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Wal-Mart, Pepsi and 20 Major Food Companies Consider Lobbying for GMO Labeling?

Activist Post
Activist Post
February 3rd, 2013
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by Heather Callaghan

A lot of events are converging to create a tipping point to finally allow the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods.

The FDA is likely to approve GM salmon and apples against the people’s will. Many big food companies have received massive social media backlash from consumers, particularly parent companies to organic ones that heavily funded campaigns against GMO labeling. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream got shrapnel from some of these “Traitor’s Boycotts” because its parent company Unilever funded to prevent labeling. Ben & Jerry’s will remove its GM ingredients by the end of 2013.

The funded and questionable failure of California’s Proposition 37 has stoked the flames since last September. Consumers have even themselves begun labeling grocery products with a passionate drive to bring awareness to others. Wal-mart got flak last summer for selling unlabeled and possibly dangerous GM sweet corn.

Most recently, Washington state introduced a labeling initiative for the 2013 ballot. Their concern is not only about “right to know” but surrounds fears that unlabeled genetic salmon and apples could seriously damage the economy by getting their exports blocked - especially from countries that require labeled GM food. It is estimated that at least 20 other states are considering labeling initiatives.

This amalgam is perhaps why there is talk of Wal-mart, PepsiCo, ConAgra and at least 20 major food companies possibly switching sides and lobbying for national labeling. It’s probably the very least all those companies could do after spending more than $45 million to keep food unlabeled. Gary Hirshberg of Just-Label-It and chairman of Stonyfield Organic called it a poor return on their investment, referring to their actions provoking demand instead of squashing it. Too late – money talks both ways, but now they are starting to get it.

Organic Consumers Association (OCA) reported earlier that those companies, the FDA and some advocacy groups met in January behind closed doors at the Meridian Institute, a major discussion hub. It appears that some Fortune 500 companies have now shied away from Monsanto. Consumer activism works.

Ronnie Cummins of OCA warned to keep watch:

We should be wary of any compromise deal at the federal level, one that would preempt the passage of meaningful state GMO labeling laws that have real teeth.

How many of you saw a red flag for a case of Problem-Reaction-Solution or Controlled Opposition? Are they discussing a watered-down solution – a strategic attack? At the very least, they know that they have a problem.

While so many consumers are adamantly opposed to GMOs existing anywhere close to planet Earth, some law makers like Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis simply feel:

I don’t want to hinder any producer of genetically modified goods — However, I strongly feel that people have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies.

Fighting the presence of GMOs and trying to raise awareness has been an uphill and often unseen battle for over 20 years. Not only have the FDA and USDA failed to help, but they have systematically ushered them in with no safety testing and have covered up studies proving hazards.

At least with consumer awareness reaching critical mass (we vote with our forks and dollars), big companies like Wal-Mart and food giants finally voicing labeling desires is a step in a good direction if they stop selling us out for profits.

Let’s continue giving them an uphill battle to win back our patronage – if ever. They don’t want to keep shelling out millions to further provoke us if they have to keep doing it repeatedly to their own demise. If they want people’s money, they had better listen.

The definitive movie on genetically modified foods - watch Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives for free, limited time only.

Source:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/business/food-companies-meet-to-weigh-federal-label-for-gene-engineered-ingredients.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&smid=fb-share

Read other articles by Heather Callaghan Here

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  • Cara

    I don’t buy it. Those are some of the companies that put up $7billion to defeat Calif Prop37 just 3 months ago. They did not spend that kind of money just to change their minds 3 months later!

  • Anonymous

    Labeling GMO’s isn’t the answer and allows for loopholes and the “govt”/oh-so honest FDA to regulate (pay-off’s, no verified third party testing, lobbying of the FDA to let non-gmo’s pass through,etc.) The answer is to BAN GMO’s completely, for good – as in Peru and Poland and Kenya. It all seems classic controlled opposition on both sides. The NON-GMO Verified Project seems to be the only cause that has made sense. And supposedly, they got “bashed” by Ronnie Cummins for not calling for banning of GMO’s while they supported Cummin’s 37 “label it project.”

  • Anonymous

    I vote with my checkbook, I have stopped purchasing all products from any food producer or grocery store (Safeway, because of O Organic’s) that supported the No on 37 campaign.
    Let the boycott continue until new producers have come into the market place, that have no ties to the old corporations that want to sell us GMO poisoned foods.

  • BOYCOTT AND BAN

    Yes on Prop 37 was classic “controlled opposition”

    BOTTOM LINE: PROP 37 WAS CLASSIC “CONTROLLED OPPOSITION” LED BY COMFORTABLE BUSINESSMEN

    It’s a smokescreen. And it’s promoted to keep us from flat-out saying, “Hey, wait a minute. GMO food is toxic. Monsanto has committed multiple crimes and they should be prosecuted. We should BAN GMO food.

