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Last week, we were told that introduction of a Senate bill to kill GMO labeling was “imminent.” When the bill never materialized, its sponsor, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), told the press that it “wasn’t ready yet.”
Now we know why. It seems that Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the board of JustLabelIt (JLI), along with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), are working behind the scenes to broker an (unacceptable) compromise, and to sell that compromise to the GMO labeling movement.
Reliable sources tell us that the compromise Hirshberg, Vilsack and Stabenow are floating is one that would delay implementation of Vermont’s GMO labeling law for two years, while giving corporations the option to adopt QR barcode technology to label GMO ingredients.
Any compromise that lets food companies off the hook for mandatory, on-package labels, and preempts or delays Vermont’s law is unacceptable. Such a compromise would sound the death knell for the GMO labeling movement. A two-year delay in Vermont means Vermont’s law is as good as dead.
We don’t need this compromise. Roberts himself has suggested that any bill preempting Vermont’s law would likely not get Senate approval—not during an election year, and especially not during an election year marked by a contentious debate over a Supreme Court vacancy. But a bill just delaying Vermont’s law? That bill might pass, and be signed into law.
We've fought too long and too hard for Vermont's GMO labeling law to let corporate greed and corrupt politics steal this victory out from under us.
Hirshberg reportedly is asking members of JLI’s board to support the compromise. We’re asking consumers to ask JLI board members to reject it.
We also will continue to voice our opposition, often and loudly, to Roberts' bill, or any bill that would preempt Vermont. That's where all our efforts should be focused—not on a compromise that serves no one but Monsanto and Big Food.
We can only speculate as to why Hirshberg would be meeting with U.S. Senators to convince them to delay Vermont’s law and support a QR code scheme that the majority of consumers reject. Last year, OCA called out Hirshberg for hosting a $2700-a-plate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a big fan of Monsanto and GMOs. Tom Philpott reminded us this week about a 2013 Food & Water Watch report revealing that under Clinton, the U.S. State Department conducted a "concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology overseas, compel countries to import biotech crops and foods they do not want, and lobby foreign governments—especially in the developing world—to adopt policies to pave the way to cultivate biotech crops."
Is Hirshberg cozying up to Vilsack and Clinton? Hoping for a plum assignment in a Clinton administration?
JLI promotes itself as the poster child of GMO labeling advocacy. We hope its board of directors will stand with consumers and the GMO labeling movement, and reject this ill-conceived compromise.
If they don’t, donors to JLI should ask for refunds.
TAKE ACTION: Tell JLI Board Members: Don't Stab Us in the Back! Reject the Latest GMO-QR Code Labeling Compromise!
You might think the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hires the best scientists, to do the most reliable and unbiased research, in order to protect the public.
But Dr. Jonathan Lundgren tells a different story. The story of a respected government scientist who is harassed, blocked from speaking to the media and publishing his work, and ultimately suspended—for speaking the truth.
Lundgren was once considered to have a “stellar” career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). He even earned the agency’s Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist title in 2011.
But all that changed, when this once highly regarded researcher went public with some of his findings about neonicotinoids, the pesticides implicated in the demise of honeybee and monarch butterfly populations—findings that Big Ag and the pesticide industry didn’t like.
TAKE ACTION! Tell the USDA to stop suppressing science. Let researchers do their job!
When we think “bad” food—unhealthy food produced at the expense of the environment, animal welfare, and exploited employees—we often think first of fast food chains.
As it turns out, casual dining restaurant chains operating under brand names like Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse are among the worst offenders when it comes to the callous treatment of the environment, animals and food workers.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI), owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate over $6.8 billion in annual sales. In addition to Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, Darden’s owns Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and the Yard House.
Darden’s boasts that it sells 350 million meals a year that create “many lasting memories for our guests.” The company also touts what it calls its commitment to “People, Planet & Plate.”
This means our commitment to provide our guests with nutritious, high-quality and responsibly-sourced food, to support and develop our team members and to give back to our communities and protect the natural environment.
Nice words. But they aren’t true.
TAKE ACTION: Tell the CEO of Darden Restaurants, Owner of Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse: Serve Good Food!
Or text 'Darden' to 97779 to sign the petition!
