Thank you for not wanting to “unnecessarily scare” us! (I *heart* you, Okanagan Specialty Foods!)

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Welcome to this week’s Weekend Wrap post! Fun lies ahead! Today I am going to address the arguments used against GMO labeling. It is important that we understand what the opposition is saying because we need to pre-empt these tired arguments and prevail this year in the fight to legislate GMO labeling. If GMO’s can be labeled in over 60 other countries, clearly they can be labeled here. [1] So let’s get started.

We can begin by looking at the Okanagan Specialty Foods website for their Arctic ® Apple and their justification for not supporting labeling laws [2]. I do think the only way we will win this argument is by sticking to the facts (which are on our side) and remaining calm and objective.

Here are their excerpts (a blog written by someone named Joel) and my comments:

OSF Excerpt: Even with California’s Proposition 37 failing last November, mandatory labeling of biotech foods remains a hot topic. New labeling initiatives are underway in Washington, Oregon, New Mexico and several other states. While some of the language in these initiatives differs from that of Prop-37, the true motivation behind them is the same: unnecessarily scaring consumers away from biotech foods.

My comment:  Indicating what is in our food is “unnecessarily scaring” us? It seems that this argument assumes that we’re a bunch of stupid, paranoid ninnies who can’t read a label and make an informed decision as to whether, or not, we want to purchase and ingest the product based on its contents. Logically this argument should extend to ANYTHING on a label that we may reject for health reasons, correct? Why, then, should anything be labelled? Let’s consider artificial colors and flavors. Tartrazine and sodium benzoate have been shown to increase hyperactivity in children [3] and so some parents may reject foods with these ingredients in them. How is this different?

OSF Excerpt: While we support transparency with consumers, which is what the “Right to Know” camp boasts is their noble purpose, simply slapping a “GMO” label onto food does not provide any meaningful information. What’s even worse, for a campaign centered on the idea of public education, they supply a disappointing lack of factual information; WA state’s I-522 even gets the basic definition for genetically engineered foods incorrect on their campaign website!

My comment: A “noble” purpose? It’s a fine purpose, and we can do without the condescending remarks, thanks! “A GMO label does not provide any meaningful information”??? A GMO label means it has been genetically modified (!), which is kind of significant. This means is not natural and is likely correlated to health issues such as food allergies, gluten intolerance, and leaky gut. [4,5] The informed consumer will be aware of these dangers and will decide what to purchase accordingly.  Also, the comment about the campaign supplying a lack of factual information is beside the point – the discussion is not about the campaign but about the labeling of GMO’s. Besides, the grave error made in I-522 was that it did not mention that genes from similar species could be combined, not just different species (like corn and a pesticide). It was an omission and not an inaccuracy or a lie. Stay on point!

OSF Excerpt: We at Okanagan Specialty Fruits are often asked for our thoughts on the labeling debate since Arctic® apples will be one of the only biotech foods to be voluntarily labeled. Why are we doing this? First and foremost, we are committed to transparency. We believe that consumers have the right to decide for themselves if they are interested in nonbrowning apples. A label clearly designating truly nonbrowning apples as “Arctic” will make it easy for consumers to discern their choice (our research shows most will seek out Arctic®  Apples!).

My comment: That’s great that you will voluntarily label whole Artic Apples in the produce section of the grocery store. However, without a labeling law, the processed foods that these apples are used in WILL NOT BE LABELED AS SUCH and so unsuspecting consumers will purchase Artic®  Applies. That’s the point of a labeling law. Or did you not think of that?! Strike that as I shall remain calm and professional!

OSF Excerpt: Interestingly, a 2012 survey asked a random sample of 750 U.S. adults what types of food they are avoiding and what additional food labels they’d like. In response to these open-ended questions, zero said they were avoiding biotech foods and only 3 percent said they would like to see biotech foods labeled. A similar UK survey published last week found that just 2 percent of consumers looked for information about biotech-enhanced content when buying food products.

My comment: Interestingly, I’d like to know which body crevice you pulled this poll from? Oops! Strike that, too!  In all the reading I have done on this topic, I have never heard of such a result. Here is a summary of polls conducted by The New York Times and other reputable news organizations: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/976/ge-food-labeling/us-polls-on-ge-food-labeling. Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of people want to know what is in their food.

OSF Excerpt: Regarding current labeling practices, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers a comprehensive food labeling law which ensures consumers are informed of a products’ nutritional content and potential health risks. The FDA engages in a voluntary review process that evaluates biotech products, but deregulated biotech crops – meaning those that make it to market – are deemed similar to their conventional counterparts. As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack agrees, this sameness between conventional and biotech crops means labels in nutritional content or health warnings aren’t necessary. Further, for the minority who truly want to avoid all biotech foods, though there’s no evidence-backed reason to do so, can always choose certified organic.

My comment: There are so many bits of fiction in this one paragraph that it will take me a while to address them all. I am not sure if the writer is oblivious to how the world really works or just plain dense? Yikes…my bad. Strike that thought.

