By Jeeni Criscenzo
At the tail end of CBS This Morning this Wednesday, was a brief interview with Monsanto’s CEO, Hugh Grant (not the movie star), on the debate over GMO labeling. He tried to come off as a soft-spoken, reasonable man, describing his company as “…an agricultural company. We sell seeds to farmers and those farmers make harvests and those harvest end up on plates around the world.”
Cool. The man running the company that is poisoning our planet and our population is just so damn nice, what with putting all that poison (err food) on our plates!
What if we don’t want his poison? Nice Mr. Grant wants to cram it down your throat. His nice agricultural company spent over $4 million killing a GMO labeling initiative in Colorado. They spent $6 million stopping a similar effort in Oregon.
In California, Monsanto spent $8 million to defeat Prop 37 in 2012, that would have mandated labeling of genetically engineered food. In September 2012, prior to a $45 million onslaught of distorted, misleading advertising, polls showed 61% of voters in favor of the measure. The proposition lost by less than 3%.
You’d think the CEO of Monsanto would have a very strong rationale for spending huge sums of shareholders’ money on blocking passage of a regulation that 66% of Americans support. When Charlie Rose asked if he is in favor of mandatory labeling, his response was:
I’m for some sort of federal standard, I think a broad umbrella on labeling that’s based on science and based on fact, I’d welcome. My concern, Charlie, is that, I want the labeling to be, so far the labeling has been state by state and different labels in different states, and that results in confusion instead of transparency and it results in more expense and so if there was an overall standard, kind of like the organic, if you look today at the organic food standard, something like that, I’d be in favor of.
Despite the enormous resources companies like Monsanto have put on the suppression of information that proves there is good cause for consumers to be concerned, a recent Pew Research Survey found that 57% of Americans consider GMOs unsafe. And the science continues to support their concerns.
In 2012, a study by French Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, originally published in the peer reviewed, Food and Chemical Toxicology, found sever liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed GM maize and levels of Roundup below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. The study was retracted a year later following a defamation campaign by pro-GMO scientists, but republished in Environmental Sciences Europe in 2014 with the same conclusions.
Now the fraud behind the retraction has been revealed. During a recent trial in a Paris Court, that fined Marianne magazine and its journalists for public defamation of a public official and public defamation of the researchers – Séralini and his team, it was revealed that the original author of the fraud accusation was American lobbyist, Henry I. Miller – the same lobbyist who tried to discredit research linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease. Somebody needs to do a study on this rat, locked in a cell with nothing but cigarettes and genetically modified food, until he croaks.
While the CEO of Monsanto can state on TV that he would support a standard based on science and fact, the corruption used to sequester scientific proof that GMOs are unhealthy reaches the highest levels of government around the world. Last week the High Court of Paris indicted Marc Fellous, former chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission, for forgery and the use of forgery for using the signature of a scientist without his agreement to argue that Séralini and his co-researches were wrong in their assessment of Monsanto’s own studies. Séralini’s team found signs of toxicity in the raw data from Monsanto’s own rat feeding studies with GM maize.
Meanwhile, back here in the U.S., the House of Representatives passed an ass backwards bill in July with the Orwellian title of Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, that would set up a voluntary program for companies that want to disclose genetically modified ingredients. Now that’s a “standard” Mr. Grant could really support! Meanwhile, companies that want to claim their product as Non-GMO would have to submit to a certification process! The measure would ban states which have passed GMO-labeling laws (including Vermont, Maine and Connecticut) from actually enacting them. In addition, genetically modified products could be labeled as “natural”.
A recent Poll by the Mellman Group showed 90% of American’s want to know what’s in their food. But how can we know when there is so much money and power set against transparency? Here’s an idea – why don’t the 57% of Americans who think GMO food is unsafe just stop buying it. How? By only buying what we know is not GMO.
Let’s use our power as consumers to only buy food products labeled Non-GMO. Yes, that would put the onus on farmers and food processors who don’t use GMO seeds and ingredients, to document and label their products accordingly. Some already do, and for the others this might add to their costs. But if sales of Non-GMO products were to skyrocket while sales of products not labeled Non-GMO were to suddenly plummet, it would be the bean-counters pushing to switch farming practices and ingredient selection to non-GMO.
We are already seeing fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Chipotle announcing that they will be switching to non-GMO. And a number of grocery chains have announced they will not carry the new FDA-approved, genetically modified salmon. So clearly the message of consumer preference for non-GMO is getting out there.
Now, let’s put the nail in the coffin of GMO by doing an opposite boycott. Let’s give Monsanto and their nice Mr. Grant a taste of their bully tactics. Combined, our billions of consumer dollars are far more powerful than theirs. So where’s the marketing genius who can get this campaign off the ground?