Thursday, August 15, 2013

Missing in Action from the Latest GMO Labeling Battle: The Organic and ‘Natural’ Elite

Missing in Action from the Latest GMO Labeling Battle: The Organic and ‘Natural’ Elite:

But back to the point of supporting the I-522 Washington ballot initiative to label GMOs, perhaps the most crucial consumer right-to-know battle in 20 years. Washington is just 10 weeks away from mailing ballots to voters. And yet, no sign of major donations from leading organic or “natural” companies, despite their claims that they support consumers’ right to know.

What are their excuses?

Excuse #1: “We need a federal GMO food labeling law, not a patchwork of state laws.” 

No one in their right mind actually believes that a Monsanto-indentured Congress or the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will put regulations in place requiring GMO food labels—unless they are literally forced to by prior state legislation, state ballot initiatives and public pressure. “We need a federal law not states’ laws,” was Whole Foods’ original excuse in 2012 for not putting money into supporting California’s Prop 37, although massive consumer pressure forced them to finally endorse (though not fund) Prop 37 and I-522 and to announce that they would label all their store products as GMO or not by 2018. 

“Federal not state” is the mantra of the organic and natural “Traitor Brands.” The Organic Consumers Association has mobilized a boycott of these “Traitor Brands” - natural or organic food or beverage brands whose parent companies have put major bucks into defeating Prop 37 in California and now, via their membership in the GMA, Washington’s I-522. 

“Federal not state labeling” is the argument used by most of the large nutritional supplement companies, whose so-called “natural” products are routinely GMO-tainted, as well as their bottom-line trade association, the Natural Products Association.

Excuse #2 “We don’t give money to political campaigns.”

This has been one of the excuses offered up by Whole Foods and Ben and Jerry’s, despite the fact that Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, and Ben and Jerry’s parent corporation, Unilever have spent large amounts lobbying against the rights of workers to organize unions (Mackey), and against the rights of consumers to know whether or not their food has been genetically engineered (Unilever).

Excuse #3. Our company donates to many worthy causes, so we can’t afford a major donation to I-522.

The Organic Trade Association, representing industry giants with combined annual sales of $35 billion, and Stonyfield Farm, a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar Danone corporation, along with many others, have offered up this excuse.

Excuse #4: Silence.

Silence is the most common response we hear when we ask corporations to make a financial contribution to I-522, whether we’re talking about Trader Joe’s, UNFI or hundreds of other highly profitable organic and “natural” brands and companies.

Millions of organic and natural health consumers are prepared to reward the brands and companies who “do the right thing” by making a major financial contribution to the Washington Ballot Initiative to label GMO foods. They’re also just as prepared to punish the “Traitor Brands” and fence-sitters who by their failure to contribute to I-522 are aiding and abetting Monsanto and the junk food industry. 

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