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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Monsanto Encourages UK Manufacturers To Label GMOs

By Theodora Filis, Environmental Journalist


Monsanto is now cautioning UK consumers that, “Before you buy a potato, or any other food, you may want to know whether it's the product of food biotechnology.” Monsanto's UK website proudly claims, “Monsanto fully supports UK food manufacturers and retailers in their introduction of these [GMO] labels. We believe you should be aware of all the facts before making a purchase.” (http://www.monsanto.co.uk/highlights/ads/ad4.html)

Here's a question... Why push GMO labeling in the UK, then spend millions of dollars in the US fighting to keep foods manufactured with GMOs a secret?

Here's one reason. Since GM corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton (the oil part) are processed into sweeteners, fats, and other additives already in the US food chain, labeling GMO foods in the US would require nearly 80 percent of all non-organic processed foods sold in supermarkets. If the California initiative passes, it will likely force food processors to label food nationwide – and lables, mean consumers will demand more GMO-free foods – causing farmers to demand non-GMO seeds, impacting sales growth for the “Big 6”.

(The "Big 6" are: Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, and Syngenta. So named because they dominate the agricultural input market -- they own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries.)

Want another? Genetically engineered (GE) crops improve profitability for the pesticide industry. This is why Monsanto and the Big 6 are dumping millions of dollars to stop California's labeling initiative.

According to Maria Rodale, “Ninety-nine percent of GE crops on the market are engineered to either contain a pesticide or survive being doused with herbicides. This has led to surging herbicide use; contamination of our air, soil, and water; millions of acres of farmland infested with RoundUp-resistant "super-weeds" and "superbugs"; and a desperate recourse to older and more toxic pesticides driven by the pesticide companies themselves, and thus, a continuing cycle of pesticide-related illnesses.”

“This means that every time we buy GE foods, we are also buying into a pesticide- dependent farming system that is poisoning our farm workers, our family farmers, rural and urban communities alike, our bees, and our environment as a whole.”

Across the pond, The British Agriculture Biotechnology Council (ABC) published a report this summer titled "Going for Growth," and according to _connect, the ABC “calls for GM to be put at the heart of agricultural development in the UK.” Here's the catch – ABC is not a government authority; it’s a GM industry lobby group that represents the interests of the Big 6. Nevertheless, the ABC is meeting with key UK government officials to present their case, and reportedly “the industry’s push for GM is already being welcomed.”

By the way, $10 million was recently granted to British scientists at the John Innes Center, by the Gates Foundation. Where’s the money going? Pretend to be surprised – since Gates owns over 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock – you guessed it, into genetically modified cereal crops – corn, wheat, rice, et al.

Californians will vote for or against Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, on November 6. The outcome of that vote will likely determine whether the US will one day join the nearly 50 other countries that allow their citizens to choose between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered food. 

Comment/Helpful Suggestion:

"I guess that the UK end of the equation is a lot more obvious if you are European (as I am) or have lived here a lot (as you have), and maybe it's too much to expect your American readers to see a chain of logic that must be rather less clear to them. It might be a good idea to add a couple of sentences to your latest blog to help them along. So it reads something like: "Here's a question... Why push GMO labeling in the UK, then spend millions of dollars in the US fighting to keep foods manufactured with GMOs a secret? The answer to the first part is that in the UK (as in all of the European Union) the GM industry has lost the battle against labeling. So Monsanto's only choice is between making grouchy noises in the background – which will just reinforce the public's awareness that it is against transparency – or claim that it embraces labeling, and hope that this will reduce consumers' suspicion that it has something to hide. In the US, however, the labeling battle is still on Monsanto Encourages UK Manufacturers To Label GMOs." Martyn Lester