This is a Call to Action for a Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
Whether you like it or not, chances are Monsanto contaminated the food you ate today with chemicals and unlabeled GMOs. Monsanto controls much of the world's food supply at the expense of food democracy worldwide. This site is dedicated to empowering citizens of the world to take action against Monsanto & it's enablers like the FDA, USDA, EPA, GMA, BIO, and the processed food companies that use Monsanto's products.
Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry.
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A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. “We’ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,” Mr. Gallo said. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.”
Genetically modified ingredients are deeply embedded in the global food supply, having proliferated since the 1990s. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified. The alterations make soybeans resistant to a herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide. Efforts are under way to produce a genetically altered apple that will spoil less quickly, as well as genetically altered salmon that will grow faster. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. “Fantastic,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.
Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.
The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients.
The shift by Whole Foods is the latest in a series of events that has intensified the debate over genetically modified foods. Voters defeated a hard-fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry, and major corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, spent millions of dollars to fight the effort. Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri, while consumers across the country have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement in supermarkets, pasting warning stickers on products suspected of having G.M.O. ingredients from food companies that oppose labeling. Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat, and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful.
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a “game changer.”
“We’ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year,” Mr. Hirshberg said, adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation. “Now, one of the fastest-growing, most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet.”
He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart’s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.
Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the Whole Foods decision would have. “It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,” Ms. Batra said. “The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons.”
She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.
Nonetheless, companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling. Some 20 major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart, met recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling.
Coincidentally, the American Halal Company, a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores, on Friday introduced the first frozen food, a chickpea and spinach entree, that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients.
More than 90 percent of respondents to a poll of potential voters in the 2012 elections, conducted by the Mellman Group in February last year, were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods. Some 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, favored it.
But in the fight over the California initiative, Proposition 37, the opponents succeeded in persuading voters that labeling would have a negative effect on food prices and the livelihood of farmers.
That fight, however, has cost food companies in other ways. State legislatures and regulatory agencies are pondering labeling on their own, and consumers have been aggressive in criticizing some of the companies that fought the initiative, using Twitter and Facebook to make their views known.
In 2009, Whole Foods began submitting products in its 365 Everyday Value private-label line to verification by the Non GMO Project.
But even Whole Foods has not been immune to criticism on the G.M.O. front. A report by Cornucopia, “Cereal Crimes,” revealed that its 365 Corn Flakes line contained genetically modified corn. By the time the report came out in October 2011, the product had been reformulated and certified as organic.
Today, Whole Foods’ shelves carry some 3,300 private-label and branded products that are certified, the largest selection of any grocery chain in the country.
Mr. Gallo said Whole Foods did not consult with its suppliers about its decision and informed them of it only shortly before making its announcement Friday. He said Whole Foods looked forward to working with suppliers on the labeling.
Shareholders for Monsanto gathered on the campus of the Creve Coeur agri-giant’s world headquarters Thursday to elect members of the company’s Board of Directors.
Approximately eight demonstrators, calling themselves Occupy Monsanto, spent several hours Thursday afternoon holding signs and banners along Olive Boulevard. The group was protesting Monsanto’s use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and its lack of transparency in research.
Adam Eidinger, speaking on behalf of Harrington Investments and the Pesticide Action Network, read a statement to protesters before heading inside to speak to other shareholders. Eidinger said he owns 75 shares of Monsanto stock.
Eidinger said he was going to speak to the shareholders about transparency in labeling, research and business practices.
His speech read, in part:
The way forward is by upholding the Company’s pledge to transparency. First, this means following the lead of other Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Coca-Cola and Walmart and begin to stream over the Internet audio and video of all future shareholder meetings. Second, the Company should cease its efforts to stymie legislative solutions that provided increased transparency around GMO foods. States like Washington, Hawaii, Connecticut, Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont and even here in Missouri have legislative solutions in the works. These efforts should be embraced by the Company, not fought off with lobbyists and lawyers. Third, the Company needs to provide scientists access to the Company’s seeds and existing body of research. Let independent scientist provide the much needed peer-reviewed studies, so the public at large believes this Company is being truly transparent.
