“Big Food” (Goliath) lobbies and “Good Food” (David) doesn’t? Don’t believe the propaganda

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My husband is used to hearing snark about being a lobbyist. As the owner of a lobbying firm in Chicago, he takes most derogatory comments about his profession in stride. So imagine my surprise when he became outraged reading aloud a boilerplate description of Washington lobbyists in our daughter’s new high school textbook.

In reality, many lobbyists in Washington are ‘fixers’ who offer to influence government policies for a price. Their personal connections help to open doors to allow their paying clients to ‘just get a chance to talk’ with top officials.

There was more to get his Irish up:

Lobbyists do not emerge from the ether as 50-something-year-old influence peddlers with grey hair and pockets full of PAC money. Lobbying firms are pleased to have people who know the lawmaking process from the inside and who can easily schmooze.

Offended by the caricature, he threatened to write a letter to the teacher and publisher (this is usually my territory). My daughter and I just laughed, knowing how hopeless that effort would be. No sympathy for the lobbyists, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones.

But the characterization in her textbook does fit the stereotype most people hold about Washington lobbyists. Not only are lobbyists often blamed for the rot in our political process, so too are the corporations who hire those lobbyists. And the media is often eager to simplistically separate the good (those who don’t hire lobbyists) from the bad (those who do).

That was the central point of two recent articles that both operated from the same premise: Wealthy “Big Food” companies hire minions of lobbyists to do their dirty work while virtuous “Good Food” companies don’t or can’t afford to lobby. Within a few weeks of each other, Politico and Civil Eats posted articles lamenting the millions spent by traditional food/beverage companies and trade groups to influence public policy.

Popular meme: Big Food=GMOs=Big Spend

Popular meme: Big Food=GMOs=Big Spend

“From GMO labeling to pesticides to the source of the meat you buy, a handful of companies are spending heavily to keep information off your food labels,” claimed Civil Eats.

According to the Politico article, “there is virtually no ‘good food’ industry lobbying strategy in place, as the vanguards of healthier eating have largely ignored Capitol Hill.”

Well, not quite.

How accurate is this David and Goliath narrative?

Just because organic or other so-called “good food” companies don’t independently pay Gucci shoe-clad hired guns from K Street to “schmooze” congressmen doesn’t mean they aren’t playing the Washington lobbying game as well as anyone else. Between social media, the Internet and heavily-funded front groups that have no donor disclosure requirements, lots of “lobbying” is being conducted by so-called good food merchants. I’ve identified tens of millions of dollars spent by organic interests to lobby legislators and government agencies, pass state GMO labeling initiatives and fund the political campaigns of sympathetic candidates and lawmakers. And that’s just what I’ve been able to find using our fractured disclosure system. Although the organic footprint is only about 4% of the marketplace, the industry is spending plenty of money to promote organic eating while getting a boost by demonizing conventional foods and trying to block biotech crops and products.

Presence on Capitol Hill

Two of the organic industry’s biggest activist support groups – Environmental Working Group and the Center for Food Safety – are based in Washington, DC. According to financial statements filed with the IRS, the two organizations raised more than $42 million from undisclosed donors between 2009 and 2013 (the latest year for which reports are available). While they like to portray themselves as only public interest groups, they are – in essence – lobbying organizations. EWG and CFS work to sway consumer opinion and advance public policies favorable to a very pro-organic, anti-conventional farming agenda.

  • Environmental Working Group is a leading voice against genetically engineered crops and in favor of strict, mandatory labeling laws. It touts “from households to Capitol Hill, EWG’s team has worked tirelessly to make sure someone is standing up for public health when government and industry won’t.” EWG raised $28.5 million between 2009 and 2013. Corporate “partners” include Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, Earthbound Farms and Applegate – all vehement opponents of crop biotechnology. According to disclosure reports, EWG has spent $1.4 million since 2013 to directly lobby U.S. House and Senate members on a number of issues including GMO labeling bills.

EWG is strongly tied to organic executives/interest groups. EWG’s full-time lobbyist — Scott Faber, the vice president of government affairs — “leads a team working to improve food and farm legislation, chemicals policy and a host of other issues important to EWG and its supporters.” But Faber also serves as the executive director of “Just Label It” out of EWG’s Washington office. Just Label It is under the purview of a 501c4 called Organic Voices Action Fund, which is run by Stonyfield Chairman Gary Hirshberg.

