Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

Challenging the Biotech Industry

The Millions Against Monsanto Campaign was started by OCA in the mid-1990s to fight back against Monsanto and the other biotech bullies responsible for poisoning the world’s food and the environment.

For more than two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture, including the development of genetically modified seeds. Finally, public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of the world’s food supply and destruction of the environment has reached the tipping point.

The battle for labels on GMO foods

Beginning in 2012, OCA played a major role in organizing and fundraising for citizen ballot initiative campaigns in California ( Proposition 37, 2012), Washington (I-522, 2013) and Oregon (Measure 92, 2014) which would have required foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) sold in those states to be labeled. OCA also supported a GMO labeling initiative in Colorado, and was a major funder of a grassroots campaign in Vermont that resulted in that state passing a mandatory GMO labeling law.

Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a multi-billion-dollar lobbying group representing biochemical and food companies, spent hundreds of millions of dollars (see the breakdown here) to defeat, by very slim margins in all cases, the GMO labeling initiatives in California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado. Even though consumers, the majority of whom supported mandatory labeling of GMOs, didn’t get labels, the ballot initiative campaigns raised national awareness around the issues of GMO safety and influence of corporate money on food policy. The GMA spent more than $46 million to defeat California’s labeling initiative, and all told, more than $400 million to defeat all of the initiatives and to ultimately pass a weak, voluntary federal GMO labeling law, dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, that preempted Vermont’s law.

OCA collaborated on the development of a "Buycott App" for consumers, which allows them to identify those companies that support GMO labeling, and boycott the brands and companies that helped defeat GMO labeling initiatives.

Chipping away at Big Food's lobbying power

Following the defeat in 2012 of California’s GMO labeling law, OCA led the charge to expose the companies and brands that spent millions to defeat consumer interests. OCA’s “Traitor Boycott” encouraged consumers to boycott the natural and organic brands owned by major food corporations that made big donations, either independently or through the GMA, to defeat labeling laws. The bad publicity generated by the public exposure and boycotts led to the GMA to protect brands the following year during the Washington State ballot initiative campaign by laundering donations. The GMA was ordered to pay $18 million for violating Washington State campaign finance laws.

Bad publicity and consumer boycotts also led some companies to part ways with the GMA. Campbell’s Soup Co. was the first to drop out of the lobbying group, after announcing the company would label GMOs even if not required to do so by law.

By the end of 2017, six major food companies said they would leave the GMA, and in January 2017, two more—Hershey and Cargill—pulled out, raising questions about how the loss of support might impact the lobbying group’s power in Washington, DC.

Holding Monsanto and Big Food accountable

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup® and other weed killers, as “probably carcinogenic to humans." For more than a decade, OCA has sounded the alarm on the dangers of glyphosate. As part of its campaign to educate consumers about the health and environmental hazards of Roundup®, OCA routinely tests major brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and publicizes the results. In some cases, OCA sues companies that represent their glyphosate-contaminated brands as “natural” or “all natural.” Examples include Nature Valley granola bars, Post Shredded Wheat and Bigelow Tea.

OCA was among one of the founding organizers of the Monsanto Tribunal, an international civil society initiative held Oct. 15-16, 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands, to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations and ecocide. Eminent judges heard testimonies from victims and experts. The judges delivered a legal opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice on April 18, 2017. They concluded that Monsanto’s activities have a negative impact on basic human rights.

In April 2017, OCA and Beyond Pesticides sued Monsanto for misleading the public by labeling its flagship Roundup® weedkiller as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” The lawsuit claimed this statement is false, deceptive, and misleading because the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is in fact found in people and pets. Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss, but a federal judge ruled in favor of OCA and Beyond Pesticides.

In August 2017, the law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman released dozens of Monsanto emails revealing that Monsanto employees were involved in editing and drafting scientific reviews on glyphosate that were purportedly independent. These documents are part of what is known as The Monsanto Papers. U.S. Righttoknow.org played a major role in analyzing and publicizing the content found in The Monsanto Papers.OCA is a major funder of U.S. Right to Know.

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RECOMMENDED BOOKS

  • Altered Genes, Twisted Truth
    This book tells the astounding story of how the massive enterprise to restructure the genetic core of the world's food supply came into being, and how it advanced by consistently violating the protocols of science and contorting the truth.
  • The Myths of Safe Pesticides
    André Leu challenges conventional farming methods by refuting the myths that surround the use and understanding of pesticides. He exposes the dangers of these chemicals and advocates organic practices as the most viable for farming in the 21st Century.
  • Exposing industry and government lies about the safety of the genetically engineered foods you’re eating. Seeds of Deception, documents significant health dangers of genetically modified (GM) foods and the intense industry influence and political corruption that allow them on the market.
  • The biotech industry’s claim that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe is shattered in this groundbreaking book. Nearly 65 health risks of the foods that Americans eat every day are presented in easy-to-read two-page spreads. The left page is designed for quick scanning, and the right side offers fully referenced text.
  • Winner of the Rachel Carson prize, an explosive exposé of the disturbing practices of the world’s most influential multinational agricultural corporation.
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