Eidinger quoted Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant from an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Grant said “we (Monsanto) needs to do a much better job explaining where food comes from.” To view the full WSJ interview, click here.
Edited from the livestream: Vandana Shiva, renowned anti-GMO activist from India visits Hawaii to address the GMO labeling rally on the opening day of the 2013 Hawaii State Legislature. The rally was the end point of a march that started 3 miles away at the University of Hawaii that drew hundreds of demonstrators Oahu and the neighbor islands. At the end of the video, the crowd chants, “ʻAʻole GMO!,” Hawaiian for No GMO!
This proposal was submitted by Harrington Investments, Inc., 1001 2nd Street, Suite 325, Napa, CA 94559, as lead proponent of a filing group. The proposal has been carefully considered by the board of directors, which has concluded that its adoption would not be in the best interests of the company or its shareowners. For the reasons stated after the proposal, the board recommends a vote “Against” the shareowner proposal.
The proposal and supporting statement are presented as received from the shareowner proponents in accordance with the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the board of directors and the company disclaim any responsibility for its content. We will furnish, orally or in writing as requested, the name, address and claimed share ownership position of the proponents of this shareowner proposal promptly upon written or oral request directed to the company’s Secretary.
Information regarding the inclusion of proposals in Monsanto’s proxy statement can be found on page 77 under Shareowner Proposals for 2014 Annual Meeting.
The labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is an increasing matter of concern among state legislators across the United States;
Vermont, Alaska, Maine and Nebraska have passed laws requiring labeling of GMOs and at least fifteen states have offered legislation that would require similar labeling;
The biological and physical movement of material derived from genetically engineered crops is difficult and sometimes impossible to control or recall;
Many domestic and global food markets demand foods with zero or near-zero levels of material derived from genetically modified organisms;
Genetically modified crops have been found to contaminate conventional (non-GMO) and organic farms, threatening farmers’ livelihoods, and affecting critical food supply, and imposing a significant financial burden on farmers seeking to satisfy markets for GMO-free products;
RESOLVED: The Monsanto board shall prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, assessing any material financial risks or operational potential impacts on the Company with:
Seed contamination, including costs of seed replacement, crop and production losses and clean up, decontamination and continued testing of affected seeds;
Ongoing buffer zone control, including production acreage losses and on-going maintenance required to secure or maintain access to contamination-sensitive markets;
Crop, production, and post-harvest losses and associated costs of market rejections, including temporary or permanent market losses resulting from GMO contamination;
Loss of organic or other third-party certification due to GMO contamination and any costs associated with additional record-keeping, testing or surveillance required to regain certification or retain certification on impacted operations;
Well water testing and/or groundwater cleanup contamination if found;
Removal and destruction of contaminated GMO plants;
Pollinator losses and related damages, e.g. to non-target organisms;
Soil contamination and on-going related mitigation and remediation costs; and
Damage to farmers’ reputation, livelihood, and standing in the community.
The report shall also discuss the impact of such a policy regarding such issues and related public policies on our customers and consumers, and shall be available by July 1, 2013.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE “AGAINST” THE FOREGOING PROPOSAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
Disclosure of material financial risks or operational impacts on the company is required by SEC reporting requirements and we take seriously our responsibility to identify, analyze and transparently report such risks or potential impacts. Existing processes and procedures are in place that are intended to ensure compliance with SEC disclosure requirements relating to the topics raised by the proponent. An additional report to restate such risks or impacts as suggested in the proposal would be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information to shareowners.
Our Technology Use Guide, which is updated annually, distributed to our customers and posted on our website, provides information specifically about coexistence and identity preservation to our customers, including general instructions for management of mechanical mixing and pollen flow.
We engage in robust, ongoing dialogue with the seed trade, agricultural value chain and academic community to address the complex subject areas encompassed by the shareowner proposal in a manner consistent with best industry practice. These are routinely discussed in these settings and are well known to the company individuals responsible for identifying and reporting material risks and potential impacts.
