“When a product becomes a non-GMO product-verified,
it increases sales by 15% to 30%.”
- A.C. Gallo, President, Whole Foods, March 2013
“We have parents talking about allergies and asthma and
ADHD and skin problems and weight problems disappearing
after putting their children on non-GMO diets.”
- Jeffrey Smith, Author, Genetic Roulette
On January 3, 2014, General Mills announced its Cheerios will no longer
have any GMOs in them because of public demand. This followed the March 2013
announcement by Whole Foods President, A. C. Gallo, that his company will
label all of its products in North American stores that contain genetically modified
ingredients by 2018. Is this the beginning of a major anti-GMO
revolt in the multi-billion dollar food industry?
January 31, 2014 Fairfield, Iowa - The New Year began with food production giant General Mills announcing that it would start manufacturing its original Cheerios brand without genetically modified ingredients and would label those original Cheerios boxes as “Not Made with Genetically Modified Ingredients.” Symbolically, this was a big step for consumer activists, who have been trying to get genetically modified products labeled in supermarkets and other stores for some time.
A year ago on March 8, 2013, the president of Whole Foods announced his company will label all of its products in North American stores that contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018.
Celebrating these steps by one large food producer and a large food distributor to separate GMO products from non-GMOs is Jeffrey Smith, author of Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives. Jeff is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology in Fairfield, Iowa.
So one of the things they did was to simply divert their supply chain to the pure cane sugar instead of the sugar beets, so that was easy to eliminate.
The second thing they did was to use non-GMO corn to derive their corn starch. The biotech industry does plan to genetically engineer all the food in the supermarket. The stated goal of Monsanto, as reported by its consultants in 1999, was to genetically engineer 100% of all commercial seeds in the world and patent them.
WITH MONSANTO AND OTHERS PATENTING SEEDS AND TAKING OVER FOOD PRODUCTIONS, ESPECIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES WITH GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS — THE REDUCTION IN BIODIVERSITY ON THIS PLANET COULD BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST THREATS IN THE FUTURE TO HAVING PLANTS THAT CAN SURVIVE CLIMATE CHANGE.
And this is exacerbated by the biotech industry’s intention to commercialize what is called the terminator technology. Brazil takes up that vote in February.”
In the 1990s, the U. S. Department of Agriculture in an agreement with the Agricultural Research Service produced seeds that caused second generation seeds to be sterile. This meant that farmers could not save seeds from season to season, but would be forced to purchase new seeds. Since 60% of the worldwide commercial seed market is now controlled and patented by only half a dozen companies — Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, Bayer and BASF — their corporate patented seeds that might be blown by the wind into a farm not paying for their seeds would not be a legal problem because the genetically modified terminator technology would prevent second season germination. But there was great protest about terminator seeds from India, Latin America and Southeast Asian farmers, who don't plant GMO seeds and save seeds for replanting season to season. Further, scientists warned that such “gene-use restriction” to make the terminator seeds meant a big threat to the biodiversity of crops. The fewer crop strains, the weaker the crop and more susceptible to problems.
There has been so much protest about patented GMO terminator seeds that 193 countries in 2000 signed a UN Convention On Biological Diversity calling for an international moratorium on terminator seeds. Now thirteen years later, the moratorium is threatened by landowning groups in Brazil who want to plant large areas with fast growing genetically engineered trees that could spread the seeds over wide areas. So they like the idea of terminator seeds for non-food crops that ensure no second generation pollution of GMOs after trees are harvested. The fight between the terminator-seed supporters and environment groups that warn there will be destructive global consequences comes down to a full Brazil Congressional vote set for February 2014. If the bill passes, it will be a serious blow against the UN international moratorium on terminator seeds.
Jeffrey Smith: "And if passed, it means that these companies can produce genetically modified crops that create sterile seeds. Now, when this technology was developed, the brochures boasted that it (seeds) was to focus on the 1.4 billion farmers on the planet, who save their seeds. That’s 1.4 BILLION!
And when they save seeds, that means they have the best quality seeds for their local climate and geography. So there are millions upon millions of different types of seeds in the hands of the different farmers.
If the biotech industry can send out - even in one or two years – their terminator seed technology, which stops the seed saving, seed planting and then forces the farmers to just buy from the limited genetics in the seed catalogue, they are taking the greatest gamble with the human population in history at a time of global climate change. The diversity of crops is really our security.
TO DEVELOP TERMINATOR SEEDS IS TO HAVE A MONOPOLY ON PATENTED SEEDS FOR PROFIT.
They (Monsanto et al) would argue that it prevents contamination because if you plant GMO crops with terminator seeds in one field, if the seeds end up going somewhere else, they can’t be replanted. But, of course, pollen might cause the neighbor’s plants to become sterile – in which case, it (seeds) have a tremendous negative impact because then the farmers who might be saving seeds in the neighboring region can no longer use their own seeds. So, there is a devastating impact on saving seeds.
But what happens is this: when you buy a genetically modified seed from Monsanto and others, you sign a technology agreement that forces you not to replant. So that way, you have to go back to Monsanto’s catalogue year after year. This is done legally now in contractual law. Monsanto et al want to make it biological law, so if you buy their seeds, it will not grow if you replant it. So the main thing is to force farmers to replant the seeds, to repurchase the seeds year after year.
In their (Monsanto et al) efforts to try to stop farmers from replanting, Monsanto has gone after legally those who clean soybeans for farmers who want to replant their soybeans. This is an age old practice that has been going on for a long time. But Monsanto has taken to court some of the seed cleaners to try and stop this practice.
Is World At Tipping Point Against GMOs?
HOW COULD THIS GO FORWARD WITHOUT PUSH BACK FROM POPULATIONS ALL OVER THE WORLD?
Well, that’s what we have with Cheerios. It’s interesting that it’s very easy to be concerned about Monsanto and the patenting and the grab of patents and the whole way that they do business. People are mad at Monsanto for putting out PCBs , Agent Orange and DDT, which turned out to be poisonous.
But what really drives the global picture in GMOS is — especially in the United States — are consumer decisions. Here, we’ve been educating people about the health stages of GMOs. For example, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine links GMOs with gastrointestinal disorders , immune system problems, reproductive disorders, accelerated aging, organ damage. And thousands of doctors are prescribing non-GMO diets and more and more people are learning about it so that according to the Hartman Group, 39 % of Americans are actually saying that they are seeking non-GMO ingredients.
It is this market dynamic , which kicked GMOs out of Europe. It’s this market dynamic, which made non-GMO labeled products the fastest growing labeled group in the United States in 2012. It caused Target to declare that its whole brand would be non-GMO in 2014. Ben and Jerry’s (ice cream) kicked GMOs out. Chipotle’s kicked it out. And all of the natural food industry is kicking it out now in a very, very fast pace. And now Cheerios!
So, we’re seeing the early signs of a tipping point in the United States and our Institute for Responsible Technology is actually putting into place a master plan to accelerate that.
ARE WE POTENTIALLY AT A TIPPING POINT IF MONSANTO AND THE OTHER GMO COMPANIES PREVAIL AND THEY END UP BEING ABLE TO HAVE PATENTS ON ALL OF THE SEEDS OF ALL OF THE FOOD AND TERMINATOR SEEDS SO THAT THEY ELIMINATE FARMERS BEING ABLE TO NATURALLY SAVE THEIR BEST SEEDS.
That is unfortunately their trajectory. From 1999, their trajectory was to replace all non-genetically modified commercial seeds with genetically modified seeds.
Genetically Engineered Salmon and Mosquito
But now, it has expanded beyond seeds to include fish. The FDA (Food and Drug Admin.) wants to approve perhaps genetically modified salmon this year. They are genetically engineering mosquitoes. They have released them in Malaysia, Cayman Islands and Brazil. And now the company Oxitec wants to release it in Key West, Florida. They want to genetically engineer virtually all living organisms because there is a lot of money to be made in these patents.
Key West, Florida, citizens sum up their anxiety about having genetically modified
mosquitoes released as an experiment to see if genetically altered female
mosquitoes will cut down the biting insect population.
So, if we do nothing and the biotech industry has its way, then we have an irreversible situation where everything that we have held dear from Nature is replaced by the Monsanto version and the Dupont version and the Bayer version. That’s not something we can retreat from.
The genetic pollution is irreversible, at least at some level. In other words, the genes already released by Monsanto will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The only thing that lasts longer than genetic pollution is extinction. And so we’re talking about a technology that can influence all living beings and all future generations.
