TAKE ACTION: Monsanto Protection Act Passes Congress

It’s time to call your members of Congress!

Today, Congress took a giant step backward on the genetically modified organism (GMO) front by passing the Continuing Resolution spending bill, which included the “farmer assurance provision,” a rider perhaps more accurately known by anti-GMO activists as “the Monsanto Protection Act.”

The provision makes it easier for biotech companies like Monsanto to push their GM seeds into farmers’ hands without proper safety reviews. Under the provision, even if a court of law finds that a given type of GM seeds was approved illegally and may not be safe for human health or the environment, it would not be able to halt the seeds’ sale or planting. The Monsanto Protection Act also forces the USDA to immediately approve any permits for continued planting of GM seeds at the biotech industry’s request.

“The US judicial review process serves as a vital check on any federal agency decision that may negatively impact human health, the environment, or the livelihood of farmers,” write our allies at Food Democracy Now. “This provision gives Monsanto and its biotech cohorts a way around the law so it can continue to sell its biotech seeds regardless of the cost to people and the planet. This provision creates a precedent-setting limitation on judicial review and a dangerous assault on fundamental judicial safeguards.”

The current version of the CR bill is only good through September, at which point a new spending bill will need to be sent through Congress.

Click here to send an email via our allies at Food Democracy Now to your senators, member of Congress, and the White House demanding that Section 735 is removed from the CR spending bill in September.

Then, call your representatives and senators to help tie up the Congressional switchboard with demands that this dangerous rider be stopped.

Sample text: “I am a constituent and asking ________ to oppose the biotech rider, section 735, in the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill when it comes back to Congress in September. I’m very concerned that GMOs are not safe for my family, and this rider removes vital judicial safeguards.”

It’s critical that we all take action today to protect the health of our families and the environment. The right of consumers to access safe and healthy food should always come before the right of Big Biotech to line their pockets with more cash.

Stop the Sneaky Biotech Rider!

Adapted from a post by Green America’s Shireen Karimi, on behalf of our GMO Inside program:

The Senate and House of Representatives are voting soon on legislation into which biotech companies (think Monsanto) have snuck a provision ending judicial oversight of plants, including the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Called the “Farmer Assurance Provision” as though it will help farmers and those growing our food, this provision strips the rights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during the legal appeals process.  Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry are working behind closed doors to undermine our rights and our judicial system. This time they’ve gone too far!

The Senate is voting today and the House is expected to vote within the next couple days.  Please call your legislators, and ask them to oppose this provision!

Please call your senator NOW and stop the biotech rider!

Sample text: “I am a constituent and asking Senator  _____ to oppose the biotech rider, section 735, in the Senate Continuing Resolution of H.R. 933.”

If it goes through the Senate, then it will enter another round in the House.  Therefore, you can also call your House representative and stop the biotech rider. Continue reading “Stop the Sneaky Biotech Rider!”

Green Your Holidays: On Prop. 37 and Greening Your Thanksgiving

I just returned from the Los Angeles Green Festival, inspired and energized by an entire weekend of being surrounded by wonderful Green Americans who choose to spend their free time working for a better world.

One of my favorite moments was from the Festival was when I attended a panel session moderated by Green America executive director Alisa Gravitz on California’s Proposition 37, or the “right to know” bill that would have required food and beverage companies to label food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As you may know, Prop. 37 was defeated during the last election.

However, instead of the handful of downtrodden die-hards Monsanto and its ilk might have expected in the face of that defeat, I saw a standing-room-only group of energized activists ready to continue the fight for truly wholesome, healthy food that doesn’t do more harm than good to our bodies.

Panelist John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva, called the 47-53 vote an “historic victory,” despite the measure’s defeat, noting that the vote was close enough to trigger a recount, even though Monsanto and its corporate cohorts spent over $50 million on a campaign to prevent consumer’s right to know what foods contain GMOs.

This wasn’t a failed bill, the panelists noted. It was the spark that’s igniting a widespread grassroots movement supporting our Right to Know. We came close to defeating Monsanto this time, despite being outrageously outspent, and we’re only going to go up from here.

Panelist Pamm Larry, the self-titled “p—ed off grandma” whom many credit as being the driving force behind California’s anti-GMO campaign, reminded the audience that if we can spread the word and turn just half of America against GMOs, corporations are highly likely fold under that consumer pressure.

(Want to know what got Pamm so upset about hidden GMOs in her family’s food in the first place? Here’s a rare free link to the digital version of our “Frankenfood” issue of the Green American. Oh, and you can ask Kaiser Permanente, which is obviously starting to see the health problems likely associated with GMOs as impacting its bottom line. The insurance giant released a statement in its Fall 2012 newsletter advising against eating GMO foods. “Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health,” the company noted.)

And so the fight goes on. When asked what’s next, all of the panelists threw their enthusiastic support behind Green America’s new campaign, GMO Inside, which will fight against the corporate disinformation campaign against GMO labeling. In addition to Green America, the GMO Inside steering committee includes Food Democracy Now!, the Institute for Responsible Technology, FoodBabe, Nature’s Path, and Nutiva.

We’ll be spreading the message far and wide as to why everyone should embrace precaution and avoid GMOs. We’ll also be bolstering upcoming efforts in Washington, Oregon, and Vermont to introduce GMO labeling laws. And when California is ready to reintroduce its GMO right to know bill, we’ll be there.

