Organic Consumers Association · Campaigning for Health, Justice, Sustainability, Peace, and Democracy

We Know Who You Are: 71 Senators Reject States’ Rights to Label GMOs

  • by Katherine Paul, May 30, 2013

On the eve of a worldwide protest against Monsanto, 71 U.S. senators voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the 2013 Farm Bill that would have guaranteed states the right to enact mandatory GMO labeling laws.

Seventy-one Senators voted against you, the 90% of consumers who have said that you want labels on foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

Seventy-one Senators – including 43 Republican so-called defenders of states’ rights - voted against your state’s Constitutional Tenth Amendment right to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and local businesses.

We know who those Senators are. And we plan to make certain that everyone who cares about food safety and food sovereignty knows who they are, too.

Background on Monsanto
NAME
MONSANTO JOB
GOVERNMENT JOB
ADMIN

Toby Moffett

Monsanto Consultant

US Congessman

D-CT

Dennis DeConcini

Monsanto
Legal Counsel

US Senator

D-AZ

Margaret Miller

Chemical Lab Supervisor

Dep. Dir. FDA,
HFS

Bush Sr,
Clinton

Marcia Hale

Director, Int'l
Govt. Affairs

White House
Senior Staff

Clinton

Mickey Kantor

Board Member

Sec. of Commerce

Clinton

Virginia Weldon

VP, Public Policy

WH-Appt to CSA, Gore's SDR

Clinton

Josh King

Director, Int'l
Govt. Affairs

White House Communications

Clinton

David Beler

VP, Gov't & Public Affairs

Gore's Chief Dom.
Polcy Advisor

Clinton

Carol Tucker-Foreman

Monsanto Lobbyist

WH-Appointed Consumer Adv

Clinton

Linda Fisher

VP, Gov't & Public Affairs

Deputy Admin
EPA

Clinton,
Bush

Lidia Watrud

Manager, New Technologies

USDA, EPA

Clinton,
Bush, Obama

Michael Taylor

VP, Public Policy

Dep. Commiss. FDA

Obama

Hilary Clinton

Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel

US Senator,
Secretary of State

D-NY
Obama

Roger Beachy

Director, Monsanto Danforth Center

Director USDA NIFA

Obama

Islam Siddiqui

Monsanto Lobbyist

Ag Negotiator
Trade Rep

Obama

 

A Monsanto executive told The New York Times that the safety of genetically engineered foods was the government's problem, not the company's:

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food," said Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job.”

As Angell implies, Monsanto's interest in selling as much genetically engineered food as possible is in direct conflict with the government's responsibility for food safety.

Monsanto has induced politicians to abdicate their responsibility to protect consumers through generous campaign contributions and heavy lobbying.

The most telling evidence that Monsanto's strategy has been an overwhelming succes is the number of former Monsanto employees who have been given jobs in the FDA and other regulatory agencies that monitor Monsanto's products.

Margaret Miller is just one example. While working as a Monsanto researcher, she contributed to a scientific report for the FDA on Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Shortly before the report was submitted, Miller left Monsanto to work at the FDA, where her first job was to review the same report! Assisting Miller was another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen.

Needless to say, the FDA accepted Monsanto's findings, which became the basis for its approval of Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone and its decision not to require labels on milk produced through the use of the artificial hormone.

The FDA official who made the decision not to label Monsanto's milk was Michael Taylor, who had worked as a lawyer for Monsanto. Today, Michael Taylor is in the Obama Administration, in charge of food safety.

LEARN MORE:

Obama and Corn

President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government. On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised: We'll tell ConAgra that it's not the Department of Agribusiness. It's the Department of Agriculture. We're going to put the people's interests ahead of the special interests.

Tom VilsackBut, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they'll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration.

President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms:

Michael TaylorMichael Taylor

former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.

Roger BeachyRoger Beachy

former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Islam SiddiquiIslam Siddiqui

Vice President of theMonsanto and Dupont-fundedpesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife, is now the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.

Rajiv ShahRajiv Shah

former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), served as Obama's USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.

Elena KaganElena Kagan

who, as President Obama's Solicitor General, took Monsanto's side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, is now on the Supreme Court.

Ramona Romero

corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.

Percy SchmeiserPercy Schmeiser is a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto's genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn't matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered products). According to Schmeiser, "I never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying chemicals. I never signed a contract.

If I would go to St. Louis (Monsanto Headquarters) and contaminate their plots - destroy what they have worked on for 40 years - I think I would be put in jail and the key thrown away."

Rodney Nelson's family farm is being forced into a similar lawsuit by Monsanto.

Support Schmeiser, Nelson and hundreds of other farmers who are being forced to pay Monsanto to have their fields contaminated by genetically modified organisms.

Oakhurst Dairy

Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine family since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of business. Oakhurst, like many other dairy producers in the U.S., has been responding to consumer demand to provide milk free of rBGH, a synthetic hormone banned (for health reasons) in every industrialized country other than the U.S.

Monsanto, the number one producer of the rBGH synthetic steroid, sued Oakhurst, claiming they should not have the right to inform their customers that their dairy products do not contain the Monsanto chemical. Given the intense pressure from the transnational corporation, Oakhurst was forced to settle out of court, leaving many other dairies vulnerable to similar attacks from Monsanto.

Anniston, Alabama CitizensANNISTON, Ala. -- On the west side of Anniston, the poor side of Anniston, the people grew berries in their gardens, raised hogs in their back yards, caught bass in the murky streams where their children swam and played and were baptized. They didn't know their dirt and yards and bass and kids -- along with the acrid air they breathed -- were all contaminated with toxic chemicals. They didn't know they lived in one of the most polluted patches of America.