So this is really an epic challenge right now – an epic battle between these two ways of thinking: whether we save the nature of Nature? Or whether we hand it over to the biotech industry so they can use their immature technology, which is prone to side effects, which is being promoted by tobacco science and checkbook science. They are covering up the health dangers and they are covering up the environmental dangers and they are putting us at risk.
Market Pressure of Non-GMOs vs. GMOs
This is a bizarre situation, Linda, where the entire fate of all living beings and all future generations may come down to the sales of Cheerios in Walmart. Let me explain. Once a product like Cheerios declares itself a non-GMO, if it increases in sales and market share and the GMO competitors on the same shelf languish and reduce market share, it tells the rest of the food industry that they better become the first in their product category to declare non-GMO, or they, too, will lose market share.
The way I look at the strategy going forward to stop GMOs — we’ve already created a tipping point of consumer rejection within the natural products. This was made clear by the Whole Foods President’s interview in March of 2013, where he told the Associated Press that when a product becomes a non-GMO product-verified, it increases sales by 15% to 30%.
Associated Press, March 8, 2013: “Whole Foods Market Inc. is nevertheless seeing growing
demand for products that don't use GMOs. Products that get a 'Non-GMO' verification
label see sales spike between 15 percent and 30 percent, said A.C. Gallo, President
of Whole Foods. In non-perishable groceries, he said the two fastest
growing areas are organic and non-GMO products.”
They also announced at the time that they would require Non-GMO product-verification for all GMO claims in their stores. Or otherwise by 2018, products would have to be labeled as containing GMOs.
So, right now we have thousands and thousands of products in the pipeline to be verified as Non-GMO. What we have now already done is moved the Whole Foods shopper, moved the natural product store shopper. What we need to do is move just a small percentage of shoppers in Walmart and Safeway and Kroger etc.
Kids Healthier On Non-GMO Diets?
So we have a crowd-funding campaign to create any documentaries of Mom experiences that we have heard over and over again. I’ll give you one example. I was speaking at MIT with another scientist about the dangers of GMOs and I asked the audience, ‘Have any of you removed GMOs (from diet) and noticed any effect on your health?’
A woman shot up her hand and said, ‘My 6 ½-year-old was violent and out of control. They wanted to kick him out of school. I saw your film, ‘Genetic Roulette, The Gamble of Our Lives.’ Changed his diet and within a month, I had a new child. None of the problems persisted.
We have parents talking about allergies and asthma and ADHD and skin problems and weight problems disappearing after putting their children on Non-GMO diets.
[ Editor’s Note: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children.]
So we want to document these in ways that can be released to the social media to ignite Moms across America against GMOs. In addition, we have been very successful in presenting at medical conferences and medical schools. I’ve talked to seven groups in the last seven months. We have thousands of doctors now prescribing Non-GMO diets and linking GMOs to specific disorders, which they see clear up in the patients that take their advice.
We are also linking GMOs to specific diseases and disorders and letting that go through social media within the patient support groups.
IN ANOTHER 50 YEARS, FOOD MIGHT BE A HUGE PROBLEM ON THE PLANET PRECISELY BECAUSE OF WHAT THESE CORPORATIONS ARE DOING.
That’s exactly right, Linda. We have a very, very dangerous situation, and they (corporations) would argue the opposite. They argue the myth that GMOs are needed to feed the world even though they actually lower yield and increase the use of chemicals and concentrate the ownership of seeds. It’s a really dangerous situation.”
For further information about genetically modified, or engineered, crops, please see related Earthfiles reports below filed by date in Earthfiles Archive.
• 10/13/2013 — Monsanto's Roundup and Roundup-Tolerant GMO Corn Linked to Cancers and Early Deaths in Rats. But Study Criticized.
• 09/27/2012 — Monsanto's Roundup and Roundup-Tolerant GMO Corn Linked to Cancers and Early Deaths in Rats
• 01/27/2012 — GMOs Have Created Stronger Weeds - Now “Agent Orange” Toxin Under Consideration As Next Stronger Weed Poison
• 06/28/2007 — Hackenberg Apiary, Pennsylvania - 75-80% Honey Bee Loss in 2007. What Happens If Colony Collapse Disorder Returns?
• 03/22/2007 — Genetically Modified Crops: Playing Dangerous Genetic Roulette?
• 03/17/2007 — Honey Bee Disappearances Continue: Could Pesticides Play A Role?