Archive for the ‘GMO’s’ Category

GMO labeling might be on the way

gmo protest

I thought that last November’s defeat of California’s Proposition 37 (mandatory labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms in our food), which I campaigned for, was a bad sign. I presumed the power of Big Food’s $40+million disinformation campaign signaled that lies and public relations would win for the next generation or more.

But a few weeks ago a New York Times article explained the bright side of this turn of events. Reporter Stephanie Strom wrote, “Instead of quelling the demand for labeling, the defeat of the California measure has spawned a ballot initiative in Washington State and legislative proposals in Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico and Missouri, and a swelling consumer boycott of some organic or ‘natural’ brands owned by major food companies.”

She went on to quote Charles Benbrook, a professor at Washington State University and a brilliant advocate of sustainable agriculture: “The big food companies found themselves in an uncomfortable position after Prop. 37, and they’re talking among themselves about alternatives to merely replaying that fight over and over again… They spent a lot of money, got a lot of bad press that propelled the issue into the national debate and alienated some of their customer base, as well as raising issues with some trading partners.”

This public reaction against Big Food got the attention of some major food executives, who met in January to discuss what to do. Imagine this: some of them actually favor labeling. I’m not holding my breath that they’ll become virtuous – they are, after all, the people who made terms like “natural” and ”cage-free” almost meaningless.

Still, it may be a start.

Nano food — a new form of genetic engineering

You may have heard about nanoparticles – they are tiny bits of matter, microscopic in size, that are being used in a variety of ways. In medicine, nanos are used in detecting disease, delivering drugs, gene engineering, MRI studies, and more.

They are found in over 1,000 consumer products, including car batteries, appliances, alum foil, cosmetics, sunscreens, and computers.  Let’s look at food and kitchen. Nanotech can be round in certain brands of oil, tea, shakes, cutting boards, cleansers, nonstick pans, vitamins, and more. Check out the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) list of consumer products with nanos in them.

So what’s the problem? Nanoparticles have not been tested for health of safety to people and environments! Once again, our dreams of scientific wizardry have come true – and regulators have been outfoxed again. Nanos are able to pass through cell membranes and we don’t know what they can do to us, our children, food, pets, and habitats. According to Ethan Huff, staff writer at Natural News, “Deconstructing and reassembling molecular components and injecting these altered molecules back into our clothing, furniture, cars, and food is really more of a giant experiment in human health than it is a successful technological breakthrough.”

Here’s an interesting email exchange between a writer at E Magazine and a representative of the FDA:

E Magazine: What can you tell me about the prevalence of nanomaterials in our food supply?
Sebastian Cianci:
FDA does not have a list of food products that contain nanomaterials.

E: Where are nanomaterials most often found within food products? In colorings or additives?
S.C.:
FDA does not maintain a list of food products that contain nanomaterials so we cannot reliably answer this question.

I admire the creativity and dedication of scientists — and I also believe we need to test inventions before unleashing them on the public.

GMO campaign just getting started

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We lost on Proposition 37, but the campaign is just beginning! Guess who the opponents of Prop. 37 were? Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, BASF (“The Chemical Company”), Syngenta, and their allies, who put at least $40 million into deceptive ads to defeat Prop. 37 so they could keep earning billions by selling poison. It’s discouraging that their money swayed so many people, because the facts show GMO is not the deliverance they claim.

One of the claims made when genetically modified food was put on the market in the mid-1990s  (over the objections of FDA’s own scientists, by the way) was that crops engineered to withstand pesticides would permit a reduction in the amount of pesticides used. That should have been good for the environment, right?

Yes, if it had lasted more than a few growing seasons. But in fact, pesticide use has gone UP by millions of pounds per year, and I bet you can guess why. It’s called evolution. As has always happened with pesticides, the target creatures (bugs, for instance, or weeds) are not all killed—the strongest survive and produce the next generation. It doesn’t take long for organisms with short life cycles to become resistant to the pesticide in question. Growers solve this problem by using more chemicals, or stronger ones. For years this has been called the “pesticide treadmill” that farmers can’t seem to escape. (Unless they switch to organic).

