “really intelligent people working on the problem.”

A young woman working for Monsanto let me know, in no uncertain terms, that the Biotech Giant’s “America’s Farmers” community outreach programs are building stronger rural communities.  Naturally she didn’t mention that you can only get one of Monsanto’s community grants if you grow at least 250 acres of Roundup Ready corn, soybeans or cotton; or 40 acres of field vegetables. Most of the organic farmers I know wouldn’t be eligible.

But the biggest underlying message at this year’s conference was actually a question. “How will we feed 9 billion people?” Bayer, Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and Food, Inc. were quick to offer their solution: GMO seeds, crop protection (pesticides), and other technological solutions. Not on their list?  Organic and regenerative farming methods—methods the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development say are the only way to not only feed the world, but also solve the global warming crisis.

FFA’s mission is to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education." Students are involved in local chapters, state associations, leadership roles, public speaking competitions, supervised agriculture experiences and more. Many FFA students don’t have a farming background and may be interested in a career in agriculture that doesn’t involve  farming.

After talking to the teachers and advisors we met in Louisville, it’s clear that the dominant method of agriculture presented to students in FFA is still the conventional model of pesticides, GMOs and factory farms. A quick glance at the list of convention and teacher and student workshop sponsors (Monsanto, Tyson Foods, Dupont Agriscience Institute, Merck Animal Health, etc.) confirms this.

So what was OCA doing in Louisville? We teamed up with the Greenhorns, for the second year in a row, to present a different perspective on farming and feeding the world, that of regenerative organic agriculture.

We were pleasantly surprised at the increased number of FFA advisors and teachers stopping by our booth for educational resources. And even more excited by the fact that our conversations with students and advisors were more upbeat and positive than last year. One seasoned FFA teacher even said that he sees an “awakening” starting to take place within FFA.  An increasing numbers of students and teachers are realizing the importance of organic and regenerative agricultural methods in creating a more sustainable food system.

One teacher was willing to recognize his own shortcomings in the classroom:  “I teach so biased,” he chuckled at himself, picking up a copy of our advisor’s packet with Jack Kitteredge’s “Soil Carbon Restoration: Can Biology do the Job?” article and OCA, Regeneration International and MOSES leaflets. “But I want the kids to be able to make their own decisions.”

It seems that at least some of the students are doing just that. When asked why they are interested in organic food and farming, students stopping by our booth had this to say:

“I’m organic because of the market, to make more money.” – FFA student and blueberry farmer with 30 acres of organic blueberries.

“Transgenic causes cancer and disease. When you eat organic you clean your body and there isn’t animal mistreatment.” – FFA student from Puerto Rico

“It’s good for the land, good for the planet.” – FFA student from Arizona who is moving to her family’s farm in Kentucky to farm organically.

“Tastes better, more nutritious and you’re not putting chemicals in your body.” FFA student from Ohio

“It’s healthier, more environmentally friendly and to me it’s more ethical.” – FFA student from Virginia

So what message won out at the end of the day? It’s hard to say, we were only a few voices in a sea of industrial agriculture advocates. But we’ll be back next year with the Greenshorns to make sure that the message of organic regenerative agriculture has a place at the FFA National Convention.

Melinda Suelflow is campaign coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association.

TAKE ACTION! Tell EPA’s Neil Anderson: Ban Monsanto’s Roundup Now!

Organic consumers - Mon, 2015-11-09 14:37
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoOrganic TransitionsCook Organic Not the PlanetSave The ButterfliesCategory: Environment & Climate, Food Safety, Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

What would you say to the scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who will decide whether glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, should continue to be used on crops?

This could be our last chance for another 15 years to get glyphosate off of the market and out of our food supply. The EPA’s Neil Anderson needs to hear from you today.

TAKE ACTION! Tell EPA’s Neil Anderson: Ban Monsanto’s Roundup Now!Read more

DEADLINE November 13, 5 p.m. EST: Tell Obama You Want Safety Testing, Tighter Regulations and Labels on GMOs

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-11-05 16:46
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

If you’re not clear about how genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are regulated in this country, it’s no wonder.
Not one, but three government agencies—the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—are charged with oversight of GMOs.  Each agency has developed its own regulations and guidance documents to fit within a complex web of laws.
Consumers and scientists have been asking for better oversight, stronger laws and rigorous testing of GMOs for years. In response, President Obama, in July (2015), called for a review—the first since 1992—of the “coordinated framework” for the regulation of biotechnology. 
This is our chance to let the White House know what kind of GMO regulations we'd like to see, including: pre-market safety testing; mandatory labels on all GMOs, protection for non-GMO crops from contamination caused by neighboring GMO crops, and a moratorium on all herbicide-tolerant and pesticide-producing GMO crops.

DEADLINE November 13, 5 p.m. EST: Tell Obama You Want Safety Testing, Tighter Regulations and Labels on GMOs  Read more

We Don’t Need Ketchum in our Mustard

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-11-03 17:10
November 3, 2015vandanashiva.comDr. Vandana ShivaGenetic Engineering, Politics & Globalization vandana420x280

Around the time The New Yorker published a personal attack on me, in 2014 (my response – Seeds of Truth), there was also an effort to quickly approve field trials of 12 GMO crops, illegally. Currently, as Monsanto’s push in India, through corruption and lobbying, to get approval for Genetically Modified Mustard becomes stronger, Monsanto’s ‘typewriters for hire’ are preparing another attack on me to distract from the science and international laws, in a bid to rush the approval of Terminator GM Mustard, illegally.


I had to look up Kavin Senapathy when I got this email from her.

She is obviously a bright girl, in her thirties, full of promise. A college graduate from the University of Wisconsin and resident of Madison, Kavin studied Business and Marketing. But lists herself as a “science defender” and “science popularizer”- whatever that means?!

Kavin has an account at academia.edu, where she publishes her work, in her area of study.


Her undergraduate education, in Business and Marketing helps/ed her as a gifted Business Development Manager at Genome International Corporation (GIC),a bioinformatics corporation that provides IT solutions for genome mapping and has various patents, which I’m certain, are licensed by/to/from/with Monsanto – the company Kavin will defend in her forthcoming blog post.


Either she still works for GIC, or is so gifted at her Business Development work, that she has found a richer, new employer  – Monsanto. To help with their Business Development, i.e. propaganda or “pro-GMO writer”.

In a blog post attacking Vani Hari (on Biology Fortified, a small biotech propaganda outlet), she states:

I’m a mother and science writer, and I’ve been critical of Hari’s work over the last several months. I am not a scientist by the traditional definition. I don’t have a PhD., nor have I authored peer-reviewed research publications. Still, I have a unique perspective afforded by the intersection of a sound working knowledge of genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics. I’ve garnered this knowledge being raised by a molecular biologist, working for a small private-sector genomics R&D company, and via coursework and extensive reading on the subject.

Kavin must have an awful lot of energy – dedicating her life to attacking outspoken critics of GMOs like Vani, while getting all that reading done on “genomics, genetics and bioinformatics” as the science itself evolves.

Note the lack of subjects like Biosafety in her bibliography.

Following her attacks on Vani Hari (aka Food Babe), Kavin was invited, by NPR, to discuss the “scientific backlash against Food Babe”. Kavin’s criticism of the Food Babe —  criticism from a self-described science-illiterate — were being discussed as “scientific backlash”, with Kavin herself. NPR was forced to invite a non-scientist, known GMO shill, as a scientific expert to discuss science?! This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.

Yielding what looks like a katana, which she’s named “Science”, Kavin herself feels no need to be a scientist. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, and claiming the word “science” for “business development”, without the need to understand underlying scientific realities, all the while crushing real science with Monsanto muscle (e.g. Eric Serrallini, whose research was retracted by Monsanto by replacing the editor of the journal), is not a mission unique to her.

Blissfully ignorant of the interconnected nature of the universe, not having science on their side, nor science education, Kavin and other SCIENCE-writers-for-hire, mostly Bachelor Degree holders (e.g. Mark Lynas – Bachelor’s Degree in History and Politics) – rely on the word “science” instead.

They get paid to reinforce each other’s delusions, and propaganda, peddling failed technologies to the most marginal farmers in the world – for corporate profit. Directly contributing, in no minor part, to the deaths of farmers, and people in general, worldwide. Science Denialists.

A quick Google search for “Kavin Senapathy” will spit back groundedparents.com, skepchick.com (basically the content from groundedparents.com, with another skin), geneticliteracyproject.org, GMOanswers.com, biofortified.org, chowbabearmy.com and science20.com. Catchy name – Science 2.0. Science 2.0 seems to rely on a non-science, marketing major for their Science insights. Kavin’s proGMO writing gets echoed by the websites mentioned and Kavin references them, in return, to amplify the propaganda on behalf of Monsanto.

Kavin’s other attack was on Dr Oz, for saying pesticides are bad for us. Pesticides are terrible for us and the entire ecosystem! Her piece was repeatedly linked and spread across social media by a few hundred accounts. These are the same accounts and websites that support the forced experimental vaccination of women in India and Africa in the name of “science” and the ones denying the very clear causation between Glyphosate and Autism. These are the #hashtag defenders of science, the word.

