Showing posts with label Grocery Manufacturers Association. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grocery Manufacturers Association. Show all posts

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dis-Honest Tea CEO in Hot Water? Why Organic Brands Must Dissociate Themselves from Junk Food Industry

An 1890s advertisement showing model Hilda Cla...
An 1890s advertisement showing model Hilda Clark in formal 19th century attire. The ad is titled Drink Coca-Cola 5¢. (US) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr. Mercola

Two years ago, Seth Goldman sold a significant portion of Honest Tea—the organic beverage brand he co-founded—to Coca-Cola.
As you probably know, Coca-Cola has donated millions of dollars to anti-GMO labeling campaigns to make sure genetically engineered ingredients remain hidden. Meanwhile, Goldman, a self-proclaimed activist who is still CEO of Honest Tea, claims his company is for transparency in labeling.
The conflicting interests between Honest Tea and Coca-Cola appear to have resulted in false statements that are anything but transparent. Could these public statements by Goldman constitute an SEC violation, considering these statements may have reassured concerned customers to continue purchasing organic products whose profits were used to fight the consumer's right to know?

Is Coca-Cola and/or Honest Tea Guilty of SEC Violation?

In a September 3, 2013 article in the Washington Post,1 Goldman states that"after internal discussions, Coca-Cola will not be directly lobbying against a similar effort in the state of Washington, although it is a funder of trade associations arguing against the labeling."
Fast-forward a couple of months, to when the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA) was caught red-handed in a money-laundering scheme aimed at protecting the identity of its anti-GMO labeling donors during the Washington campaign.
Once the GMA was forced to reveal where the money for its anti-labeling campaign came from,2, 3 Coca-Cola Company was is shown right there on Washington's official political disclosures, front and center, as the fifth largest contributor, having thrown $1.5 million into the pot!
So, did Coca-Cola lie to Goldman, leading him to make a false statement? Or did he lie, knowing that Coca-Cola was really planning on laundering its donations to the Washington anti-labeling campaign? This way, no one would know that Goldman lied, and that Coca-Cola paid big bucks to squash GMO labeling yet again.
If you're wondering why these are newsworthy questions, it's because executives making false or misleading statements about their company, including false or misleading financial statements that benefit a publicly traded company, is an SEC violation4—it's pretty serious stuff.
And, from a more personal standpoint, do you really want to support a company that lies right to your face about such an important issue as whether or not they willspend that money that you gave them to prevent you from learning what's in their products?
Besides the legality of making such false statements, it's just plain wrong. Goldman now says he's going to change Coke which is an interesting comment in itself, but it appears we should be far more concerned about major junk food companies destroying organics.

GMA Sues to Overturn Vermont's New GMO Labeling Law

The Grocery Manufacturers Association of America (GMA) consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are downright ruthless in their efforts to ensure subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.
Most recently, the GMA has shown its true colors by suing Vermont5, 6 in an effort to overturn H.112—the first no-strings-attached GMO labeling in the US.
The bill was passed by an overwhelming margin,7 and Governor Peter Shumlin signed the historic bill into law on May 8. The law will require food manufacturers to label genetically engineered (GE) foods sold in Vermont, and prohibits them from labeling foods with GE ingredients as "natural" or "all natural."
The GMA's lawsuit claims that their members are going to end hunger with their pesticide-laden GMOs, but we already know that the problem with hunger is not production, it's distribution. There's more than enough food to go around; it's just poorly distributed.
So their worldwide rescue plan is to fatten up the developing world on high fructose corn syrup from GE corn, sugar from GE sugar beets, and trans fats from GE soybean oil or GE cottonseed oil – what a gigantic lie!

