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Monsanto & the Merchants of Death
#258, January 6, 2011
In this issue:
Food for Thought of the Week
Monsanto & the Merchants of Death
In the 1990s, Monsanto found an ingenious way to sell large quantities of its broad-spectrum toxic herbicide RoundUp to farmers. The company's scientists gene-spliced corn, soy, cotton, and canola with foreign DNA, enabling these "Frankencrops" to survive massive doses of RoundUp. Farmers could now repeatedly spray their fields with RoundUp, killing weeds but not the crop. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of heavy RoundUp spraying includes groundwater pollution, toxic residues in crops, and destruction of essential soil microorganisms. The Genetically Modified (GM) crops themselves create herbicide-resistant Superweeds and spread genetic pollution to organic and non-GMO crops as well as plant relatives. Last but certainly not least, Monsanto's GM foods have been linked to serious health damage - not only for animals, but humans as well.
Today, a major portion of cropland in the US is sown with Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. Eighty percent of these GM crops are then sold as animal feed to the nation's 125,000 factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that produce most of the non-organic meat, dairy, or eggs sold in grocery stores or served in restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The other 20% of Monsanto's Genetically Modified Organisms are laced into non-organic processed foods (soy lecithin, corn or sugar beet sweeteners, cooking oils, etc.) that are found in every grocery store aisle.
There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the US spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases. Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, US factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Low fruit and vegetable consumption is directly costing the United States $56 billion a year in diet-related chronic diseases.
Monsanto's GM crops are highly profitable for the food industry, turning cheap, federally subsidized, genetically engineered crops and GE-fed animals into cheap, ubiquitous, junky foods. But from the standpoint of public health and environmental sustainability, Monsanto and their factory farm collaborators are nothing less than merchants of disease and death.
A critical mass of consumers would turn away from GMOs and Factory Farmed meat, dairy, and eggs - if they knew what they were eating. Please join and support OCA in our new Truth-in-Labeling campaign.
New Year's Appeal
Help Drive Truth-in-Labeling and the Great Organic Transition
Over the next few years, the Organic Consumers Association will focus on strategic grassroots campaigns to promote health, justice, and sustainability, with a special emphasis on local-based practical solutions to the energy and climate crisis. Organic soil and land management can and must be scaled up now in order to buy us the time we need to make the long-term transition to radical energy efficiency and solar, wind, and geothermal power.
Obviously this Great Organic Transition is not going to be easy. Our energy-, chemical-, and GM-intensive food and farming system needs to shift from one where 125,000 megafarms produce 75% of the food, to a mass movement of millions of farmers, ranchers, and urban gardeners growing organic food for their local communities. Factory farms and feedlots belching methane and nitrous oxide must be phased out. Twenty-four billion pounds of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer needs to be replaced with organic compost and compost tea derived from food and yard waste.
This Great Transition will require a massive shift in public consciousness to wake up the majority of the population who are being force-fed a nutrition-poor diet of genetically engineered junk food and animal products. OCA wants to jump-start this awakening with a broad Truth-in-Labeling campaign to educate consumers on what products contain these unhealthy and hazardous ingredients and how to avoid them.
Please donate today and help OCA launch our 2011 Millions Against Monsanto: Truth-in-Labeling campaign.
Please make your New Year's donation today
Alert of the Week
Tell Your Natural Food Store or Grocer: We Want GMOs & Factory Farm Products Labeled
Most people wouldn't eat genetically engineered foods if given the choice, but only a quarter of Americans are aware that GMOs are even allowed in the US food supply - and that's just the way the food industry wants it. As a Monsanto executive once admitted to a major newspaper, "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."
The Grocery Manufacturers Association is the trade association and lobbying group for America's GM and chemical-intensive food industry, representing the biggest players in genetically engineered seed, farm chemicals, animal feed, factory farms, food processing, grocery retail and fast food. GMA members include Monsanto, Mosaic, Cargill, ConAgra, Smithfield, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Kraft, Hershey, Bimbo, Kellogg's, Campbell Soup, Kroger, Safeway, and McDonald's. GMA is a vocal advocate for what they call "agricultural biotechnology." The GMA boasts that 80% of all U.S. grocery store foods contain GM ingredients, yet they adamantly oppose mandatory labels for genetically engineered foods. This is outrageous.