OVAF raised $1.3 million in 2013 to “educate, raise awareness and advocate for mandatory labeling of genetically modified and engineered foods.” Mr. Faber was paid $186,437 from EWG in 2013 and another $46,000 from OVAF that same year.

Just Label It is not a public information group as it portrays itself; it’s an anti-GMO lobbying arm of the organic industry. (Politico did post a follow-up the day after its original piece clarifying that “good food” does spend money to lobby for GMO labeling. It reported that Just Label It spent $30,000 on lobbying this year.)

EWG recently announced its own collaboration with Organic Voices Action Fund to “highlight the benefits of organic food and advance the fight for labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.” According to EWG, funders include 20 organic companies such as Annie’s, Nature’s Path and Earthbound Farms. Specific donations are not disclosed but a spokeswoman for Stonyfield confirmed the company contributed $100,000 to OVAF this year.

  • Center for Food Safety raised $14 million between 2009-2013 and reported spending $5.3 million for its program critical of genetically engineered crops. “CFS continued its work challenging the USDA and other governmental agencies for not adequately reviewing the environmental and economic impact of GE crops and foods.” The group strongly opposes HR 1599—the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act— and provides a portal on its website where people can contact senators to stop the bill from advancing in the U.S. Senate.

CFS “filed a formal legal petition with the FDA demanding that the agency require the labeling of GE foods and has spearheaded a drive with the Just Label It coalition (they’re everywhere!) to direct two million comments to the FDA in support of our petition.” Lobbying disclosure reports show CFS has spent $1.1 million since January 2013 to lobby on behalf of a number of biotech-related bills.

The group routinely uses the court system to get its way with the government by filing lawsuits against the EPA, FDA and other federal agencies. In fact, CFS filed a suit yesterday in DC district court against the USDA, accusing the agency of withholding genetically engineered crops records.

CFS jas also formed a 501c4 – the Center for Food Safety Action Fund – to support “lobbying on a wide range of food and environmental issues.”

Lobbying for state labeling laws

The “good food” industry’s biggest battles aren’t necessarily fought in the nation’s capital but in state capitals across the country. Corporate backers of GMO labeling laws have financed efforts in several states to pass referenda and legislation that would ultimately boost organic food sales.

The “Yes on I-522 Committee” to approve a GMO labeling law in Washington in 2013 raised more than $8 million, largely from organic companies, executives and interest groups including:

  • $740,000 from the Organic Consumers Fund (PAC of the Organic Consumers Association);
  • $455,000 from the Center for Food Safety Action Fund (the group’s PAC);
  • $200,000 from Nutiva;
  • $180,000 from Nature’s Path;
  • $100,000 from Stonyfield Farms and Chairman Gary Hirshberg;
  • $100,000 from Annie’s Inc.;
  • $ 87,500 from Amy’s Kitchen and another $40,000 in in-kind contributions for staff services;
  • Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb contributed $20,000 to the committee and his company made another $63,000 in in-kind contributions for staff services and billboards. Ben and Jerry’s donated more than $150,000 in in-kind services such as advertising, staff services and (of course) ice cream.

Supporters of California’s Prop 37 to mandate labeling of GMO foods raised $9.2 million in 2012. Top contributors included:

  • $660,000 from Nature’s Path;
  • $605,000 from Organic Consumers Association;
  • $200,000 from Amy’s Kitchen.

Campaign contributions by top organic executives

Of course retaining a top lobbyist is only one way to make friends and gain influence in Washington, DC. A more direct way, and one far more appreciated by elected officials, is donating to political campaigns. And on this score, several “good food” executives have been quite generous:

  • Gary Hirshberg: The man with the deepest pockets is Stonyfield Chairman Gary Hirshberg, who was quoted in the Politico piece that “a lot of folks are still very uncomfortable with the fact that you have pay to play—you have to be a force.” He should know. Since 2008, Hirshberg has made $291,000 in campaign contributions to federal lawmakers, Democratic PACs and candidates. His wife, Margaret, has made $128,700 in political donations since 2008. Hirshberg family total: $419,700.

In 2012, Hirshberg was a “bundler” for President Obama’s re-election campaign, raising at least $200,000 for the president. The couple contributed $10,000 to Iowa congressional candidate Christine Vilsack, wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in 2012. The Hirshbergs gave nearly $7,000 to Montana Senator Jon Tester, who held a Capitol Hill press conference earlier this month with Just Label It and celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow to call for the defeat of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. Hirshberg donated $7,400 last year to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, another pro-GMO labeling ally.