GMO Promises Fall Flat Again and Again... Because They're Not Based on Truth

The traits of GE plants require MORE water, not less, placing increasing pressure on areas already suffering from lack of potable water. Many GE plants also produce their own internal pesticides. This was meant to reduce pesticide requirements, but instead, these plants require more pesticides than ever before—just to keep up with the proliferation of resistant pests and weeds!
For example, Bloomberg8 recently reported that "BASF, the world's biggest chemical maker, plans to produce 50 percent more dicamba weedkiller in Texas to keep pace with anticipated demand from a new generation of genetically modified crops." 
Dicamba—this is the weedkiller that has been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. And Texas is gearing up to dump 50 percent more of it on its crops in the near future. How is this benefiting anyone's health and well-being? The list of failed GMO promises goes on and on... Countries that recognize these facts and risks are even being more or less blackmailed into accepting GE crops, especially if they're in need of aid. El Salvador is one such example.9

GMOs Have Labeling Requirements in More Than 60 Countries, But Not in the 'Land of the Free'

The words "Contain GMOs" are required on labels in 64 other countries around the world—a fact the GMA lawsuit neglects to mention. It is truthful information, and just like added flavors must be labeled "natural or artificial," and juice must state if it is from concentrate, whether or not an ingredient is genetically engineered falls under truth in labeling. 

To take it a step further, it prevents fraud. Free market principles require certain understandings. If you label a product "salmon," a buyer and seller understand what salmon is.
If you splice eel genes into salmon, it is now sEELmon, or some-such-thing. It's no longer plain, regular old salmon. If you continue to mislabel this eel-spliced fish as salmon, the seller is committing fraud. Labeling GMOs—transgenic plants and animals—is a truthful right of the consumer. 

We consider non-labeled transgenic products to be fraud that the federal government has allowed based on "substantial equivalence"—a term invented to monopolize and patent life between a few gigantic corporate interests.

Largest Boycott EVER, Now in Progress!

Joining the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America in this lawsuit against Vermont are the Snack Food Association (SFA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). These are deep pockets, my friends! On June 12, Organic Consumers Association's National Director, Ronnie Cummins responded to the news by calling for a nationwide boycott of ALL GMA member brands and products, saying:10
"Today's move by the Grocery Manufacturers Association to prevent Vermont from requiring food companies to disclose the truth about what they put in the billions of dollars' worth of food they sell to consumers is a desperate attempt to protect corporate shareholder profits at the expense of consumers' rights and health.
More than 60 other countries have either banned GMOs, or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them. Consumers in the U.S. have every reasonable right to the same information that consumers in other countries have about foods and ingredients that have not been subjected to independent, pre-market safety testing.
Beyond the truth and transparency in labeling issue, every U.S. citizen should be concerned when a multi-billion dollar corporate lobbying group sues in federal court to overturn a state's right to govern for the health and safety of its citizens... The GMA's membership includes more than 300 companies in the business of selling junk food, pesticides and drugs.
The OCA today calls on consumers to boycott the products sold by all of those companies, including the organic and natural brands whose parent companies are members of the GMA. We also call on consumers to support those companies that demonstrate solidarity with consumers by withdrawing their membership support from the trade association. Marketing statistics show that boycotts impact sales, and that this is the best way for consumers to influence corporate decision-makers."

Please Support Vermont's Legal Defense Fund

To help Vermont defend its GMO labeling law against these multi-national giants, please also consider making a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund, which has been set up to raise funds for this purpose. The fund has also pledged $500,000 to help Oregon pass a GMO labeling initiative in November. As noted by the Organic Consumers Association:
"After years of good old-fashioned work, and playing by the rules, the grassroots labeling movement achieved its first real victory this year, when Vermont passed the first no-strings-attached law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.
But the rules mean nothing to the rich and powerful companies like Monsanto and Coca-Cola, who belong to one of the country's most powerful lobbying groups—the GMA. This is the moment of truth for the grassroots GMO labeling movement. If Monsanto and the GMA succeed in overturning Vermont's GMO labeling law, lawmakers in the other 29 states that are currently considering GMO labeling bills will drop them like hot potatoes.
We can't let that happen. Your donation today will help us defend Vermont, and pass GMO labeling in Oregon. Legal experts assure us that Vermont's labeling law will hold up in court. But we can't win in federal court unless we show up. And that means paying a legal team to defend what's rightfully ours. This battle is about your health, and the health of your environment. This battle is about the rights of states to pass laws to protect their citizens. This is our battle. And it's going to take all of us pulling together to win it."

