Monthly Archives: November 2014

Big Food Wants GMO Labels

Are Wal-Mart and Big Food Lobbying the FDA for a GMO Labeling Law?

Could it be that consumer backlash has dulled the enthusiasm of biotech cheerleaders? Or is Big Food just cozying up to the FDA so they can derail the growing anti-GMO movement?

 

High-level executives from some of the U.S.’s largest food corporations are meeting with the FDA behind closed doors this week to lobby for a mandatory federal GMO labeling law. Could it be that bad press and consumer backlash have dulled the enthusiasm of these former biotech cheerleaders? Or is Big Food just cozying up to the FDA so they can derail the growing organic and anti-GMO movement and finagle a federal labeling law so toothless it won’t be worth the ink it takes to sign it?

According to informed sources in Washington, DC, representatives of Wal-Mart, General Mills, Pepsi-Frito Lay, Mars, Coca-Cola and others are meeting with the FDA this week. Wal-Mart came under fire recently for selling unlabeled and likely hazardous GMO sweet corn in its stores. General Mills, Pepsi, Mars and Coca Cola have been the targets of numerous consumer boycotts, including a social media-powered boycott of “Traitor Brands: “natural” and organic brands whose parent companies contributed millions of dollars to defeat Prop 37, the Nov. 6 California Ballot Initiative to label GMO foods and ban the routine industry practice of marketing GMO foods as “natural” or “all natural.”

The “Traitor Brands” boycott, initiated by the Organic Consumers Association, has been gaining steam as other groups pick up the flag. The boycott hasn’t gone unnoticed by company executives, either. Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman sent the OCA a letter defending his brand’s position, a position not unlike the one taken recently by Ben & Jerry’s.  Both companies absolve their brands of any responsibility for their parent companies’ donations to the NO on 37 campaign, claiming that they have no say in corporate-level decisions.

But a look at the Facebook pages of some of the “Traitor Brands” reveals consumers’ anger and sense of betrayal. Brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Muir Glen, Naked Juice, Cascadian Farms, Horizon, Silk, and Ben & Jerry’s, once sought out by quality-conscious, loyal consumers willing to pay a little extra for organic, sustainably produced products, have been tarnished by their association with the hardline anti-right-to-know policies of Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, General Mills, Pepsi, Dean Foods, and Unilever.

Add to that the growing controversy surrounding the pending commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) salmon; the prospect of upcoming high-profile GMO labeling legislative battles in Vermont and Connecticut; and I-522, a major ballot initiative working its way toward a November 2012 vote in Washington State, and it makes sense that the Big Food elite may be preparing for a tactical retreat from the largest food fight in U.S. history.

Is it possible that the threat posed by the growing grassroots GMO labeling movement has prompted a number of Fortune 500 corporations to abandon Monsanto and the biotech industry, and rethink the PR and bottom-line costs of clinging to their anti-right-to-know positions? After all, it’s not as if these companies are incapable of making GMO-free products. Though many Americans don’t know it, Wal-Mart, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Starbucks – even McDonald’s – are GMO-free in Europe, thanks to strict GMO labeling laws.

Maybe Big Food, faced with the inevitability of states passing mandatory GMO labeling laws, is ready to throw in the towel? As Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, explained in November, big food corporations are happy they headed off mandatory GMO labeling by defeating Prop 37 in California but,  “. . . we hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . .”.

Or is this just a case of Big Food and indentured FDA bureaucrats conspiring to confuse consumers and slow the momentum of the nation’s fast-growing right-to-know and anti-GMO movement? Is this a “bait and switch” deal to get us to shut up, a tactic to derail the grassroots Movement that appears on track to pass strict GMO labeling laws in Washington, Vermont and Connecticut this year?

We should be wary of any compromise deal at the federal level, one that would preempt the passage of meaningful state GMO labeling laws that have real teeth. We don’t want to end up with a law like the one Japan passed in 2001. That law exempted all GMO foods except corn and soy from being labeled, allowed up to 5% GMO content in individual ingredients, and exempted cooking oils and other foods where transgenic DNA is difficult to detect. Similarly, a GMO law passed by Brazil under pressure from consumers and farmers contained no real requirements for enforcement, until a recent court decision against Nestle.

