Stopping Monsanto's Madness


#233, July 16, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins


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History of the Week

Dan Quayle Couldn't Spell Potato, But He Made Sure They'd Be Genetically Engineered

How Monsanto Got Their Permit to Poison Us

On May 26, 1992, George Bush's Vice-President, Dan Quayle, proclaimed the Bush administration's new policy on bioengineered food.

“The reforms we announce today will speed up and simplify the process of bringing better agricultural products, developed through biotech, to consumers, food processors and farmers,” Mr. Quayle told a crowd of executives and reporters in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive Office Building. “We will ensure that biotech products will receive the same oversight as other products, instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation.”

“We will not compromise safety one bit.” Mr. Quayle told his audience.

In the F.D.A.'s nearby offices, not everyone was so sure. Among them was Dr. Louis J. Pribyl, one of 17 government scientists working on a policy for genetically engineered food. Dr. Pribyl knew from studies that toxins could be unintentionally created when new genes were introduced into a plant's cells. But under the new edict, the government was dismissing that risk and any other possible risk as no different from those of conventionally derived food. That meant biotechnology companies would not need government approval to sell the foods they were developing.

Dr. Pribyl, a microbiologist, was not alone at the agency. Dr. Gerald Guest, director of the center of veterinary medicine, wrote that he and other scientists at the center had concluded there was “ample scientific justification” to require tests and a government review of each genetically engineered food before it was sold.

The scientists were displaying precisely the concerns that Monsanto executives from the 1980's had anticipated - and indeed had considered reasonable. But now, rather than trying to address those concerns, Monsanto, the industry and official Washington were dismissing them as the insignificant worries of the uninformed. Under the final F.D.A. policy that the White House helped usher in, the new foods would be tested only if companies did it. Labeling was ruled out as potentially misleading to the consumer, since it might suggest that there was reason for concern.

-Excerpt from "Biotechnology Food: From the Lab to a Debacle," by Kurt Eichenwald, New York Times, January 25, 2001


Alert of the Week

Tell the FDA to Fix What Dan Quayle Got Wrong

In 1992, Monsanto successfully lobbied President George H.W. Bush's administration to deregulate its controversial and untested technology of genetic engineering.

The Bush-Quayle loophole, still in effect today, is based on industry propaganda rather than peer-reviewed science; it claims that genetically engineered food, crops, and animals "substantially equivalent" to conventional food and crops. No safety testing or labels are required.

The result is that genetically engineered foods are everywhere, but nobody knows that they're eating them or what effect they're having on our health. Study after study indicating serious damage to animals fed genetically engineered food have been downplayed or ignored. Links to human hazards, such as the genetically engineered L-tryptophan disaster of 1989, which killed scores of Americans and permanently injured thousands more, or experiments in 1999 in the UK by renowned scientist Arpad Pusztai, have been literally suppressed.

Now, years later, we're beginning to learn what government regulators should have told us all along. Recently, independent scientists reviewed animal feeding studies conducted by Monsanto in 2000 and 2001. They found that Monsanto's own data revealed the dangers of three of their commonly used genetically engineered corn varieties. One scientist explained:

“For the first time in the world, we have proven that genetically engineered foods are neither sufficiently healthy or proper to be commercialized. Each time, for all three genetically modified organisms, the kidneys and liver which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems.”

Given this evidence, it is unconscionable to continue to promote the fallacy that genetically engineered food is the same as normal food. It's different. Consumers have a right to know what they're eating.

The Organic Consumers Association supports Congressman Kucinich's Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, but an act of Congress isn't necessary to label genetically engineered foods.

The Truth in Labeling Coalition is asking the Food and Drug Administration to fix what Bush-Quayle got wrong. TLC has submitted a Citizen's Petition making the case that the FDA can reverse the Monsanto Mandate forced on us by Bush-Quayle, and put an end to the idea that genetically engineered foods and crops are trustworthy and don't need to be labeled, as they are in the European Union.

We have a chance now to make the change. The Food & Drug Administration needs to admit that, in the Bush-Quayle era of deregulation, they took the wrong approach to genetically engineered foods. On the campaign trail, President Obama professed support for mandatory labeling. Now is the time for him to fulfill his promise to support consumers' right to know.

Please support the Truth in Labeling Coalition's Citizen Petition by taking action now to write F.D.A. Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.