Crazier Still—the 'DARK' Act

The GMA, whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is also pushing a Congressional bill called the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014."11 The bill, dubbed the "DARK" (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would actually preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws12.
They're actually trying to take away individual state's rights – which were encouraged by our constitution. The constitution was meant to prevent federal superpowers becoming corrupted, and from creating an authoritarian, fascist federal government. We've watched our individual and state rights deteriorate over many decades, succumbing to these enormous industry powers, and this is probably one of the biggest, most blatant overreaches yet.

Why Boycotting the Organic Elite Is Necessary to Protect the Future of Real Food

So take a moment to consider all of this: Coca-Cola is a member of GMA—and one of the biggest contributors to its anti-labeling efforts. This means that Coke is using money they make from Honest Tea to fight GMO labeling, and sue states that successfully pass their own labeling laws. AND, money from Honest Tea and other organic brands owned by big junk food manufacturers is also used to push a bill that will effectively BAN states from passing labeling bills in the first place!
It's completely outrageous! Furthermore, ALL of the organic elites are essentially providing funds to sue Vermont by being members of either the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, or the National Association of Manufacturers.  
So HOW exactly is Coca-Cola or any of the other organic elites helping organics? The answer is, they're not helping one whit. They're actually helping destroy and "bury" organics within the folds of a very opaque, very greed-driven, and decidedly anti-health—not to mention anti-freedom—industry.
This is why the GMA Boycott—aimed at boycotting every single product owned by members of the GMA,13 including natural and organic brands like Honest Tea—is so important. If you think that the GMA has any concern whatsoever for your health, your rights to make your own decisions, or your financial wellbeing, then think again. Its objections to GMO labeling are not aimed at protecting you from confusion, unnecessary complexities, or higher prices. The GMA is protecting the profits of their members, and those profits depend on widespread consumer ignorance!

Coca-Cola Is Front and Center of Nutritional Ignorance Campaign

Coca-Cola Company actually appears to have taken a center role in the fight to keep you as ignorant of nutritional facts as possible, and this effort is not restricted to genetically engineered ingredients. It applies to ANY ingredient in their products that have well-established dangers, such as high fructose corn syrup and aspartame.
Growing awareness of the health dangers associated with both diet and regular soda has caused soda sales to rapidly dwindle.14 Sales of carbonated beverages in general fell three percent in 2013, while diet Coke and diet Pepsi both dropped by nearly seven percent.15 Coca-Cola's strategy to regain its customers has included a number of ludicrous publicity stunts.
First, it rolled out an ad campaign encouraging people to unite in the fight against obesity by exercising more. Fortunately, most people saw the 2013 campaign as a poor attempt at damage control,16, 17 considering the overwhelming evidence linking soda consumption to obesity. Shortly thereafter, Coca-Cola launched another ad campaign. This time—in the misleading guise of a public service announcement18, 19 no less—they tried to assure you that diet beverages containing the artificial sweetener aspartame are a safe and healthy alternative to regular soda.20
Most recently, the soda industry funded a study that claims to confirm what theconflicting interests  industry has been saying all along—that drinking diet soda will help you lose weight.21, 22 Not only that, but drinking diet soda will make you lose more weight than drinking no soda at all—a claim that flies in the face of research findings spanning some 20 years! This study was in part funded by the American Beverage Association, and naturally, Coca-Cola is one of its most prominent members.23
So, not only does Coke not want you to understand the facts about the role of high fructose corn syrup in obesity, it also does not want you to be aware of the health dangers associated with the artificial sweetener aspartame (or that aspartame actually makes you pack on more pounds, faster, than regular sugar), and it does not want you to know that it probably uses genetically engineered corn in its beverages.
Coca-Cola uses profits from its organic brands to keep you in the dark about these nutritional facts in a number of different ways; through misleading advertising, money-laundering schemes to hide campaign funds, and "research" that supports whatever crazy notion they want you to have about their product...