The link from Kavin’s LinkedIn Resume, to that attack on Dr Oz, seems to have been removed. Probably because of the holes in her argument.

She attacked him:

“With dramatic music in the background, Dr. Oz gave an over-simplified explanation of GMOs as being created only for pesticide-resistant traits. He lamented that because of superweeds evolving to resist regular glyphosate (the pesticide commonly known as Roundup), new pesticides are required.”

The only traits in GMOs are Bt, and Ht – herbicide (RoundUp, a known carcinogen) tolerant traits. All the R&D dollars spent by Monsanto have only yielded 2 failed technologies. Not including the biopiracy based, broad, climate resilience patents they have acquired by stealing farmers’ varieties, probably using GIC technology for their mapping needs.

She continues her post with a jab at Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America:

“Unfeasibly, she claimed that within six weeks of going “completely GMO-free and organic, his autism symptoms were gone and the level of glyphosate was no longer detectable.””

Whether it was feasible to Kavin or not it is Zen’s undeniable reality.

GMO and Vaccine propagandists, like Kavin, are blind to reality. Especially the reality of others, including the others who suffer at the hands of Monsanto, or in the case of tribal women who died from forced experimental vaccinations, the Gates Foundation.

Though removed from the original website, this post can still be found on the website of The Genetic Literacy Project, another small biotech propaganda outlet, run by Jon Entine (Who had access to my confidential email from David Remnick (Editor, The New Yorker) as soon as I had received it). He missed the copy of my Masters Degree (in Physics) that I sent to David Remnick as well. For some reason, an old woman’s Physics degrees, are an irritant to Monsanto. The education section of my Wikipedia page is monitored, and any corrections made are undone almost instantaneously. This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.

Jon Entine, “a corporate propagandist and pseudo-journalist who utilizes his media savvy to promote the opinions and positions of chemical corporations”. Armed only with Bachelor degrees, they have the unique privilege of pretending to be scientists. Monsanto and friends contribute generously to providing these science-denialists a stage for their performances. Whether it is a Conde Nast publication – with established ties to Monsanto – or the websites I’ve mentioned – run by marketing professionals posing as scientists – they are attempting to destroy any space for scientific discourse around the safety of GMOs, Climate damage caused by industrial Agriculture, or Glyphosate’s effects on our health, soil and water. This is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.

If Kevin Folta, Jon Entine, Kavin Senapathy, Mark Lynas (who doesn’t seem to exist prior to 2007)  were, in fact, “science for hire”, it would be a step up. This is more like tele-marketers moonlighting as scientists.

A recent NY Times article exposed the GMO lobby having “published dozens of articles, under the names of prominent academics, that in some cases were drafted by industry consultants.” The NY Times article is slowly creeping it’s way down in the Google search results. The ability to drown the NY Times, is Monsanto’s PR muscle at work.

The one exception amongst the #hashtag defenders of “science” is Dr Kevin Folta. He’s educated in science (PhD Molecular Biology) but tries to pass off Biotech Advertising as “science”.

Kevin is a more dangerous breed of pseudo-scientist than Kavin. He has stooped to lows only imaginable to a mind with no conscience. Kevin Folta, while at the University of Florida – to which Monsanto donates generously – also contributed to another little propaganda website called GMOanswers – where he published industry generated propaganda, as science, under his name. He also runs Talking Biotech podcasts, described by himself as “Evidence-Based Discussion with Dr Kevin Folta”. In his podcast Kevin interviews himself pretending to be other scientists, using voice modulation filters (without informing his listeners, who are expecting a real scientist talking to Kevin). The use of the word “science”, ignoring scientific evidence, and claiming to be “Evidence-based”, while playing radio-show with himself, does not make Folta a reliable source for information of any kind, especially scientific information.

Luckily for Kevin, when he was found out for having fake evidence-based discussions with himself, Kavin’s Skepchick friends were ready to spin Kevin Folta’s podcast misadventure as blazing new trails in “Sci Comm Satire”.

At a time where climate change threatens global food production, and industrial agriculture is threatening our very survival, Kavin, and her Sci Comm Satirists, are selling Industrial Agriculture and a globalised food system – a Climate Change culprit, directly responsible for 50% of the Climate Crisis – as a false solution, cleverly branded “Climate Smart Agriculture”.

Abusing and destroying science, journalism and democracy, to sell more chemicals or patented terminator seed, will starve the world and poison every last one of us fortunate enough to get some food. This may well be what Kevin Folta, Kavin Senapathy, Jon Entine, Mark Lynas, CS Prakash and the other supporters of Big Chem and Big Biotech want, unless it’s all part of their “Sci Comm Satire”.

You can’t expect to slap “science” onto the blade of a katana and become the defender of science, or even begin to understand science.

If Kavin and her propagandist echo chambers really want to know how Monsanto is carrying out a genocide, while distracting people with their “Scientists” – like Business Development Manager, Kavin Senapathy herself – they would speak to more people than Kavin’s clones in India. If they had the guts, they would go meet the widows Monsanto has left behind in Vidarbha since 1999. If they had the guts, they would sit with the farmers in Punjab who have lost their entire cotton crop because of failed technologies, and have blocked trains in protest of the failure of BollGuard II (Monsanto’s Bt-Cotton, Version 2.0 – still failing!). Non-scientists like Kavin are peddling these failures and carcinogenic poisons, in the name of science.

Thousands are being born with birth defects caused by Glyphosate. 300,000 farmers have lost their lives because of Monsanto’s seed monopoly, illegal royalties and crop failure’s. Millions are being displaced because Monsanto’s chemicals have destroyed their land. The handful of people (some of them mentioned here) that echo each other’s scientific illiteracy, are blind to these realities.

Even Stephane Le Foll, Agriculture Minister of France – one of the powerhouses of agriculture – has said that Ecological Agriculture is the future in the face of Climate Change and the threat of extinction. Industrial Agriculture has already done too much damage. Sci Comm Satirists are phrasing ‘Organic vs GMO’ as the only debate. There is no talk of Biosafety violations, the damage to ecosystems already caused by GMOs, and the climate damage done by agrochemical giants like Monsanto.

GMOs themselves, along with legislation like the Dark Act in the US, directly threaten ecological organic farming, and the availability of organic food. GMOs through contamination, and the legislation, by making farmers’ varieties of seeds illegal. Organic farming, on the other hand, does not threaten GMO farms in any way. But who would choose GMOs in their food if allowed to choose? Organic threatens the core of GMOs – profit based on exclusion, royalties.

There is a violent contest between real knowledge and propaganda, real food and the toxic commodities of industrial agriculture. Commodities being served up with a side of propaganda from a dispenser. Propaganda and this fake food rely on distancing – the producer from the consumer, the knowledge from the farmer – and distancing us from the ability to tell real food from the fake.

The Global Movement for Food Democracy is real. People are taking back control over their food, their agriculture and their knowledge, globally. Fake knowledge leads to failed technology. BollGuard failed, so a more potent BollGuard II was sold. BollGuard II is failing year after year. The Pink Bollworm, which BollGuard is supposed to control, is now resistant to the Bt in BollGuard and BollGuard II. Monsanto needs to release new products, hence the push for GMO Mustard, using public institutions of India as a mask. The house of Monsanto is crumbling with failure, losing $156 million in the final quarter of last year alone. Hence, the desperation. Hence, another attack on my work. Work that has shown the failures of the Green Revolution and it’s relation to the currently sky high prices of legumes in India. Work that has shown that neoliberal policies allowed Monsanto to carry out a genocide that continues. Work that has shown Ecological Organic Agriculture to be the one common solution to the climate crisis, the malnutrition crisis and the health crisis.

Kavin will be talking to her clones in India, who will echo Kavin, repeating once more, the same two things:

1)Green Revolution helped India produce more food.

False. Green Revolution helped India produce marginally more wheat and rice, grabbing land that would be used to grow multiple other crops – in effect, lowering India’s output of food.

2) Bt Cotton has not contributed to Farmer Suicides.

False again. Bt Cotton was released in India illegally. Monsanto charges illegal royalties for a fake patent as “technology fees”.  BollGuard failed at controlling bollworm, leaving farmers with failed crops and debts for chemical inputs. Farmers committed suicide. Monsanto sold BollGuard II at higher cost claiming higher royalties, pushing farmers further into debt. In Punjab, farmers are blocking trains, in protest of the failure of their Bt Cotton crop. The Navdanya team was there, on the ground.

It’s heartening to see Kavin endure in the male-dominated world of Biotech Shills, but it saddens me to think that a woman is unable to see the destruction we are causing to the world our children will inherit. I hope, for the sake of Kavin’s child/ren (if any) that the future of food we pick, as humanity, is nourishing, sustainable, equitable, climate mitigating and diverse – a future of food based on Agroecology.

