“GMOs are safe and poised to feed the world,” shared General Mills’ CEO Ken Powell at the company’s annual shareholder meeting this morning in Minneapolis. We hope that Mr. Powell is be prepared to eat his words soon.
The executive’s tune has not changed over the past few months in spite of growing consumer concern about GMOs, not only related to health impacts but also due to the fact that GM crops have failed to deliver higher yields have in many cases required more pesticides than conventional farming. Additionally, rather than feeding the world’s hungry GM farming has led to poorer condition for farmers in the US and abroad.
This morning, Green America’s campaigns director Liz O’Connell and Paula Luxenberg (former Green America staff member) represented Green America and GMO Insiders at General Mills’ annual meeting for stockholders.
Harriett Crosby of As You Sow was also in the crowd to voice shareholder concerns about GMOs We asked questions to the board regarding GMO labeling and the company’s increasing reputational risk by ignoring consumer concerns about GMOs.
Roughly 85% of shareholders, representing 543 million shares, sent in proxies to General Mills to vote on the company’s 2014 resolutions. Two questions were asked relating to GMOs and Powell had artfully crafted answers on-hand to confuse the audience and demonstrate General Mills’ false commitment to consumer choice and safety.
Based on the presentation made this morning and the answers given by executives, its clear General Mills is no better than the worst in the industry when it comes to labeling GMOs and phasing them out of the food supply.
The company sites short-term, non-independent studies to prove the safety of GMOs, in spite of the fact that there is a growing body of scientific research that points otherwise and that some countries such as Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Bolivia, and New Zealand have flat out banned the cultivation and sale GMOs. When it comes to labeling, General Mills said they strongly support a national labeling initiative that would allow non-GM products to voluntarily adapt labels showing they are so. (This also passes the hassle of adopting a labeling system on to farmers and companies who are making “real” apples, corn etc., while still not providing consumers with the knowledge of what products DO contain GMOs.)
GMO Inside began targeting General Mills in late 2012, calling for an elimination of GMOs in time and labeling of GMOs in the meantime. Based on the statements shared this morning its clear we could not have picked a more worthy target.
Now, with the support of GMO Insiders, we will up the pressure. The time for non-GMO Cheerios is now!
When Elizabeth O’Connell, Green America’s campaigns director, invited Claire Wickland of Alta Gracia and Megan McManus of Amani DC to speak on the ethical apparel panel at the DC Green Festival, she didn’t realize one key commonality embedded in the names of their organizations. “Alta Gracia,” it turns out, means “high grace,” in Spanish, while “Amani Ya Juu” (parent organization of Amani DC) means “a higher peace” in Swahili. It makes sense, once you know the missions of the organizations involved. Read more…
Lots of great wisdom shared today at the DC Green Festival on the topic of GMOs. Our expert panel included Alisa Gravitz, president of Green America; Adam Eidinger, organizer of Occupy Monsanto and the Mintwood Media Collective; Gail Taylor, a DC farmer with the Three Part Harmony Farm; and Zachari Curtis, a DC farmer with the Good Sense Farm & Apiary. Just a compressed sampling and paraphrasing below of the panel discussion, with a top-five action list from Alisa Gravitz to round out this post:
Alisa – Food is life. Food is sacred. We are rapidly losing our ability to know what is in the food that we eat to sustain our bodies and lives. The good news is that the GMO issue brings people together across boundaries. For example, in Mexico, and in South and Central America, traditional cultures that highly value corn as a dietary staple are horrified to see corn being genetically modified. Over the last 15 years, we went from 0 to 90 percent of certain crops being modified. Over the next 15 years, we must go from 90 to 0 percent, and we can. Read more…
At today’s DC Green Festival, Katie Lupo of Gearin’ Up Bicycles in Washington, DC came prepared with a fun game of bicycle “Jeopardy” with categories like “Bike Maintenance and Repair,” and “DC Bike Laws.” Long-time DC bicycle commuters and newbie cyclists alike learned something new. As a bicycle commuter for the last 10 years in DC, here were my top five takeaways:
1) Remember to safety check your headset and bottom bracket: The headset is the part of your bicycle where the handlebars connect with the front fork. If these become too loose, you could lose control of your bicycle on a rapid descent. Test for fastness of the headset by squeezing your brakes and trying to rock your bicycle back to front. If the front wheel rocks, you need to tighten your headset. Same with the bottom bracket, which is where your crank connects to the bicycle. Try to move your pedals back and forth to the bicycle, and if there’s give, the bracket needs to be tightened. Read more…
Company Name: JUST Designs
Mission: We’re a non-profit and in addition to paying the artisans a living wage, we have health, nutrition and finance programs in the villages we work with. We’re also Fair Trade certified.
Bestseller: The hand-made bags ($30) are very popular.
Personal favorite: We love the vests ($55)! We love seeing traditional textiles meet modern designs.
Favorite thing about Green Festival: Personally, this is our first time at Green Festival. At other events, people will be surprised that we’re charging $55 for a vest and will assume we’re making a lot of money off sweatshop labor. No one has suggested that to us here — people at Green Festival understand what Fair Trade is. They are willing to pay a little more to make sure the people who make their clothes are paid a living wage.
Find out more at justafairtrade.org
- Company Name: Evolve Skin Products
- How did you get started? Once I had my son, I was looking for products that were good for him, so I started making my own! We shouldn’t be attacking our bodies with chemicals.
Bestseller: My biodegradable deodorant ($7.50) — it really works! Everyone I know is using it. It’s got five ingredients, no aluminum, isn’t tested on animals and is vegan. It’s also made locally here in Washington DC.
Personal favorite: The deodorant again!
Learn more at evolveskinproducts.com
Company Name: Upcycle Joy
Bestseller: The scarves with ties and suspenders appliqued onto them ($45 – $55).
How did you get started? I’ve always been a thrift shopper. Then I learned to sew and started changing my outfits. Friends asked me, ‘why don’t you sell these things?’
Personal favorite: I’ve just started making photo scarves — I’m going to start selling them soon.
Favorite thing about Green Festival: This is my first time showing my business. I’ve come before as an attendee. Love it!
Learn more at upcyclejoy.com
Company Name: RNR Threads
Mission: “An environmentally conscious apparel and accessories brand.”
Why Green? “I studied environmental science in school and am really into fashion. I realized that the dyes and materials that made the things I love weren’t actually good for the environment. I decided to start making my own clothes — then other people started asking me to make things for them. That’s how we got started.
Bestseller: Our Karma Crewneck (48$) — above
Personal favorite: I’m partial to the eco v-neck ($30). I designed the tree logo so it will always have a special place in my heart.
Favorite thing about Green Festival: Meeting other like-minded people!
Find out more at rnrthreads.com