Other Ways Coca-Cola Misleads You

Speaking of misleading advertising: The US Supreme court recently decided24 that POM Wonderful can sue Coca-Cola for misleading consumers; its 59 ounce containers of “Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored Blend of 5 Juices” actually only contains two teaspoons of pomegranate and blueberry juice. More than 99 percent of the product is apple and grape juice.
And, speaking to the reality of consumers being mislead, when Coca-Cola’s attorney claimed that “only unintelligent consumers might be duped” by the label, Justice Kennedy replied: “Don’t make me feel bad because I thought that this was pomegranate juice!” In this case, it’s quite clear that Coca-Cola was out to deceive you. If the label says pomegranate juice, why would you assume it’s something else entirely?
Coke says it is “tackling obesity,” when it really should accept a large portion of blame for causing obesity. Coke is nothing but a Marlboro in liquid form when it comes to shortening your life. These artificially sweetened low-calorie drinks essentially just equates to making a smaller cigarette... At some point in the future, I predict these junk food purveyors to confront the same obvious problems the tobacco company faced. In the meantime, they will do anything to rake in funds from making people sick. One thing’s for sure though; diet soda is a fraud, and implying that you can lose weight by drinking diet soda is a scam.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monsanto Pours Millions into GMO-Labeling Fight

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM (Photo credit: live w mcs)
By Dr. Mercola
We’re now only weeks away from the next big GMO-labeling vote in the United States; this time in Washington State, where citizens will cast their votes for the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," on November 5.
Initiative 522 will require seeds, raw agricultural commodities, and processed foods to be labeled if they’re produced using genetic engineering.1
As in last year’s California Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign, the opposition from industry is fierce, with millions of dollars being poured into the anti-labeling campaign.
According to the Public Disclosure Commission,2 the “NO on 522” campaign has already raised more than $11 million—nearly four times the amount raised by the pro-labeling camp. Monsanto leads the charge, having donated close to $4.8 million to the anti-labeling campaign.
I want to remind you that the success of this ballot initiative is dependent on public donations, and we’re up against industry giants with very deep pockets, so please, help us win this key GMO labeling battle and continue to build momentum for GMO labeling in other states by making a donation to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today.

The Two Faces of Monsanto

According to Robb Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto, the company backs efforts to prevent GMO labeling in Washington State “for the same reasons we opposed the California initiative.” He recently told Politico:3
“The reason people are funding campaigns for mandatory labeling is because they basically want to get rid of biotech, and they want biotech to suffer the same view as salt or sugar on the label, and the science doesn’t support it.”
Curiously enough, Monsanto is more than willing to “support” GMO labeling once they run out of options. Here’s a Monsanto ad from the UK, letting British consumers know how much the company supports the mandatory labeling of their goods—even urging Britons to seek such labels out—ostensibly because Monsanto believes “you should be aware of all the facts before making a decision.”
What’s the difference between British shoppers and American shoppers? Why does Monsanto support one nation’s right to know but not another? It’s time to put an end to this hypocritical charade and label foods in the US, as has been done in 64 other countries4 across the globe already!

