Traveling the globe reporting on environmental atrocities...
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
American Consumers Betrayed ~ Organic Elite Crushed By Monsanto
By Theodora Filis
After years of fighting to keep Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America's organic consumers and producers have been betrayed. The self-appointed Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, have crushed under the weight of Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for "coexistence" with Monsanto and US Secretary of Agriculture,Tom Vilsack. Tom Vilsack, this week approved widespread planting of genetically modified alfalfa. The Center for Food Safety criticized the announcement that the USDA will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers acknowledged by the USDA in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). “We’re disappointed with USDA’s decision and we will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.” With a self-serving industry that undermines public health and damages the environment, there can be no such thing as “coexistence” between GMOs and organics. In the European Union there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, or GM consumer food products on supermarket shelves. The reason for this is that under EU law all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. EU consumers fought for this right and now have the freedom to choose to buy foods containing GMOs or not. In an email to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and "seed purity," told the USDA to approve the "conditional deregulation" of Monsanto's genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. This means that Whole Foods Market, and their colleagues are going to go along with the massive planting of a Genetically Engineered perennial crop, alfalfa. Whole Foods Market, called for "public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry." Nice spin on their part because they know very well that federal regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not require pre-market safety testing or labeling. Federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government "oversight" of Frankencrops such as Monsanto's sugar beets and alfalfa is a farce. Whole Food Markets stated in their email: "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well True coexistence is a must." Both Whole Foods Market and Stonyfield made financial contributions to Vilsack's previous electoral campaigns. Approximately two-thirds of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products labeled as "natural." Stores like Whole Foods Market and wholesale distributors like United Natural Foods have neglected to educate customers on the difference between “natural” and certified organic. Nearly all processed "natural" foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or come from a "natural" supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Whole Foods Market and United Natural Foods sell “natural” products at premium organic prices. Organic consumers are increasingly left without certified organic choices while genuine organic farmers and ranchers continue to lose market share. Less than 1% of American farmland is certified organic. Consumers, misled by “natural” labels have boosted organic and "natural" purchases to $80 billion annually. Manufacturer's know that consumers do not want to purchase or consume GE foods. American consumers need to stand up for their rights. "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it." Monsanto executive when GMOs first came on the market. Monsanto, Dow, and Dupont are the same companies that produce toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, and PCBs. Surely, American consumers don't want their food safety or environmental sustainability to rest in the hands of chemical companies. With big money controlling Congress and the media, consumers have one choice – pressure retail foods stores to voluntarily label their products, write your legislators to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law at city, county and state levels. For those interested in helping organize or coordinate a Millions Against Monsanto and Factory Farms Truth-in-Labeling campaign in your local community, sign up here:http://organicconsumers.org/oca-volunteer/ To pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation's largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt Truth-in-Labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely:http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22309.cfm