As November creeps inexorably closer, the Grocery Manufacturers Association declares that defeating California’s GMO labeling initiative is ’its highest priority.’ Despite almost unanimous consumer support, the food industry is fighting no-holds-barred against CA’s efforts towards increased transparency and accountability regarding US food packaging. Apparently, informed consumerism scares them silly.
Voters say ‘Woot!’ to GMO labeling
Polls consistently show more than 90% voter support for fair and accurate labeling of GMO foods. For the first time in US history, CA’s Prop 37 stands poised to put the issue in the hands of actual voters, potentially bringing America into the civilized society of nearly 50 countries who already label GMO ingredients — or ban them altogether.
Food industry says GMO LABELING INITIATIVE MUST DIE! DIE!! DIIIIIIIE!!!
According to Food Safety News,
In a recent speech to the American Soybean Association (most soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified), Grocery Manufacturers Association President Pamela Bailey said that defeating the initiative “is the single-highest priority for GMA this year.”
You may not know the Grocery Manufacturers Association, but its members represent the nation’s largest food makers — those with the most at stake in the battle over GMO labeling; for example, soft drink and snack giant PepsiCo, cereal makers Kellogg and General Mills, and of course, biotech behemoth Monsanto.
According to state filing reports, so far GMA has spent $375,000 on its efforts to oppose the labeling measure, with its members adding additional out-of-state lobbying power in the tens of thousands of dollars.
As previously reported on EDB, long before this Grocery Manufacturers Association pronouncement the biotech companies and packaged food industry have been frantically spending — and spinning — to confuse CA voters in order to defeat prop 37 in November:
On June 13 the industry-funded ’Coalition Against the Deceptive and Costly Food Labeling Proposition’ issued a press release calling GMO foods “some of the safest and most thoroughly-tested food to ever enter our food supply.”
The fact that testing for chronic, reproductive, and developmental toxicity has never been adequately investigated, that GMO crops have hurt farmers, that reliance on GMO agriculture has reduced biodiversity at a national and global level, causing unforseen environmental impacts – or the fact that all ‘testing‘ has been done behind closed doors by the very entities poised to benefit most from GMO product approval — is of course conveniently (and unscientifically) omitted from the statement.
The roster of Coalition members reads like an anti-consumer conference agenda:
- Tom Hiltachk, former big tobacco PR hotshot and fake-grassroots-group front man;
- Kathy Fairbanks, former anti-consumer fake-grass-roots-group worker for the insurance industry with “a lengthy history of serious misconduct;”
- Maryann Marino, big-money backed corporate darling and front-group organizer, known for her tireless work against corporate liability for consumer injury;
- Corporate trade group American Tort Reform Association, representing interests of member corporations such as Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon, Kraft Foods, and (yes, you guessed it!) Monsanto.
A recent AlterNet article discuses the deceptive (but effective) strategy by which corporate entities try to trick consumers into voting against their own interests: cloak greedy seedy consumer-harming goals with fake ‘grass-roots’ front groups, who then pretend to advocate for consumers — by supporting legislation benefitting corporate backers at consumer expense. Brilliant! Yet (predictably) sleazy.
So why the histrionics?
The latest announcement from the GMA is very much in keeping with the frenzy of fierce zeal shown at every opportunity, by the food industry, towards the evident goal of stabbing CA’s labeling initiative to death with its nasty sharp expensive PR pitchforks. What is it about Prop 37 that sends the biotech companies and food lobbies into the corporate equivalent of shrieking hissy fits, tearing hair and rending clothing and spending anti-labeling PR money in California like there’s no tomorrow?
I propose two reasons why the food industry is so overwrought about US shoppers finally perhaps being allowed to decide for themselves whether to consume GMOs.
1. Industry knows perfectly well that the science supporting the sustainability and safety of GMO foods is about as strong as a premature newborn hamster with pneumonia, and can’t possibly stand up to objective scrutiny by informed consumers.
2. They don’t give a flying (bleep) about the sustainability or safety of GMO foods, because they’re making huge profits under the current paradigm of mandatory consumer ignorance — and would like to keep doing so for as long as possible, please and thank you!
These are ridiculously poor reasons for US voters to continue to tolerate being kept in the dark about what they’re eating. In all seriousness, this is a ludicrous ‘controversy’ — people have a right to know what they’re buying and putting into their bodies! The end.
So do whatever you can to support GMO labeling: vote emphatically YES! on Prop 37 if you live in California; join GMO Free USA, and its Kellogg’s boycott; and shop organic until we see progress on this issue.
And food lobby guys: please do take a Valium or something, until you recover from the informed-consumerism vapors and regain your composure! Accurate food labeling should not involve such dramatic angst. Take some deep breaths, reflect on free market captialism, consider consumer demand, and embrace GMO labeling.
Because my dear manipulative greedy scheming anti-consumer angst-ridden food industry corporate friends, that is exactly where we’re headed.
Deal with it!
Label the stuff already, and quit whining about how consumers are so silly for wanting to know what’s in their food. If Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association make food products that can succeed on their own merits, fairly labeled: so be it. Carry on! Be ye merry and fruitful, etc etc etc.
HOWEVER: if you rely on secrecy and deception to get people to buy what you’re selling, then something is very wrong — and the American public is calling you on it.
(I know it’s hard: I’m'a get you guys another Valium… bless your deceptive conniving little corporate hearts!)
Image credit: Creative Commons photo by Millions Against Monsanto.