The labeling campaign is about having the right to know what’s in your food – just like you’re informed about the nutritional content, and the presence of peanuts (important for those with allergies) and other food additives. Whether genetically engineered ingredients are good or bad for your health is really beside the point. Aspartame is not good for you, yet it’s on the label, and people have the right to consume it as they please. That’s all this is about – just state what it is on the label.
The Monsanto campaign claims Prop 37 is “anti-science” and would ban safe foods. This is nonsense, as Prop 37 doesn’t ban anything. It simply requires the label to state whether the food contains genetically engineered ingredients or not. You’re still free to sell it and buy it.
The only thing it prohibits is the mislabelling of GE foods as “all-natural,” a term that many tend to associate with more organic standards – which GE crops cannot comply with. You’re currently paying a premium for “all-natural” foods that actually use GE ingredients, thinking you’re getting something better than conventional! THAT’S hurting your wallet. Accurately labeling these foods will not.
As for their argument that genetically engineered foods have been around for many years without health problems, this is another nonsensical claim, as there’s no way of tracing any potential health problems back to the food without labelling! The potential truthfulness of their claim in fact hinges on GE foods remaining unlabeled. Without labelling there’s simply no way to know, because there’s no way to track or trace side effects like people can now do with aspartame, or any other food allergy.
Science Media Centre aka Big Biotech Spin Control
A related tactic to hiring academic experts one at a time to do your bidding is to corral them all into one really important sounding organization; often, an “institute.” The Tobacco Institute was an arm of Big Tobacco that according to its own description,19 acted “as official spokesman for the industry, always reflecting official [strategy] position agreed upon by all members.”
Moreover, spinning science through a sophisticated public relations campaign was paramount. The institute’s main mission was:
“[P]ublicizing scientific research funded by the industry which produces counter evidence to unfavorable findings or, at least, helps to keep the question open.”
Sounds unbelievable now, but for decades this strategy was so effective that it delayed policy action while millions died. Enter the Science Media Centre.20 Headquartered in the UK, there is also a US-based outlet.21 Their mission (like their name), sounds innocuous enough:22
“Our aim is to ensure that when a major science story breaks, we can quickly offer news desks a list of scientists available to comment, a summary of the main scientific points involved and details of which press officers or web sites to go to for further information.”
They also provide handy tips in this document23 called, “Communicating risks in a soundbite: A guide for scientists,” on how to respond to media questions by downplaying problems. For example, if a reporter asks, “Is it risky?” the scientist should get the journalist to instead ask about the benefits by replying, “the benefits outweigh the risks.” Another suggested answer: “It is a very small risk. So small that I believe it is safe.”
Why would a “science media center” put words into scientists’ mouths?
Just take a look at the sources of funding, which include:24
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences and Research Council
- CropLife (pesticide and biotech trade group)
Not exactly players with an objective view of science. This might explain why the center pounced25 on the recent French study showing organ damage and massive cancer tumors in rats fed GE corn. This was the first lifetime feeding study that has ever been conducted with GE food, so it was sure to be a major embarrassment to Big Biotech.
The very same day the French report was published came a press release26 from the Science Media Centre claiming “anomalies throughout the paper” despite the authors having been through the usual peer review process.
The main statement from the center was authored by Professor Maurice Moloney, head of Rothamsted Research, which was the target of a protest earlier this year.27 (A counter group formed at the time, calling itself “Sense about Science.” This is a common tactic, to portray those who object to tinkering with nature as anti-science luddites.) Moloney is certainly not an objective scientist when it comes to genetically engineered foods, as his Porsche license plate with the letters GMO indicates.
His bio28 includes working at biotech incubator Calgene (which was later bought by Monsanto), “where he developed the first transgenic oilseed plants using canola as the model crop,” which became the basis of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready and Liberty Link canola products.”
How nice. So the man who gave us Monsanto’s premiere product – Roundup Ready – doesn’t think an independent study demonstrating harm from eating genetically engineered food is valid? Why am I not shocked?
Have You Fallen for Falsehoods?
Here is what should be shocking: that it’s so easy for opponents of GMO labeling to insert such obviously biased scientific spin into the public discourse. According to GM Watch,29 Moloney’s critique was picked up in numerous media outlets, at times, just attributed to unnamed “independent scientists.” Mission accomplished.
In addition to using experts for hire as spokespeople, the “No on 37″ campaign has engaged in numerous other underhanded tactics, getting caught each time.
For example, the “Yes on 37″ campaign recently sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting a criminal investigation for possible fraudulent misuse of the official seal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.30 “No on 37″ included the FDA logo on a mailer31 sent to California voters, along with a quote falsely attributed to FDA saying the agency was opposed to Prop 37.
“No on 37″ has also misrepresented the positions of several health and nutrition organizations,32 even going so far as to deceive Californians in the official voter guide.
How sad that Monsanto and friends must stoop so low to keep consumers in the dark about what they are eating. What are they trying to hide?
Passing Prop 37 is Key to Expanding Sustainable Agriculture in North America
It’s quite evident that we have no real champions for food safety and labeling of genetically engineered foods within the federal government. As I recently reported, the last three U.S. Presidents and Presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney all have something health related in common – they all insist on 100% organic diets for their own families while promoting unlabeled GE foods on the rest of us.
But right now we do have a great opportunity to change this situation by circumventing Monsanto’s posse entirely. Americans are becoming very aware of a significant problem with our food, and that starts with transparency.
Although many organic consumers and natural health activists already understand the importance of Proposition 37, it cannot be overemphasized that winning the battle over Prop 37 is perhaps the most important food fight Americans – not just Californians – have faced so far.
But in order to win this fight for the right to know what’s in our food, we need your help. Please remember, the failure or success of this ballot initiative is wholly dependent on your support and funding! There are no major industry pockets funding this endeavor. In order to have a chance against the deep pockets of Big Biotech and transnational food corporations, it needs donations from average citizens.
So please, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to this cause. You can also contact EVERY person you know that lives in California and encourage them to view some of these videos and get educated on the issues so they can avoid succumbing to the propaganda, as Monsanto and company are paying tens of millions of dollars to deceive the voters in California. We need EVERY vote we can to win on November 6.