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Simon writes: "The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up."

Monsanto doesn't want you to know it has tinkered with your food. (photo: Food Watch)
Monsanto doesn't want you to know it has tinkered with your food. (photo: Food Watch)

Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California

By Michele Simon, Reader Supported News

23 August 12


he battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills.

Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called "Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, The California Labeling Proposal," in which the biotech giant explains why it is opposing the measure (to the tune of $4.2 million so far).

Even for a corporation not exactly known for its honesty and transparency, this brief webpage is riddled with deception and outright falsehoods about the initiative and its proponents. Here are the 10 most blatant examples:

1) The law "would require a warning label on food products."

No warning label would be required. Rather, the words "partially produced with genetic engineering" or "may be partially produced with genetic engineering" would be required on the back of the package -- similar to what is now required for ingredient or allergen labeling. For whole foods, like the sweet corn coming soon to a Walmart near you, a sign would be posted on the store shelf with the words "genetically engineered." The aim is simply to offer consumers additional information about the contents of the foods they purchase.

2) "The safety and benefits of these ingredients are well established."

Unfortunately, no long-term studies exist on either the safety or benefits of GMO ingredients, so Monsanto has no basis for making such a claim. Indeed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not even require safety studies of genetically engineered foods. Meanwhile, some independent studies raise questions about links to allergies and other potential health risks.

3) "The American Medical Association just re-affirmed that there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods."

This statement, while true, is taken out of context and is misleading because the AMA also (for the first time) called for mandatory premarket safety studies of GMOs. As Consumers Union recently noted in its reaction to AMA's announcement, labeling and testing logically go together:

The AMA's stance on mandatory labeling isn't consistent with its support for mandatory pre-market safety assessments. If unexpected adverse health effects, such as an allergic reaction, happen as a result of GE, then labeling could perhaps be the only way to determine that the GE process was linked to the adverse health effect.

4) Food companies "have had the choice" to use GM ingredients.

Choice is a good thing; however, consumers have never had the choice. Prop 37 will give consumers a long-overdue choice about eating genetically engineered food.

5) "FDA says that such labeling would be inherently misleading to consumers."

Of course FDA refuses to require GMO labeling, thanks to Monsanto's arm-twisting that began more than 20 years ago. Food Democracy Now's Dave Murphy explained the FDA decision in May upon its 20-year anniversary, which came as a result of a broader deregulatory push by the first Bush administration:

Twenty years ago this week, then-Vice President Dan Quayle announced the FDA's policy on genetically engineered food as part of his "regulatory relief initiative." As Quayle explained in the 1992 press conference, the American biotechnology industry would reap huge profits "as long as we resist the spread of unnecessary regulations."

Dan Quayle's 1992 policy announcement is premised on the notion that genetically engineered crops are "substantially equivalent" to regular crops and thus do not need to be labeled or safety tested. The policy was crafted by Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto lawyer who was hired by the Bush FDA to fill the newly created position of deputy commissioner of policy.

Five years earlier, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush visited a Monsanto lab for a photo op with the developers of Roundup Ready crops. According to a video report of the meeting, when Monsanto executives worried about the approval process for their new crops, Bush laughed and told them, "Call me. We're in the dereg businesses. Maybe we can help."

Call they did. It's typical for corporations to get their policy agenda approved through back-channel lobbying and revolving door appointments and then point to the magical policy outcome as evidence of scientific decision-making.

6) "Consumers have broad food choices today, but could be denied these choices if Prop 37 prevails."

There is no basis in logic that consumers could be denied food choices. Indeed, Proposition 37 actually broadens the meaningful food choices available through greater transparency. Right now, people are eating in the dark.

7) "Interestingly, the main proponents of Proposition 37 are special interest groups and individuals opposed to food biotechnology who are not necessarily engaged in the production of our nation's food supply."

In fact, quite a large number of food producers, farmers and others very much "engaged in the production of our nation's food supply" support the campaign. (See the growing list of endorsements.) Speaking of "special interest groups" wouldn't that label apply to the likes of Monsanto and all the industrial food producers who oppose Proposition 37?

8) "Beneath their right to know slogan is a deceptive marketing campaign aimed at stigmatizing modern food production."

"Modern food production" -- is that Monsanto's latest euphemism for scientifically altering the genetic code of the food supply? In truth, nothing is hidden "beneath" the Right to Know campaign, that's all it's about. But because Monsanto has no good argument for why consumers don't have the right to know how their food is produced, it has to resort to distracting deceptions.

9) "[Proponents] opinions are in stark contrast with leading health associations."

Another look at the long list of Prop 37 endorsements reveal that Monsanto and friends are actually out of step with leading health associations, such as:

  • American Public Health Association

  • American Medical Students Association

  • American Academy of Environmental Medicine

  • Physicians for Social Responsibility, California chapters

  • California Nurses Association

10) "The California proposal would serve the purposes of a few special interest groups at the expense of the majority of consumers."

Again, logic defies this talking point, especially since all polling indicates a "majority of consumers" want GMO food to be labeled. Indeed, the most recent California poll shows the proposition winning by a 3-to-1 margin. No wonder Monsanto has to resort to such nonsensical talking points.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+70 # Jaysson Brae 2012-08-23 14:55
W. Europeans have just as competent scientists as the US, and the former's consensus is that GMO's are a dangerous craps shoot.
First, too little is known about potential long term human health effects
Second, what IS peer-reviewed-k nown about negative effects on simpler organisms, is documented and increasingly scary.
Many EU governments have therefore already banned GMO's at the behest of their alarmed citizens.
The reason GMO's aren't banned in the US is obvious: corporations here, unlike in W. Europe, tend have far more political power than average people.
+36 # Street Level 2012-08-23 22:45
I've heard that the EU is considering lifting it's ban under pressure (threats of trade wars) from the US. I hope they tell us to "stick it" and slap a label on it while we're at it.
+50 # Small Family Farmer 2012-08-23 15:34
That's the best they've got??

No wonder they need millions of dollars to try and influence the voters in CA.

If the elite are able to sway people to act against their best interest using a combination of misinformation, flimsy talking points, and huge sums of money in this instance then I fear there may be very bad days ahead for 99% of us.
+60 # barkingcarpet 2012-08-23 22:09
Monsanto IS the Antichrist. An evil, corporate, bloodsucking snake, which is doing incredible and irreversible environmental harm, all in the name of dollar profits, at the expense of all which is sane, good, or sustainable. They need to be dismantled.
+34 # Street Level 2012-08-23 22:42
India's parliamentary committee just recommended halting further plantings of GM's. They got rammed through their government just like most and have made conditions worse and they only plant cotton.
+19 # jlg 2012-08-23 23:36
Everyone with contacts in California needs to encourage them to support Prop 37, and to support their family and friends to do likewise. This is a critical measure for our future health and environmental welfare - we cannot afford to lose the great momentum in California, which could spread quickly to other states and cause the downfall of the GM 'food' industry. One less major worry in the world!
+12 # mgwmgw 2012-08-23 23:40
What prevents sellers of non GM food from forming an organization and having a logo like what is used for kosher food? Why must government be involved?
+17 # angelfish 2012-08-24 01:02
Let me see them feed it to THEIR children for five or ten years or so, without ill effects, then , MAYBE, they MIGHT be allowed to push their swill on the American Public but ONLY if they LABEL it for WHAT it IS! People should be able to CHOOSE whether or not they want to consume genetically altered food stuffs!
+25 # MindDoc 2012-08-24 02:01
Inherently misleading? I'll say. So, When's the last time you ate anything labeled as 'inorganic'? Just as we got dumbed-down in our understanding of 'organic' and 'healthy', 'we need to be protected from health-oriented (honest) ingredient labeling on the food we eat..... Do we really think this? Do our 'representative s' say their 'people' do?

So now these czars of genetic mutation, corn & soy power, masquerading as "food companies" (nee 'farms') , are resisting a simple thing, you might think: informative (and real) ingredient labeling. But civic minded entities like Monsanto are spending millions so that little old us won't have to tax our brains to try to *understand* the ingredients, or definitions , without replacing words like "natural" or "organic" with things like "Genetically mutated/enginee red to approximate 'natural'- TM Gee, thanks.

It would be comical were our Government not locked up in a, um, 'food fight' to see who can remove the last protections for the flesh & blood type 'people' who buy food, pay taxes, and make 400 families fabulously wealthy as purveyors of 'natural' food - and BS.

