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How Monsanto Can Be Defeated

The anti-GMO movement in the U.S. has achieved some preliminary victories in GMO food labeling but that's not all that needs to be done.

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The anti-GMO movement in the U.S. has identified Monsanto’s Achilles heel—GMO food labeling at the state level—and has begun to achieve some preliminary victories, both in the marketplace and in the legislative arena. For example, Whole Foods Market  and dozens of natural food stores and co-ops, along with restaurants like Chipotle, are, or are planning to, voluntarily label GMOs. And Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO labeling laws.

Our common task now must be to win the all-important Washington State ballot initiative. This will require a tremendous fundraising effort and netroots-grassroots get-out-the-vote effort

Monsanto’s Minions React

The food industry knows it will be difficult to stop voters in Washington State from bypassing the politicians and the federal government and directly voting into law a mandatory GMO food labeling initiative on November 5. So the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is circling the wagons. Claiming that pro-labeling consumers have created “an unprecedented period of turmoil” for the food industry, the GMA convened a meeting, on July 10, in Washington D.C., of large food manufactures and supermarkets. Their agenda? Figure out how to co-opt and neutralize the growing anti-GMO movement.  

One of the strategies apparently being put forth by members of the GMA is to ask the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to step in and formulate watered-down federal rules on GMO food labeling. The GMA would like weak labeling laws, similar to those in Japan and other nations, that would contain loopholes, high tolerances and weak enforcement, coupled with a lengthy implementation period, so as to preempt strict state labeling requirements and deflate the growing GMO-Right to Know movement.

On the international level, Monsanto and Big Food, joined by other large corporations concerned about the growing grassroots power of consumer, environmental, and Fair Trade networks, are lobbying for fast track passage of new secretly negotiated Free Trade Agreements, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), popularly known as “TAFTA,” and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both TAFTA and TPP are basically supercharged versions of the highly unpopular NAFTA and WTO trade agreements.

These “forced trade” agreements would, among other things, lower standards on food safety and environmental protection, including taking away the rights of nations and states to require strict GMO food labeling and safety-testing. Provisions in these trade agreements would allow corporations to sue a nation if pro-consumer or environmental laws interfered with their trade and “expected profits.”  Judgments and penalties would be determined by secret trade tribunals, with corporate lawyers serving as judges. Under the TAFTA/TPP regime, the U.S. and other countries would be required to hand over national sovereignty to foreign investors and multinational corporations.

So even as we mobilize for strategic GMO right-to-know victories in Washington, Vermont and other states, we must simultaneously mobilize the public to fight against federal preemption on GMO labeling, and stop the next generation of these secret Forced Trade agreements.

GMO Food Labeling: Just the First Step

Passing I-522, Washington State’s GMO labeling initiative, is a necessary first step toward honest labeling of GMO ingredients in the U.S. But Monsanto has survived mandatory food labeling in the EU and scores of other nations. The biotech giant will likely survive strict labeling requirements by U.S. states, too. What Monsanto can’t survive is mass awareness and rejection of all GMOs, especially GMO cotton and GMO animal feed on factory farms. A successful global boycott of factory-farmed meat and animal products and GMO-tainted cotton, combined with GMO food labeling, will literally drive genetic engineering out of the marketplace.

Eighty percent of all processed foods in the U.S. contain GMOs. Yet if we examine the entire global production and consumption cycle of GMOs, we learn that only 20 percent of GMOs grown worldwide go into human food. The other 80 percent end up in animal feed, cotton production, biofuels, body care products, and nutritional supplements.

 
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