Just last month a scientific study demonstrated that pesticide use has gone UP since GMOs were introduced. The author concluded, “Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

If that isn’t enough, pesticides are implicated in the mass deaths of millions of bees that pollinate our crops. That is definitely not sustainable! What you can do: keep alert for new strategies to defeat GMOs and the corporations that make billions from them.

Are GMOs sustainable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the claims made when genetically modified food was put on the market in the mid-1990s  (over the objections of FDA’s own scientists, by the way) was that crops engineered to withstand pesticides would permit a reduction in the amount of pesticides used. That should have been good for the environment, right?

Yes, if it had lasted more than a few growing seasons. But in fact, pesticide use has gone UP by millions of pounds per year, and I bet you can guess why. It’s called evolution. As has always happened with pesticides, the target creatures (bugs, for instance, or weeds) are not all killed—the strongest survive and produce the next generation. It doesn’t take long for organisms with short life cycles to become resistant to the pesticide in question. Growers solve this problem by using more chemicals, or stronger ones. For years this has been called the “pesticide treadmill” that farmers can’t seem to escape. (Unless they switch to organic).

If that isn’t enough, pesticides are implicated in the mass deaths of millions of bees that pollinate our crops. That is definitely not sustainable!

Just last month a scientific study demonstrated that pesticide use has gone UP since GMOs were introduced. The author concluded, “Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

Show your support for food that is healthy for person and planet: Vote YES on Proposition 37.

Guess who the opponents of Prop. 37 are? Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, BASF (“The Chemical Company”), Syngenta, and their allies, who have put at least $30 million into deceptive ads to defeat Prop. 37 so they can keep earning billions by selling poison.

Vote YES on Proposition 37.

Food Day – join the second annual celebration

Last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest launched Food Day, a harvest-season counterpart to Earth Day, to honor food that is healthy for person and planet. Thousands of events were held around the country on or around the official day October 24, from potluck dinners to picnics and teach-ins.

This year, over 100 events are scheduled to happen around the Bay Area, not counting ones that have already occurred. In Lafayette, we chose October 14 to celebrate the first harvest in our town’s community garden.

Here are some upcoming events you might consider attending:

Tomorrow, Sunday October 21, from noon to 4 pm, Oakland’s Tassafaronga Park, 975 85th Ave Oakland, CA 94621   Live music, recipe exchange, cooking demonstration, jam-making workshop, documentaries, and more. Created byActa Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV) and California Food and Justice Coalition (CFJC).

Oakland is offering a stunning variety of Food Day events!  Sunday you can also learn about GMOs at Oliveto Restaurant, 5655 College Avenue, Oakland, from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Tuesday, from 1.30 to 6 pm Produce market at Franklin Elementary School, 915 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606. “The Oakland Farms-to-Schools program brings affordable fresh produce to public schools in East Oakland. The program is collaboration between the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Farms-to-School Network.”

Wednesday, the General Services Administration will offer green smoothies, a health coach, the CSA Farm Fresh to You, and a screening of the critically acclaimed HBO documentary Weight of the Nation. Can Can Cleanse will give away samples of their fresh juice. Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave, 1st floor lobby, San Francisco, CA 94102

This is just a tiny sample of all the events going on around the Bay Area this coming week to celebrate healthy food. Find one near you  here.

This weekend – World Vegetarian Day in San Francisco

This weekend in Golden Gate Park, the annual World Vegetarian Day will be celebrated. I’ve been to these events for years, and am always delighted to meet so many people who are choosing a healthy, compassionate lifestyle. Not to mention the tasty dishes, books, workshops, recipes, and much more. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you are most welcome to attend.

Proposition 37 will be addressed, too. I’ll be speaking about it at 2.45 on Saturday, complete with slides, facts, and myth-busting. Once you learn the grim truth about how GMOs are harming our bodies and environment, you’ll be thrilled to learn the power of Proposition 37 and its countless supporters.

And if you like bluegrass music, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is also being held in Golden Gate Park this weekend, so you can stroll over there after filling your tummy and mind with wonderful vegetarian options!