Read the letter to Darden’s
Compromise makes sense when two parties are working toward shared goals. Otherwise, it doesn’t. In the case of Monsanto and Big Food vs. consumers who want GMOs labeled—clearly, for everyone, not just those people who have smart phones—we have no shared goals. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents Monsanto and the worst of corporate food, has set a very clear goal: Keep as much information about GMOs as possible away from consumers. Consumers have an opposing goal: Tell us what’s in our food. Citizens in more than 60 other countries have the right to labels on GMO food and ingredients. Campbell’s Soup Co. has shown that it is possible—easy, even—to provide those same labels for U.S. consumers. This is not a time to settle for compromises. Not when those proposed compromises involve delaying (and effectively killing) a law we fought dearly for, won, and was declared constitutional by the courts. Not when the only thing keeping us from achieving our goal is corporate greed and corrupt politics. With your continued support, we will fight for our right to know if our food is contaminated with GMOs and the poisons they are grown with.
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 GMO labeling legislative efforts)
Three recent reports paint a picture of, and make the case for, an organic revolution.
• Organic is climate-resilient. According to a study published this month (February 2016) in Nature Plants, farmers who adopt organic practices fare better during droughts. Climate change resilience isn’t the only benefit to organic farming, the study’s authors point out. Organic crops are more profitable, and deliver foods that are safer because they aren’t grown with pesticides, and are higher in nutrition.
One fact Reganold’s study doesn’t address: Healthy soil also draws down, and sequesters carbon. All the better.
• Organic is healthier. A new study (the largest of its kind), published in the British Journal of Nutrition, shows that both organic milk and meat contain around 50 percent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than their conventionally produced counterparts. The study’s authors analyzed analyzed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found “clear differences” between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants.
The findings are significant, given that Omega-3s are linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease, improved neurological development and function, and better immune function, the authors said.
• Organic is growing, thanks to consumers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Organic food sales in the U.S. have shown double-digit growth during most years since the 1990s, and this trend shows no sign of slowing.
Citing the Nutrition Business Journal, the USDA said organic food sales approached an estimated $37 billion in 2015, up 12 percent from the previous year.
Who’s driving that demand? You.
We have a long way to go, especially in the U.S., before we completely dismantle a food and farming system that is toxic to everything—our health, our environment, our climate and the animals we rely on for meat and dairy products. But we are making progress. We should celebrate the progress. And ratchet up the revolution!
Organic farming better suited to climate change
Organic meat and dairy are better for your health
Consumer demand bolsters organic production
In honor of Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico, our Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos team in Mexico published an open letter to the Pope, asking the religious leader to continue to speak out about the failures of industrial agriculture.
The letter, signed by environmental, farming, natural health, religious and indigenous groups, said in part:
We share your conviction that everything in the world is connected, and that to seek ‘only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.
There is a solution to food insecurity, climate change and biodiversity loss. We must opt for regenerative organic agriculture. The urgency of this problem demands that we join forces and work together to achieve change. We thank you for your courage and your commitment to the world’s poorest, and we accept your challenge to approach these complex crises by seeking solutions that not only protect nature, but also combat poverty and restore dignity to the excluded.
Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos has been working in Mexico and Latin America for more than a decade. Through our Millones Contra Monsanto Campaign, and through our work with allies in other organizations, including Semillas de Vida, GreenPeace Mexico, Consumers International and the organic community in Latin America, we have mobilized hundreds of thousands of consumers, farmers and activists to block the use of GMO corn in Mexico and stand-up against the profiteering and toxic trade promoted by the likes of Monsanto, Maseca, Coca-Cola and Walmart.
Read the letter in English
Read the letter in SpanishMore here
Now you see it, now you don’t.
That’s the theory behind snapchat. Snap a photo or video, send a message, and poof!, in about 10 seconds (give or take) your message and pic vanish. Or, string together your own snapchat story, and it will be visible for 24 hours.
With more than 200 million users, snapchat is the fastest growing social app in the world. It’s free to download, and free to use.
If you’re already on snapchat, search for OrganicConsumer and add us as a friend.
Not on snapchat, but want to join the fun? You can download the snapchat app on your phone or computer, from the App Store or the Google Play Store. After you download the app and create your account, search for OrganicConsumer, and add us as a friend.
Once you’re in, you’ll be able to “snap” and “chat” in real time with OCA. You’ll also be able to view OCA snapchat “stories,” keep up with OCA news and giveaways, and participate in future contests and campaigns.
Check out these OCA snapchat videos
How to Prevent and Treat Kidney Health with Food6 Things I Would Ask the Presidential Candidates About Food and FarmingFDA to Start Testing for Glyphosate in FoodJon Entine: The Chemical Industry's Master MessengerIs It Time to Go Organic for Your Dog's Food?What Scalia's Death Means for Climate ChangeBehind Closed Doors – the Vulnerability of Big MeatCNN Documentary on Processed Food Industry