There has been A TON going on in the organic food world lately, and here are 10 of the most newsworthy and important stories for you to know about.
1) The biggest bombshell over the past few weeks is that the World Health Organization said that glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s most popular herbicide – is a “probable human carcinogen”.
In other words, it “probably causes cancer”.
80% of GM-crops worldwide are engineered to be resistant to Roundup, and the chemical accounts for nearly $6 billion in sales.
A few days after this news came out, it was reported that documents from 1991 show that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was fully aware of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential.
Not surprisingly, the EPA changed its classification of glyphosate six years later, around the exact same time that Monsanto was developing its Roundup resistant crops.
Any coincidence here? I don’t think so.
2) GMO advocate Patrick Moore tells French TV network Canal+ that glyphosate is not causing cancer in Argentina and that “you can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you.”
Then, he refuses to drink a glass of it and storms out of the interview. Pretty pathetic.
3) The Environmental Working Group wrote a great piece which analyzes and reports why GMO yields are not holding up, as promised.
4) Big Kudos goes out to Errol Schweizer, Global Executive Grocery Coordinator at Whole Foods Market.
The USDA Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence was held in North Carolina a few weeks ago, and there was a big clash between biotech and organic food advocates. (Somehow, USDA Secretary Vilsack thinks that organic and GMOs can co-exist, but they can’t. GMOs contaminate organic.)
Errol Schweizer told the crowd that “organic is the future of American agriculture” and that he has “struggled to find enough crops to make organic products” for his company’s shelves, forcing him to import organic heirloom corn from Mexico.
By the way, both organic and GMO options were served at lunch.
5) Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) just introduced the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which is better and more accurately known as the DARK Act.
Among other things, the DARK Act would make it illegal for states to pass their own GMO-labeling laws.
Countering this is the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, a bill that was introduced in the Senate earlier this month by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and in the House by Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).
This bill would actually help American consumers by requiring GMOs to be labeled and prohibiting manufacturers from labeling GMOs as “natural”.
6) If you think that the USDA and Secretary Tom Vilsack aren’t trying to completely discredit organic, read this.
Against the wishes of the National Organic Standards Board, which strongly advised against it, the USDA/National Organic Program has decided to allow companies to petition to use nanotechnology in organic products.
Making matters worse is that Dunkin’ Donuts just announced that it will no longer use nanomaterials in its donuts—specifically nano-titanium dioxide in its powdered sugar.
Somehow, it is not good enough for Dunkin’ Donuts, but it is fine for organic.
This is incredibly screwed up. Read more about it HERE.
7) Factions in the organic food industry are preparing for a big fight over an organic “check-off”.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) wants it while The Cornucopia Institute and small organic farmers are adamantly against it.
In theory, I think we desperately need some type of check-off.
Yet, we need an equitable check-off where the spending of the money is completely transparent and benefits all players in the industry – not just Big Organic – and small farmers are not unduly burdened by it.
Lastly, I believe that Mark Kastel, Co-Founder of The Cornucopia Institute, who represents thousands of small organic organic farmers, needs to be 100% on board with a check-off, in terms of how funds are collected and used.
If Mark Kastel is not on board with a check-off, I am very uncomfortable with it.
8) Amy’s Kitchen and two other organic food companies that use spinach in their food have recalled hundreds of thousands of items over listeria concerns.
9) The FDA just approved GM-apples and GM-potatoes that don’t turn brown or bruise, and the agency said “these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.”
Yes, the FDA said “just as safe”, even though no long-term human safety studies were ever done on these GM-apples or GM-potatoes.
10) I’ll finish with a piece of good news today.
Lawmakers in Maine are trying to speed up the GMO-labeling bill there.
Right now, the current GMO-labeling bill that was passed a few years ago contains a trigger clause. This trigger clause requires bordering states to have approved their own GMO-labeling laws as well.
Lawmakers in Maine now want that trigger clause removed.
If this happens, Maine will become the 2nd state in the U.S., after Vermont, to have passed a GMO-labeling bill with zero restrictions.
To help support Maine and other states in New England that are fighting for GMO-labeling, click HERE.