The Organic Consumers Association is launching a Truth-in-Labeling campaign to get grocery stores to come clean about what's in our food.
We're starting with a national letter-writing campaign aimed at the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the largest food retailers, demanding mandatory labels on foods that likely contain GMOs, or that come from factory farm CAFOs. We'll be following this up with organizer trainings that will prepare OCA activists to take the cause to local grocery stores, increase community awareness about GMOs, and get state legislatures and city councils to pass GMO and CAFO labeling laws.
What Would Be Labeled?
If non-organic produce had to be labeled as "May Contain GMOs" and factory farmed animal products had to be labeled as "CAFO," what would be the likely impact in the marketplace?
Any processed food that contains corn (75 million acres, or 85%, of U.S. corn production is GM); soy (72 million acres or 91% of U.S. soy is GM); cottonseed oil (8.8 million acres or 88% of U.S. cotton is GM); canola (3.2 million acres or 85% of U.S. Canola is GM); or sugar beets (1.2 million acres or 95% of U.S. sugar beets is GM); is overwhelmingly likely to contain Monsanto's engineered DNA, and therefore needs to have a label that says "May Contain GMOs."
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grass-fed animal products, and whole grains, while avoiding multi-ingredient packaged foods, fried foods, sodas, juice drinks and factory-farmed animal products, is another good way to avoid GMOs. But most people in the United States find it very hard to do this. This isn't entirely the fault of consumers. According to the National Cancer Institute, the US only produces and imports half of the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables required for our population.
Only a quarter of the US population is aware that they are being force-fed GMOs, and most say they wouldn't buy GM foods, but nearly everything sold at grocery stores contains GMOs. And none of it is labeled.
Support Truth-in-Labeling. For more information about avoiding GMOs, go to our Millions Against Monsanto page.
Videos of the Week
Movies to Inspire You to Boycott GMOs
Boycott Monsanto's Corn: King Corn
For the documentary King Corn, filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney had their hair tested and learned that they were 39 and 43 percent corn, respectively. This extended film clip explains how so much (genetically engineered) corn ends up in the US diet.
Curt and Ian tried to go without eating corn for a month. They had to give up foods as (seemingly) diverse as dairy, non-dairy cheese, bread, tortillas, meat and beer.
The alternatives to the corn-based industrial food system that Curt and Ian found were grass-fed and finished meats and cheeses, and direct-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables purchased through Community Supported Agriculture programs
Boycott Monsanto's Soy: Food, Inc.
The documentary Food, Inc. includes a segment explaining how Monsanto gained control over soy bean seeds, even non-GMO seeds, by suing farmers, claiming that the farmers had stolen their genetically engineered traits, when the farmers had actually been inadvertently contaminated by neighboring farms growing Monsanto's GMO seeds.
Boycott Monsanto's Cotton: The World According to Monsanto
The documentary The World According to Monsanto pieces together the story of the century-old corporation that is today's leader in genetically modified crops. Claiming it wants to solve world hunger and protect the environment, Monsanto's quest for market supremacy is to the detriment of global food security and environmental stability. The film includes a look at the suicide deaths of cotton growers in India, where Bt cotton has been introduced by Monsanto.
Boycott Monsanto's Canola: Canadian Canola Grower: "Contamination is Inevitable"
Canadian farmer Ross Murray used to grow genetically engineered (GE) canola. That is until he discovered the GE canola wasn't delivering on its promise and actually became a weed problem itself.
"The canola that grew in subsequent years became a weed problem, a weed problem that had to be managed, to be sprayed for," says Ross.
In this short video by Greenpeace, Ross explains why he stopped growing GE canola and why he believes contamination of non-GE canola is inevitable wherever GE canola is grown.
How Green Became the Color of Money
2011: Time for a New Clear Vision
From Snowstorms to Heat Waves, How Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather and Climate Instability
Factory Farms Massing in Missouri, Kansas, New Report Says
Seeking a Meaningful Price on Carbon
LOCAL [[State]] NEWS OF THE WEEK
[[State]] - Get Involved Locally
- Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in [[State]] here.
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