GMA Sued for “Money Laundering” in Anti-GMO Labeling Scheme

In addition to Monsanto’s $4.8 million donation to the No on 522 campaign, Dupont has kicked in $3.4 million,5 and The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) $2.2 million. UPDATE: The Grocery Manufacturers Association has just kicked in another $5 million! The Grocery Manufacturers Association has now contributed over $7 million against I-522! Curiously absent from any list of donors are the big spenders from last year’s No on Prop 37 campaign. The reason for this is not likely to be due to a change of heart on these companies’ behalf. Rather we may be looking at yet another level of shifty maneuvering.
Aren’t these companies willing to tell you the truth about anything?Food democracy Nowrecently notified subscribers that the Washington State group Moms for Labeling has sued6 the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), claiming the trade association is “laundering money" from their members to “illegally” hide the donors identities.7
GMA members include popular food and beverage giants like Pepsi, Coke, Kraft, Kellogg's and General Mills. Last year, many of them faced boycotts and bad publicity once people realized the brands had spent large sums of money to keep them in the dark about genetically engineered ingredients. So this year, many of the same companies are simply trying to circumvent having to reveal their position on this issue.
Last year’s labeling campaign also made many Americans aware of the fact that some of their beloved and trusted natural/organic brands are actually owned by the very same junk food corporations that fought against GMO labeling in California. This too caused outrage, and for good reason. Essentially, you have brands that proclaim to be all natural and/or organic taking a stand against your right to know what’s in your food. It doesn’t get any more hypocritical than that. As reported by the featured article:8
“[S]tate election rules requires political committees to reveal their own donors so that voters can tell who's behind political contributions from generic-sounding groups, such as the GMA, that are helping fund initiatives.
The GMA is the lobbying group for the food industry, but that doesn't necessarily make them a "political committee." To be considered a political committee by the state, an organization has to specifically solicit money to influence an election or exist primarily to influence an election. But the GMA is already a membership group whose primary purpose isn't I-522.
However, in its complaint,9 the pro-522 activists contend, through whistleblower sources, that the GMA specifically appealed to members to contribute to the No campaign. The complaint states: "The Grocery Manufacturers Association has made a special appeal to its members in the form of a voluntary special assessment, to fund the No on 522 Campaign." According to state rules, if that's true, that would make the GMA a political committee.”
Recent polls show that 64-66 percent of likely voters in Washington State strongly support GMO labeling, which puts further pressure on companies who’d rather not disclose such ingredients. The following graphic reveals which brands support labeling, and which ones hide behind the trade lobby group, GMA, which is funding the NO on 522 campaign in its own name rather than the companies’ whose donations are being used. Essentially, that means any company maintaining membership with the GMA becomes suspect in this regard.

You CAN Make a Difference

More than 25,000 people petitioned Dr. Andrew Weil to withdraw his company, Weil Lifestyle, from the GMA for this reason. He listened, and withdrew his membership. The Organic Consumers Association is currently petitioning Aurora Organic to take a clear stand and withdraw its membership from the Grocery Manufacturers Association10 as well.

Will GMO Soil Microbes Herald Another Agricultural Disaster?

I’ve written extensively about the health hazards and environmental harm caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. The New York Times11 also recently addressed the issue:
“Because glyphosate moves into the soil from the plant, it seems to affect the rhizosphere, the ecology around the root zone, which in turn can affect plant health,” said Robert Kremer, a scientist at the United States Agriculture Department, who has studied the impact of glyphosate on soybeans for more than a decade and has warned of the herbicide’s impact on soil health.
Like the human microbiome, the plants’ roots systems rely on a complex system of bacteria, fungi and minerals in the soil. The combination, in the right balance, helps protect the crops from diseases and improves photosynthesis.
In some studies, scientists have found that a big selling point for the pesticide — that it binds tightly to minerals in the soil, like calcium, boron and manganese, thus preventing runoff — also means it competes with plants for those nutrients. Other research indicates that glyphosate can alter the mix of bacteria and fungi that interact with plant root systems, making them more susceptible to parasites and pathogens.”
Incredibly, the article actually hints at the possibility of engineering soil microbes to “make up” for the detrimental effects of Roundup! Earlier this year, Monsanto purchased “select assets” of Agradis,12 a “sustainable agricultural solutions” company founded by J. Craig Venter, a scientist who sequenced the human genome to develop various microbes and “agricultural biologicals.” Monsanto also acquired a collection of Venter’s microbes. According to Monsanto’s chief technology officer Robert Fraley, “the foray into microbes... is to improve yield and address some of the issues raised about glyphosate.” What the future might hold if they actually go so far as to tinker with genetically engineered soil microbes is anyone’s guess. But I’m betting it won’t be good...

Join Us in Your Right to Know by Getting GMOs Labeled!

While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. In the past few weeks, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO-labeling bills, and 20 other states have pending legislation to label genetically engineered foods. So, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and get labeling across the country—something 64 other countries already have.
I hope you will join us in this effort.
The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. Please help us win this key GMO labeling battle and continue to build momentum for GMO labeling in other states by making a donation to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).
Donate Today!
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.
  • No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
  • Sign up to learn more about how you can get involved by visiting!
  • For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.  Check out the videos on this issue at
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