A Right to Know…or not

Prop 37, The Right to Know GMO labeling initiative, looks to have been narrowly defeated last week in California. It was a contentious fight with over 45 million dollars of advertising and support from major food makers who outspent their grassroots and organic counterparts in an effort to avoid labeling their products.

GMO – Genetically modified organisms, are food crops, animals and other food products that have had their genes changed to create breeds and strains of plants and animals that do not naturally occur. Scientists have been for years now introducing genetic material into organisms to alter, create and effect changes in living plants and animals. Also called recombinant DNA technology, this practice changes the core genetic make-up of organisms. This genetic manipulation gives scientists the ability to create any trait they wish, or suppress natural traits they don’t want. Why? One argument is the world’s population growth demands scientific intervention due to a perceived inability of nature to provide the yields necessary to keep pace. My opinion is much simpler…there’s money to be made in them thar seeds.

Little is known about the long-term effects of eating GMO foods; I ask, why fix what isn’t broken?  Nature has provided us the perfect packages to create and sustain health, and we do know the long terms outcome of that, so why mess with perfection? While some countries, including the US, have adopted GMO foods, many others have banned the production and selling of GMO, or at least have created guidelines that require GMO foods be labeled, which is what Prop 37 had proposed to do.

Among the largest bankrollers of the NO on 37 campaign were huge multinational food and beverage companies whose subsidiaries make billions of dollars, ironically, selling some of the most well-known “natural” food brands. Could corporate greed rather than pubic good be the reason why there was such a huge effort to stop the labeling of GMO food? Don’t get me started.

The Organic Consumers Association, who is calling on consumers to boycott the companies and brands whose money may have swayed California voters into voting No on Prop 37 said, “If we raise enough hell, maybe the parent companies of these popular brands will come to their senses and stop doing the bidding for Monsanto and the biotech industry.”  The OCA is calling on consumers to boycott the companies and brands listed below by exposing how much each spent to defeat GMO labeling in California.

PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic

Kraft (Donated $2M): Boca Burgers and Back to Nature

Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M):“O” Organics

Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M): Honest Tea, Odwalla

General Mills (Donated $1.2M):  Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar

Con-Agra (Donated $1.2M): Orville Redenbacher’s Organic, Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife, Alexia

Kellogg’s (Donated $791k): Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger

Smucker’s (Donated $555k ): R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic

Unilever (Donated $467k): Ben & Jerry’s

Dean Foods (Donated $254k): Horizon, Silk, White Wave

Most thought that Prop 37 would have easily passed in the granola state, and like me, many were shocked when it didn’t. However, to this day, questions about whether Prop 37 actually lost still linger. Was there vote tampering? According to investigative reporter Jon Rappoport, there may have been. “Media outlets made an early call on election night claiming that Prop 37 had gone down to defeat, while there were well over 3 million uncounted votes at the time of reporting.”  Rappoport goes on to question whether or not there was criminal vote tampering and asks the question, should the election have been called so early with such a close margin and so many uncounted votes?  Seems like this one may yet be challenged.

Either way, California’s Prop 37 has spawned a national debate and consumer awareness since the “right to know” movement seems more determined than ever to fight for labeling of food that has been genetically modified. Already under way are efforts in Washington State, Vermont and Connecticut, along with a 30-state coalition that is formulating a plan to collaborate on GMO-labeling laws and initiatives. This issue is far from settled, and the same may still be true for California’s Prop 37. Stay tuned.

America is one of the only major industrial countries that allows and promotes the production and sale of GMO foods. In Europe, Norway, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg, and Portugal have put in place GMO restrictions. France made an important step in the no-GMO movement by specifically defining exactly what “GMO-free” means when it comes to food labeling. Ireland has banned all growing and cultivating of GMO foods, and the European Union — a governing coalition of European countries — has considered a Europe-wide banning of GMO foods. So have many other countries.

No matter what side of the GMO food debate you fall on, it seems prudent to me that the public should have a right to know what is in their food supply, no matter where it’s grown or what company produces it. It’s not like labeling ingredients isn’t already required. As a holistic health professional, my further concern is, what are the real long-term effects of eating GMO? Are you willing to be a lab rat? You may be right now and not know it!

Is it telling that in Monsanto’s own corporate cafeteria only organic food is offered and served? If they are so proud of their products, why are they unwilling to eat or label them? I will stick with what nature produces, and the only way to ensure that is to buy and eat organic. Or better yet, grow your own. Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get to eat your efforts!

