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Nader writes: "Across the country, consumers are demanding the right to know what is in their food, and labeling of genetically engineered food. It's a vibrant and diverse coalition: mothers and grandmothers, health libertarians, progressives, foodies, environmentalists, main street conservatives and supporters of free-market economics."

A demonstration in favor of labeling all GM produce and foods containing GM ingredients. Nature's Path Organic in Canada donated $250,000 to the fight for labeling. Multinational GM firms spent $23 million fighting the Washington State proposal. (photo: Naturespath.com)
A demonstration in favor of labeling all GM produce and foods containing GM ingredients. Nature's Path Organic in Canada donated $250,000 to the fight for labeling. Multinational GM firms spent $23 million fighting the Washington State proposal. (photo: Naturespath.com)


The Food Safety Movement Grows Tall

By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News

21 June 14

 

et us celebrate today the latest initiatives of our nation's growing food safety movement.

Across the country, consumers are demanding the right to know what is in their food, and labeling of genetically engineered food.

It's a vibrant and diverse coalition: mothers and grandmothers, health libertarians, progressives, foodies, environmentalists, main street conservatives and supporters of free-market economics. Last year, a New York Times poll found that a near-unanimous 93 percent of Americans support such labeling.

This is no surprise. Genetically engineered food has yet to be proven safe. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted in court that it had reached "no dispositive scientific findings" about the risks of genetically engineered foods.

There is no scientific consensus about the risks of eating genetically engineered food, according to a statement last year signed by nearly 300 scientists. The scientists agree that "Concerns about risks are well-founded" and that a "substantial number" of "animal feeding studies and reviews of such studies...found toxic effects and signs of toxicity" in animals fed genetically engineered food, compared with controls. "Some of the studies give serious cause for concern," the scientists write.

For example, a review of nineteen studies on mammals, published in Environmental Sciences Europe, found that the "data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems" arising from diets of genetically engineered food.

According to Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen PhD, the ability of genetically engineered crops to induce allergic reactions is "a major food safety concern."

When it comes to genetically engineered food, there are questions about risks, but no convincing answers. There is no mandatory pre-market safety testing for genetically engineered food.

These questions of risks and safety have festered for years because the big agrichemical companies use their intellectual property rights to deny independent scientists the ability to test genetically engineered crops, or to report their results. Scientific American called these restrictions on free inquiry "dangerous." "In a number of cases," the magazine reports, "experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering."

When scientists do publish studies adverse to the interests of the big agrichemical companies, they are met with vicious attacks on their credibility, their science and even in their personal lives.

Sixty-four nations have already required labeling of genetically engineered food, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, even Russia and China.

The food industry is feeling the pressure. Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestle, the world's largest food and beverage company, said that: "It is not business as usual anymore. Pressure is mounting from all sides and angles."

Despite the overwhelming popularity of labeling, Congress refused to act, so citizens took up the cause in their own states.

Under heavy corporate lobbying and deceptive TV ads, ballot initiatives for labeling of genetically engineered food were narrowly defeated by 51 percent-49 percent in both California and Washington State. In May, legislation in the California Senate led 19-16, but failed without the 21 vote majority needed for passage.

Finally, on May 8, in a major victory, Vermont approved the first unconditional statewide labeling law for genetically engineered food. "Vermonters take our food and how it is produced seriously, and we believe we have a right to know what's in the food we buy," said Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Since then, the food and agrichemical industries have escalated to a full panic.

On June 13, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and three other trade associations -- the heart of the junk food industry -- filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the new Vermont labeling law. The good news is that people are rushing to Vermont's defense, including Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which will re-name one of its flavors "Food Fight! Fudge Brownie" to help fund a vigorous legal defense of Vermont's new labeling law.

Elsewhere, industry is spending lavishly against the food movement. In New York State, the Daily News reported that: "Trade organizations, farm groups and corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and Kraft have spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and campaign contributions to defeat" labeling of genetically engineered food.

The food industry is quick to scare consumers with the canard that labeling of genetically engineered food will raise food prices. But manufacturers change their labels often, so their claim doesn't make sense. It has been debunked in an study by Joanna Shepherd Bailey, a professor at Emory University School of Law, who found that "consumers will likely see no increases in prices" as a result of labeling genetically engineered food.

In Congress, U.S. Rep Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced a bill at the behest of the Grocery Manufacturers Association -- dubbed by its consumer opponents "the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act" -- to block any federal or state action for labeling of genetically engineered food. Sometimes, politics is drearily predictable: Can you guess Rep. Pompeo's largest campaign contributor? You got it: Koch Industries.

But the shame is fully bipartisan: sleazy Democratic lobbyists like former US Senator Blanche Lincoln and Steve Elmendorf are plying their trade for Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to keep you from knowing what's in your food.