  • Walter Robb: Not far behind is Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb. Since 2008, Robb has made $164,000 in campaign contributions, mostly to Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and Senate. He also donated $5,000 to Christie Vilsack (wife of the current Agricultural Secretary and unsuccessful 2012 Iowa Congressional candidate) and $7,000 to Senator Booker. Last year, Robb contributed more than $20,000 to ActBlue, a Democratic online PAC. Solicitations for Colorado’s GMO labeling initiative referred contributors to ActBlue.

Ironically, for a company that brags about its commitment to transparency, disclosure doesn’t apply to its political spending. Whole Foods received low marks last year in a report by the Center for Political Accountability that scored major U.S. companies on policies related to political disclosure, earning 10 out of a top possible score of 100. According to the report, Whole Foods doesn’t report payments to trade associations, ballot measures or other tax-exempt organizations; in fact, the Politico piece reported, “Whole Foods did not respond to requests for comment” about its payments to the Organic Trade Association of which it’s a member.

  • Mark Krumpacker, Steve Ells, John Hartung and Monty Moran—four Chipotle executives—contributed nearly $21,000 to three U.S. Senate campaigns in 2014 after virtually no record of political donations in the past.
  • Irwin Simon and Ira Lamel—two top executives from Hain Celestial—have made $77,200 in campaign contributions since 2008. Although Mr. Lamel officially retired in 2013, he still listed Hain as an employer on political disclosure forms through 2014.
  • Andrew and Rachel Berliner, Amy’s Kitchen founders, have contributed $37,950 to the campaign funds of Senate and Congressional candidates since 2010.
  • Organic Trade Association, according to opensecrets.org, has spent $1.2 million on lobbying since 2008. The group also made $65,000 in campaign contributions since that time as well.

So while it’s easy to buy into a false narrative about lobbying from either a high school textbook or the media, it’s not accurate. Money is the mother’s milk of politics, and a lot of that milk is organic and GMO-free.

Julie Kelly is the owner of Now You’re Cooking in Orland Park, Illinois. She is a cooking teacher and food writer, but her biggest job is being a mom. She can be reached at nowurcooking@att.net or on Twitter at @Julie_kelly2.

  • Jesus Christ

    This reminds me of alternative medicine practitioners such as chiropractors complaining about the American Medical Association while hypocritically lobbying through chiroPAC.

    • gmoeater

      Well, Jesus, maybe you can talk to your daddy and tell him to stop the hypocracy.

    • gmoeater

      Well, Jesus, maybe you can talk to your daddy and tell him to stop the hypocracy.

  • Jesus Christ

    This reminds me of alternative medicine practitioners such as chiropractors complaining about the American Medical Association while hypocritically lobbying through chiroPAC.

  • mem_somerville

    I have been waiting for someone with the right skills and knowledge to look at this. I have no idea how to go about searching for this kind of information.

    I’d love to know more about Food Demoncrazy Now! too, if you are still looking around. Their emails are bat-crap nuttery.

  • mem_somerville

    I have been waiting for someone with the right skills and knowledge to look at this. I have no idea how to go about searching for this kind of information.

    I’d love to know more about Food Demoncrazy Now! too, if you are still looking around. Their emails are bat-crap nuttery.

    • Julie Kelly

      Hey Mary – They were listed several times on the WA labeling committee. I’ll look into them for future piece. Thanks!

      • mem_somerville

        I saw Murphy in the payroll of CA Prop37 too.

    • Julie Kelly

      Hey Mary – They were listed several times on the WA labeling committee. I’ll look into them for future piece. Thanks!

  • NevaRDLD

    Thanks for this excellent, well-researched article, Julie. You are the best! Keep up the good work.

    • Julie Kelly

      Thanks, Neva, I so appreciate all your support and kind words!

    • Julie Kelly

      Thanks, Neva, I so appreciate all your support and kind words!

  • NevaRDLD

    Thanks for this excellent, well-researched article, Julie. You are the best! Keep up the good work.

  • Verna Lang

    Thanks for this article. More people need to know this information. I wonder if there is any way of putting a dollar value on the contributions of the many members of the general public who have been whipped into a frenzy by online campaigns of fear, uncertainty and doubt and are essentially working as unpaid marketers of organic food.