Monsanto is a founding member of “Excellence Through Stewardship,” the agricultural biotechnology industry’s global initiative for advancing best practices in stewardship and quality management. As a member, Monsanto is subject to regular global compliance audits to ensure best practices are being followed. See http://www.excellencethroughstewardship.org/  for more information about this initiative.
Constructive coexistence among diverse segments of agriculture is well established and practiced. It is commonplace to find different agricultural production methods working effectively side by side based on well established practices and a long, successful history in agriculture. Careful management of these production methods is in the interest of all concerned – our company, our customers, the value chain and consumers.
Farmers and seed companies rely on standards and best practices in seed and grain production, harvest, handling and transportation to support production, distribution and trade of products from different agricultural systems. This is essential to preserve the identity of products to meet market specifications. Examples of identity preserved production include certified seed, specialty oil or protein crops, and crops that meet commercial contract specifications such as organic and non-genetically enhanced specifications.
Based on historical experience generally accepted agricultural practices to manage production to meet quality specifications have been established. Among these practices are appropriate seed sourcing, field management, storage and handling practices. This array of agricultural planning tools and practices maintains product integrity and quality specifications.
A mosaic of agricultural production systems must be preserved to enable farmer choice and meet global productivity needs. Drought in several major agricultural production regions in 2011 and 2012 is a vivid reminder of the challenges facing agricultural production and food security. Monsanto believes farmers should have the freedom to choose the production method best suited for their environments, markets and needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional, or products improved through biotechnology. All of the agricultural systems can and do work effectively side by side and contribute to the varied needs of different farmers, markets and consumers and meeting the demands of a growing population.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE “AGAINST” THIS SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL AND YOUR PROXY WILL BE SO VOTED IF THE PROPOSAL IS PRESENTED UNLESS YOU SPECIFY OTHERWISE
It’s not surprising that of the 73 Senators who voted against (‘Nay’) the amendment, 37 Senators, or over 50%, received a combined total of $237,500 in campaign contributions from Monsanto’s PAC. Only 2 Senators, Senator Inouye from Hawaii & Senator Leahy from Vermont, who received a combined total of $8,000 from Monsanto’s PAC, voted in support (‘Yea’) of the GMO labeling amendment.
Monsanto’s GMO Money is rampant in the halls of Congress and the corporation’s patented genes are becoming a biohazard to the health of American democracy. With nearly half of American U.S. Senators becoming genetically mutated, we must take action to remove Monsanto’s GMO Money from the currency supply. Do you have plans for the third week of September? Yea.
Note: These figures are only from Monsanto’s PAC. Congress receives millions of dollars from the biotech industry as a whole, undoubtedly influencing their vote against the people’s right to know if they are eating GMOs.
Throwing around a few grand here & few grand there to buy off politicians is really nickels & dimes compared to the vast amount of money Monsanto has spent lobbying Congress.
Over the last 10 years Monsanto has spent over $52 million dollars making sure they get the most favorable legislation possible. Of that $52 million, nearly $11 million was paid to outside lobbying firms (listed below) to lobby on behalf of Monsanto, while the rest of the total (over $40 million) was spent on Monsanto’s staff lobbyists.
The results? More pesticides, more GMOs, and more of why we will Occupy Monsanto this fall!
Grand total spent by Monsanto: $52,499,730 Total spent on Monsanto’s own lobbyists: $41,786,230 Total paid to lobbying firms: $10,713,500
Russell Group (formerly Lesher & Russell & Russell & Barron, Inc)
Source: Center for Responsive Politics (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) Note #1: When compiling this list it was shown that many of the lobbying firms no longer exist because many of the lobbyists merged their firms together. When a firm was found to have merged with another, the dirty money Monsanto paid them was added together in the table above. Note #2: In 2000 Monsanto merged with Pharmacia & Upjohn and was later spun off into the “New Monsanto.” However, the data for 2002 includes Pharmacia as Monsanto’s parent company and show that there was lobbying money spent on the pharmaceutical industry. For the table above, only the lobbying money spent on Agricultural Services & Products was included.