TOP NEWS OF THE WEEK

Revealed: Big Food’s New Plan to Kill GMO Labeling Laws

The food industry is going door-to-door on Capitol Hill, seeking lawmakers willing to sponsor a bill to preempt state mandatory GMO labeling laws by substituting a weak federal “solution.”

The “solution” Big Food has in mind, revealed on Jan. 7 by POLITICO, would limit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) power to require mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It would also wipe out states’ rights to enact mandatory labeling laws, and would guarantee companies the right to use the word “natural” on products that contain GMOs.

Big Food’s plan also would likely try to appease consumers by including weak FDA guidance on voluntary labeling of GMOs—guidance that would exempt common ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, canola oil and others. And require little or no independent verification for claiming a product is GMO-free.

It’s not as though we didn’t see it coming.

Last week, after learning that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (Big Food’s lobbying group), had petitioned the FDA to allow food makers to use the word “natural” on GMO-contaminated foods, we predicted a treacherous road ahead for the anti-GMO movement in 2014.

In 2013, we warned about a letter to the FDA asking the agency to finalize its 2001 guidance on voluntary labeling of GMOs—a move we suggested then, and still believe, would preempt state and federal mandatory labeling of GMOs.

In a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, two former government officials floated the idea of a compromise that would include allowing specific amounts of GMOs, and/or exemptions for certain ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup or canola oil, where processing has made it impossible to detect GMO ingredients. The authors also reiterated industry’s argument that if consumers want GMO-free, they can buy organic. In response, one scientist told the OCA:

“That is a smokescreen that allows the biotech industry to avoid taking responsibility for the harm caused by their patented, transgenic creations. Without mandatory GMO labeling, there is no way to understand public health impacts or conduct epidemiological research on diets containing GMOs.”

After decades of quietly profiting by contaminating food products with cheap, unsafe GMO-contaminated ingredients, the food industry sees those profits at risk. They’ve spent millions to defeat laws that are common in 60 other countries. Now, in an effort to undermine state laws, and subvert the democratic process, Big Food wants to cut a deal with Congress and the FDA. A deal that will provide no meaningful protection for consumers, and hand industry yet another free pass to poison and pollute.

Consumers have been clear. More than 90 percent of us want mandatory GMO labeling laws. No voluntary schemes. No watered-down regulations. No compromises. Please sign our petition to the FDA asking the agency to reject any federal law that is weaker than the state laws already passed in Maine and Connecticut, and proposed in Vermont and other states.

Read the Politico article

Read the GMA Draft Bill

 
 

ACTION ALERT

Tell the FDA: Don’t Cave

The FDA made the wrong decision in 1992 when it caved in to Monsanto, and ruled that genetically engineered foods were “substantially equivalent” to non GE foods.

Now the food industry, led by its multi-billion dollar lobbying arm, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), wants the FDA to protect Big Food’s profits by ruling against mandatory GMO labeling laws.

It’s time for the FDA to protect consumers, not corporations.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA: No Watered-Down, Voluntary Federal GMO Labeling Rules!

 
 

ACTION ALERT

No Cheers for Cheerios

General Mills has so far spent almost $2 million to keep GMO labels off its GMO-contaminated products. Now the junk-food cereal maker hopes to cash in on a new label on its original Cheerios that touts, of all things, “no GMOs.”

Last week (Jan. 2) General Mills announced on its website that its “familiar yellow boxes of original Cheerios now say “not made with genetically modified ingredients.” Why the change? “We did it because we think consumers may embrace it.”

We think they did it to make more money. (The non-GMO foods market is forecast to grow 13 percent annually, and make up about 30 percent of food and beverage sales—totaling $264 billion—by 2017, according to Packaged Facts).

But we also think their reasons were more complicated than that. We think the move is part of the food industry’s scheme to preempt state labeling laws with a voluntary, weak, watered-down federal “solution” to GMO labeling.