    • Julie Kelly

      Thank you! That’s a great point. I’ll put that on my list. I can only imagine the money raised by some of these fear-mangers from hardworking, well-intentioned people who’ve been duped.

      • gmoeater

        I do believe that you can find out how much the pro-labeling activists’ campaigns spent in Oregon and Colorado. Anyway, I recall them boasting about how much less they were spending than the anti-labeling campaigns did. And yes, lots of well-intentioned people were duped into supporting the labeling campaigns.

        I liked Verna’s comment showing that if organic represents, say, 5% of market share, but spent proportionally more than 5% on their pro-labeling campaigns, then they are spending more than the alleged “big ag” side that they oppose.

      • gmoeater

        I do believe that you can find out how much the pro-labeling activists’ campaigns spent in Oregon and Colorado. Anyway, I recall them boasting about how much less they were spending than the anti-labeling campaigns did. And yes, lots of well-intentioned people were duped into supporting the labeling campaigns.

        I liked Verna’s comment showing that if organic represents, say, 5% of market share, but spent proportionally more than 5% on their pro-labeling campaigns, then they are spending more than the alleged “big ag” side that they oppose.

    • Julie Kelly

      Thank you! That’s a great point. I’ll put that on my list. I can only imagine the money raised by some of these fear-mangers from hardworking, well-intentioned people who’ve been duped.

    • gmoeater

      Right, Verna. And the big organic industries snort with laughter all the way to the bank when gullible consumers do their dirty work for them. Whole Foods certainly benefits directly from this fearmongering.

    • gmoeater

      Right, Verna. And the big organic industries snort with laughter all the way to the bank when gullible consumers do their dirty work for them. Whole Foods certainly benefits directly from this fearmongering.

    • The organic movement is unique.

      Unlike the anti-fur, anti-nuke, anti-meat, anti-logging movements that don’t sell anything, the anti-GMO organic movement is self-sustaining long before it receives a single dollar in donations because it has its own free-market revenue stream.

    • The organic movement is unique.

      Unlike the anti-fur, anti-nuke, anti-meat, anti-logging movements that don’t sell anything, the anti-GMO organic movement is self-sustaining long before it receives a single dollar in donations because it has its own free-market revenue stream.

  • Verna Lang

    Thanks for this article. More people need to know this information. I wonder if there is any way of putting a dollar value on the contributions of the many members of the general public who have been whipped into a frenzy by online campaigns of fear, uncertainty and doubt and are essentially working as unpaid marketers of organic food.

  • To add insult to injury, people on the pro-GMO side of the fence always try to palliate anti-GMO organic activists with compromise, and in some cases even sit down to try to form a consensus with them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzc4vp3bN4M

    • Warren Lauzon

      I find that attitude very sad. It is like trying to compromise with an arsonist by agreeing to burn only half the house down.

      • Exactly. And that describes precisely what’s happening, by the way, with Pompeo’s GMO labelling law. Most pro-GMO people and organizations see it as a way to stem the tide of state-level GMO labelling bills, but it actually contains the seeds for the eventual destruction of GMO farming in America by foolishly compromising with organic activists. See for yourself: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/07/30/why-former-organic-farmer-food-inspector-turned-against-big-organic-to-embrace-gmos/

      • Exactly. And that describes precisely what’s happening, by the way, with Pompeo’s GMO labelling law. Most pro-GMO people and organizations see it as a way to stem the tide of state-level GMO labelling bills, but it actually contains the seeds for the eventual destruction of GMO farming in America by foolishly compromising with organic activists. See for yourself: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/07/30/why-former-organic-farmer-food-inspector-turned-against-big-organic-to-embrace-gmos/

        • Farmer Sue

          It would be way better written if it only said that states cannot ban any approved farming technology on a state-by-state basis. Period.

          The impossibly low standard currently in the legislation for inadvertent comingling hurts all farmers, whether GE or organic.

          • Yes, that would be better… FAR better.

            In fact, as I point out in a recent article, we don’r even need Pompeo’s bill because we already have the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution (Article I, § 8) which precludes states from interfering in interstate commerce.

            http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/op-ed-the-end-of-gmo-farming-in-america-051815.html

          • Farmer Sue

            Yup. And I think some of the lawsuit provisions against Vermont’s labeling nuttiness is based on violation of interstate commerce. As well as forcing specific speech on private business, in violation of the First Amendment.