Meanwhile, the food disclosure movement is going full speed ahead with ballot initiatives for GMO labeling in Oregon and Colorado, as well as legislative efforts in many other states.

There's a great lesson in all this: when left and right join together, they can defeat big corporations and their subservient politicians. That's the theme of my new book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

Food labeling is hardly a radical idea. Conservative economists are quick to point out that the free exchange of information about products is crucial to the proper functioning of a free market.

Even Monsanto supported labeling of genetically engineered food in Britain. But it spends millions to oppose labeling here in America. Such is corporate patriotism in the 21st Century: St. Louis-based Monsanto believes the British deserve more consumer rights than Americans do.

There are other reasons to be concerned about genetically engineered crops.

Genetically engineered crops have led to increased use of pesticides. For example, a study by Professor Chuck Benbrook of Washington State University found that between 1996 and 2011, genetically engineered crops have brought an increased use of more than 400 million pounds of pesticides. Mutating weed resistance is requiring the Monsantos to sell even more powerful herbicides. More details on these backfiring GMO crop technologies are contained in the new book titled The GMO Deception edited by Professor Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber.

Perhaps most alarming is the corporate control of agriculture in the hands of the world's largest agrichemical companies -- Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Bayer and BASF. "The Big 6 chemical and seed companies are working diligently to monopolize the food system at the expense of consumers, farmers and smaller seed companies," said Philip H. Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University.

These companies may be meeting their match in the mothers and grandmothers who have powered the movement for labeling of genetically engineered food. Like Pamm Larry, the pioneering grandmother who came up with the spreading idea reflected by the California ballot initiative for labeling.

Mothers know that food is love. Certainly, my mother did. She taught me early and often about how important it is to eat healthy food. She even wrote about these values in the book, It Happened in the Kitchen.

I'd like to think that she'd feel right at home with the mothers and grandmothers of today's food movement. I sure do. In some ways, that's the point: a movement that makes you feel at home, no wonder it is so popular.

 

Comments   

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- The RSN Team

 
+45 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-06-21 11:42
This is just one very important issue that is of serious concern to the people of the United States but Congress doesn't care what we think. Day after day those corrupt people who claim to be our 'representative s' do not heed what we say. When the Constitution was written everyone knew what the word 'representative ' meant. No more. The people in Congress vote as directed by their major donors. We need to demand somehow that our elected Representatives vote as their constituents want. We want no GMO foods---and we want to wars to end and we want to tax the rich and end this austerity on the working people. We want to reinstate the W.P.A and put Americans to work. We also want the big banksters to be put on trial for their crimes.
 
 
+6 # Eliza D 2014-06-22 09:28
Do you think a snake can change into a butterfly? I'm not trying to be snide, but the answer is no. We cannot change the hearts and souls of our bought-out representatives . This Congress will never do what the people want, and your are right about what we want and must have before it's too late, so we must eject them from the hallowed halls of lawmaking they have come to regard with contempt. We must change them-bringing new people unsullied by contact with corporations to our legislative bodies. I am so inspired by the tenacity of the anti-GMO people I work with and so glad Mr. Nader takes the time to put things in perspective for us.
 
 
+27 # Mouna 2014-06-21 11:43
Thank you Mr. Nader, for continuing to be on the "peoples' side".
 
 
+20 # patmonk 2014-06-21 11:46
I am honored to have been one of the small group that helped PAMM LARRY gather the 1 million signatures that got Prop 37 on the California ballot a couple of years ago. Her work continues and you can help by visiting:-
www.labelgmos.org
On a related topic, Monsanto is negotiating with the government of Uruguay to introduce GMO cannabis into that country. You can help repeal prohibition and prevent this happening here at home by reading, and hopefully supporting "California Cannabis and Hemp Initiative:2016"
Thank you.
 
 
+3 # patmonk 2014-06-21 13:28
http://www.labelgmos.org
 
 
+27 # Malcolm 2014-06-21 12:08
Ralph, your statement, "There's a great lesson in all this: when left and right join together, they can defeat big corporations and their subservient politicians." Is SO TRUE!

Here in SW Oregon last month, the citizens of both Josephine and Jackson Counties OVERWHELMINGLY passed bans against growing GE crops, even though-like almost all "rural counties" in Oregon-we liberals are strongly outnumbered by Republicans.

My county-Josephin e-voted 58% in favor of the ban, and Jackson County voted even more strongly!

Now, unfortunately, Josephine County has to fight the State, which recently banned Counties from regulating GE crops. (Except for Jackson County, which is exempt from the state law, because it had the issue ballot-ready prior to the state law.)

We're gonna win this battle agains GE Frankenfoods!
 
