After decades of trying to reform public policy on food and farming, including an intense four-year battle to force mandatory labeling of GMOs (rudely terminated in 2016 when Congress and the Obama administration rammed through the outrageous DARK Act), food activists and conscious consumers find ourselves wondering “what’s the use of lobbying the government?”
Do we really think the Trump administration, the Republican Congress, and farm state and Establishment Democrats care about the toxicity, exploitation and environmental destruction of our food system?
The culinary directive from Congress and the White House this summer goes something like this: Don’t worry. Shut up and eat your Frankenfoods, cheap junk foods, and factory-farm meat, dairy and poultry.
Don’t worry about Monsanto’s Roundup or Dow’s neonic residues in your food and water. Don’t worry about the dubious fare at your local supermarkets, including thousands of products fraudulently labeled or advertised as “natural.”
It's time to step up the attack on Monsanto, pesticides, factory farms, fake “natural” products, organic fraud, and the entire degenerative food and farming system. It’s time to make organic and healthy food the norm, not just the niche market that it still is.
Read Ronnie’s essay: ‘Degeneration Nation’
Vermont’s GMO labeling law, which took effect July 1, 2016, only to be preempted a few weeks later, set the standard for what real GMO labels look like.
Under Vermont’s law, foods that were “produced with genetic engineering” were labeled as such. The only foods that were exempt were foods prepared for immediate consumption (for example, food in restaurants or salad bars), alcohol and foods from animals fed genetically engineered feed. These exemptions were necessary to comply with preexisting federal labeling laws.
Congress and the USDA have the power to require even stricter labels than Vermont. But instead, Congress passed the DARK Act, a law clearly intended to severely limit the number of GMO foods that would be labeled.
Instead of actual words on the package, the DARK Act lets food companies hide information about GMOs on websites. Under this scheme, consumers would have to download a so-called "SmartLabel" app to their smart phones, then—while they’re shopping—scan QR barcodes which send them to the brand’s website where they have to search for information on GMO ingredients.
The DARK Act directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to come up with a federal “bioengineered food disclosure” scheme. Trump Administration is beginning to write the regulations which will define that scheme, and is seeking public comments on those regulations until July 17.
Tell the USDA we need GMO labels—not QR codes or other technology schemes that make it difficult for many, and impossible for some consumers to know whether they’re buying GMO foods, or foods that contain GMO ingredients.
TAKE ACTION BY JULY 17: Tell the USDA what real GMO labels look like!
“I’ve worked as a professional journalist in Chicago for more than three decades. I’ve uncovered questionable activity in government groups, nonprofits, and private companies. But I don’t think I have ever seen a group so intent on trying to personally attack the journalist covering the issue.” - Monica Eng, journalist, WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station
The “group” Eng was referring to, in her interview with The Progressive, is Monsanto and Big Biotech.
In a scathing indictment of the biotech industry’s assault on journalism and scientists, journalist Paul D. Thacker digs deep into the many nefarious tactics Monsanto and others in the industry deploy in their quest to discredit journalists and experts who dare to speak truth to power. Here’s an excerpt:
Hints of the biotech industry’s media tactics have leaked from court cases filed against Monsanto alleging glyphosate causes cancer. Several filings reference internal Monsanto documents that describe the company’s social media strategy called “Let Nothing Go”—a program in which individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry rapidly respond to negative social media posts regarding Monsanto, GMOs, and agrichemicals.
Lawyers in one case told a judge that documents show Monsanto funnels money to the Genetic Literacy Project and the American Council on Science and Health in order to “shame scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and other chemical producers.”
OCA’s Facebook pages are routinely “visited” by Monsanto’s “Let Nothing Go” trolls. Next time you encounter one of them on our Organic Consumers or Millions Against Monsanto Facebook pages, let them know that you’re on to them, by pasting this link in the comments.
Read ‘Flacking for GMOs: How the Biotech Industry Cultivates Positive Media—and Discourages Criticism’
Support US Right to Know, an independent nonprofit, partially funded by OCA, that pursues transparency and accountability in the U.S. food system.
It’s easy to forget these days that there’s more going on in Washington D.C. than the daily intrigue swirling around the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia.
But there is. And much of it doesn’t bode well for the issues you care about.
A New York Times article this week painted a stark picture of Trump’s deregulation teams and how the work they’re doing “is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts.”
The Times reported on the difficulty reporters have encountered in trying to learn more about who’s running the teams, and just how deep their industry ties are, through requests for public documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In many cases, responses to public records requests have been “denied, delayed or severely redacted,” the Times wrote.
The notion that industry lobbyists are running the show in D.C. is nothing new. But if we thought corporate influence over public policy was bad before (and we did), it’s fast approaching levels companies like Dow and Monsanto could only have dreamed of a few years ago.
OCA’s attorneys recently used FOIA to obtain information about what’s in Sanderson Farms “100% Natural” chicken. What we found—drugs, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides—astounded us. We went to the media with those results, and to the courts to stop Sanderson’s deception in the marketplace.
Now, we worry that our next FOIA request will be met with the same response that the Times reporters got: denied, delayed or severely redacted.
Time will tell. But we know this: No amount of corporate collusion with government agencies, no attempts to hide the truth from consumers or the public, will shut us down.
With your help, we will keep the pressure on the EPA, FDA and USDA. Every. Single. Day.
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)
Donate to Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
Support OCA's Regeneration International Project (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic, regenerative agriculture and climate change)
“Capitalism has failed by failing to put a value on carbon.”
Regeneration International's (RI) Oliver Gardner caught up with organic food pioneer Craig Sams this week in Wales, at the Harmony in Food and Farming Conference, hosted by the Sustainable Food Trust.
Sams, who launched the first organic corn flakes cereal and also founded Green & Black’s Chocolate and Carbon Gold, Ltd., spoke about the need to rethink the role of carbon in our economies, and especially in global agriculture.
Capitalism is about placing a value on every resource that’s important to us, Sams said. We place a value on land. Cattle. Gold. Oil. But not on soil carbon.
“Carbon has a positive value. It enhances the quality of soil, and therefore our ability to produce food. Carbon also has a negative value. If we lose it from the soil, we lose the value, the quality, the structure of the soil, and we are putting it in the atmosphere where it leads to global warming.”
Who has a vested interest in not valuing carbon? Agribusiness, explains Sams.
Watch RI’s interview with organic pioneer Craig Sams
More interviews from the ‘Harmony in Food and Farming’ Conference
Follow RI on Facebook
Follow RI on Twitter
Subscribe to RI’s YouTube Channel
Subscribe to RI’s monthly newsletter
Two new studies plus an article published this week in New York Magazine paint a bleak picture for life on earth if we fail to rein in global warming.
Humans are inflicting “biological annihilation” on the natural world, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. CNN, which reported on the study, wrote:
Their key findings: Nearly one-third of the 27,600 land-based mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile species studied are shrinking in terms of their numbers and territorial range. The researchers called that an "extremely high degree of population decay."
A study published this week in the journal Science predicted that global warming is on track to devastate the U.S. economy in years ahead if temperatures are allowed to rise unabated. Reporting on the study, Living Earth wrote:
A new, interdisciplinary effort analyzed vast amounts of climate and economic data to forecast certain regions of the United States will be hit harder than others by global warming. Economist and lead author Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley, told Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood the study estimates southern counties of the US, many of which are poor, could face a 20-percent decline in economic activity if carbon emissions continue unabated through the 21st century.
The New York Magazine article made no attempt to sugar-coat the climate crisis. The author wrote:
It is, I promise, worse than you think . . . Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.
So where’s the hope? Food and farming.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognizing that our only hope to avert a climate crisis is through a global transition to regenerative agriculture, recently published a new set of guidelines to help world governments assess climate change impacts on local agriculture, identify adaptation options, and support farmers—especially women—in adopting best practices in climate change adaptation.
What can you do? Support the farmers who are regenerating, not degenerating, our soils.
What role does organic food play in strengthening your immune system? OCA’s Ronnie Cummins will speak on this topic (Saturday, July 29) during the July 24 – 31 online Immune Defense Summit.
Ronnie joins 35 other experts who will speak on a range of topics, including:
• Infectious disease solutions (without toxic drugs!)• Latest advances in immune protective protocols• How to stop the threat of colds, flu and pneumonia• Alarming vaccine news (and safe alternatives!)• Strategies to reverse disease symptoms at the root cause
If you’re looking for strategies to keep your immune system strong and to resist superbugs, pandemics, viruses and chronic diseases, tune in online, July 24-31.
Register for the Immune Defense Summit (no cost)
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Resistance is Fertile (Not Futile)
Coconut Oil for Crohn's
2,600-Mile Journey Sparks Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution
Trump's Pick to Head CDC Partnered with Coke, Boosting Agency's Longstanding Ties to Soda Giant
Common Bug Killers Used in Homes Persist for Over a Year
The Deep Industry Ties of Trump’s Deregulation Teams
Vaccine Industry Worried About Accountability