Assigned reading for Kavin:

Response to Kavin’s email  (Violence of the Green Revolution will be a good starting point)

Bt-Cotton and Farmer Suicides

Monsanto’s Bt Cotton Directly Linked to Indian Farmer Suicides in Rain-Fed Areas, Scientific Study


10 Years of Bt Cotton: False Hype and Failed Promises – PDF

Punjab whitefly epidemic: We need a new agriculture policy

Which Future of Food and Farming?



Tell the USDA: GMO Labels, Please. No Barcodes

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-10-29 14:43
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Millions Against MonsantoArea: USA

We first wrote about USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s Big Idea for GMO labeling back in February. The idea is this: allow companies, voluntarily, to use QR barcodes to tell consumers if their products contain GMOs. The scheme would require you to scan the product, then be directed to the company’s website where you’d have wade through the advertising  and search the fine print.
Of course, you’d have to have a smart phone. And plenty of time on your hands.
We didn’t like the plan then. We don’t like it now. And we’re not keen that Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, may step up to co-sponsor a bill in Congress that would substitute a voluntary QR code scheme for a mandatory GMO labeling law.
It could happen. And it may even have support from JustLabelIt and the Center for Science in the Public Interest—groups we thought were on our side.

TAKE ACTION: Demand Mandatory Labeling of GMOs--Not Voluntary Labeling or QR Codes!
 Read more

Demand Mandatory Labeling of GMOs--Not Voluntary Labeling or QR Codes!

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-10-29 13:11
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Millions Against Monsanto, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

We first wrote about USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s Big Idea for GMO labeling back in February. The idea is this: allow companies, voluntarily, to use QR barcodes to tell consumers if their products contain GMOs. The scheme would require you to scan the product, then be directed to the company’s website where you’d have wade through the advertising  and search the fine print.
Of course, you’d have to have a smart phone. And plenty of time on your hands.
We didn’t like the plan then. We don’t like it now. And we’re not keen that Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, may step up to co-sponsor a bill in Congress that would substitute a voluntary QR code scheme for a mandatory GMO labeling law.
It could happen. And it may even have support from JustLabelIt and the Center for Science in the Public Interest—groups we thought were on our side.

TAKE ACTION: Demand Mandatory Labeling of GMOs--Not Voluntary Labeling or QR Codes!Read more

‘QR’ Barcodes: The Latest Plot to Keep You in the Dark about GMOs

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-10-28 21:52
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationRonnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationOctober 27, 2015 qr_code_cell_phone_reader_250x250.png

“The [Oct. 21, 2015] Senate Agriculture hearing reaffirmed the broad consensus among scientists and regulators that GMOs are safe . . . We were pleased to hear Senator Stabenow’s [D-Mich.] personal commitment to work to develop a bipartisan bill that can pass the Senate by the end of this year…”. - Pamela Bailey, Grocery Manufacturers Association, in an October 21, 2015 press release 

In the ever-complicated debate over labeling of genetically modified foods, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack offers this idea: Use your smartphone. Vilsack told members of Congress on Wednesday that consumers could just use their phones to scan special barcodes or other symbols on food packages in the grocery store. All sorts of information could pop up, such as whether the food's ingredients include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. "Industry could solve that issue in a heartbeat," Vilsack said during a House hearing on agriculture spending. - Associated Press, February 27, 2015.

“Gary Hirshberg, chairman of pro-labeling group Just Label It, told lawmakers during the [Oct. 21, 2015 Senate] hearing that his group is open to any national solution that requires disclosure of GMOs in foods, noting that "certainly the focus has been on labels, but there has been a lot of talk of technology" in helping to inform consumers. Hirshberg told reporters after the hearing that a final solution will likely be a mix of labeling and an online disclosure system, though he added that "in our view, however, two words in the ingredient label is a lot easier" than getting into smartphones -- and consumers don't use QR codes. While it was hedged support, Hirshberg's comments go further than many other labeling advocates, who have long dismissed the idea that has been championed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and who have said that smart labels are a non-starter.” PoliticoPro, October 22, 2015

Monsanto and its collaborators in the food and chemical industry, academia and Congress are feeling the heat. Their 20-year propaganda campaign of lies, deception and bribery—designed to ram down our throats a growing menu of foods contaminated with GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and pesticides, is failing. The controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops, and the toxic Roundup, atrazine, metolachlor, glufosinate, 2,4D, neonicotinoids (bee-killing) and other poisons that are sprayed or spliced into these foods and crops has developed into a full-blown Food Fight that has begun to affect the bottom lines of Monsanto and Big Food corporations.

The World Health Organization recently classified Monsanto’s glyphosate (Roundup), the top-selling herbicide in the world, as a probable carcinogen. For decades, Monsanto has falsely claimed that its widely used Roundup weed killer is “safe.” Indentured scientists, journalists and politicians have dutifully regurgitated this corporate propaganda. Dissenting scientists, journalists and activists have been attacked. And even though in 1985, the EPA said glyphosate causes cancer, the agency later reversed its decision. Since then, every government agency charged with serving the public has instead served Monsanto. 

Roundup, composed of the “active ingredient” glyphosate and a toxic brew of so-called “inert ingredients,” is currently lurking nearly everywhere—on most food (except organic food), in municipal drinking water, rainfall, human urine, even in the breast milk of nursing mothers. USDA bureaucrats have admitted that they don’t test foods for glyphosate residues because it’s “too expensive.” As Andre Leu points out in his new book, “The Myth of Safe Pesticides,” pesticide residues in food, such as Roundup, pose a danger to all of us, and are especially dangerous to pregnant women and children since: (1) even the tiniest doses can be hormone disruptors; (2) no tests are done on the actual formulations including the so-called inert ingredients that can make the pesticides a hundred times or more toxic; (3) no testing is done on the toxic synergy of several pesticides and chemicals, even though most non-organic, GMO foods contain multiple pesticide/chemical residues. 

Meanwhile Roundup is routinely sprayed, in ever-increasing amounts, on approximately 90 percent of all GMO crops in the world, as well as more than a hundred non-GMO (non-organic) crops, including wheat, barley, oats, flax, peas, lentils, beans and sugar cane. In the U.S., Roundup is sprayed not only on 150 millions of acres of GMO farm crops, including corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, and cotton; and millions of acres of other crops as a pre-harvest desiccant or drying agent; but also on public parks, school playgrounds, sports fields, golf courses, lawns, and gardens. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 280 million pounds of Roundup were used in 2012, nearly a pound for every American. 

Roundup has become the DDT of the 21st century, highlighting the alarming fact that the biotech industry’s supposedly safe and sustainable genetically engineered seeds and crops are actually nothing more than Pesticide Delivery Systems (PDS), designed to increase the sales of high-priced, patented GMO seeds and the proprietary pesticides that go along with them. Among the deadly diseases linked to Roundup are: cancers of the lung, liver, thymus, stomach, bladder adrenal glands, ovaries, colon, uterus, parathyroid and mammary glands.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies reinforce what consumers have known or suspected all along: GMOs and their companion pesticides and chemicals are deadly, not only for humans, but also for animals, the environment and the climate. 

The growing crisis for Monsanto and the Gene Giants (Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, and BASF) is that consumers, especially women and parents of young children, are not just complaining about transgenic foods, but are actively rejecting GMOs. More than 10 percent of all U.S. consumer purchases in grocery stores are products that are labeled as “organic” or “non-GMO,” while restaurant chains such as Chipotle’s and Panera are beginning to take GMOs off their menus. 

This poses a major threat to the bottom line of the nation’s junk food/processed food companies (Coke, Nestle, Unilever, Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, et al), given that 80 percent of all (non-organic) supermarket (and restaurant) foods now contain GMOs. If GMO labels become mandatory, as they are in Europe, big food companies and restaurant chains will have little choice but to remove GMOs from their products. Even worse, if consumers begin to thoroughly understand that pesticides, dangerous drug residues, and factory farms are part of the same toxic package as GMOs, Big Food will literally have to go organic or else go bankrupt.

But of course Big Food’s preferred plan is to keep consumers in the dark about the pesticides, GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, and synthetic chemicals in their products. As a Monsanto executive admitted 20 years ago, “putting labels on genetically engineered foods would be like putting a skull and crossbones on them.” 

Thirty-eight countries, including most of the European Union, have now banned GMO crops, while 64 nations require mandatory labeling.  Does anyone in their right mind seriously believe that these nations are banning or labeling GMOs just for the hell of it? Even in the U.S, the heartland of genetically engineered food and crops, grassroots pressure has brought about the passage of a number of laws either banning GMO crops (nine counties) or else labeling them (Vermont’s Act 120 goes into effect July 1, 2016. Maine and Connecticut also have passed mandatory labeling laws, but they can’t take effect until a total of five New England states also require mandatory labeling).

Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to convince consumers that GMOs foods are safe, a 2015 Pew Research poll found that the majority of Americans (including 65 percent of women) still believe that GMO foods are unsafe, and that that establishment scientists are wrong in claiming that GMOs are safe. Other polls have consistently shown that the “number one” food safety concern of consumers is pesticide contamination.

Congress to Consumers: Shut Up and Eat Your Frankenfoods

Despite the growing national and international consensus on GMOs, not one single member of the U.S. Congress, in several well-publicized hearings in the House and Senate this year, has had the intelligence or the courage to say that GMO-tainted foods and the pesticides that go along with them are toxic or unsafe. Perhaps even worse, the few token spokespersons from public interest groups—Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Working Group and Just Label It—despite portraying themselves as the “loyal opposition,” and despite being trotted out to testify in Congressional hearings, have either repeated Monsanto’s lies of “no-scientific evidence of GMO harm” or claimed disingenuously “we don’t know.”

With the mandatory implementation of Vermont’s GMO labeling law fast approaching, and the failure of industry’s lawsuit in federal court to stop the Vermont law from going into effect, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) are growing desperate. Although they successfully introduced and passed H.R. 1599, aptly dubbed the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know), on July 23, abolishing the rights of consumers and states to require GMO labeling, Monsanto’s Minions are now worried that they won’t be able to pass a law in the Senate and get Obama to sign it in time to head off implementation of the GMO labeling law in Vermont. 

A number of Monsanto’s cheerleaders are also worried that a high-profile public vote and debate in the Senate, with a possible filibuster by Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont, will cause a major consumer backlash and a widespread boycott of GMA “Traitor Brands.” As Fortune magazine warned in a recent issue, the DARK Act lobby may indeed succeed in ramming through a highly unpopular bill in Congress abolishing Vermont and other states’ rights to label GMOs, but it could turn into a classic case of “winning the battle but losing the war.” 

The DARK Act by Other Means

In response to their difficulties in passing the DARK Act, Monsanto’s lobbyists, the GMA, and their faithful servants in Congress are preparing several contingency plans: (1) attach a secret rider to a Congressional Appropriations bill that will make the DARK Act the law of the land without U.S. Senators having to take a public stand (this is Monsanto, GMA and the Republican Party’s first choice); or  (2) come up with a grand compromise supported by Senator Debbie Stabenow and the Democrats, seconded perhaps by the “loyal opposition” in the organic and non-GMO industry, for “QR” barcodes on packages and supermarket shelves that supposedly will satisfy consumers’ right to know whether foods are genetically engineered or not.

QR codes are special barcodes that a smart phone or a grocery store scanner can read on a package or a display shelf that can then direct you to a company’s promotional web site, where no doubt after telling you how great they are, they might tell you somewhere in small print that yes Coca–Cola uses genetically engineered high fructose corn syrup in its drinks, or yes, Pepsi-Frito Lay corn chips have GMO corn in them.

As USDA Secretary Vilsack points out, QR bar codes could “solve the issue” of GMO food labels “in a heartbeat.” The “issue” of course that big food companies have is this: If they tell you clearly with a mandatory label on the package that their processed junk foods and beverages contain GMOs, a critical mass of consumers will boycott them.  

QR barcodes could also “solve the issue” faced by Congress—namely that 90 percent of Americans, including their constituents, whether Democrat or Republican, Green, or Independent, want GMOs labeled. So what’s their compromise solution? Stabenow and others are apparently willing to pretend that a voluntary QR barcode scheme is just about the same as mandatory labels, and at the same time make sure that their QR bill preempts or nullifies the Vermont GMO labeling bill.

But as OCA said months ago: Solve the issue for whom? Tot-Toting Moms with busy schedules who would need to take the added step of scanning every item in the grocery store, instead of just glancing at the label? Older people who struggle, as it is to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies?

Or how about those people who can’t afford—or don’t want to own—expensive smartphones? (Vilsack suggested retailers could provide a scanner for consumers who don’t have smartphones—again, not exactly convenient for busy shoppers, or older people who already feel overwhelmed by the latest techno gadgets).

This isn’t the first time Vilsack has pushed his barcode scheme. Earlier this year, Vilsack’s comments in Europe on how “barcodes” might be a trade-friendly alternative to the European Union’s mandatory labeling of GMOs helped inspire 50,000 protestors to take to the streets in Berlin on January 19, chanting, “We are fed up.”

Just like our fellow Europeans, we’re fed up. Fed up with GMO and pesticide- tainted food. Fed up with factory farms, a polluted environment and a disrupted climate. Fed up with Congressmen and women who kiss up to Monsanto, corporate agribusiness and the GMA, instead of listening to the real concerns of their constituents. And fed up with the “loyal opposition” who pretend to be part of our nationwide food movement, but then waffle or repeat Monsanto’s lies when asked whether GMO foods and the pesticides that go along with them are dangerous.

If Washington and the White House dare to spit in the face of consumers, and stomp on states’ rights by passing the DARK Act, or go along with a secret Monsanto Rider to a appropriation bill, or pass a so-called compromise that stiffs us with QR barcodes instead of real labeling, look out. Even the Big Business-friendly Fortune magazine says Monsanto and Big Food are playing with fire. They may be able to win this battle in Congress, but they’re going to lose the war. 

Tell Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and your Senators: Consumers want mandatory labeling of GMOs, not barcodes!

From ‘Sustainable’ to ‘Regenerative’—The Future of Food

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-10-28 15:30
Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringAndré Leu and Ronnie CumminsOrganic Consumers AssociationOctober 26, 2015 Soil 420x280

This week (October 26, 2015), the paywalled site PoliticoPro reported that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture wants “farmers and agricultural interests to come up with a single definition of sustainability in order to avoid confusing the public with various meanings of the term in food and production methods.”

We agree with Secretary Tom Vilsack that the word “sustainability” is meaningless to consumers and the public. It’s overused, misused and it has been shamelessly co-opted by corporations for the purpose of greenwashing.

But rather than come up with one definition for the word “sustainable” as it refers to food and food production methods, we suggest doing away with the word entirely. In its place, as a way of helping food consumers make conscious, informed decisions, we suggest dividing global food and farming into two categories: regenerative and degenerative.

In this new paradigm, consumers could choose food produced by degenerative, toxic chemical-intensive, monoculture-based industrial agriculture systems that destabilize the climate, and degrade soil, water, biodiversity, health and local economies. Or they could choose food produced using organic regenerative practices based on sound ecological principles that rejuvenate the soil, grasslands and forests; replenish water; promote food sovereignty; and restore public health and prosperity—all while cooling the planet by drawing down billions of tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil where it belongs.

‘Sustainable’—Is that All We Want?
The dictionary defines “sustainable” as: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources; able to last or continue for a long time

In other words, sustainability is about maintaining systems without degrading them. And it is about keeping things much the same without progressing.

Industrial agriculture today, with its factory farms, waste lagoons, antibiotics and growth hormones, GMOs, toxic pesticides and prolific use of synthetic fertilizers, doesn’t come close to “not using up or destroying natural resources.”  And even if it did, is that all we want, or need, to achieve?

Or do we want to grow our food in ways that restore climate stability and regenerate—soil, health, economies—rather than merely maintain the status quo?

Greenwashing and the Labeling Game

Corporations love to brand themselves, and label their products, as “sustainable.” The hope is that consumers will view “sustainable” products as superior to mere “conventional” products, or better yet, equate the word “sustainable” with “organic.”

But when a widely discredited and despised company like Monsanto co-opts the word “sustainable,” the word loses all meaning for consumers. On its website, Monsanto says:

Our vision for sustainable agriculture strives to meet the needs of a growing population, to protect and preserve this planet we all call home, and to help improve lives everywhere. In 2008 Monsanto made a commitment to sustainable agriculture – pledging to produce more, conserve more, and improve farmers’ lives by 2030.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready, chemical-intensive GMO crops now dominate agriculture, on a global scale, poisoning soil, water, air, farm workers and consumers. The words on their website fool no one—the agriculture they promote is anything but “sustainable.”

It is the same with the certified “sustainability” labels promoted by corporations such as Cargill, Heinz Benelux, Mars, Nestlé, Unilever and Cadbury. These labeling schemes, such as Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Agriculture Network, and UTZ can be congratulated for promoting the planting of trees on farms, for improving the farm environment and for requiring compliance with minimum labor standards. But they do nothing to curtail the use of soil-destroying, climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers and the thousands of toxic pesticides that are known to cause both environmental and health damage.

A “sustainability” label may mean the production methods behind a product inflicted somewhat less damage on the environment. But it doesn’t mean the product will cause less damage to human health. Numerous published scientific studies link exposure to the smallest amounts of these “approved” pesticides to cancers, birth defects, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, developmental neurotoxicity, ADHD, autism, obesity, type 2 diabetes, reproductive problems, immune system damage, epigenetic mutations, kidney, liver and heart disease and numerous other non-communicable diseases that are currently in epidemic proportions.