So it’s clear what my opinion is…what say you? Do you have the right to know if you are choosing GMO… or not?

(J.R. Westen, D.D. is a Holistic Health & Spiritual Counselor who has worked and presented side-by-side with Neale Donald Walsch for over a decade. He is passionate about helping individuals move beyond their emotional and spiritual challenges, transforming breakdowns into breakthroughs. His coaching provides practical wisdom and guidance that can be immediately incorporated to shift one’s experience of life. As is true for most impactful teachers, J.R.’s own struggles and triumphs inspired him to find powerful ways of helping others. Sober since June 1, 1986, J.R.’s passion for helping individuals move through intense life challenges drove him to also specialize in Addiction and Grief Recovery. J.R. currently shares his gift of counseling & coaching with individuals from around the world through the Wellness Center, Simply Vibrant, located on Long Island N.Y.  In addition, he works with Escondido Sobering Services and serves on the Board of Directors for the Conversations with God Foundation. He can be contacted at JR@theglobalconversation.com, or to book an appointment, write support@simplyvibrant.com.)

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  • mewabe

    There is something that everyone who cares about this important issue could attempt locally: working on making your county GMO free…not allowing the cultivation of GMO products, such as in Mendocino County in California.

    Of course, since this is an all out war waged by the GE industry (one of them, Monsanto, being the same friendly corporation that gave us agent orange, and that has been fined by the government many times for breaking the law), the Farm Bureau and the American Chamber of Commerce among other usual suspects, some States, under pressure by these elements, are now attempting to pass preemptive laws to block local GMO-free ordinance.

    Against the will of the people, obviously, who had already made their wishes clear about GMO-free agriculture in their counties.

    How’s this for representative government?

    But…Monsanto would argue…this is representative government…it represents us, and, being a corporation, we are people too! We are all equal…we just happen to be more equal than you, the little people, are or will ever be. Get used to it!

  • Buzz

    The ” grassroots and organic counterparts” mentioned in paragraph 1 lost the proposition because they didn’t reach a critical mass of awareness at the local level. This is typical of all grassroots organisations. They think that their supporters list is a means of accurately measuring public opinion of a localised area. They were wrong, we all make mistakes, we’re only human. No point bashing ourselves. Get up, dust off, and prepare for the next battle. Hoo-Ra.

  • Erin/IAm

    JR, few subjects rock my socks like this one does…Killer brain food, indeed!

    I, too, go with “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”…but we are talking about intelligence here, and intelligence leaves absolutely nothing to ‘well enough’ (except human health, of course).

    I do think we have amazing sciences, incredible minds, & good intents…paving our way to ‘Heaven/Hell’ as guided by the businesses that support these aspects’ growth. People only support what they ‘know’; what is ‘usual’…and Business supports ‘what they could become of yet-to-be’. Many people are provided ‘Good Life’ of this circle, as are there those who are not.

    ‘Good’ business is maintained thru low cost/high profit margins & motivating a market to buy their wares. Those who provide the greatest market values are those who hold ignorances…of business, of themselves, &/or of their environment. These are not markets without brains, just one’s who don’t use them in these regards.
    Personally, however, if one’s brains are not being used in these regards, wth are they being used for? Just sayin’…

    We are in a sorting time right now…We are in an adjusting time, too. Dysfunctions being Seen, New ideas afoot…And those who See/will See, & those who don’t/won’t.

    Our body vehicles are nothing less than Amazing…Adjustable, adaptable, Genetically manufactured of water, dirt, air, & products thereof…with opposable thumbs, & intelligence to boot.

    Does it really matter which God created these things? ‘The’ Godhead, Human-God, or Earth-Goddess? idk…this remains a subject of feasting.:)

    Good Journey & Blessed Thanks-Giving!:)

  • Laura Pringle

    Thanks so much for the informative article! Some of those things you pointed out are kind of creepy, and it’s good that you share what you know. Not much is known about the effects of eating GMO foods, so eating it is a bit like gambling.

    I tend to think that God-head, the human appendage, lacks the foresight and wisdom that our creator possesses, so I’m voting for non-GMO food:)

  • Lisa

    What disturbs me about this is not just the fact that I am taking in GMO substances. But equally problematic is how GMO crops change the natural function of the food chain. They are resistant to certain hungry bugs and bacteria, so they essentially kill them off or starve them out. But what part of nature depends on them to exist? Similar to what is happening to our bee population, which is o’so sad to me.

    Just another example of how big corporations are making money hungry decisions to pad their wallets right now, without regard for how it will affect the Earth and it’s occupants down the road.