Now they know. They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate-giant concealed what it did and what it knew... (Read more...)

The negative health effects, due to exposure to Monsanto's Agent Orange, have been well documented over the past three decades. Child at Vietnam War MemorialThe dioxin in Agent Orange has been accepted internationally as one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, causing everything from severe birth defects, to cancer, to neurological disorders, to death. But Monsanto has successfully blocked any major movement towards compensating veterans and civilians who were exposed to the company's Agent Orange.

Long before Agent Orange was used as a herbicide in the Vietnam war, Monsanto knew of its negative health impacts on humans. Since then, Monsanto has been unsuccessful at covering its tracks and has even been convicted of fabricating false research documentation that claims Agent Orange has no negative health effects, other than a possible skin rash. Thanks to Monsanto's influence, the Center for Disease Control also released a report claiming veterans were never exposed to harmful levels of Agent Orange.

Agent Orange VictimAs a note, from 1962 to 1970, the US military sprayed 72 million liters of herbicides, mostly Agent Orange, on over one million Vietnamese civilians and over 100,000 U.S. troops. As a result, within ten years of the close of the war, 9170 veterans had filed claims for disabilities caused by Agent Orange. The VA denied compensation to 7709, saying that a facial rash was the only disease associated with exposure.

In 2002, Vietnam requested assistance in dealing with the tens of thousands of birth defects due to Agent Orange. In order to avoid medical compensation expenses, Monsanto continues to claim this now banned chemical is not toxic. (Read more..)

A couple of organizations working specifically on the Agent Orange issue among those affected in Vietnam and the US are Project Agent Orange and Agent Orange Legacy, among many others.

Damaged Banana CropsMonsanto has also been implicated in the indiscriminate sale and use of RoundUp Ultra in the anti-drug fumigation efforts of Plan Colombia. Of the some $1.3 billion of taxpayers' money earmarked for Plan Colombia, Monsanto has received upwards of $25 million for providing RoundUp Ultra.

RoundUp Ultra is a highly concentrated version of Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide, with additional surfactants to increases its lethality. Local communities and human rights organizations charge that Ultra is destroying food crops, water sources and protected areas in the Andes, primarily Colombia.

Paradoxically, the use of RoundUp Ultra has actually increased coca cultivation in the Andes. As local farming communities are increasingly impacted by RoundUp Ultra fumigations, many turn to the drug trade as a means of economic survival. Regional NGOs have estimated that almost 200,000 hectares have been fumigated with Ultra under Plan Colombia.

Monsanto also produces the most commonly used broadleaf pesticide in the world, glyphosate--or Roundup. In addition to its inherent toxicity as a chemical pesticide, Roundup has now been found to aid the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat. This disease creates a toxin in the infected wheat, making the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Canada's wheat industry is currently being ravaged by this disease. At the same time, the widespread use of Roundup has resulted in the formation of "super weeds" --- unwanted plants that have developed an immunity to these pesticides. Read study linking Monsanto's Roundup to Cancer.

Polluted Farm Water

Over the past century, global water supplies have been contaminated with the full gamut of Monsanto's chemicals, including PCBs, dioxin and glyophosate (Roundup). So now the company, seeing a profitable market niche, is taking control of the public water resources they polluted, filtering it, and selling it back to the people. In short, Monsanto is making a double profit by polluting the world's scarce freshwater resources, privately taking ownership of that water, filtering it, and selling it back to those who can afford to pay for it.

Genetically engineered crops are causing an economic disaster for farmers in the U.S. So says a new report released by Britain's Soil Association. The report is a massive compilation of data showing GE crops have cost American taxpayers $12 billion in farm subsidies in the past three years. "Within a few years of the introduction of GM crops, almost the entire $300 million annual US maize exports to the EU had disappeared, and the US share of the soya market had decreased," the report said. In addition, the study says that GE crops have lead to an increased use of pesticides, while resulting in overall lower crop yields. (Read more...)

Indian Cotton FarmersiaIn India the financial figures for the recent cotton growing season have finally been crunched. Although Monsanto convinced many of India's farmers that buying the more expensive GE cotton seeds would result in higher yields and better cotton, the reverse is actually true. Crop yields for GE cotton were 5 TIMES LESS than traditional Indian cotton and the income from GE cotton was 7 TIMES LESS than conventional cotton, due to Monsanto's cotton having lower quality short fibers. As a result of the insurmountable deluge of debt accrued from paying more for the GE seeds and having a weak crop, more than 100 Indian farmers committed suicide in the last year. (Read more...)

RoundUp

"Ignoring potential non-target detrimental side effects of any chemical, especially one used as heavily as glyphosate [Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide], may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious.

To do so might well compromise not only agricultural sustainability, but also the health and well-being of animals and humans."

Johal, G.S. and D.M. Huber. Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants. 2009. European Journal of Agronomy 31:144-152

Read More...

RoundUp

"There is compelling evidence that animals provided with feed containing GM ingredients can react in a way that is unique to an exposure to GM plants. This is revealed through metabolic, physiological or immunological responses in exposed animals."

Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed, Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand by Professor Jack A.Heinemann, PhD, 24 July 2009

Read More...

Take Action

Tell congress: Don't Pass a Farm Bill that Lets Monsanto Wipe Out State Labeling Laws

Tell the USDA: No More Field Trials of Unapproved GMO Crops

Kill the Monsanto Protection Act: Force Senator Roy Blunt to Resign!

Tell EPA You Want Lower, Not Higher Limits on Monsanto's Roundup!

Monsanto in the News
Essays by Ronnie Cummins