 
+1 # Malcolm 2014-06-22 07:03
I just read an interview by Amy Goodman of Ralph Nader-wonderful interview!


Among other things, he says, "RALPH NADER: Oh, yeah. I mean, motor vehicles are safer, more fuel-efficient, more controlled in their pollution, far more than 50 years ago. However, there’s a whole new wave of innovation that can move our motor vehicle fleet toward even greater crash safety, greater operational safety in terms of brakes and handling, and, above all, transform them into non-emitting vehicles. That is, you can have hydrogen-powere d cars, electric cars. The technology is here. It will become less and less expensive to the consumer to purchase these cars. And as David Freeman, the longtime head of the Tennessee Valley Authority and other public utilities, has stated recently, we can transform our entire economy into an all-electric economy powered by solar energy and driven by energy efficiencies that are already on the table and practical in terms of their application within 30 to 40 years, replacing entirely—almost entirely—fossil fuels and nuclear power. So this is the vision that I think the motor vehicle industry—and Tesla seems to be leading the way here—that we would like to see on the horizon."

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/28/ralph_nader_on_tpp_gm_recall
 
 
+14 # liteguy 2014-06-21 12:14
All those people vs monsanto....
guess who congress favors. ..
 
 
+16 # dyannne 2014-06-21 12:37
When 93 percent of the people want something, they should get it, especially when it's for the common good!
 
 
-23 # JoeMcGooghan 2014-06-21 12:43
Ralph Nader should go away and stay away. In 2000 Nader let Republicans support him as a third party candidate which resulted in Nader's drawing Democratic votes away from Al Gore, thus splitting Florida's vote and allowing George W. Bush to get into the White House. George W. Bush was absolutely the worst president this country has ever had and it will take many years for us to recover from W, if we ever do. Go away, Ralph. Go quietly, go noisily, but GO! Just go!
 
 
-15 # unocelestial 2014-06-21 13:56
I thought the same thing as you. Every time I hear the name Nader, I think of Bush and the mess our country and the Middle East is in. The worst is the 4500 lives lost and the 30,000 injured in a war for oil. Gore would never have done that. Nader could have pulled out; he knew he would not win. Was it ego?
 
 
+3 # BKnowswhitt 2014-06-22 10:27
You miss an important point about USA system. We need a third party. Enjoy it for now until the next Repukes are in charge. The Dems who want to act like them keep the issues from being addressed which would be by a third party candidate. We have the 'Tea Party' which are really Libertarian Righties as the third party rising in our culture. What we really need is a Libertarian Left group to emerge .. which would represent 'We the People' .. and in place we have a guy with Nuts and Brains who's pointing out what a real third party would do .. so bring it on Ralph!!! We need more of YOU not less ...
 
 
+19 # liteguy 2014-06-21 14:16
But al gore really did win and let them steal the presidency...
actually if al would have picked a decent vp candidate he would probably have won with enough margin to have avoided the controversy. .
 
 
-13 # unocelestial 2014-06-21 14:32
But Nader was the spoiler.
 
 
+10 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-06-21 16:37
Ou whole politcal system is spoiled. The spoiling is done by the greedy people of great wealth who only want more. If I choose to vote for any candidate who is not a Dim or a Repuke---that is my right. My vote DOES NOT BELONG TO EITHER CORPORATELY FUNDED PARTY. After all these years, to still spew out anti Nader rants is an indication of a person who is unable to realize they were wrong.
 
 
+1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-06-22 10:23
No No Joe just ain't so .. Gore lost because he allowed the Clinton Lewinsky scandal split his alliance with Clinton's successful 8 year run. Then Al Gore showed his weak side by sweating and panting around during the debates. In those debates Bush looked better. Then Nader running may have split some votes however it should not have even been close except for Al Gores own incompetence. So now the smart guy is supposed to go away? The truth is the people who vote need to smarten up ..
 
 
+14 # tomwalker8 2014-06-21 13:18
I'm actually ok with GMO foods being on the market, but I certainly want to know which are and which aren't. That way I get to make the choice about what I buy. In fact, I expect GMO economics will sink like the Titanic once consumers know which is which. The chemical behemoths believe it, too, which is why they're willing to spend so lavishly to keep us from knowing. This is a movement tailor made for the grass roots activism we're seeing. Let's keep up the good fight - this is one we can win despite agrichem's money and clout!
 
 
+16 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-06-21 16:41
I wish you were right, tomwalker8. In Calfornia propaganda against just telling us if the food was GMO failed to pass. The important thing to know is that GMO products are not FOOD, they are legaly PESTACIDES.
 
