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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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Even in Europe, where GE foods are rarely sold in grocery stores or restaurants, several billion dollars worth of GE animal feed from North America, Brazil and Argentina are imported every year. Although EU consumers have forced voluntary labeling of GMO-fed non-organic meat and animal products in Germany, France and Austria, and in large chains throughout Europe, there is no mandatory GMO animal feed labeling law in the EU. India is the only major country up until now that requires labels on GMO animal feed. No country yet requires labels on GMO cotton clothing, nutritional supplements, body care products or biofuels.

Almost half of Monsanto’s profits now derive from its sales outside the U.S., especially GMO crops for animal feed.  So if we’re serious about turning back the biotech threat, and building up an alternative food and farming system that is organic, local, climate-friendly and humane, we need to strengthen our international solidarity and cooperation as well as our domestic efforts. Once we take into account the full scope of agricultural biotechnology and its myriad products, we can position ourselves for the next stage of the battle: a comprehensive and global anti-GMO offensive, strategically targeting the entire GMO food, fiber, fuel, supplements and body care industry where they are most vulnerable. This Great GMO Boycott and GMO Right to Know mobilization will require a broader coalition, both domestically and internationally, and an unprecedented mass education effort around the role of GMOs and factory farms in exacerbating our health, environmental, animal welfare and climate crisis.

All Out for Washington State Nov. 5

But first things first. The consumer, farmer and fishing community insurgency that frightens Monsanto and its allies the most is the upcoming ballot initiative (I-522) in Washington State on Nov. 5. As Monsanto and its allies, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) understand, this is the most crucial battle against GMOs today. If voters pass mandatory labeling in Washington, reinforced by contingent state labeling laws already passed or in progress in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont, it could mean the end of the road for genetically engineered food in U.S. grocery stores.

As the biotech lobby has readily admitted, GMO food labeling is a “skull and crossbones” that will drive genetically engineered foods off the market in the U.S. and North America. As evidenced by marketplace trends in Europe, the largest agricultural market in the world, once GMOs are labeled, consumers will not buy them, food companies and grocery stores will not sell them, and farmers will not grow them. This is why Monsanto and Big Food corporations—hiding behind the façade of their trade association, the GMA—will likely pour up to $20 million into defeating I-522.  Pro-labeling forces currently have a commanding lead in the polls in Washington. But we need to raise at least $4 million more (to augment the four million dollars we’ve raised already) to buy enough TV and radio time to counter the forthcoming flood of lies that Monsanto and its minions will launch in Washington State. We already know what those lies will look like: Labeling will raise food prices, hurt family farmers and  confuse consumers.

The Road to Victory means building up our war chest in Washington State for the Nov. 5 ballot initiative. Please spread the word. This is the most important food and farming battle in the world today. If you haven’t already made a donation to the Yes on I-522 campaign please do so now. 

 

 

 

 

Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association. Cummins is author of numerous articles and books, including "Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers" (Second Revised Edition Marlowe & Company 2004).
 
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