Earlier this year, Monsanto successfully intimidated VT and CT legislators into dropping GMO labeling bills. California made news this month with a ballot initiative that could require labels on GMO foods, and the biotech giants are chomping at the bit to shoot it down. Consumers want GMO labels by an overwhelming majority, but Monsanto has deep pockets — and so far, sufficient political clout to override the democratic process regarding labels for genetically modified foods.
Nope: Not OK!
In response to this sorry state of affairs, one CT voter turned anger into action and founded GMO Free USA. This innovative grass-roots group seeks to take the issue directly to food manufacturers, through massive consumer action.
Group founder Diana Reeves became interested in food issues related to biotechnology about 5 years ago, but is new to the activism scene. As the parent of a young son who succumbed to cancer, and two daughters also struggling with health issues, Reeves became increasingly interested in the connection between food and health. She was active with the CT Right to Know group, supporting one of the bills Monsanto vetoed this spring.
According to a recent Organic Consumers Association article,
With overwhelming public support for the Connecticut GMO labeling law, Reeves and others were sure it would pass. But at the last minute, under threat of a lawsuit by Monsanto, the bill was eviscerated behind closed doors, and the labeling provision removed before it was voted on by the House.
“I was so angry that our legislators didn’t do their job, that they didn’t stand up to the corporations – especially because the majority of voters wanted this law,” Reeves said.
Just as she had channeled her grief, Reeves now channeled her anger. She decided that if the government wasn’t going to do its job, she would go directly after the food manufacturers.
Will the Real Giant in the Room Please Stand Up?
The biotechnology industry has the bucks and the clout; but pro-labeling consumers have the numbers. Polls consistently show more than 90% support for mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Despite Monsanto’s efforts to suppress labeling efforts, more and more people are becoming aware of the many reasons mandatory labeling for GMO products makes sense.
The FDA and the USDA seem distressingly content to let the biotechnology and other Big Ag interests police themselves, which is just as bad an idea as when any other industry is allowed to do it. Our legislators have so far failed to represent voter interests on the GMO labeling issue, choosing instead to bow before Monsanto’s bluster.
With the rapid decline of pink slime as a so-called food ingredient, we’ve seen the dramatic force and power of consumer demand. When CEO bonuses are jeopardized, we see change! If the regulatory and legislative bodies insist on dragging their feet on the GMO labeling issue, Reeves’ powerful idea is to leave them on the side of the road and drive straight to the source: the food manufacturers who depend on our dollars.
Reeves hopes to build a strong coalition of consumer activists, thousands strong, who will bombard individual food companies with demands for change.
Reeves describes the new group as follows:
GMO Free USA is a national group that supports labeling of genetically modified foods, with the ultimate goal of getting GMO’s that have not been thoroughly tested and determined to be safe out of our food supply.
The first mission of the group is to attract a significant number of like-minded members (say 5,000+), who, on a weekly basis, will bombard a single food manufacturer with individual emails. The purpose and intent of the emails is to inquire as to whether the company is sourcing ingredients that have been genetically modified, express concern about the health risks of GMO’s and ultimately, express the intent to boycott their products if GMO’s are not removed in the interest of the health and well being of the people of the United States and our environment.
Unite and Conquer!
The GMO labeling bills and ballot initiatives popping up like wildflowers across the nation are exciting, and deserve our energy and support. But GMO Free USA represents a powerful new tool for aggregating and amplifying consumers’ voices, creating a shout that even Monsanto can’t silence.
Find GMO Free USA on facebook or yahoo to get involved. Then share, like, tweet — whatever you do! — to invite other Organic Americans into the fold. When it comes to GMO labeling, we are the majority: let’s act like it!
What else can you do to support mandatory labeling for GMO foods? Glad you asked!
- Vote your dollar! Buy organic or ‘Non-GMO’ labelled food every chance you get, until we see change on this issue. Reward producers who aren’t trying to trick you into eating stuff you wouldn’t buy if they labeled it. Go here to learn more about avoiding GMOs.
- The only thing legislators hate more than lawsuits is bad press. Write a letter to the editor of your favorite local publication, and share information about this issue (and about GMO Free USA!) on all your social networks — the more people who know about GMO labeling issues, the harder it is for politicians to crumple like wet paper bags before Monsanto’s legal foot-stomping.
- If you live in a state with pending GMO labeling legislation, agitate! Call, write, and generally pester your representatives to demand accurate labeling of genetically modified foods. Volunteer with a local Right to Know Group. Vote! And bring people with you!
- Wherever you live, sign this to show support for California’s GMO labeling initiative. And don’t stop demanding GMO labels until we get them!
“We’re going to hit them from every angle. It’s going to be thousands of people speaking directly to food manufacturers.” — Diana Reeves
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Image credit: Creative commons photo by Millions Against Monsanto.