    “Agricultural co-existence?” Huh? What does that mean? It’s an elite strategy. It means we accept different ways of growing food in America. It’s the big ag-corp message these days.

    Co-existence is an idea that’s being sold. “Let’s be tolerant..” “Let’s have the free market decide what food is sold and isn’t sold.” On another level, it’s a yuppy fetish.

    “We have organic food over here, and then we have GMO food there, and then over here we have conventionally grown food with pesticides but no GMOs.”

    And that is exactly and precisely what Prop 37 said. We can co-exist as long as we know what kind of food we’re buying. As long as it’s labeled GMO if it’s GMO.

    Okay? Keep all this in mind, because the punchline will be big.

    Researching the whole Prop 37 debacle has proved to me, one more time, that Web journalists are miles ahead of the mainstream press.

    In particular, I call your attention to an explosive piece written by Nick Brannigan. It just arrived by email. The title: “Is ‘Just Label It’ Controlled Opposition?” Read it here:

    http://www.nickbrannigan.com/articles/is-just-label-it-controlled-opposition.htm

    Brannigan reveals the approach of Gary Hirshberg, the renowned CEO of Stoneyfield. Hirshberg, like several major players in the YES ON 37 campaign, opts for co-existence.

    In other words, it’s assumed that GMO food is here to stay, and we need to inform consumers they have a choice, and then the free market will decide our future. GMO? Organic? Conventional with pesticides but no GMOs? The consumer will pick the winning horse in the race.

    The labeling campaigns, like YES ON 37, aim at just that. “You have a right to know what’s in your food, and when you do, you can make a choice.”

    I revealed, in past articles, that this was the whole message to voters in California during the run-up to Election Day. YES ON 37 wasn’t about spelling out the health dangers of GMOs. It wasn’t about showing how Monsanto, through patents, is going after control of the world’s food supply. It wasn’t about demonstrably false Monsanto science or government collusion to allow GMO crops into the US food supply.

    Brannigan presents some very vital information, in his article, about an organization called AGree. Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield is a co-chair. Partners in this organization include, Brannigan states, the omnipresent Bill and Melinda Gates, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.

    You should visit the AGree site and read through their literature.

    http://foodandagpolicy.org/

    To me, it resembles a man talking with his mouth full of marbles. The language is dense, but you’ll find proposals for multi-faceted types of agriculture to fit different areas and needs—including GMOs.

    In other words, AGee is talking about co-existence. They’re spreading that message, and their co-chair, Gary Hirshberg, who also supported YES ON 37, is fine with the message.

    And if co-existence can be sold, then Monsanto wins. They absolutely win. They spread their genes through the food supply, from one end to the other.

    Well, you say, how can we have anything but co-existence? How is that possible? How can we get GMO crops out of America? They’re everywhere.

    Well, not quite everywhere.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/what-countries-have-banned-gmo-crops

    South Australia has banned them. So has Switzerland. Ditto for Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Medeira.

    Germany has banned the growing or sale of GMO maize. Three counties in California have banned GMO crops: Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin.

    And this is the whole point. Monsanto and its allies want to stop the ban from happening in the US. That’s their bottom-line. Above all, there must not be a ban on GMO crops in America.

    A ballot proposition that mandates labeling of foods? Not the best thing, Monsanto says, but it’s tolerable. If the Prop loses, then that sets back the anti-GMO forces, and they have to re-group and try again elsewhere.

    That gives Monsanto more time to spread more GMO crops across America. If Prop 37 wins, Monsanto can live with that. They’ll come up with a Plan B to deal with the loss.

    Monsanto already did that in the UK, after the European Union ruled that labeling of GMO foods was mandatory, in 1997. Monsanto supported labeling. They could do that now in American states that pass ballot measures.

    “Well, we were against labeling, sure. We thought it was unnecessary. But now that it’s passed, the people have spoken. We will do everything we can to support this decision, and we’re confident that our food meets the highest standards…” Blah-blah.

    But Monsanto doesn’t want a ban on GMO crops. No. And they certainly don’t want a strong movement in America to insist on a ban.

    Solution? Promote the idea of agricultural coexistence, just as AGree is doing. Divert anti-GMO forces into campaigns for labeling. Let those folks spend all their time, money, and energy trying to get labeling. Make sure the movement doesn’t turn into a powerful force demanding a ban.

    Look at it this way. “Agricultural coexistence” is a soft stance. It covertly claims that choice is always a good thing, as if we’re debating which lamp to buy or which flashlight.

    What’s left out of that equation? One of the flashlights happens to emit a powerful and invisible toxic cloud every time you turn it on.

    But let’s not discuss that. No. Let’s just “let the market decide.”

    Get it? It’s all based on the notion that GMO foods are here to stay in America, and therefore we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about it. We should just insist that we have the right to know whether there are GMOs in the food we buy. That’s all.