Most of the farmers enrolled in these “sustainability programs” used to grow crops or graze animals traditionally, with little or no chemicals. The same is true for the many thousands of certified organic coffee and cacao farmers who have been hijacked by these schemes—schemes which allow them to charge a premium without meeting the more rigorous organic standards. How can the promoters of these “sustainability” labels claim that they are reducing chemical use when they have converted thousands of low-input traditional farmers to the use of chemicals that they never used before?

A global ‘Regeneration Revolution’ is under way.

In the 1970s, Robert Rodale, son of American organic pioneer J.I. Rodale coined the term ‘regenerative organic agriculture’ to distinguish a kind of farming that goes beyond simply “sustainable.”

According to the Rodale Institute:

Regenerative organic agriculture improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them. It is a holistic systems approach to agriculture that encourages continual on-farm innovation for environmental, social, economic and spiritual well-being.

Regenerative organic agriculture “takes advantage of the natural tendencies of ecosystems to regenerate when disturbed. In that primary sense it is distinguished from other types of agriculture that either oppose or ignore the value of those natural tendencies.” Regenerative organic agriculture is marked by tendencies towards closed nutrient loops, greater diversity in the biological community, fewer annuals and more perennials, and greater reliance on internal rather than external resources. Regenerative organic agriculture is aligned with forms of agroecology practiced by farmers concerned with food sovereignty the world over.”

We opened this piece by stating that we agree with Vilsack—the word “sustainability,” in the context of food and food production, has led to consumer confusion.

But we don’t like where Vilsack is headed. He told PoliticoPro:

“In recent years, Consumers have raised concerns about conventional agricultural practices, which has led to the growth of organic, GMO-free foods and ‘natural’ products, often at the expense of the reputation of conventional products. I think it’s going to be incumbent on us to have a common understanding of what [sustainability] means to better serve the interests of agriculture as a whole and consumers.”

At the “expense of the reputation of conventional products”? Is Vilsack referring to the well-earned bad reputation of products (those containing GMOs and toxic pesticides, perhaps?) produced using degenerative, rather than regenerative, practices?

A “common understanding” of what sustainability is might better serve the interests of Monsanto and the agribusiness corporations—but it will do little to serve the interests of small farmers and consumers.

The number one driver behind rising sales of organic foods is consumer concern about health, especially pesticides, growth hormones and GMOs. But as scientists issue increasingly dire warnings about the climate, and people throughout the world connect the dots between industrial agriculture and global warming, there is a growing contingent of farmers and consumers who want to do more.

An increasing number of farmers want to grow food and raise animals using organic and regenerative farming and grazing practices that are not only better for human health, but that also cool the planet, feed the world, heal the soil, foster food sovereignty and strengthen communities.

And consumers want to purchase those products, knowing that their production generated healing, not harm.

It’s a Regeneration Revolution. And it goes well beyond “sustainability.”

André Leu is president of IFOAM Organics International, and on the steering committee of Regeneration International.

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








Game On: Super Bowl Quarterback Goes on the Offensive Against Junk Food

Organic consumers - Wed, 2015-10-21 20:02
October 20, 2015Organic Consumers AssociationKatherine PaulFood Safetyhttp://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17655 tom_brady_thank_you.png

There’s big money in celebrity endorsements of brand-name products. So what’s an anti-endorsement worth?

Priceless, if you’re the parent (or grandparent) of an aspiring young athlete who prefers junk food over fresh veggies and green smoothies.

Imagine this dialogue taking place in grocery store aisles across America:

Kid: “Can we get the Frosted Flakes?”

Mom: “If you want to grow up to be a star athlete, Tom Brady says you shouldn’t eat Frosted Flakes or drink Coca-Cola.”

Disclaimer: I’m not endorsing the National Football League here. And I believe people like Tom Brady are highly skilled, more-than-well-compensated athletes, not “heroes.”
I also live in New England, where the media hangs on Brady’s every word. I seldom pay much attention because I’ve never been too interested in what the players have to say (no offense).

Until last week.

You’ve seen the headlines by now. Wall Street Journal:   “Tom Brady Calls Coca-Cola ‘Poison for Kids’” Forbes:  “Tom Brady Wants To Deflate Us All In His War On Coca-Cola And Frosted Flakes.” Time magazine:  “Tom Brady Says Frosted Flakes and Coca-Cola Are ‘Poison.’”

Brady attacked Coke and (Kellogg’s) Frosted Flakes during an interview in which he defended his friend, advisor and trainer, Alex Guerrero, against an unflattering Boston magazine report.  

Were Brady’s remarks part of a calculated attack on Big Food? Or just the off-the-cuff remarks of a guy speaking his mind in the heat of debate?

I don’t know. But either way, Brady’s anti-junk food comments went viral. And the attack couldn’t have come at a worse time for two companies suffering from and sagging sales.

Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola wasted no time in sending out their best defensive teams to try to deflect the criticism.

Here’s what Coke had to say, in its carefully crafted statement:

All of our beverages are safe and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle. We offer more than 200 low and no-calorie beverages in the U.S. and Canada and a wide variety of smaller portion sizes of our regular drinks. As a responsible beverage provider and marketer, we prominently provide calorie and sugar information for our beverages so people can choose what makes sense for them and their families.

Here’s what Coke didn’t say—that Coca-Cola has spent millions of dollars to hide the fact that its high fructose corn syrup is made with genetically engineered corn. The soda giant also didn’t mention that its cousin, Diet Coke, contains aspartame, an ingredient nefariously slipped  into the food supply despite 83 independent studies citing potential health risks.

Meanwhile, over at Kellogg’s, spokesperson, Kris Charles told Time magazine:

Cereal is a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Numerous studies show that a cereal breakfast is associated with lower BMIs (body mass index) in both children and adults. As a matter of fact, a serving of Frosted Flakes with skim milk has just 150 calories and delivers valuable nutrients including calcium, B vitamins and iron.

Wanting to see for myself exactly what’s in a box of Frosted Flakes, I suspended my boycott of Big Grocery Stores long enough to check out the ingredients panel. It says: Milled corn, sugar, contains 2% or less of malt flavor, salt, BHT for freshness.

No mention that the corn is genetically engineered—because Kellogg’s also has spent millions to hide that information from consumers. And no excuses for the fact that the second ingredient is sugar. A serving of Frosted Flakes may only be 150 calories—but they’re mostly empty calories.

Brady’s Coke and Frosted Flakes comments drew most of the media attention, with quarterback calling Coke “poison for kids,” and saying that thanks to the lies we’re fed by food companies, “We believe that Frosted Flakes is a food.”

But a few media outlets provided more context, and in so doing, showed not only how savvy Brady is when it comes to marketing and corporate influence on federal food policy, but also painted the athlete as someone who believes in prevention, natural health, and taking charge of one’s own health. From the Washington Post:

“That's not the way our food system in America is set up. It's very different. They have a food pyramid. I disagree with that. I disagree with a lot of things that people tell you to do . . .  You need to be outside the box, you need to think differently if you want to sustain what for me is my peak performance, the very best that I can achieve as an athlete every day.”

As a consumer, you already know that your choices, your willingness to boycott corporations like Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s make a difference. You also know that it takes hundreds of thousands of us “regular folks” to make the same impact one super-athlete can make during one impromptu interview.

But that’s O.K. We’re all in this together, even though some of us get more glory. We need all the help we can get to bring down Big Food. And Brady may have just done more good for kids, and more damage to Big Food, than we could accomplish in months.

I may even start watching more football.

In the meantime, if you’d like to thank Tom Brady for taking on Big Food, please sign this letter.

TODAY: Watch DARK Act Hearings Live, then Call Your Senators!

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-10-20 23:25
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationOctober 18, 2015 GMO Free People

In July, Monsanto’s dream bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 275-150.

Today, the bill—H.R. 1599—gets its first hearing in the U.S. Senate, before members of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The list of pro-GMO, anti-labeling witnesses at the hearing virtually guarantees a one-sided hearing.

Click here to watch today’s Senate DARK Act hearing, beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Then call your Senators and ask them to reject H.R. 1599, and to respect states’ rights to label GMOs!

Monsanto is desperate to convince Congress to pass H.R. 1599, better known as the DARK—Deny Americans the Right to Know—Act before Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120) goes into effect on July 1, 2016.

H.R. 1599 is Monsanto’s dream bill. If it passes, GMOs will never be labeled, safety-tested or regulated to protect human health, the environment, or organic and non-GMO crops from contamination.

The Organic Consumers Association was not invited to testify at today’s hearing. Who did receive invitations?

Michael Gregoire, associate administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Gregoire helped Monsanto by cutting in half the time it takes for the USDA to rubber-stamp a new GMO crop.

• William Jordan, deputy director, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Jordan oversaw the EPA’s reaction to the infamous StarLink GMO contamination scandal in 2000. The StarLink corn variety, engineered to produce a Bt toxin, was supposed to be limited to animal feed and industrial use out of fear it might cause severe allergic reactions.  But it turned up in taco shells, and people started getting sick. Jordan refused to punish StarLink producer Aventis with even so much as a fine.

