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With its New GMO-Labeling Rule, the USDA Has Completely Failed the American Consumer

Based on what we have seen from the current administration’s USDA — the scrapping of the organic animal welfare rules, allowing hydroponics in organic even though it is a complete violation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, and turning a blind eye to ‘organic factory farms’ – should anyone be the least bit surprised that the recently released GMO-labeling rules completely fail the American consumer?

Officially announced right before Christmas, key aspects of the new GMO-labeling rules – also known as the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard – include the following:

– Instead of requiring companies to use the on-package labels “Made with GMOs” or “Made with Genetic Engineering”, which would make it easy for consumers, the USDA has done the polar opposite.

Not only are companies not required to use on-package labels, but they can use QR codes instead. As the Center for Food Safety has long argued, QR codes are inherently discriminatory to the elderly, poor, rural and minorities.

And if companies do use an on-package label, it must use the phrase “bioengineered food,” a term not commonly used or understood by consumers.

-Many GMO foods were exempted from the disclosure rules, including highly refined oils and many soft drinks, on the grounds that they don’t contain detectable DNA. Consumers want to know if ingredients are from GMO-sources, regardless of the DNA detectability.

What makes this specific exemption even more ridiculous is that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (the lobbying group which represents Big Food) argued that these refined oils and ingredients should be disclosed “in order to give consumers the transparency that they demand.”

The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance – comprised of Mars, Danone, Unilever and Nestle– criticized this exemption as well and said that “the standards fall short of consumer expectations.”

– If an on-package symbol is to be used, it must be the symbol below.

The yellow sun, blue sky and green grass will mislead consumers into thinking that bioengineered food is healthy — when it is not!

– The GMO-labeling rules do not have to go into effect until 2022, which keeps consumers in the dark for another few more years.

– The law allows USDA certified organic products to use the claim “Non-GMO”.

As I wrote about it 2016, this is incredibly problematic. Why?

If organic products are found to have very high levels of GMO-contamination and these products contain the label “Non-GMO” on the outside of the packaging (now allowed because of this new GMO-labeling rule), this may cause irreparable harm to the integrity of the organic seal.

IN CONCLUSION

Without question, these GMO-labeling rules have prioritized the interests of major GMO seed and chemical companies at the complete expense of shoppers.

Leading consumer advocates agree.

Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, said, “The USDA has betrayed the public trust by denying Americans the right to know how their food is produced. Instead of providing clarity and transparency, they have created large-scale confusion and uncertainty for consumers, food producers, and retailers.”

“The USDA’s new disclosure rule will likely keep many consumers in the dark about whether the food they buy has been genetically engineered,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Staff Scientist at Consumer Reports. “The overwhelming majority of consumers want genetically engineered food to be clearly labeled, but this rule fails to give consumers the information they deserve.”

What to do?

Look for USDA certified organic foods first and then look for products that contain the Non-GMO Project seal.

In the case of GMO-labeling, there is no other way to put it — our government has failed the American consumer. As a result, every citizen must take extra precaution to make sure that the food that he or she is eating is not genetically-modified.

A message from E3Live

"My Everyday, Must-Have Green Organic Aquabotanical"

The best testimonial that I can give is that I drink this every single day, as it impacts my mood in an incredibly positive way.

E3Live + BrainON is certified organic, fresh-frozen AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) with a concentrated, aqueous, organic extract of Phenylethylamine and Phycocyanin.

Learn more.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

How Sustainable Bananas are Produced at EARTH University in Costa Rica

When I was at EARTH University in Costa Rica, I got a chance to learn everything about sustainable banana production – from how they are grown in the fields to how they are shipped to the U.S.

In this video, I’ll take you onto the banana plantation of EARTH University and show you the issues that they have to deal with when growing bananas in such humid conditions.

What’s important to note is that it took EARTH University many, many years for its sustainable bananas to reach profitability and the school was told by consultants that the program wasn´t going to work.

EARTH University’s president refused to give up because he knew that this was the right way to do business – for the environment, for the farm workers, for consumers – even though his bananas were more expensive than conventionally-grown ones.

Whole Foods recognized the importance of what EARTH University was doing and the values that it stood for, and decided to distribute the school’s bananas throughout the U.S. Not only has this partnership been critical for the long-viability of EARTH University’s banana program, but the strong demand for the school’s bananas has proven that sustainability is good business.

Without question, EARTH University’s bananas are the best that I have ever eaten. If you have the chance to buy them, definitely do so.

You’ll be eating a fantastic product and also be supporting an incredibly important endeavor for sustainability.

Also, being such a huge fan of bananas, I can’t tell you how interesting this day was for me. Enjoy!

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Cocobeet is a MUST-VISIT Organic Juice Bar in Boston

As a result of living in NYC but having grown up in Boston, I am quite aware of the difference between the two cities, in terms of the organic food and pressed juice offerings.

NYC has a ton and Boston has very little.

But with the recent opening of Cocobeet, ironically located between a Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts, it is an understatement to say that Bostonians are thrilled to have them there.

“On our second day of business, we sold 270 bottles of juice and had to close our doors because there was nothing left to sell,” Co-Founder Onur Ozkoc told me.

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Living Maxwell

Company Stories

Erewhon in Los Angeles – The Most Amazing Organic Market

When I was in California recently to attend Expo West, I made a stop at Erewhon Natural Foods Market in Los Angeles. I first discovered Erewhon last year and it is the most amazing organic market.

As I explain in this video, a few things make it stand apart from the rest — the elixir bar and the massive selection of raw food products.

If you are ever in Los Angeles, make sure you stop by Erewhon. This organic market is truly one of a kind.

livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink