When’s the last time you signed a petition or wrote a letter urging the FDA or Congress or your state legislator to add Vitamin A or potassium to the nutrition label on packaged foods?
Do you recall ever petitioning anyone to change the serving sizes listed on food labels? Or to increase the font size used to list calories?
More likely, the only label change you’ve argued for or campaigned for has been one that tells you whether or not your food has been genetically modified.
On February 27, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a media blitz to tout the FDA’s proposed new rules for nutrition labels on packaged foods. Both the FDA and Mrs. Obama trumpeted the changes, the first in 20 years and 10 years in the making, as being designed to help consumers “make healthy food choices for their kids.”
Conspicuously absent from the media hype was any mention of the one label that consumers have been crystal clear about wanting, the label that consumers in nearly 60 other countries have but Americans don’t—a label that tells us whether or not our cereal or soda or mac & cheese contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
When Michelle Obama speaks, the media listens. And listen they did on February 27, when Mrs. Obama went to bat for the FDA’s proposed new-and-improved rules for labels on food.
What should consumers expect? More realistic (as in larger) serving sizes. Calorie counts in bigger and bolder type. Out with Vitamin A and in with Vitamin D and potassium.
What won’t you see on the new labels? Any mention of whether or not your food purchase contains GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
It’s great the Mrs. Obama is championing better nutrition for kids. But no discussion of better nutrition, better health, better food and better food labels is even remotely complete without addressing consumers’ number one food policy concern: GMOs.
In 2012 we launched a MoveOn.org petition asking Mrs. Obama to remind President Obama of his 2007 campaign promise to label GMOs. She ignored our more than 207,000 petitions. And President Obama has done nothing to honor his promise.
Earlier this year the OCA, Friends of the Earth and other groups gathered more than a half-million petition signatures to Frank Blake, CEO, Home Depot and Robert Niblock, CEO, Lowe's, asking them to stop selling plants pretreated with bee-killing pesticides.
A representative for Mr. Blake and Home Depot has reached out, and we are in discussions with Home Depot about how to source plants that are not pretreated in deadly neonicotinoids (the pesticide most implicated in the die-off of bees).
But so far, no word from Mr. Niblock or Lowe’s.
A recent study co-authored by the Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Research Institute found that seven out of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids.
Neonics, made by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, are the fastest-growing class of synthetic pesticides.
They’re also linked to the mass die-off of honeybees.
Our taxpayer-subsidized officials at the FDA must be deaf. And devious?
A few weeks ago, the FDA announced with great fanfare its plan to revamp the requirements for the labels on our food—without a single mention of requiring companies to let consumers know if their products contain GMOs.
But here’s an even better story. The Office of Budget and Management has agreed to fund FDA “experimental” studies on—are you ready?—how consumers’ eyes read food packages.
That’s right. According to PoliticoPro.com, the FDA will spend god-knows-how-many-dollars on “eye-tracking” studies so, the agency said, it can “gain a better understanding of how consumers use labels in general.”
This is how the FDA is spending its time, and your dollars. While ignoring the millions of consumers who have pounded the agency with requests to require food companies to label foods that are contaminated with GMOs.
We are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to support more state ballot initiatives and state laws to label GMOs, and more county bans on GMO crops. Because it’s clear that the FDA has turned a deaf ear to what consumers really want to see on food labels.
Please make a generous donation today, so we can meet our fundraising goal by midnight, March 31. If we do, our allies, Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, will send matching funds. Thank you!
Monsanto will have to wait awhile longer before it can contaminate Mexico’s countryside with its GMO corn. And thanks in part to the work being done by OCA’s Mexico-based sister network, Vía Orgánica, the Biotech Bully may never get the chance to destroy what has traditionally been a global haven for food crop biodiversity.
This year marks the 5-year anniversary of OCA’s Vía Orgánica (the “Organic Way”) Project. Organized and subsidized by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) in 2009, Vía Orgánica is a non-profit organization that serves as a network for organic consumers and farmers in Mexico. The project operates an organic food market and restaurant, and an eco-ranch that is also an education/training center for sustainable agriculture.
But just like its sister org north of the border, OCA’s Vía Orgánica Project is also a key player in Mexico’s anti-GMO movement, and the Facebook network, Millones Contra Monsanto (Millions Against Monsanto), which is leading the organic food, fair trade and natural health movements in Mexico.
Maria has been a farmworker in California’s Salinas Valley for 23 years. Her husband is also a farmworker. Maria always knew she was in contact with pesticides, according to a recent report. Sometimes the smell burned her nose or left her with a headache. But she didn’t pay it much mind. Many farmworkers figure that poco veneno no mata— a little poison won’t kill you.
After all, pesticides are so deeply ingrained in the way agriculture is practiced the valley that people scarcely notice the noisy helicopters spraying the crops, or the warning signs—complete with skulls—posted in the fields after they’re treated.
But then Maria started having children. And her views on pesticides changed.
Maria’s story is part of a study conducted by CHAMACOS, which stands for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas. Her story will make you angry. And make you think.