• Susan Mayne, director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA

Mayne leads the FDA division that has the power to require labeling of genetically engineered foods (as long as the DARK Act doesn’t pass), but we don’t know where she stands on consumers’ right to know. Mayne came to the FDA just this year from the Yale Cancer Center. As the associate director of the Yale Cancer Center, Mayne was critical of research showing an 87-percent higher pancreatic cancer risk among regular soda drinkers. Mayne published her own research that disputed links between soda consumption and esophageal cancer. Most soda contains high fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn.

• Joanna Lidback, producer, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, Barton, Vt. 

Lidback is a graduate of the American Farm Bureau’s Monsanto-funded Partners in Agricultural Leadership program. Lidback has an MBA and works full-time as a business consultant to Yankee Farm Credit. She is the first vice president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau. She’s on the board of directors of the Truth About Trade & Technology.  Lidback also represents Agri-Mark, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Milk Producers Federation, as a dairy farmer producing milk for Cabot Cheese. Vermont’s GMO labeling law won’t impact Lidback’s farm because it doesn’t cover the products of animals fed genetically engineered feed, but Lidback is expected to falsely claim that the law will put her farm out of business. 

• Daryl E. Thomas, senior vice president, Herr Foods, Inc., Nottingham, Pa. 

Herr Foods represents the typical food company that wants to make money from the market for non-GMO foods, while keeping consumers in the dark about which foods contain GMO ingredients. On Herr’s website, the company explains its twisted position this way: “We know that food safety is paramount to everyone. So while we continue to explore opportunities to offer the latest developments in non-GMO ingredients, we remain committed to delivering to you the safest and best tasting snacks possible.” Herr’s recently began marketing a non-GMO popcorn called Go-Lite! Herr’s has been lobbying against mandatory GMO labels with the Snack Foods Association. 

• Gary Hirshberg, chairman and co-founder, Stonyfield Farm Inc., Concord, N.H.

Hirshberg is the only witness from “our side.”

• Gregory Jaffe, project director, Biotechnology, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

CSPI opposes GMO labels and safety testing. CSPI supports legislation introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in 2004 which was intended to permanently change the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act so that it “does not subject most genetically engineered foods to the lengthy food additive approval process.” Sen. Durbin’s bill is a tacit acknowledgement that GMOs are supposed to go through the food additive approval process, and an admission that in order to exempt Monsanto from that requirement, the law must change. As Steven Druker explains in his book, “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,” in 1992, the FDA illegally exempted GMOs from the food additive approval process which requires new additives to food be demonstrated safe before they are marketed to the public. H.R. 1599 would enshrine in permanent law the FDA’s 1992 Guidance to Industry for Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties, which allows companies to go through a consultation process that the agency admits doesn’t determine the safety of new GMOs.

• Ronald E. Kleinman, physician in chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, Mass. 

Michele Simon exposed Kleinman in 2012 when he worked for the GMO junk food industry during the Prop 37 campaign to label GMOs in California. Kleinman presents webinars on children’s health, for Coca-Cola. Among the “most common misperceptions among parents” Dr. Kleinman promises to clear up on behalf of the soda giant are “the safety … of sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners in children’s diets.” His bio on the Massachusetts General Hospital webpage says he consults for the Grain Food Foundation, Beech Nut, Burger King, and General Mills. According to CSPI, (which is good on everything but GMOs), Kleinman served as a paid expert witness for Gerber when the company was sued for deceptive advertising, and he contributed to a children’s brochure entitled “Variety’s Mountain” produced by the Sugar Association.

Clearly, the deck is stacked against consumers at today’s hearing. That’s why OCA signed on to this letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry expressing concern that consumers' interests will not be represented at the hearing.

And that's why it’s so important that your Senators hear from you today.

Click here to watch today’s Senate DARK Act hearing, beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Then call your Senators and ask them to reject H.R. 1599, and to respect states’ rights to label GMOs!


Alexis for the OCA Team



Groups Call for Consumer Representation at Senate Committee Hearing on Biotechnology

Organic consumers - Fri, 2015-10-16 16:20
Genetic Engineering, Millions Against Monsanto, Politics & GlobalizationOctober 15, 2015http://consumersunion.org/news/groups-call-for-consumer-representation-at-senate-committee-hearing-on-biotechnology/ us_capitol_from_nw-420x280.jpg

* Center for Food Safety * Consumer Federation of America * Consumers Union *

* Food & Water Watch * Organic Consumers Association * U.S. PIRG *

October 16, 2015

The Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
328A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow:

As groups representing food consumers nationwide, we write today regarding the October 21, 2015 hearing scheduled by the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry titled “Agricultural Biotechnology: A Look at Federal Regulation and Stakeholder Perspectives.” We are concerned that the panel of nongovernmental witnesses testifying at this hearing may be unbalanced, and may not accurately represent the full extent of consumer concerns on this topic. To ensure that the Committee is adequately informed of these concerns, we urge you to invite at least one representative of the numerous consumer organizations who support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food to testify at this hearing.

In a post announcing the October 21 hearing, we were pleased to see that the Committee would be including the perspectives of consumers as well as producers, because the subject of genetically engineered food is of great consumer interest. Numerous polls have found that 90 percent of consumers favor mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food. Many consumers believe that—similar to food that is homogenized, from concentrate, or frozen—food that contains genetically engineered ingredients should be labeled. Acting on the interests of consumers, some states have passed laws that will require such labels. Consumers are also increasingly concerned about the increased use of the herbicide glyphosate, which is associated with genetically engineered crops and was recently reclassified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm.

We therefore urge you to ensure that the views of the vast majority of consumers are equitably represented in testimony before your committee. Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Center for Food Safety
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports
Food & Water Watch
Organic Consumers Association
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

World Food Day 2015

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-10-15 13:32
Environment & Climate, Farm Issues, Genetic EngineeringOctober 14, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12382 ri-donate-feature-image_420x280.png We need a message of hope . . . 

Dear Organic Consumer,

I’ve just returned from an inspirational trip to India. I went on this journey (which my fellow traveler, Vandana Shiva, refers to as a “soil pilgrimage”) to celebrate the International Year of the Soil.

But I also undertook this journey to see firsthand what many Indian farmers are up against. And also because I believe that the crises we face today—hunger, poverty, chronic illness, drought, floods—demand that we come up with solutions that we can adapt to every region of the world, and execute on a global scale.

Tomorrow is World Food Day. It is also the day we will publicly launch, in conjunction with other international leaders and organizations, a new project: Regeneration International.

What better day—the day on which the International Year of the Soil and World Food Day intersect—to remind world leaders and policymakers that without healthy soil, there are no healthy farms. Without healthy farms, there is no healthy food. Without healthy food, there are no healthy people. Without healthy farms, food and people, there are no healthy local economies.

And, as it turns out, without healthy soil, there is no healthy climate.

The world's best climate scientists warn that even if we miraculously achieve zero emissions tomorrow, on a global scale, it would take about 1,000 years to get back to the magic "safe" number of 350 ppm carbon in the atmosphere.

That could be too late.

We need a message of hope to counter such dire climate predictions. We need a message of hope for those people, all over the world, who don’t worry about global warming, because they are too worried about where their next meal will come from. 

Regeneration International’s mission is to broadcast a new message of hope. The message is this: Organic regenerative agriculture and land use practices, scaled up all over the world, can restore the soil’s natural ability to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil. And by restoring the health of the world’s soils, we will also revitalize local economies, and produce abundant, nutrient-dense food.

I didn’t have to go all the way to India to learn that we need to shut down our degenerative industrial GMO factory farm system and replace it with a regenerative one. But my “soil pilgrimage” did serve as an urgent reminder that there are people all over the world who go hungry, every day.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The solutions to hunger and poverty lie right under our feet, in the soil. We just have to cultivate it with consciousness.

On this World Food Day, I have several invitations for you.

If you would like to support this new project, please make a donation here. 

If you would like to join the “Regenerator” movement, please sign up here for news and alerts. 

If you would like to attend our World Food Day press conference tomorrow in Washington D.C., learn more here. 

And please read this wonderful World Food Day essay by Vandana Shiva.

  In Solidarity,      

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

P.S. I serve on the steering committee of Regeneration International, along with: Vandana Shiva (Navdanya); Tom Newmark (The Carbon Underground); Hans Herren (Millennium Institute); Andre Leu (IFOAM Organics International); Steve Rye (Mercola.com); and Renate Künast (German Parliament). Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Donations are tax deductible. Click here if you would like to support this project.

The Emperor Has No Clothes, and Neither Do Monsanto’s ‘Scientists’

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-10-08 07:12
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationKatherine PaulOrganic Consumers AssociationOctober 7, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12375 usrighttoknow.png

The Monsanto public relations machine has done a stellar job in recent years of reducing the GMO debate to one that pits “pro-science advocates” against “anti-science climate-denier types”—with Monsanto portrayed as being squarely planted in the pro-science camp.

But that well-oiled machine may be starting to sputter.

