By Gary Hirshberg
(Chairman, Just Label It)
I am proud to announce that a significant number of well-known actors, musicians, chefs and health professionals have partnered with Just Label It to promote federal labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. In addition to the 27 artists who have agreed to appear in our new Just Label It video, many other notables are stepping forward to support Our Right to Know What is in Our Food. You can learn more at www.justlabelit.org.
The recent Prop 37 campaign in California has catalyzed millions of Americans to join this fight. In spite of an unprecedented $46MM investment by large chemical and food companies using scare tactics to stop the pro-labeling referendum, nearly 4.3 MM Californians still voted in support of this measure, winning nearly half (46.9%) of the vote. The statistics don’t lie…without the opponents’ 5:1 spending advantage, this referendum surely would have won.
And while the Yes on 37 forces may have lost this battle, they are surely winning the war. The ironic result of the over $1MM daily advertising spend by the opponents is that far more citizens, political leaders and influentials have been alerted to this wholly undemocratic effort to deny Americans the same rights held by citizens in over 60 other countries, including the entire European Union, Japan, China and Russia.
Labeling GE foods is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans — more than nine out of ten voters (91%) across all demographics and political parties.
And with good reason. The U.S. government relies solely on the chemical companies who own the patents for these unique new foods for all safety testing. Yet a peer-reviewed published paper last summer showed that American farmers have used over 527 MILLION more pounds of glyphosate since these chemical companies introduced genetically engineered glyphosate resistant crops sixteen years ago. And a recent HuffPo report revealed strong concerns in the scientific community regarding the long term impacts of these compounds.
And as Jonathan Greenberg reported in these pages a week ago, the GE patent holders claim that the pesticides engineered into the family of BT GE crops “would break down inside our digestive tracts, and therefore do not pose a human health risk. But an important Canadian study published by the Reproductive Toxicology journal, showed that in fact two of the dangerous GMO toxins have been detected in the blood of nearly 90 percent of pregnant women and 100 percent of their fetal cord blood.”
And this past summer, The Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal published the first study to be conducted over a two-year period (vs. the two months referenced in Monsanto-funded studies), which showed that rats fed GE corn suffered from severe liver and kidney damage, and large cancerous tumors.
These studies are by no means conclusive, and in fact, Just Label It is advocating for serious independent government-sponsored research to provide more objective analysis. But, especially in tandem with the chemical giants; overwhelming investment in denying citizens the simple right to know whether or not we are eating these foods, does not engender confidence. And while science researches and debates their findings, who can deny that we citizens deserve to choose whether or not to buy these foods?
To be blunt, the US government has been AWOL in standing up for the interests of the American people with regard to GE crops, including:
Prop 37 was not an election, it was a giant yard sale in which one side simply bought the results they wanted, through an avalanche of purchased media. The chemical companies that own the patents to GE seeds and sell the herbicides used to grow GE crops, are using the profits they earn from GE foods to buy influence at the state and federal government level.
How do we overcome the money and influence of the chemical companies controlling our federal government’s approach to GE foods and labeling? The answer is: numbers. We need millions of Americans to tell our federal government officials that this is an important issue, and that we want transparency, honesty and labeling in our food system.
That is where our celebrity friends have come in to help. We hope to use their fame and notoriety to help gain the attention of Americans to demand federal GE food labeling. The stars who appear in the video are young, old, male, female, black, white and Hispanic – in other words they represent the diversity of mainstream America. I hope you will share it with all your friends, and have them send it to their friends as well.
We need as many people as possible to go the Just Label It’s website and add their name to the FDA petition and to contact Congress indicating their support for GE food labeling.
Ultimately this campaign is about even more than labeling GE foods and ingredients. It is about reminding our political leaders that our government is to be of, for and by the people of this great country, and not of, for and by a handful of powerful chemical company patent holders.
Please help us take back our government from these deep-pocketed interests. All of us at Just Label It deeply appreciate your support.
This article was originally published on the Huffington Post.