Six Ways You Can Help Bust Biotech
By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, September 18, 2013
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.
After decades of misleading consumers; bullying farmers; buying off politicians, regulatory officials and scientists; and spreading its toxic chemicals and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on 420 million acres across the globe, once-mighty Monsanto and the biotech industry find themselves on the defensive.
Battered by mounting scientific evidence that Roundup-Ready (glyphosate), Bt-spliced, and neonicotinoid-coated crops are damaging public health, animals, bees and the environment, and unnerved by a rapidly growing U.S. and global anti-GMO movement, Monsanto and its minions recently have been forced to dump another $10 million into a campaign in Washington State, in a frantic attempt to stop voters from passing I-522. I-522 is a GMO labeling initiative that if passed on November 5, will likely mark the beginning of the end of GMO foods in North America.
The global anti-GMO, pro-organic grassroots are finally reaching critical mass. Maybe it’s thanks to the education and media campaigns launched by so many organizations, including the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Or perhaps it’s the fact that so many moms are tired of the health threats to their kids. Or all of the above.
Either way, consumers are taking the Biotech Bully by the horns and demanding that manufacturers, retailers and politicians heed consumers’ demands for truth and transparency in labeling. We are definitely making progress. But now is the time to step up the pressure, not back off and relax.
Here are six steps every consumer can take to help bust the Biotech Behemoth.
Support Washington State’s I-522 Initiative to Label GMOs
Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and Big Food understand that the most critical GMO labeling law battle will be lost or won on November 5. That’s when Washington State voters will decide on I-522, a ballot initiative that if passed will require mandatory labeling of GMOs in food products sold in retail stores. If Washington voters pass I-522, GMO-tainted foods, in most cases, will be forced off the market in North America. Our GMO Right to Know forces are way ahead in the polls and have already raised $5 million. If we can raise another $1 million – $2 million (20,000 – 40,000 donations of approximately $50 each), we will have enough money for heavy TV and radio advertising.
I-522 is a key battle, one that will affect consumers in all 50 states. If we all pitch in, we can raise enough money to win this one. Please make a donation today.
In addition to donating to the campaign, you can also help by volunteering for the national phone bank. If we have 10,000 – 20,000 volunteers each calling 50-100 “swing” voters, on top of the major advertising and direct mail push for Yes on I-522, we can almost guarantee our victory.
Get involved in your state campaign to label GMOs
GMO Right to Know and GMO-Free movements are working to craft and pass mandatory GMO labeling legislation in more than 35 states. Find a movement in your state and get involved.
Boycott GMO and factory-farmed foods
One of the best ways to bring down Monsanto is to stop buying GMO products. Without labels on GMO foods, the only way to avoid them is to buy USDA-certified organic foods, or avoid any foods containing canola, soy, corn or sugar beets, as they are most likely GMO. It also helps to grow as many of your own vegetables as possible, using organic, non-GMO seeds. And because nearly 80 percent of GMO crops are fed to animals in factory farms, by boycotting meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), you can help dry up the market for Monsanto’s seeds.
Boycott the ‘Traitor Brands’
As a consumer, you have more power than you realize. One way to exercise that power is to send a strong message to the brands that have supported campaigns to kill GMO labeling laws – even if that support was provided indirectly. Last year, the OCA launched a boycott of organic and so-called “natural” products owned by parent companies who are members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and who also donated directly to defeat California’s GMO labeling initiative, Proposition 37. Download this wallet-size boycott guide and use it when you shop. You may be surprised to learn that some of your favorite brands are owned by junk food corporations who are spending millions to defeat your right to know!
Pressure your favorite retailers to label and/or go GMO-Free
Thanks in large part to consumer pressure, Whole Foods Market announced earlier this year that it will begin labeling foods containing GMOs. Are they doing that just to be nice guys? Definitely not. It’s a business decision, based on the fact that Whole Foods sees GMO labeling as a marketing advantage – because consumers want labels and non-GMO alternatives. It’s great to see the big stores adopt this policy, but what about your favorite neighborhood co-op or natural foods store?
According to our research, more and more of these stores are listening to consumers. They’re adopting GMO labeling and non-GMO policies. Even better, they’re taking the pressure they’ve felt from consumers and throwing it right back on manufacturers by issuing ultimatums: either substitute the GMO ingredients in your products, or we’ll stop carrying them. The bottom line? If enough consumers ask for non-GMO products, retailers will find them. So ask!
Ask your member of Congress to vote ‘No’ on the continuing resolution if the Monsanto Protection Act is still in it
The Farmers Assurance Provision, better known as the Monsanto Protection Act, hands the biotech industry a free pass to grow crops that have not been adequately safety-tested, by giving the industry immunity from federal prosecution for growing crops that have been deemed unsafe. Earlier this year, the Monsanto Protection Act was slipped into the Continuing Resolution, a bill to fund the U.S. government through September 30.
Now, Congress is about to vote on a new Continuing Resolution (H.J.RES.59) in order to fund the government for another three months. And despite public outrage and hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) has slipped the Monsanto Protection Act into the new bill. By calling and writing your Congressperson, you can pressure Congress to reject this biotech-friendly measure by refusing to pass the Continuing Resolution unless the Monsanto Protection Act is removed.
Ronnie Cummins is National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.
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