Organic Consumers Association

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"Magic Soap" Maker David Bronner on Labeling Genetically Modified Food, Fair Trade, the War on Hemp

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety page, Genetic Engineering page.

Amy Goodman: Critics of genetically modified foods have won a victory in California by securing enough signatures to place a referendum on next November's ballot that would force food manufacturers to label products containing GMOs. Nearly one million people signed petitions, nearly double the amount needed. If California voters pass the referendum, it could affect industry labeling practices across the country. Numerous items are already sold in grocery stores containing genetically modified corn and soy, but companies do not currently have to inform consumers.

We're joined here in studio by a leading supporter of the "Right to Know" effort, David Bronner. He's president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. His grandfather founded the legendary company in 1948. For decades, Bronner's Magic Soaps has been a staple in health food stores across the country. The company has also been involved in numerous political campaigns pushing for fair trade, as well as the promotion of the hemp industry. In 2009, David Bronner was arrested for planting hemp outside the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington.

David Bronner, welcome to Democracy Now!

David Bronner: Thank you.

Amy Goodman: Let us start with this legislation, the ballot that's going on the November-the initiative that's going on the ballot in November. Can you explain it?

David Bronner: Sure. So, unlike every citizen in Europe, Japan, even China, in 40 countries around the world, Americans don't have the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered or not. Genetic engineering of crops is generally done by chemical companies who have bought the seed industry in this country to engineer resistance to their weed killers. And so, for instance, Roundup Ready soybean, Roundup Ready corn-it's 80 percent of genetically engineered crops are doused with high levels of Roundup Ready. And we do not have the right to opt out, basically, of this experiment on the American public of eating these genetically engineered foods, which have not been tested.

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