So what does that have to do with greening your holiday? A lot, as it turns out! One of GMO Inside’s first efforts has been to urge people to avoid GMO-laden foods when preparing your holiday meals. Popular Thanksgiving dinner items that contain genetically engineered ingredients include Wesson Canola Oil, Bruce’s Yams, Pepperidge Farm Crackers, Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing, Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce, and Kraft’s Stove Top Stuffing.

Fortunately, avoiding these GMO foods is as easy as buying organic or looking for the Non-GMO Project label, a third-party label that appears on products from companies that have pledged to avoid GMOs. You can also visit the GMO Inside website to find GMO-free Thanksgiving alternatives.

Here are some other ways to spread the word during your holiday dinner:

  • If you’ve decided to make your Thanksgiving meal lighter on the Earth and kinder to animals by choosing America’s most popular vegetarian “turkey,” Tofurkey, rest easy. While most of the soy ingredients in the US are genetically engineered, Tofurkey is made from organic and GMO-free soy.
  • Donate a couple of Tofurkeys and other GMO-free foods to your local food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Make placecards or menus for your guests (on recycled or tree-free paper, of course), and use them to let them know that the meal you prepared is GMO-free.
  • Did you already buy Thanksgiving items containing GMOs? Check to see if the product has a money-back guarantee. If it does, send it back to the company and let them know you won’t buy their products until they stop using genetically engineered ingredients. Then, head back to the store, if you choose, for organic replacements. Don’t forget to plan ahead for GMO-free December holidays.
  • Post a photo of your GMO-free meal on Pinterest or Facebook. You can also post it to the facebook.com/GMOInside page.

Green America is ready to continue the fight against GMOs. Are you? What are you doing to get GMOs out of your holiday feasts?

GREEN GIVEAWAY: Comment below in answer to the questions above to win an Artisan Tea Blending Kit from one of my personal favorite tea companies, Numi Tea.

Numi offers organic, Fair Trade, and GMO-free artisan teas, including its popular flowering teas and puerh teas. The Artisan Tea Blending Kit allows tea aficionados to create their own tea blends, and it includes a total of ten teas, herbs, fruits, flowers and spices, plus tea sacs and a glass teapot. It makes a lovely gift, or use it to indulge in your own “creativi-tea.”

Congratulations to last week’s winner of the solar hopping frog toy, Jeannine S.! Come back next Thursday for another wonderful (and useful!) green giveaway!

Have a Non-GMO Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  We are thrilled to partner with Non-GMO Project this year to present the 2012 Guide to a non-GMO Halloween!

Offered to parents as a toolkit, the 2012 Guide (pdf) contains a list of Non-GMO Project Verified Halloween treats, such as Endangered Species Chocolates, fun ideas for “treasures” (non-food goodies) and even a healthy recipe fromGreen Halloween®  food blogger, Kia Robertson.

Get the facts about “Frankenfoods” in from our Green American magazine online.  And if you live in California,vote yes of Prop 37 next Tuesday!

Get the Guide here.

Learn more about GMOs and what you can do to fight “Frankenfoods”! Visit:

June 2012: Our Interview with Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery

Redwood Hill Farm is truly a family affair. Started in 1968, by Kenneth and Cynthia Bice, the business today is run by their children, siblings David, Scott, Sharon, and Jennifer, manufacturing a range of dairy products available both online and in grocery stores nationwide (find a store near you here).

“For our parents the goal of the farm was to provide fresh, raw goat milk for our family and community,” says Jennifer. “That’s still our goal today, along with educating the public on the benefits of goat milk and expanding the line of healthful products made from the milk.”

We asked Jennifer to tell us more about Redwood Hill, the goats themselves, and the farm’s energy ‘hoof-print.’ Continue reading “June 2012: Our Interview with Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery”

9 GMO Ingredients to Watch Out For

Because of the prevalence of soy and corn in processed foods, about 30,000 genetically modified food products sit on US grocery store shelves.

Here are the top 9 GM ingredients to watch for:

1. SOY
GM since: 1996
How widespread: 94 percent of the US soybean crop was genetically modified in 2011, according to the USDA.
What to watch for: Soybeans show up in many traditional (i.e. not organic) soy products, such as tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh, as well as any product containing the emulsifier lecithin (often derived from soybean oil), such as ice cream and candy.

GM since: 1996
How widespread: 90 percent of the US cotton crop was genetically modified in 2011, according to the USDA.
What to watch for: The cotton plant, genetically modified to be pest-resistant, produces not only fibers for fabric, but also cottonseed oil, available on US shelves as a standalone product, and also commonly used as an ingredient in margarine, in salad dressings, and as a frying oil for potato chips and other snacks.

Continue reading “9 GMO Ingredients to Watch Out For”

6 Grocery Tips for Avoiding GMOs

Though dozens of countries around the world require genetically modified food to be labeled, the US is not one of them. In the absence of lables, here are our best tips for avoiding GMOs when you shop:

1. Look for the Non-GMO Project label: The Non-GMO Project label provides consumers with independent, third-party assurance that a product contains no GMOs. The Project tests high-risk ingredients in the products that bear its label, to ensure that they contain less than 0.9 percent GMOs (allowing for low levels of unintentional contamination).

2. Be wary of unverified non-GMO claims: A company may legally label its products as being GMO-free without having to perform testing or otherwise prove to a third-party that is the case. Continue reading “6 Grocery Tips for Avoiding GMOs”