          • Typical of someone who’s been in Washington DC too long. Pompeo believes the solution is MORE law instead of simply enforcing existing law. Please be sure to reach out to your Senator.

    • Warren Lauzon

      I find that attitude very sad. It is like trying to compromise with an arsonist by agreeing to burn only half the house down.

  • To add insult to injury, people on the pro-GMO side of the fence always try to palliate anti-GMO organic activists with compromise, and in some cases even sit down to try to form a consensus with them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzc4vp3bN4M

  • WeGotta

    That sure is a lot of words!
    I think kindergarten students could summarize your position in quite a bit fewer words.

    Now Julie, it’s not nice to hit people.
    “Well he did it too!”

    • That’s a remarkable oversimplification. If we carried your thoughts to their logical conclusion we would all have to stop volunteering and donating to political campaigns, and basically restrict our right to free speech!

      • WeGotta

        Mine was a response to her spending so much time and effort to point out that other people do what “her side” gets accused of doing. It’s a juvenile response to such criticism.

        I said nothing about the merits or dangers of lobbying.

      • WeGotta

        Mine was a response to her spending so much time and effort to point out that other people do what “her side” gets accused of doing. It’s a juvenile response to such criticism.

        I said nothing about the merits or dangers of lobbying.

        • Julie Kelly

          Yes, let’s only hear from one side of the issue. That’s how we gain insight and make informed decisions. Great idea.

        • Julie Kelly

          Yes, let’s only hear from one side of the issue. That’s how we gain insight and make informed decisions. Great idea.

          • WeGotta

            One side of what issue?
            Whether or not lobbyists like non-GMO people or your husband are ruining our ability to get unbiased information?

          • Here, let me give you some information. President Clinton wanted the leadership of the organic movement to accept GMO crops on a case-by-case basis. Instead, they rejected GMO technology outright, even though the majority of GMO crops do not require any pesticides and could be grown organically.

          • WeGotta

            What does that have to do with anything?
            Can’t some people not want to eat GMO just because they don’t want to eat it. I don’t want to eat seaweed either. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t want to eat.

          • Then find a farmer who’s willing to produce what you want, or produce it yourself. But don’t do ANYTHING to impede the free choice of American farmers to grow advanced technological crops like GMOs. It’s really none of your business.

          • Then find a farmer who’s willing to produce what you want, or produce it yourself. But don’t do ANYTHING to impede the free choice of American farmers to grow advanced technological crops like GMOs. It’s really none of your business.

          • Farmer Sue

            And this idiot better not set one foot on my farm or do anything to impede my choice to grow what I want, if he knows what’s good for him.

            (I’ll still feed him, though. We don’t discriminate against feeding idiots. Maybe we should add that to our food labels: WFIT. “We Feed Idiots, Too.”)

          • Not only does he benefit from the good, wholesome and affordable food you grow Sue, he also benefits from America’s oil and gas sector, coal-fired power generation, the mining industry and, depending on where he lives, nuclear power. So, basically, everything that activists are opposed to give them the lifestyles they take for granted.

          • WeGotta

            Why would I have to give up the tools just because I think we should keep them clean and sharp?
            Seems like you all who don’t mind them being polluted by greed should have to give those tools up.

          • Explain how GMOs “pollute.”

          • WeGotta

            GMO is just a tool. Any tool can be polluted by greed and any tool can be clean.

            When a company gets special consideration over citizens because they give money to politicians, that’s pollution.

          • Bingo! You’ve just described the unholy lobby coalition of the supplement industry, natural products industry and the organic industry, which has owned Congress since the 1990s (Hail to Oren Hatch and Tom Harkin), totally blocking safety standards and labeling/transparency for those industries. The anti-labeling organic industry shares all the same lobbyists as the natural products industry. And the scum lawyers who work for Mike Adams/Natural News and people like Mercola–EMORD–drafted the Vermont GMO labeling law. Yep, that’s the cohort polluted by greed. Meanwhile Monsanto actually develops products that are healthy and people need. Boy is your head twisted around by propaganda.

          • WeGotta

            “Boy is your head twisted around by propaganda.”
            See, this is what I don’t understand. I’m agreeing with you 100%, then you come to some unfounded conclusion and belittle me.
            I agree with you Jon! They all use these dirty scum sucking lobbyists who’s job it is to bribe our elected officials in order to get laws and regulations that favor the people who pay the lobbyists the money over the interests of the rest of us.
            How is my head twisted around and by what propaganda?