We need a landslide sweep of Congress, booting out the crazies and party-line no-sayers, judging candidates' by evidence of their working on behalf of We the People. It is vital to forestall the planned transfer of OUR country's ownership to 'We the Monsantos' - not to mention Kochs, Roves, Adelsons & Bains. What's on their labels?
+24 # RMDC 2012-08-24 04:48
Monsanto has always been a lying and criminal company. It made billions in asbestos and agent orange. Isn't there any to shut down these criminal organizations?

I guess not.
+5 # Douglas Jack 2012-08-24 04:58
The foundation we need to establish is "Knowing who we are", knowing our strengths & resources in our families, multihome buildings, neighbourhoods & communities as well as accounting for our interactions. Europeans arrived here and destroyed intimate and continental systems of knowing.
+25 # vt143 2012-08-24 05:46
Once again, if Monsanto is proud of what they produce and there is nothing at all wrong with it, why oh why do they balk at having the "fruits of their labor" so labeled???????? ?? One would think they would want to shout it from the rooftops.
+7 # ER444 2012-08-24 07:03
Very good point!!!
+24 # Small Family Farmer 2012-08-24 07:08
If this wasn't so pathetic it would be funny. Monsanto's own cafeterias don't serve GM food to Monsanto's employees.

Gee, ya' suppose they know something we ought to know?
+12 # qasee 2012-08-24 07:38
Right you are vt143. My thoughts exactly. That should be the main talking point of the proponents of prop 37. Also Russia and CHINA! requires GMO labeling. These evil empires that our government keep telling us are so horrible to there citizens.
+19 # warrior woman 2012-08-24 07:53
Let's use their own "free market" ideology. If this were a true "free market", the customer end of the deal would have full disclosure, details as to product makeup would not have to be hidden.

I purchased a bottle of Bt Toxin or bacillus thurengiensis at my local garden store. I am showing this bottle to all who will listen & tell them, this friend, is what is being put into your, your kids and grand-kids foods. It's inserted into the DNA of the plants. Some people don't believe me, others are stunned to silence. For those working in the campaign in CA, I urge you to pick up a $10 bottle and bring it with you for your discussions with consumers. No better way to tell the truth than to have a very telling prop with you.
+16 # panhead49 2012-08-24 08:24
Congratulations Monsanto - I no longer need worry about your Frankencorn. I've been avoiding it for a couple of years but hubby would enjoy an ear every now and then. But you've done it - you've managed to engineer the very flavor of corn right out of it. When I asked him if he wanted anymore corn and he said most adamantly "No, it was like eating nothing". Told him he had been eating something but exactly what it was, well I guess only Monsanto knows for sure.
+6 # eadg 2012-08-24 08:57
Control the food, water and air. Let's see:
GMO, Fluoride, and 'seeding' (chemtrailing).
Mission accomplished!
+7 # JessJuan-d-Ring 2012-08-24 18:40
Instead of just railing about Monsanto, et al, individuals need to take the time to write to the CEOs and Boards of Directors of not only Monsanto, but all the companies (Gen'l Mills, Kelloggs, PepsiCo, Dean Foods, et al and their owned brands(see ). Tell them that you will no longer be buying their products until they support labeling of GE food goods; and that you will communicate your choice to others within your circles. I have observed that with sufficient contact, such companies will rethink their policies to avoid loss of market share.
+2 # Stormchilde 2012-08-25 02:32
So I called Honest T after reading this and asked a few questions and suggested a few things.

Here is a link to my phone call with them.
+6 # chrisconnolly 2012-08-25 10:04
The consumption of GMO foods is potentially devastating to our health but the far bigger threat to our well being is the simplification of our bio-diversity. Sixty years ago there were over 1000 varieties of corn grown commercially. Today that has been dwindled down to six. We are modifying our environment so we can better control it without the comprehension of the overall requirements of a healthy ecosystem. Its like trying to bake a cake by throwing out two thirds of the ingredients because we don't know what they do and then whining because it didn't work.
+2 # carp 2012-08-26 16:03
Is there any law against labeling food
NON GMO? I would certainly assume any food without NON GMO food would contain such.

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