Turns out that Monsanto executive solicited pro-GMO articles from university researchers, and passed the “research” off as independent science which the biotech giant then used to prop up its image and further its agenda.

We know this, thanks to thousands of pages of emails obtained by US Right to Know, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). And because a host of news outlets—including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, the StarPhoenix and others—are now running with the story.

For anyone who has paid attention, this latest scandal should come as no surprise. As Steven Druker writes, in “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,”  “for more than 30 years, hundreds (if not thousands) of biotech advocates within scientific institutions, government bureaus, and corporate offices throughout the world have systematically compromised science and contorted the facts to foster the growth of genetic engineering, and get the foods it produces, onto our dinner plates.”

Will Druker’s book (published this year), and this new wave of bad press be enough to finally expose Monsanto’s “science” for what it is—nothing more than an expensive, sustained and highly orchestrated public relations campaign?

The story behind the story

U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a nonprofit funded almost entirely by the Organic Consumers Association, launched an investigation into “the collusion between Big Food, its front groups, and university faculty and staff to deliver industry PR to the public.”

As part of its ongoing investigation, the group filed FOIA requests to obtain the emails and documents from 43 public university faculty and staff. The requested documents included records from scientists, economists, law professors, extension specialists and communicators—all of whom, as the group points out, were conducting work in public institutions, all funded by taxpayers.

On its website, the group says:

We believe the public deserves to know more about the flow of money and level of coordination between public university scientists and other academics, and the agrichemical and food companies whose interests they promote.

And now we do. And we know exactly how the latest plan to deceive, involving a paid PR firm posing as an independent third party, was hatched.

According to Mother Jones:

In an August 2013 email to nine prominent academics, Monsanto's strategic engagement lead Eric Sachs broached a plan: that the group would pen "short policy briefs on important topics in the agricultural biotechnology arena," chosen "because of their influence on public policy, GM crop regulation, and consumer acceptance."

Sachs assured the professors that the project would be handled discreetly. "I understand and appreciate that you need me to be completely transparent and I am keenly aware that your independence and reputations must be protected," he wrote. Two outside entities—an industry-funded group called the American Council on Science and Health and a PR outfit called CMA—would "manage the process of producing the policy briefs," "coordinate website posting and promotion," and "merchandize" the briefs by helping turn them into "op-eds, blog postings, speaking engagements, events, webinars, etc." This third-party management is "an important element," the Monsanto exec added, "because Monsanto wants the authors to communicate freely without involvement by Monsanto."

The explanation outlined by Mother Jones followed articles by mainstream news outlets, including Bloomberg and the New York Times. Here’s a partial roundup of the coverage generated so far by USRTK’s investigation.

New York Times: ‘helped produce important payoffs’

In a September 5 article, New York Times reporter Eric Lipton credited USRTK with obtaining “thousands of pages” of emails, many of which the Times then requested on its own.

After reviewing the documents, and describing some of the email exchanges between Monsanto’s PR firm and academics who were solicited to write articles, Lipton concluded that Monsanto’s strategy was effective:
The efforts have helped produce important payoffs, including the approval by federal regulators of new genetically modified seeds after academic experts intervened with the United States Department of Agriculture on the industry’s behalf, the emails show.

Lipton singled out, among others, Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida. Monsanto recruited Folta, Lipton wrote, ”to help with ‘biotechnology outreach’ and to travel around the country to defend genetically modified foods.”

Folta, who according to the Times became “part of an inner circle of industry consultants, lobbyists and executives who devised strategy on how to block state efforts to mandate G.M.O. labeling and, most recently, on how to get Congress to pass legislation that would pre-empt any state from taking such a step, received a $25,0000 grant from Monsanto to fund his travel and “outreach.” According to Bloomberg, the University of Florida  donated the $25,000 to charity—after the Times story ran.

Despite the grant, and the incriminating emails revealed by the Times, Folta has long denied any “formal connection” to Monsanto. (USRTK provides a list of Folta’s many denials).

The Times also singled Bruce M. Chassy, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, who in 2011 received a grant for an undisclosed amount to support “biotechnology outreach and education activities. Emails obtained by the Times reveal that Chassy and a Monsanto executive talked about efforts to persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “abandon its proposal to tighten the regulation of pesticides used on insect-resistant seeds.

In the same email in which Dr. Chassy negotiated the release of the grant funds, he discussed with a Monsanto executive a monthslong effort to persuade the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon its proposal to tighten the regulation of pesticides used on insect-resistant seeds.”
Read the entire New York Times article here.

Bloomberg: ‘How Monsanto mobilized academics’

The headline on an article posted October 2 by Bloomberg said it all: ‘How Monsanto Mobilized Academics to Pen Articles Supporting GMOs.’

Bloomberg reported that the “undisclosed recruitment of scientists from Harvard University, Cornell University and three other schools to write about the benefits of plant biotechnology is drawing fire from opponents.”

The Bloomberg piece focused on how the Genetic Literacy Project, a clearly pro-GMO nonprofit that says its mission is “to disentangle science from ideology,” published articles by the scientists on its website, without disclosing that the articles had been solicited by Monsanto and its PR firm.

Despite its headline, however, the Bloomberg report bends over backwards to present Monsanto and the scientists’ arguments that their articles weren’t influenced by Monsanto’s PR firm, CMA Consulting, even going so far as to infer that there exists a scientific consensus that GMOs are safe with this statement: “The challenge for the pro-GMO lobby is the yawning gulf between scientific consensus and public perception.”

The existence of a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs is widely disputed by international scientists.

Read the Bloomberg article here.

Boston Globe: ‘Harvard Professor failed to disclose’

Taking the local angle approach, a reporter for the Boston Globe focused on a Harvard professor caught up in the scandal.

Reporter Laura Krantz wrote:

A Harvard Kennedy School professor wrote a widely disseminated policy paper last year in support of genetically modified organisms at the behest of seed giant Monsanto, without disclosing his connection, e-mails show.

Professor Calestous Jumanot is author of an article titled, “Global Risks of Rejecting Agricultural Biotechnology,” published on the Genetic Literacy website. According to the Globe, in an email to Jumanot, Monsanto’s Eric Sachs, head of regulatory policy and scientific affairs suggested a topic, a summary and a headline. Jumanot chose a different headline, but the gist of the article conformed to the PR firm’s agenda.

As the Globe, the Times and others outlined, the Jumanot was one of nine professors who received emails from Sachs. Krantz wrote:

His e-mail lays out the agribusiness giant’s strategy. A marketing company would “merchandize” the papers online, disseminate them to the media, and schedule op-eds, blog posts, speaking engagements, and webinars.

Jumanot told the Globe, which had also previously reported on Jumanot’s connection to Monsanto, that it was the publication’s responsibility, not his, to disclose the connection.

In the end, neither did.

Read the Boston Globe article here.

StarPhoenix: ‘no mention of Monsanto’s involvement’

Monsanto didn’t limit its influence to U.S. academics. Zeroing in on one of its own, Canada's StarPhoenix reportred on Peter W.B. Phillips, graduate chair at the U of S Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, who was also approached by Monsanto.

According to the StarPhoenix, owned by Canada’s largest newspaper publisher:

Phillips was asked to write about the "burdensome regulations" that "stifle innovation" in the biotech industry.

"Critics might lead you to believe that genetically engineered crops are not tested or regulated. That is wrong," read the opening line of the finished article by Phillips.

In his conclusion, Phillips stated: "Increased regulatory costs and an expanding approval process stifle innovation - the innovation that is needed to secure an adequate supply and, appropriate quality of food at affordable prices."

Like Jumanot, Phillips denied any wrongdoing, telling the StarPhoenix that he wasn’t paid for the article, and that he works with a host of corporations, governments and non-governmental agencies: "That's part of my job," he said. "The research world has changed."

Indeed it has. And, we would argue, not for the better.

You can read the entire StarPhoenix article here.

Other media outlets that have so far covered this story include: Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, The Intercept, Reaction Watch and  PLOS Biology Community Blog.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.




State Lawmakers Ask Congress to Oppose H.R. 1599, a Bill to Preempt State GMO Labeling Laws

Organic consumers - Thu, 2015-10-08 01:38
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationOctober 5, 2015 professional_writing_suit_420x280.png

October 8, 2015

Contact: Katherine Paul, Katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207.653.3090

State Lawmakers Ask Congress to Oppose H.R. 1599,
a Bill to Preempt State GMO Labeling Laws

95 Lawmakers Tell Congress that State GMO Labeling Laws are Constitutional, and Will Not Create a ‘Messy Patchwork' of State Laws

AUGUSTA, Maine—A bipartisan group of 95 state lawmakers (representing 21 states) who have either sponsored state GMO labeling bills, or supported state GMO labeling ballot initiatives or bans on GMO crops, have signed on to a joint letter asking Congress to oppose H.R. 1599, or any other federal law that would preempt states’ rights to enact GMO labeling laws.

