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News archive: August 2012

California News: YES on Prop 37!

Campaigners seeking mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods in California claim that food processing giants and agribusinesses have paid millions of dollars in an attempt to stifle them.

The California Right to Know campaign, which is backing Proposition 37 on labeling GM food and ingredients, has disclosed campaign finance reports which show major agrochemical and food companies have spent over $7 million (£4.5 million) to oppose their campaign. According to California Secretary of State disclosure forms, the largest contributions so far have been made by agribusinesses Dupont Pioneer ($2,441,500), Bayer Cropscience ($1,064,000) and BASF Plant Science ($996,500).

Other major food players have also spent large amounts to oppose the labeling campaign. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle USA and General Mills have each spent $500,000. All of these corporations use genetically modified ingredients in almost every food and beverage they produce, including Coke and sodas, chips, salsas, pizza, bread and more. They have a huge vested interest in keeping the American public in the dark about how many genetically modified ingredients they use.

Payments were made to the counter-campaign ‘No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, Sponsored by Farmers, Food Producers and Grocers’. The ‘No on 37′ group claims that food labeling laws would “increase food costs by billions, add more government bureaucracy and [give rise to] frivolous lawsuits, without providing any health or safety benefits.”

The campaign has said the current Proposition 37 is flawed, and funded press statements advising voters vote against introducing new legislation. These statements include testimonies from a number of eminent scientists who express support for GM food and condemn the proposed labeling laws.

However, the United States’ Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch service revealed at the beginning of the month that the ‘No on 37′ group, “formerly known as the ‘Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition’ receives significant support from the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA),” which it claims are both well-known front groups for the “Big 6″ pesticide and genetic engineering companies.

More Pesticides Are Used To Grow Genetically Modified Foods Than Regular Crops

Both sides in the prop 37 debate claim the other is disseminating misinformation. The ‘No on 37’ campaign claims labeling laws would lead food manufacturers to switch to conventionally grown ingredients. They state this would lead to rises in food prices and even to increased use of damaging agricultural chemicals.

However, in addition to pointing out that an increase in pesticide use would at first glance seem beneficial for the agchem companies fighting to ensure the proposition fails in California, Dr Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, a senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network, retorted, “Rather than reducing the need for hazardous pesticides, genetically modified seeds have driven a massive increase in chemical use that has been linked to significant environmental and public health concerns.”

Many genetically modified seeds are modified to be herbicide-resistant, so that more dangerous chemical weed-killers can be sprayed on them than crops grown with regular seeds.

She continued, “It’s clear that genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant seeds are the growth engines of the pesticide industry’s sales and marketing strategy. These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased, indiscriminate herbicide use and pump up chemical sales.”

The Right to Know campaign also points out that Prop 37 will have no cost impact on consumers or even on food producers. It simply adds a label to genetically engineered food.

Voting on Proposition 37 will take place on 6th November. The results will apply only to California, but supporters of GM labeling have said that, if successful, the campaign could spark a groundswell of support and lead to similar consumer awareness campaigns elsewhere. Polls in California currently show 69 per cent support for prop 37, though the ‘Yes on 37’ campaign claims in excess of 90 per cent support.


California’s Prop 37

The USA is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t require genetically modified foods to be labelled. As a matter of consumer choice, pretty much every other country in the world totally allows people to buy genetically modified foods, but has mandatory labeling, so people who don’t want to eat genetically modified foods have the freedom to choose to buy another food product.

Californians now have the chance to add this freedom of choice to their stores.

Prop 37 is the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act

It’s being proposed right now by the Organic Consumer Association, and it advocates exactly what it says on the can: that all genetically modified foods sold in California would have to be labelled.

Please support this historic, ground-breaking bill by asking your local food market and organic food store to join the more than 100 retail stores that have already publicly endorsed Prop 37. Thousands of volunteers are getting on board the California Right to Know campaign by asking their local health food stores to endorse Prop 37, and to provide educational materials for their consumers.

Join in by clicking this link, and you will be sent posted and flyers to give to the manager of your local store.

Together, Californians can do this, and it will be an amazing vote for health and freedom!

GM Corn Creates Superpest

“Instead of making things easier, we’ve just made corn rootworm management harder and a heck of a lot more expensive.” says Bruce Potter, University of Minnesota professor and pest management specialist.

Corn rootworm is called the billion-dollar pest, a rough estimate of how much money U.S. farmers spend annually to keep it at bay.

The best weapon they’ve ever had was a genetically modified corn plant bred to contain a protein that kills the insect. But many bug experts are convinced that rootworms have developed a resistance to the protein, so that they can feast on the plant’s roots and survive.

On top of a punishing drought, the leading corn pest is adding to crop damage in parts of Minnesota and elsewhere – even though the plants are supposed to be immune from the bug, the corn rootworm beetle.

Now that corn rootworms have growing resistance to genetically modified corn, the list of pests that are resistant to genetically modified crops has grown significantly in terms of real-world crop management.

It adds significantly to the argument that genetically modifying crops for pest resistance does not protect crops in the long-term. In fact, it creates the conditions for even stronger pests to be bred in the wild, for even greater crop damage in the future.

Minnesota Public Radio; August 3, 2012

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