    It’s a smokescreen. And it’s promoted to keep us from flat-out saying, “Hey, wait a minute. GMO food is toxic. Monsanto has committed multiple crimes and they should be prosecuted. We should BAN GMO food.”

    I know what the proponents of Prop 37 are going to say, and I want to take up their argument. They’re going to say, “No. If we gain the right to know what’s in our food, millions of people in California are going to stop buying GMO food, and this refusal is going to spread, and then we’ll win. We’ll starve Monsanto. The free market will win. From state to state, new ballot measures will win for labeling, and the resistance to GMO food will grow…”

    However, that argument depends on consumers caring. Will consumers really give a damn that they’re buying GMO food?

    Monsanto will continue to introduce new GMO crops into the American landscape, like apples and salmon. Monsanto will put more and more GMOs into food products. They’ll fight a war of attrition, and in the end, they stand a very good chance of winning…because most consumers won’t care, any more than they care when they enter a public building and see some ridiculous sign on the wall about carcinogenic compounds being present in the building.

    Monsanto will bet that, after a time, GMO labels on food products won’t bother most people. Monsanto will spend untold millions of dollars claiming that GMO food is identical to non-GMO.

    And again, the most important thing for Monsanto is: there won’t be a ban on GMO crops in America.

    Monsanto won’t be prosecuted for crimes by the US Dept. of Justice.

    And even if, say, in the state of Washington, where the next Prop 37-type ballot measure is about to be mounted, the campaign involves educating people about GMOs, will that really make a difference? Will there be an all-out attack on GMOs and Monsanto? Or will it be a soft attack?

    I ask this because I believe the leaders of Prop 37 don’t want to make serious waves. They are dedicated to “the right to know what’s in your food” proposition, above all. They are satisfied with that. They have no intention of really going after the people who make that flashlight that exudes clouds of poison when it’s turned on. And those leaders of Prop 37 are pulling along, behind them, many, many people who might otherwise back a real campaign to have GMO crops banned in America.

    A civilization does not survive when elites can commit grave and ongoing crimes with impunity. And that’s exactly the situation we have. Monsanto is the chief criminal.

    Am I saying the YES ON 37 campaign was entirely useless? No, it educated some people. But in the long run (and Monsanto is in this for the long run), it functioned as a diversion away from the main event: BANNING GMO CROPS.

    There is no powerful movement in America to ban GMO crops and prosecute Monsanto for heavy crimes.

    Instead, we have groups led by businessmen who want the free market to decide, and who want labeling. In the long run, that’s a loser.

    Monsanto knows this.

    Look at the legal adviser for the California Right to Know Campaign, Joe Sandler. Sandler has been very active, over the years, working at high levels for the Democratic Party. He’s a beltway attorney. He takes a hand in steering the GMO-labeling ship. There is no way he is going to step out front and say, “Let’s ban the whole mess. Let’s turn this into a war against Monsanto and ban all GMO crops in America.” You could wait for several hells to freeze over before that happens.

    Look at Gary Hirshberg or Grant Lundberg or another lawyer in the YES ON 37 mix, Andy Kimbrell. No way they’re going to go all the way. They’re going to demand labeling and that’s it.

    And Monsanto can live with that. Obama can live with that.

    Monsanto can sit back and say, “It’s a very good thing there is no powerful movement in America to ban GMO crops. We like that. We like that a lot.”

    Which is exactly what they’re doing and saying right now.

    Did Monsanto fight against YES ON 37? Did they employ dirty tricks? Of course they did. But that was on the minor stage. That wasn’t the big time.

    On the big stage, they’re already winning.

    They’re winning, in part, because a handful of natural-food entrepreneurs and their lawyers are in charge of the anti-GMO movement in America, and are selling the idea that mandatory labeling is going to grow into a tsunami against GMOs. That’s their mindset and that’s their bet.

    They’re “realists.” They don’t take a clue from those countries that have, in fact, banned GMOs. They work from the premise that, in America, we need to co-exist. We need to bow to the free market and let the chips fall where they may.

    Yeah, well, many of those chips are going to be GMO.

    Most of the growing land in America is going to be GMO.

    And the Monsanto genes are going to drift and drift into the whole food supply, and the huge tonnage of toxic pesticide sprayed on GMO crops is going to drift and settle into the soil…as we coexist.

    So let’s not bullshit each other, okay?

    Let’s not wave a few flags and claim we’re winning against Monsanto, when the fact is we don’t have a powerful movement in America to ban GMO crops.

    Don’t label the bastards. Ban them.

    My advice to the ground troops who are fighting to get mandatory GMO labeling in various states around the country? Talk to your leaders. Tell them that, instead, you want an all-out fight against Monsanto and GMOs. You want a ban. And if they refuse, get rid of those leaders. Start your own organization.

    Stay in it for the long haul. Don’t go for the partial solution. Yes, it makes the battle harder, but it’s the only battle that counts.

    Jon Rappoport

    BAN GMO’S FOR GOOD.

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