– First of all, the FDA is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of Big Food and Big Pharma. There is a well-noted revolving door between the two. For the most part, their policies are driven by a corporate agenda, not a public health agenda. For example, dangerous foods and drugs that are banned in other countries are not banned here because they are profitable. [6] The FDA’s primary mission is not looking out for our health, so invoking their seal of approval is a joke. It would be a funny joke if our lives and health weren’t at stake.

– Second of all, the nutrition assimilated from biotech foods and conventional foods is not the same. The impact GMO’s have on our gut health, where assimilation and >70% of our immunity resides, is not the same. If you really want to learn about why this assertion is total fiction, spend 1 hour listening to this interview of Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology from Purdue University, now retired and sharing his findings/thoughts/opinions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx4UVhJcnpo. Hand to God, this a great use of 1 hour of your time because you will be fundamentally changed, and probably a little frightened, as a result. (And special thanks to Dr. Christopher Nagy for making me aware of this!)

– Third of all, the scientific evidence that indicates that GMO’s are safe is anything but pure truth. Corporate profits are at stake, so those that speak out against it may find their careers and livelihoods jeopardized, resulting in a chilling effect for opposing views: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carole-bartolotto/the-antiscience-behavior-_b_4566258.html We therefore should blindly believe all of the scientific evidence and studies in support of GMO’s at our own risk.

– Fourth of all, non-GMO and organic labeling cost farmers a significant amount. Why should they have to pay to label their products whereas those foods doused in pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s, etc get to slip them into the food supply to unsuspecting consumers without a label? Why is the financial and compliance onus on those who want to provide real, clean food? And when the FUCK did poisoned food become conventional and “normal” and organic food (the way mankind has eaten for millennia) the radical option? Oh no…gotta strike the F bomb – dropping that would be rude.

OSF Excerpt: For products like Arctic® Apples, there is a noticeable value-added trait that impacts consumers, so it makes perfect sense to label them. An “Arctic” label provides real information because anyone who doesn’t already know how they differ from conventional apples can easily find out all the specific details they want. A “GMO” label, on the other hand, would be completely useless and fear inducing, just like all these mandatory labeling initiatives.

My comment: “Completely useless and fear inducing”? Again, basically calling us a bunch of stupid and paranoid ninnies who don’t NEED to know what is in our food because we would not know what to do with such information. Apparently, we just need to shut up and trust all the SMART people who come up with genetically modified organisms because THEY know what is good for us.

Overall, I have to say I found the tone of this post arrogant and annoying as all hell. Having said that, I do think the only way we are going to win this argument is not to exaggerate the dangers and play into their fear-mongering name calling. We don’t have to as the reality is scary enough. Just share the facts from the numerous doctors and researchers who have spoken out. [7] We have to convince the majority of people that supporters of labeling laws are not paranoid, fear-mongering, hippie tree-huggers…we are conscious, knowledgeable and professional people who firmly believe we have a right to know what is in our food. Furthermore, we resent being treated as if we are too stupid to grasp the information and make an informed choice. Period.

Pissed off at the arrogance of the pro-GMO side/Wall Street Takeover of our food supply? If you would like to kick your food activism up a notch, here are some easy things you can do to make your voice heard. Remember, we as consumers and voters can wield power in numbers:

–  Boycott Coca-Cola products (which include healthy brands such as Honest Tea, Simply Orange, and smartwater [8] ) and sign on to the Boycott Coke Campaign, since they secretly funneled more than $1.5 million dollars through a business association in order to block an initiative that would have required the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in WA state: http://cokeboycott.com/. Most Coca-Cola products are no good for you anyway.

–  Tell the FDA we do not want a watered-down, voluntary federal GMO labeling law. We all knew that as labeling activity heated up in the states, Big Food would go to the Feds and try to force our silence and compliance: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12702&track=FB&tag=FB

– Tell Brazil to reject Terminator Seeds, which can only be used once, indebting small farmers to Monsanto and furthering the corporate takeover of our food supply: http://action.sumofus.org/a/brazil-terminator-seeds/4/2/?akid=3489.2902718.KE4ASS&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=1. One pro-GMO poster that I came across claimed that GMO’s are nothing to worry about because Terminator Seeds would never be approved. Well, guess what…

That is all for now. I hope this was informative, my friends! Have a wild, wonderful and healthy non-GMO week!

Photo credit: The Organic and Non-GMO Report

[1] http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ge-map/

[2] http://www.arcticapples.com/blog/joel/mandatory-labeling-misleading#.UtIQW42A36U

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartrazine#Possible_health_effects

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx4UVhJcnpo.

[5] http://www.navdanya.org/component/content/article/19-frontpage-content/118-the-gmo-emperor-has-no-clothes-a-global-citizens-report-on-the-state-of-gmos

[6] http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/10/23/10-foods-americans-eat-that-are-banned-around-world/

[7] http://www.foodrevolution.org/

[8] http://www.coca-colacompany.com/brands/all/

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