And let’s not forget what happened in late 2010 in another closed-door meeting, when members of the “Organic Elite,” including Whole Foods, tried to engineer a compromise with Monsanto and the USDA over “co-existence” between GMO alfalfa and organic crops.

Grassroots activism and marketplace pressure can bring about major changes in corporate behavior and even in public policy. When major food corporations, under pressure from consumers, break ranks with Monsanto and the biotech industry, GMO public policy and marketplace dynamics change dramatically.

The consumer-led rejection since 1994 of Monsanto’s recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone by family-scale dairy farmers and major dairy brands has kept rBGH marginalized. Currently less than 10% of U.S. dairy cows are injected with Monsanto’s (now Elanco’s) rBGH, a hormone linked to increased risk of cancer in humans, as well as major animal health damage. Thanks to consumer pressure, many leading dairy brands in the U.S. are labeled as “rBGH (or rBST) free;”  while rBGH is banned outright in Canada, Europe, Japan, and most industrialized nations.

In 2000, McDonald’s, Burger King, Pringles and McCain opposed Monsanto’s genetically engineered “New Leaf” potatoes. Their opposition kept these Bt-spliced “Frankenspuds” off the market. 

Similarly, opposition to Monsanto’s GE wheat in 2003, not only by U.S. wheat farmers, but also by General Mills and Frito-Lay, killed the commercialization of this multi-billion dollar crop. And it was consumer pressure that forced Starbucks and other coffee brands to keep GE coffee off the market.

If it’s true that Wal-Mart and a number of big food corporations are ready to compromise and allow labels on genetically engineered foods, don’t hold your breath for the Obama Administration’s FDA to quickly change course. For 20 years FDA bureaucrats, led by Michael “Monsanto” Taylor, the Obama-appointed FDA Food Safety Czar, have blocked all attempts to require mandatory federal GMO labeling. Our best chance to regain our right to know what’s in our food and begin to drive GMOs off the market is to stay on the offensive. We need to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws in the current frontline states of Washington, Vermont and Connecticut, and we need to step up the pressure on Food Inc. with our boycott of their “Traitor Brands.”

And even after we win mandatory GMO labeling on produce and processed foods, which will realistically take at least several years, we will still need to fight for labels on GMO-fed, factory-farmed meat, dairy, and eggs, a more comprehensive labeling law that even the EU does not yet have in place.  At least 80% of GMO crops grown in the U.S. are destined for animal feed in factory farms. If we’re going to stop these environmentally disastrous farming practices, we’ll have to demand labeling of factory-farmed food. And that will require an unprecedented campaign of public education, direct action, and grassroots mobilization, similar to the campaign we are already waging for GMO labeling.

Hats off to the thousands of activists and millions of consumers and voters who have made GMOs and GMO labeling burning issues in the U.S. Wal-Mart and the Big Food lobby would not be sitting down behind closed doors this week asking the FDA to take action if it were not for the growing online/marketplace/political activism of our nationwide organic anti-GMO movement. But, as more and more of us understand, this monumental food fight is not just about labeling GMOs. We are fighting, as well, for a healthy and sustainable food and farming system, a green and equitable economy, a stable climate, and a real democracy where citizens, not corporations and their indentured politicians, rule. 

[via Food AlterNet / By Ronnie Cummins]

6 Health Benefits of Blueberries

Consuming fruits and vegetables provide copious health benefits. Produce consumption has been shown to lower the risk of developing various chronic conditions and is protective against certain types of cancer. Experts recommend consuming a rainbow of colored produce to provide the various vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain optimal health. Do your body and taste buds a favor and choose to add blueberries into your diet. Blueberries are packed with nutrients which provide many health benefits.

6 Main Health Benefits of Blueberries

(1) Vitamin C

Get 25% of your daily vitamin C requirements in 1 cup of blueberries. Vitamin C is essential for tissue growth and repair, keeping gums and teeth healthy, and aids in iron absorption. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which can neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for the aging process on the body and may play a negative role in cancer, heart health, and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

(2) Manganese

One cup of blueberries contains 25% of your daily manganese requirements. Manganese is essential for tendon and skeletal development and may play a role in blood pressure, fertility, reproduction and energy production.

(3) Vitamin K

Obtain about one third of your daily vitamin K requirements by consuming 1 cup of blueberries. Vitamin K is essential in blood clotting. Blood clotting is important to prevent excessive bleeding with an open cut. Studies also suggest that vitamin K may also be involved in calcium metabolism and in maintaining bone health.

(4) Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are compounds that provide blueberries with that rich blue/purple color. Studies suggest that, due to its antioxidant properties, anthocyanins may play a role in decreasing the risk of cancer, cognitive decline and heart disease. The disease-fighting powers of Anthocyanins is one of the many reasons experts, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommend consuming a rainbow of different colored fruits and vegetables.

(5) Fiber

1 cup of blueberries contains 4 grams of fiber. Fiber is essential for bowel health because it promotes bowel regularity and reduces constipation. Fiber not only regulates blood sugar and helps with satiety, but it can also reduce blood cholesterol. Reducing blood cholesterol can help lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and diverticulosis.

(6) Low in Calories, Fat, and Cholesterol

One cup of blueberries provides only 85 calories and essentially no fat and cholesterol! Blueberries make a great snack (and treat!) for individuals trying to lose weight due to the low calorie content. Blueberries make a good heart healthy snack because they are low in fat and cholesterol. Consuming excess cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the arteries which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.

For being low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, blueberries are packed with nutrients and antioxidants-making it a great snack to add to your diet. Not only is it a great food for weight-conscious individuals, but blueberries are also great for those whom want to eat a heart and bone healthy, bowel friendly, and antioxidant rich snack.

[via WatchFit]

You Tube Video, Just Do One

Have you ever wanted to change the world? Here’s your chance.

Greg Horn, author of Living Green, is on a worldwide quest for the best short video articulating personal-action solutions for a better planet. The website containing more information is slated to launch 11/18, with contest guidelines shortly thereafter! Take a peak at Greg’s message to you here:

Tips for effective facial skin care routine

We our skin As you grow old shows signs of the most visible of aging. A small line appears, wrinkles, it will be displayed in areas where skin has lost some of its youthful elasticity. Keeping the routine good facial skin care, your skin, helps to achieve a more youthful appearance, but that this result can be improved, which is also a number of products and treatments on the market I can.

In this article, let’s take a look at some of the more popular products and routines for a more detailed face of skin care.

This is the most common routine for facial skin care.

Cleansing
Toning
Exfoliating
Moisturizing
Many of the products for the above steps, most of the department store, available over the counter at the chemist and other retail outlets. They are priced significantly different when quite often, it is a simple case of finding the range suitable for both your skin type and your needs. You can if you go to the beauty salon, they’ll probably notice To retain facial, a particular brand of product to be used while performing other treatment. These products, because it is possible to purchase, if you are satisfied with what your beauty therapist recommended, you will need to stick with it. It has stores department, but it as what happens they earn commission of above, is worth they need to remember will want to sell your particular brand is to talk to experts there may be.

When cleansing your skin, dust in the air, you will be able to assist in the removal of dirt and other contaminants. You lightly the face and neck in the only appropriate cleansing lotion or cream, you will need to use the tip of your finger to massage out it to your skin gently. This must be done in upward movement, which then should be removed using a cotton pad or some of the soft tissue.

To toning the skin following the washing step, is any stage. If you want to properly purification, you will be able to avoid this step.

As part of the separation of your face routine, you do not need to do every day, but should be done once in about 1 week. And to can be peeled off the skin by removing dead cells and encourages the production of new skin cells. Because it is the dead skin cells that often pores to remove them is to be is a great way of block to improve the tone of your skin.

Be moisturizing your skin will replace the part of the daily basis moisture lost on the. Since not all moiturisers is suitable for all skin types, please to choose the one that is right for your skin. It is the top layer of the skin, it can be to moisturizing the flake may break up while seen as skin, you have to prevent the skin to dry obtained. You are moisturizing your skin, but warm for the best effect, we use the upward movement of friendly moist skin.

This is, you are, simply, by using the appropriate moisturizer, if you need to consider a simpler face of routine occurs, is actually part of the cleanser and toner, to block the pores on your skin There is a thing.

Likewise, following tips so that it came out into the habit of skin care routine of face smoothly, helps to maintain the skin more vibrant.

You use the appropriate makeup remover before it passes through the skin care routine every night face, you do not go to your make-up and the bed of the above.
Your friend, that you do not use only in skin care products because they do not find one, it is suitable for the type of your skin tone and skin. If you are unsure, I seek advice from experts in this. You if you are considering trying a new brand from department stores, to be able to confirm the suitability of the skin for yourself, obtains a first sample.
And please do not rub your skin with too much force when you apply the product, it is calm.
When you are exposed to sunlight, always use a sunscreen or block.

10 Apps to Help You Eat GMO Free

As the struggle for GMO labeling rages on, app developers are taking matters into their own hands. By creating apps that allow consumers to determine exactly what is in the products that they buy, these developers are giving you total freedom of choice. These apps all have multiple features for identifying different types of ingredients, which means installing a combination of apps will keep you better informed. These ten apps all identify GMO products, among other ingredients, so you can control exactly what you choose to have in your diet.

  • Non-GMO Project Shopping Guide – As it says on the can, this app provides consumers with a guide to shopping non-GMO. The Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program is a collaboration of a number of corporations whose aim is to help consumers make more informed choices in their purchases. The guide is completely free and is periodically updated with new contributions.
  • Healthy Food, Allergens, GMOs & Nutrition Scanner – This Nutrition Scanner costs $3.99 and allows you to quickly determine exactly what is in the food you are shopping for. The scanner reads food labels and returns information on nutrition, ingredients additives and whether the product contains any GMOs. You don’t need to wonder which ingredients are dangerous, either, as the app has a caution rating for potentially undesirable contents.
  • Buycott – If you are passionate about supporting companies that you believe have ethical practices, Buycott will help you stick to your principles. The app can trace food items back through the production chain, keeping you informed of every company involved in bringing the item to the supermarket shelf. The free app also provides contact details for each company, so you can voice your concerns or support for any given product.
  • True Food – For conscientious consumers, True Food provides a real-time guide to shopping non-GMO. Every day the app will update with new alerts, news and tips on how to avoid GMO products, and where to find suitable alternatives. With over 70% of food products in the U.S. containing GMOs, this free app is definitely worth installing on your iPhone.
  • ShopNoGMO – With 23 food categories that contain no GMOs, this free app gives you the power to decide which products you want to feed your family. The app is not limited to when you shop, however, as there is also a useful feature to help you avoid GMOs when dining out. Besides information on GMOs, there are helpful tips on sourcing organic foods and identifying other potentially unhealthy ingredients.
  • GMO Checker – You can use this app to quickly identify products that are organic, vegan, gluten free and GMO free. GMO Checker uses a simple search function, which returns results with a color-coded key that tells you whether the product contains ingredients from the category list. While the app has a simple interface, it does cost $3.99, so it is not the cheapest option on the market.
  • ipiit, The Food Ambassador – ipiit is a completely collaborative app with a database that is constantly growing due, in part, to user contributions. The database contains over 210,000 food products, with information on Gluten, Lactose, HFCS, GMO and much more. Users can set up their own preferences, making it easier to find the foods that match your needs. Rating foods on this free app will help keep the community informed so everyone can share in promoting healthier food choices.
  • Chemical Maze – Whether you are concerned about what’s in your food, cosmetics or pet products, Chemical Maze will help keep you informed. You can filter results by category, effects, origin or symptoms, depending on what you want to find out about a product. This is the free addition of the app, however, there is also a paid edition with added features.
  • Barcode and PLU Label Reader – Although this app is a Barcode and PLU reader, you have to manually enter the codes. With that said, the app does provide a lot of useful information that will help you purchase the healthiest products and avoid GMOs. Barcode and PLU Label Reader costs $1.99 and has a 4+ user rating on the iTunes store.
  • Fruit Checker – A PLU label reader for fruits and vegetables, Fruit Checker will confirm whether products are certified organic, conventionally grown or genetically modified. In some cases the app will tell you where the product was grown, too. The app is useful, but limited for the price-tag of $0.99.
[via The Food Revolution Network]