 
+9 # NOMINAE 2014-06-21 17:38
Quoting tomwalker8:
... GMO economics will sink like the Titanic.. The chemical behemoths believe it, too, which is why they're willing to spend so lavishly to keep us from knowing....


The chemical behemoths do indeed know it.

As far back as 1996, a woman who was then a Spokesperson for Monsanto responded to a reporter's question regarding Monsanto resistance to simple labeling:

"If we were required to do that, we might as well just print a skull and crossbones on all of our product labels."

Yeah ..... for more reasons than one.

She did not, needless to say, last long after that as a Monsanto Spokesperson.

And, to your point above, no one *IS* asking for a complete ban on GMOs in the U.S. (yet).

People are simply demanding to know what is *IN* the food that they must both eat *and* pay for, and the food with which they feed their families and their own food animals.

On the simple rationale that, if GMOs are so damned safe, why are all of the "Agri-Gods" so freakin' frightened to simply LABEL them? If your product is that good, you should be *shouting* about it,
not *hiding* it.

The USDA, FDA, etc., as fully owned Subsidiaries of Monsanto, et al, do not give a tinker's damn *what* "the people want". The people want what Monsanto *tells* them they want.

These courageous activists referenced in Nader's article, along with truth-tellers like consumer advocate Nader himself, are trying to change that dynamic in the U.S.
 
 
+13 # PeacefulGarden 2014-06-21 17:20
Well, we got some grape vines, corn, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, strawberries, chick peas, kidney beans, cannelli beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and spices in my back yard. An acre and a half plot. We eat well here, it is hard work, but we love every minute of it. And spinach too!

This food issue has been going on for way too long! It doesn't take a IQ of 90 to figure out that when you walk into a standard USA "food" store that everything is basically sugar, fat, and salt, with pictures of elves on it.

The meat, well you know that one, your congress protects the meat stream like a crazed helicopter mom. We go to a local farm for our meat, and yes, we pay a fortune for it, because it is going into us. And the cow farmer is a crazy Republican, gun crazy, but I love her meat (oops, that sounds bad).

The only solution is to grow your own. So, pull up the grass that you mow once a week for no freaking reason, spade the soil, and get to work. Grow some love!
 
 
-9 # cherylpetro 2014-06-21 20:47
Ralph shouldn't point the sleazy finger at others! He said, "But the shame is fully bipartisan: sleazy Democratic lobbyists like former US Senator Blanche Lincoln and Steve Elmendorf are plying their trade for Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association to keep you from knowing what's in your food." He knows DAMN WELL that those two Democrats are BLUE DOGS! Their sole purpose is to allow Republicans to say, "well, Democrats do it too!" BLUE DOGS VOTE REPUBLICAN, GO TO REPUBLICAN EVENTS, AND ARE REPUBLICANS! NADER IS MORE SLEAZY THAN THE ONES HE POINTS THE FINGER AT, BECAUSE HE KNOWS HE IS MISLEADING PEOPLE! THAT IS DISGUSTING! NADER SHOULD BE ASHAMED, BUT HE WON'T! HE TAKES MONEY FROM THE REPUBLICANS TO DO THEIR BIDDING!
 
 
+4 # PeacefulGarden 2014-06-21 23:09
Look, you are all-capitals because you think no one is listening. The all-capitals is not going to help. The social behavior that Monsanto and other government agricultural giants are using on the general population has been going on since the Roman Empire. They are not going to label what is in that sausage. They are going to grind up a bunch of "food stuff", process it, put a picture of a smiling elves on it, and sell it to every fool that will buy it.

Agri-Giants must maintain their alpha structure which means they must "out smart" all others. Playing "out smart you all" is not going to change - they can't stop themselves. And I am dreadfully sorry about that. Honest, I am really sorry. And, please do not try to out smart the "out smarters", because that is what they want. Go home and go grow some food!
 
 
0 # Malcolm 2014-06-22 19:26
R U 4 Reals?
 
 
+6 # grouchy 2014-06-21 23:08
The question here should be JUST WHY SHOULDN'T PEOPLE BE ABLE TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THEIR FOOD! Now, sit back and listen to the bullshit and spin about why they shouldn't have this information!
 
 
+3 # Adoregon 2014-06-22 10:47
Or to put it another way, grouchy...

What kind of people and what kind of companies would NOT want their customers to know what they are buying to eat??

The companies and people who are producing genetically modified food clearly do not give a flying fuck about their customers.
It is past time for customers to let these companies and their officers know that we will return the lack of caring a hundredfold.

Boycott the corporate scum who would withhold information from us.
 
 
+1 # JJMUELLER@aol.com 2014-06-22 16:10
What's the connection between Koch Industries and the subject of this article?
 
 
+2 # Lgfoot 2014-06-23 08:20
Chemicals.
 

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