Wall Street Journal: GMO label promoters are ‘organic protectonists’

October 27, 2014 |

Many commentators frame the various state fights between those who support GMO labeling and opponents as a ‘David versus Goliath’ battles. That’s a tempting way to look at it. In Colorado and Oregon, which have labeling measures on the November ballot, mandatory labelling proponents are being outspent 2 to 1.

Food and agricultural companies and industry groups with a stake in genetic engineering, such as Monsanto and Kraft Foods are contributing heavily, but the raw dollar obscure what’s really being spent. Activist groups led by the Center for Food Safety, through its Action Fund, are pouring millions of dollars of untracked money into grassroots organizing. And they’re getting free advertising from the likes of Ben & Jerry’s and Chipotle Mexican Grill, which are getting a huge brand boost for appearing to stand with the ‘little guy.’

According to news accounts, and underscored in a Wall Street Journal editorial, the anti-GMO forces are mounting to what amounts to a scare campaign that bolsters their bottom line more than anything. “What’s all this really about?” the Journal asks.

First, making an extra buck: Oregon’s $233 million a year organic farm-gate sales industry “must be protected,” the initiative says. Requiring GMO labels, it notes later, may “create additional market opportunities” for non-GMO producers.

Long-term, the organic protectionists want to eliminate this safe, reliable technology that’s revolutionized agriculture and made food more affordable. The Organic Consumers Association, whose lobbying arm pitched in $300,000 for [Oregon] Measure 92, calls for a “global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops” on its website. Labeling is merely step one.

If passed–and both the Oregon and Colorado measures are leading in the polls–the labeling initiatives would require farmers who sell crops in those states to implement entirely new inventory procedures. Oregon alone says it will need to create two new state monitoring bureaucracies and would allow anyone to sue farmers, manufacturers or retailers for alleged violations–a windfall for groups like the Center for Food Safety, the anti-GMO litigation group. A recent GMO labeling study by two Cornell University scientists says that the cost inefficiencies that would result across the supply chain to manufacturers and retailers could boost a family of four’s food costs by as $500 more a year.

  • agliterate

    The organic industry, not only envious of the benefits of GE crops (and yields and profits), is also terrified of the new fastest-growing nationally-approved label in the U.S., which is “Non-GMO Certified.” Non-GMO Certified (look for it; it’s all over your grocery store) means gmo-free and also not having to have gone through the expensive process of organic USDA 3-year certification. They’re running scared. Too much competition. So the organic industry wants to force labels on OTHER products (not their own; wait a sec, isn’t “certified organic” enough branding to sell their stuff?) in order to tear down the competition. If they achieve this, next they’ll go after the “Non-GMO Certified” label. Wait; they already are.

    • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

      Again, bang on agliterate.

      Now the question becomes, why are GMO executives in the public and private sectors allowing organic activists to get away with this?

      • agliterate

        Can’t say for sure, but I think the reason is that GMO execs have been saying ‘just buy certified organic and non-gmo certified, if you want to avoid GMOs….” rather than taking them on head-on and slamming them for their hypocrisy. The organic industry has a heckuva lot more $$$ ($39 Billion, I’ve read) than “the evil Monsanto,” but hey, who’s counting? When it comes to “don’t confuse me with facts; I’ve made up my mind!” these guys an their zombie knee-jerk followers think they have a free ride. I DO think the Monsantos and other seed producers eventually will get tired of it, and WILL take ’em on. Or, am I just doing more wishful thinking?

        • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

          Your assessment is bang on, except that I don’t think any GMO executives will get tired of the onslaught they face from organic activists. Look how horrible their response was to the campaign to ban DDT.

  • agliterate

    The battle between the organic industry and the Non-GMO Certified folks: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/02/28/283460420/why-the-non-gmo-label-is-organic-s-frenemy

    The organic industry, a $39 Billion mega-industry (Big Org), doesn’t want anything standing in its way. Meanwhile, the fact that the crops are not regulated in terms of product safety (one example: freedom from manure contamination, an increasingly-prevalent problem) means you really don’t know what you’re eating when you eat organic. Organic seeds are often produced with irradiation and doses of highly toxic chemicals (mutagenesis — google it) but the organic foodies out there seem to just conveniently ignore this fact and go after the much more highly-tested and regulated GE crops.

    It’s just economics, plain and simple.

    • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

      Wow agliterate, you have hit the nail on the head!

      Please visit my website: http://www.isitorganic.ca/

      And please get in touch with me.

      • agliterate

        Will get in touch with you after the election. (Nov. 4)

        • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

          If you are willing to launch a counteroffensive against organic activists, then yes, by all means get in touch with me after the midterms.

          • agliterate

            Actually, I’m not against organic. (eat it sometimes m’self, but am not so foolish as to think it’s “better” or “more natural” — sometimes it’s cheaper than the conventional, like squash is, right now). I’m just against hypocracy.

          • hyperzombie

            I buy Organic occasionally as well, if the price is right (lower), but I always avoid Organic fresh produce, I like to try to limit my feces intake to as low as possible.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Yes, feces is the Achilles heal of the organic industry.

          • hyperzombie

            Hmmm, maybe there should be a feces free label,,,,

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Urban organic activists would have a cow!

            I say we do it.

          • agliterate

            Uh oh — now I’m having this mental image caused by my question “…and just where, exactly, do these urban organic farmers GET their, uh, manure?”

            Dogs / people? Now I’m with hyperzombie; after all, I can’t scrub my kale with a brush to get off the feces. Goin’ back to conventional.

            Mischa, has fecal testing been done on organic store products to see if fecal matter (and, uh, what kind) has been removed before they’re placed in the organic food bins at Safeway? Can that be done on a spot-test basis by USDA or anyone?

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            The worst aspect to “natural” composting is the fact that fecal coliforms can be taken right up into the cells of a plant, and therefore cannot be washed off.

            To answer your question, there is currently NO TESTING to ensure manure is being properly composted before being applied to “organic” crops for human consumption. None.

          • hyperzombie

            But, But, they have paperwork!

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Hilarious!

          • agliterate

            If they DID have a cow, at least it probably wouldn’t be dog / human excrement on their organic stuff. Not that this happens, and maybe it’s just my Stephen King ick-factor imagination, but now I am wondering about these back-yard farmers and just how far they will go to be “natural.”

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Urban organic activists use a lot of feces to boost their fertility. Sadly, they believe it’s perfectly safe, and are careless in how they handle this dangerous material.

          • agliterate

            Maybe something like “May contain feces, or seeds produced by mutagenesis / irradiation. You might be able to wash off the former, but you can’t wash off the latter.”

          • agliterate

            HyperZ, I just did a 2-second google search. Even the organic industry admits the fecal count is “significantly” higher:
            http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/fecal-contamination.cfm

            Ick. lck. Ick.

          • hyperzombie

            Good thing that they are paying way more, at least they are not getting the extra feces for free.
            How about this for a slogan. “We charge you more because you get more…… “feces” Yeah, Go E coli!”

          • agliterate

            Or: “Are we worth paying more for? Shit yes!”
            ….. funded by the Coalition to Promote E Coli

            bwaaaa haaaa haaaa

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            I’m pro organic.
            But I’m anti-organic-activist.

  • Schratboy

    Genetic purity requires an organic-sized crop condom to prevent the patented GMO spawn from defiling its nature and purity with the corporate seed of greed.

    • hyperzombie

      Are you living in your Grandma’s basement…Genetic purity….LOL… You do know that we had a problem with people that demanded genetic purity in the past ,,,Right… I think it had a lot to do with WW2…