Resource of the Week

4 Simple Ways to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food

1. Buy organic - organic producers are not allowed to use genetically engineered ingredients
2. Look for "Non-GMO" labels
3. Avoid risky ingredients: corn, soy, vegetable oil (canola, cottonseed, and soybean), sugarbeet sugar
4. Buy products listed in the Non-GMO Shopping Guide



OCA Needs Your Help to Fight Monsanto and Spread the Organic Revolution

OCA and our growing network of organic consumers and farmers understand that we have a positive life-affirming solution for the global food, health, and climate crisis: organic food, farming, and ranching. But to fight Monsanto and Big Food and get out our all-important message we need your support. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today and we'll send you a free "Millions Against Monsanto" bumper sticker so you can help spread the word in your community. Please be sure to put 'sticker' in the comments field of your donation.

Just Arrived! Millions Against Monsanto t-shirts! Organic and fair trade. This week any donation $200 and over will get a free t-shirt. Please specify your interest and size in the comments field. Help OCA and spread the word about the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign!


Via Organica

Spreading the Biointensive Revolution in Mexico

OCA and our affiliate in Mexico, Via Organica, believe that "biointensive" organic agriculture is the only way we're going to feed ourselves and feed the world in this emerging era of climate chaos, Peak Oil, and evermore scarce water. "Biointensive" is a cutting-edge method of organic farming and gardening, incorporating traditional methods, appropriate in both urban and rural settings, spearheaded by agronomist John Jeavons and the California-based organization, Ecology Action, which generates maximum yields on minimum areas of land, with a goal of long-term sustainability and soil improvement. Biointensive methods can produce between two and four times the number of vegetables and herbs per acre as traditional organic and chemical farming. As the world population grows, it is essential to find alternatives to the relatively low yields of conventional energy and chemical-intensive monoculture. Biointensive, like all organic agriculture, takes carbon dioxide from the air and stores it in the soil, does not rely on fossil fuels, and increases yields.

Jennifer Ungamach, Via Organica's resident expert and a student of John Jeavons, will be holding English language, Biointensive Agriculture Workshop for three consecutive Saturdays beginning August 14 at the Via Organica farm school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The course will also include an introduction to soil microbiology, compost tea brewing and clay pot irrigation.

For more information please contact Jennifer at


Millions Against Monsanto

Vote Monsanto Into the Corporate Hall of Shame

If there were a Corporate Hall of Shame, would Monsanto belong in it? Of course they would.

Thankfully, there IS a Hall of Shame for abusive corporations, and now we can help make sure Monsanto is inducted.

Corporate Accountability International, a membership organization that protects people through campaigns that challenge abusive corporations, is opening up voting to the public for their popular Corporate Hall of Shame.

The Hall of Shame exposes some of the most abusive, manipulative and harmful corporations - and this year Monsanto is one of eight possible inductees.

Voting is open now, so click here to vote to make sure Monsanto gets inducted.

Corporate Accountability International will announce the three new inductees this fall, and having Monsanto included will add pressure to our own campaign work.

Thanks for voting.


Victory of the Week

OCA's Coming Clean Campaign in the New York Times

The New York Times covers the Organic Consumers Association's successful campaign to get Whole Foods Market to dump faux organic health & beauty products.


Videos of the Week

The Food and Climate Connection

What is simultaneously one of the greatest contributors to climate change and one of its greatest potential solutions?  As you may know, it's how we farm and eat.  Indeed, food and climate change are inextricably linked.  The same global food system that is making us sick, increasing food insecurity, and polluting the environment is also contributing to climate change. Climate change, in turn, is contributing to rising rates of hunger and food insecurity.  But the good news is all of us can be part of the solution.

The Future of Food

Lily Films is now streaming The Future of Food, the groundbreaking documentary by filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia on the industrial food system, genetic engineering, the patenting of life and farmers' rights, for free with no commercials on their website.

Hands That Feed

Hands That Feed is a documentary film exploring the agricultural collapse in Haiti, its role in the post-earthquake food crisis, and the emerging grassroots development models that seek to restore Haiti's food supply and environment.


Radio of the Week

Ronnie Cummins on Genetically Engineered Salmon

If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the first ever genetically engineered salmon, so-called "Frankenfish" could soon be coming to a plate near you. OCA Director Ronnie Cummins speaks with Uprising Radio in Los Angeles, CA about the dangers of genetically engineered frankenfish. Listen to the whole radio interview here.


Little Bytes

The Escalating Chemical War on Weeds - Profit Drive Of Monsanto And Other Chemical Companies Backfires

Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters

A Debate on Geoengineering: Vandana Shiva vs. Gwynne Dyer

Profit Drive Of Monsanto And Other Chemical Companies Backfires

Safe Canning: BPA in Canning Lids and Canned Food



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