Be sure to allow extra time for travel and parking – there will be lots of activity in SF this weekend!

 When and Where: San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park
1199 Ninth Avenue. Entrance at 9th Avenue at Lincoln Way, next to the Arboretum
$10 at Gate; Free for Children under 12, Students with ID, & Seniors over 65

Featured Events:
Children’s Corner, Green Lifestyle Film Festival, Healthy Food Demos with Recipes & Samples, International Speakers & Workshops, Live Entertainment, Vegan Cuisine to sample or buy, Urban Gardening.
Catered Vegan Dinners: Saturday & Sunday, 6:45 p.m. $26 each
Advance reservations: treasurer@sfvs.org

GMO and your right to know

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposition 37, on the ballot this November, says: “Commencing July 1, 2014, any food offered for retail sale in California is misbranded if it is or may have been entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering and that fact is not disclosed.” In other words, we will get to know if our food contains genetically modified organisms (GMO, sometimes called GE for genetically engineered). That’s all Prop 37 does: ask for a truthful label. If people still want to buy GMOs, they can.

Why is it so important to label genetically modified foods? Many people think it’s a basic right, to know what’s in their food. Doesn’t this seem reasonable to you? There are supposed advantages: According to the World Health Organization, “All GM crops available on the international market today have been designed using one of three basic traits: resistance to insect damage; resistance to viral infections; and tolerance towards certain herbicides.”  GMO means that among other things crops are modified so they can withstand more pesticides. Corn, for instance, can now survive huge doses of Monsanto’s pesticide Roundup – because of genes from other organisms. Pesticides, which some GMOs are created to encourage, are linked to Parkinson’s disease in humans and definitely poison our air, soil, and water.

Millions of dollars are being spent to defeat Prop 37 by big chemical and food manufacturing companies: Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgroSciences, ConAgra, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Cargill, BASF Plant Sciences, and dozens more are funding attacks on the proposition.

Here are their “reasons” to vote no: “Food will become more expensive” – how? They claim “Prop. 37 would add another layer of bureaucracy and red tape for food producers and increase food costs.” What bureaucracy? Oh, they must mean the existing agencies that prosecute fraudulent advertising. Another reason: It’s an expensive “payday for trial lawyers.” Well, only if companies fail to obey the law.

And the most hilarious “reason”: a few exemptions in the proposed law are “politically motivated.” We are shocked, shocked! Advocates of truthful labels are “politically motivated”!  This accusation comes from companies that contribute millions to defeat this proposition and other attempts to regulate them, contribute to politicians’ election campaigns, hire public relations firms to “spin” the truth and slime the messengers, and offer lucrative jobs to regulators so they’ll leave government and join the corporations.

This last is called the “revolving door” and is very real.  Here are some people who have worked for Monsanto AND held government jobs (before or after): Marcia Hale, Monsanto’s Director of International Government Affairs. Under President Clinton, she was on the senior White House staff. Mickey Kantor, on the board of Monsanto, was Secretary of Commerce. Carol Tucker-Foreman was a lobbyist for Monsanto and in the White House department of Consumer Affairs. Margaret Miller was a supervisor at a Monsanto Chemical laboratory, and became the Deputy Director of the Food and Drug Administration. That’s only part of a very long list. To see the rest of the folks who played both sides, go here  and click “Monsanto’s Government Ties.”

We must sadly admit that our regulatory agencies are hopelessly outgunned – and that’s why Prop 37 was started in the first place. Politicians won’t do it, regulators are being bullied or bought off – now it’s up to us, the citizens, to demand a simple thing: honestly labeled food.

To find out more, go to The Organic Consumers Association and California Right to Know.   To see what pesticide and food corporations have to say, go to noonprop37.com. (Notice it’s “.com”, a commercial site funded by Monsanto, Dow, Grocery Manufacturers, and their allies). For general information on GMOs, visit the World Health Organization or The Human Genome Project.

For yourself, for your children, for the environment, and for democracy, on November 6 vote YES on Proposition 37.