In their letter, the lawmakers argue that states have a constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws, as affirmed by a District Court in April with regard to Vermont’s labeling law.  They also reject claims by supporters of H.R. 1599 that state GMO labeling laws would create a “messy patchwork” of laws that would be burdensome for food manufacturers.

Maine Rep. Michelle Dunphy (D-Old Town) is lead author of the letter. Rep. Dunphy is also lead sponsor of Maine’s LD 991, a bill before the Maine state legislature that would speed enactment of Maine’s existing GMO labeling law (LD 718) by repealing the clause requiring five contiguous states, including Maine, to pass GMO labeling laws before GMO labeling can be enacted in Maine.

“H.R. 1599 is being deceptively sold to Congress on the mistruth that it will address consumers’ concerns by establishing a uniform federal standard for GMO labeling,” Dunphy said. “In fact, H.R. 1599 would preempt state and federal mandatory labeling laws and instead establish a voluntary, government-run program for labeling non-GMO foods. States have historically held the right to pass food safety and food labeling laws, and Congress should not undermine that right just to protect the biotech industry.”

Sen. Robert L. Hedlund, a Republican in the Massachusetts State legislature said:  “H.R. 1599 is nothing more than an attempt to legally sanction the right of corporations to withhold factual information from consumers. If Congress concedes to industry on this state right, what’s to prevent other industries from asking Congress to strip states of other long-held rights? It’s a slippery slope.”

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) who is a co-sponsor of legislation currently pending in the New York State Assembly which would require the labeling of genetically modified foods and other consumable products made from genetically modified materials said: “I signed on to Rep. Michelle Dunphy’s letter because I strongly believe that consumers have the right to know whether the foods they purchase have been produced with genetic engineering so they can make informed purchasing decisions.  I am opposed to H.R. 1599 (the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act) as it would undermine a State’s right to pass GMO labeling laws.”

From Rhode Island, Rep. Blake Filippi, an Independent, said: "This is simply a matter of choice. Many of my neighbors don't want to eat genetically modified organisms. If the Congressional sponsors of this bill choose to eat this type of food, that is their prerogative. But, they should not attempt to deny our neighbors the ability to make that same choice."

In their letter, lawmakers wrote:

HR 1599 would undermine the existing rights of states to pass food labeling laws; it would undermine the efforts of the thousands of people working to create basic transparency in food labels in their states; it would undermine the rights of consumers to basic information; and it would undermine the concept of a free market based on truth and transparency in labeling.

The letter will be addressed in a House briefing, on October 20, and during a Senate briefing, scheduled for October 22.

H.R 1599 passed the House on July 23. While a Senate version has yet to be introduced, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on the federal regulation of agriculture on October 21.

Senators: Please No DARK Act 'Sneak Attack'!

Organic consumers - Mon, 2015-10-05 14:15
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationArea: USA

Could Monsanto and Big Food do an end run around the Senate on GMO labeling?

Yes, if history is any lesson. They could do it by launching a “sneak attack.” And there are several versions of the “sneak attack” they could use.

TAKE ACTION: Ask these five powerful Senators not to use a “sneak attack” to pass a Senate version of the DARK Act. Please sign our petition, then call your Senator (phone numbers below).Read more

DARK Act to get Senate hearing . . .

Organic consumers - Sat, 2015-09-26 16:02
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationSeptember 25, 2015https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=12139 2015 3rd Qtr 130k

Dear Organic Consumer,

Ever since the House passed H.R. 1599, the DARK—Deny Americans the Right to Know—Act on July 23, we’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We won’t have to wait much longer.

Word is out that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which helped Monsanto write the DARK Act, has scheduled a lobbying day for October 7. And the DARK Act is set to be heard by the Senate Agriculture Committee, likely the week beginning October 5.

We have nearly $70,000 to go to meet our current fundraising goal by midnight September 30. We'll use the money to fight H.R. 1599 in the Senate. Can you make a donation today? Every donation, large or small, helps. You can donate online with a credit card, by phone or mail—details here.

Thanks to you, we’ve been able to meet with Senators all over the country, to let them know just how bad this bill is.

It’s been working, in the sense that a Senate bill has yet to be introduced—probably because Senators know that introducing a bill that stomps all over state and consumer rights, a bill opposed by 90 percent of their constituents, will make them very unpopular with voters.

But that little detail—the lack of an actual Senate bill—isn’t going to stop Monsanto. With the help of its Big Food allies, Monsanto-the-Poison-Pusher is forging ahead.

As the July 1, 2016 deadline to comply with Vermont’s mandatory labeling law draws dangerously close, Monsanto grows increasingly desperate.

As one EU country after another announces it will ban GMO crops, as food giants like General Mills and Kellogg’s struggle to survive, as McDonald’s, the king of junk fast food restaurant chains announces organic hamburgers in Europe, Monsanto reads the writing on the wall.

As the World Health Organization classifies Roundup as a human carcinogen, and as more physicians and scientists stand up to the Biotech Bullies, Monsanto finds itself backed into a corner.

You can bet, with such obscene profits at stake, Monsanto will come out of that corner more determined than ever to ram the DARK Act through the Senate.

We will fight back. But we need your help.

This could be our last hope to save the GMO labeling movement. Can you help us raise another $70,000 by midnight September 30? So we can ramp up the pressure on the U.S. Senate beginning October 1?

The DARK ACT would preempt any attempt by the FDA, or any other federal agency, to require labels on GMO foods. In fact, the DARK Act preempts the FDA from even allowing voluntary labeling of GMO foods.

We must stop this bill in the Senate. It will take all of us working together to do it.

  Thank you!    

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

P.S. Donations made to the the Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) are tax-deductible. If you would like to make a non-deductible donation to the Consumers Fund, our 501(c) (4) lobbying arm, please click here for more details. Thank you!

I'm Keeping the Enemy Close.

Organic consumers - Tue, 2015-09-22 14:37
Genetic Engineering, Politics & GlobalizationSeptember 21, 2015 2015 3rd Qtr 45k

Dear Organic Consumer,

As someone once said, it’s wise to “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” That’s why I’m a subscriber to the Monsanto-funded “Safe and Affordable Food Coalition” e-newsletter.

And that’s how I know the answer to this question: “How could the U.S. Senate ever vote for a bill as bad as H.R. 1599, the DARK—Deny Americans the Right to Know—Act?”

Answer: Because your Senator is being fed a steady diet of lies.

Any day now, the DARK Act could be introduced in the Senate. It could pass, just as it did in the House.  If we don’t stop it. Please help us raise another $155,000 during this fundraising cycle to help stop the DARK Act. You can donate online, by phone or by mail—details here.

Here’s what I read in the latest version of Monsanto’s fake news email:

As we ready ourselves for the debate on the Safe & Accurate Food Labeling Act in the Senate, we hope you’ll stand with us as we continue to fight for a common-sense, national food labeling law that brings much-needed transparency and consistency to marketplace.

And further down, this:

As we prepare for the next leg of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act’s journey to becoming the uniform, national labeling law we need -- we wanted to share several updates with you.

This is how Monsanto is portraying the DARK Act: as a “uniform, national labeling law.” That’s an argument your Senator likes. That’s an argument that says, hey, we recognize that GMOs should be labeled, so let’s create a “uniform national labeling law.”

But that’s a flat-out lie. 

What the DARK Act actually does, is preempt any attempt by the FDA, or any other federal agency, to require labels on GMO foods. In fact, the DARK Act preempts the FDA from even allowing voluntary labeling of GMO foods.

You know it. I know it. And Monsanto knows it. 

Does your Senator know it? Probably not. That’s why we’re working around the clock, armed with the latest studies, accompanied by unassailable experts, to reach every U.S. Senator.

Can you help support this work with a donation today? Any amount, large or small, will help. Details here on how to donate online, by phone or by mail.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the biotech and Big Food industries are lying about the DARK Act. They’ve lied for years about the effectiveness of Roundup. They’ve lied for years about the ever-increasing amounts of poison being dumped into our soil and onto our food.

But the worst lie of all, is the lie about how sick their poisons have made you, your friends, your families.

Scientists now know (and a recent report reveals that Monsanto has known all along) that glyphosate in low doses can be equally, if not more, toxic than the higher doses that are typically tested..

And the list of chronic and mortal diseases associated with low-dose exposure to glyphosate is long and frightening.

According to the latest numbers by the U.S. Geological Survey, a record 280 million pounds of Roundup were used in 2012. It’s only going to get worse until we convince our regulatory agencies to ban glyphosate.

In the meantime, we deserve to know if our food has been produced with a “probable carcinogen.”

This could be our last hope to require food corporations to tell you if the products you’re buying have been produced with genetic engineering, and Monsanto’s glyphosate—recently classified as a probable human carcinogen. Can you help us raise $155,000 by midnight September 30? 

Thank you!

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

P.S. Donations made to the the Organic Consumers Association, a 501(c)(3) are tax-deductible. If you would like to make a non-deductible donation to the Consumers Fund, our 501(c) (4) lobbying arm, please click here for more details. Thank you!