General Mills has no plans to provide independent third-party verification that Cheerios is now GMO-free. You, and millions of consumers, are just supposed to take their word for it.

This is what “voluntary” GMO labeling will look like if Big Food gets its way in Washington D.C. No testing or verification. No legal definition of “trace amounts.” And most likely, a long list of exempted ingredients.

TAKE ACTION: Tell General Mills and Cheerios: Please Label All of your Products that Contain GMOs. Better Yet, Get GMOs Out of All your Brands!

Cheerios on Facebook

 
 

SUPPORT THE OCA & OCF

Lucky for Us

We’re barely a week into the new year, and Monsanto and the food industry have already signaled that 2014 will be a decisive year for GMO labeling.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, representing more than 300 food manufacturers and trade groups, is pressuring the FDA and Congress to pass a law that would preempt mandatory and state GMO labeling laws.

Lucky for them that both the FDA and Congress have consistently caved in to industry demands.

Lucky for us, consumers like you have made it clear that you’ve had enough.

This will be the year that consumers fight back with a vengeance against politicians who work for Monsanto and Coca-Cola, not the citizens who elected them.

This will be the year that we come out in numbers never before seen, to fight for a right so basic that nearly every country except the U.S. recognizes it. The right to a simple label that tells us whether or not our food has been contaminated with genetically modified organisms.

Big Food has thrown down the gauntlet. It’s up to us to make them sorry they did.
Thank you for all you have already done. And for all that we will do together in 2014.

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our legislative efforts in Washington, Vermont and other states)

 
 

NEW STUDY

Forecast Is Hot, with a (Good) Chance of More Hot

They’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. And what scientists have found is that the clouds predict drastic increases in global temperatures. Increases they say would be “catastrophic rather than simply dangerous.”

New research published in Nature predicts global temperatures will rise by at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced and serious actions by governments and society are not taken.

The study’s lead author, Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales' Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, based his conclusions on research related to the role of cloud formation in global warming.

More here and here

Entire study available for purchase here

 
 

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Out of the Mouths of Babes

So it’s a little staged. And the delivery a bit stilted. But the message comes through loud and clear: If your potatoes aren’t organic, they’ve been sprayed with chlorpropham . . . a toxic chemical that doesn’t just sit on the vegetable’s skin, but permeates the entire potato. Chronic exposure of laboratory animals to chlorpropham has caused “retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen, and death.” And it’s toxic to honeybees.

Watch the video

 
 

ORGANIC TRAVEL

Sign-Up Deadline for Cuba Trip: January 15

“Life changing! I gained a perspective of the social, economic and political conditions in Cuba so valuable for understanding sovereignty and justice in a globalized world.” – Member of the November travel group

The OCA, Vía Orgánica and the Center for Global Justice are offering another chance to leave winter behind and explore the history, culture and agricultural beauty of Cuba. Space is limited, and the deadline for signing up for the 10-day trip (February 14-24) is January 15.

This trip is open to all who have a professional interest. Estimated cost of $1500 plus airfare (from either Miami or Mexico City) includes dormitory-style accommodations and all meals (at the MLK Center), plus translation, guide, transportation and a full program of activities. Cost does not include flights, visa, health and travel insurance, tips, airport exit tax ($30 USD), or souvenirs and other personal items.

Application and non-refundable $100 deposit due by January 15. Limited scholarships are available.

For applications and further information, contact cuba@globaljusticecenter.org

 
 

LITTLE BYTES

Essential Reading for the Week

Natural Ways to Help Fight Flu

Grass, Soil, Hope: How Organic Farming, Carbon Ranching, and Land Restoration Reverse Climate Change

Here's How Young Farmers Looking for Land Are Getting Creative

Lost Hooves, Dead Cattle before Merck Halted Zilmax Sales

Living on Earth: What to Expect in 2014

The Fight for $15: Campaign for Living Wage Readies National Push

 
 

MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS

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