            Let’s get rid of all of them. We can start with one that you choose. Then me, then you again.

          • You know… I actually agree with you. Have you read any of my recent articles? I’m actually quite critical of Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta. Go to my website and have a look at the top of this page: http://www.isitorganic.ca/news

          • WeGotta

            I will check it out.
            We have not even scratched the surface of our true potential as humans on this wonderful planet. The only thing in our way is ourselves.

            There is a “North Star” we could all use to make sure we are heading in the *right direction*.
            *I think most people would agree about what is “right” when you bother to get down to the meat of it.
            Love and compassion is right to me.

            Greed, pride, wrath, envy, sloth, lust and gluttony all arise from fear and lead to hate. I believe this is scientifically, spiritually, morally, ethically and religiously true.

          • There’s no problem with greed. Sir Isaac Newton, James Watt, Alfred Nobel, Fritz Haber, Alexander Fleming and Steve Jobs were all greedy sons-of-b*tches. The trick is to keep the government from diving in.

          • WeGotta

            However you want to think of me is fine. If I were ever to set foot on your farm I would be your respectful humble guest.

          • WeGotta

            Just how am I impeding anything?
            What does this have to do with lobbying?

          • Sorry, I assumed you were in favor of labelling and banning GMOs.

          • WeGotta

            I’m in favor of labeling facts about what’s in a package and not facts about what’s not in the package.
            GMO will never go away and I don’t really care.

            But the war is damaging science, common sense and good will. It makes people have to take rediculous stances and accept the unacceptable.

          • Cairenn Day

            The ingredients are labeled now. No need for a new label

          • WeGotta

            Labels can be for whatever people want them to be.

            There is no rhyme or reason for anything on the label except that the food industry makes sure whatever is on the label doesn’t interfere with profits.

          • Cairenn Day

            There is a difference in mandatory labels and voluntary ones.

            Mandatory labels are for ingredients and nutritional information. They are regulated and should continue to be. They have to be enforced with tax money.

            Voluntary ones are for anything, from slaughter methods (Halal/humane slaughter) to feed source (corn fed/ grass fed) to production method (free range/organic/non GMO)

            I have no problem with voluntary labels as long as they are truthful and not misleading. A peach labeled ‘non GMO’ is misleading.

          • The problem with the current voluntary GMO labelling law being debated in Washington DC is that it contains the seeds for the destruction of GMO farming in America. Please see my recent article here on GLP: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/07/30/why-former-organic-farmer-food-inspector-turned-against-big-organic-to-embrace-gmos/

            Scroll down near the end.

          • WeGotta

            Labels can be for whatever we want them to be. We are all adults. “Mandatory”, “voluntary”, we decide what that means. People.

            So the question should be what do people want to know about food and why.

            A peach labeled “non-GMO” is the result of this system where we label things by what they don’t contain. Its an expected result that arose from certain conditions.

          • I think with the internet, cell phones and bar-code scanners, it’s time to abandon ALL labelling laws. Do I really need to know there’s no fat in my club soda? Let food-makers go back to pure marketing on the label. And for anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone… too bad!

          • WeGotta

            At least that’s some forward thinking. We could have scanners in the supermarkets for those without phones. This could be financed by crowd funding or we could make anyone who spent money lobbying spend a certain percentage of this money on the solution.
            The current method is outdated.

            I would disagree about marketing though. As long as the vast majority of illness and health care costs are the result of bad food choices there is enough justification to curb all advertising for junk food.

          • It’s an individual citizen’s right to eat whatever he wants. Why can’t I eat a Big Mac, large fries and a strawberry milkshake if it’s not legal to smoke pot?
            I draw the line at heroin and cocaine. Beyond that, keep the government O-U-T!

          • WeGotta

            I would fully support your right to ingest anything you want.

            In my opinion the governments job is to make sure what you want to do doesn’t interfere with me doing what I want to do.

            Unfortunately, we are all forced to subsidize other people’s bad habits (at least in this current iteration of government).

          • GMO labelling would be quickly accepted if organic activists dropped their irrational opposition to GMOs.
            Can you explain why the leadership of the organic industry is so dead-set opposed to this new field of science?

          • WeGotta

            Fear manifesting as greed, envy, and pride.

            Maybe. I don’t speak for them.

          • WeGotta

            What does that have to do with anything?
            Can’t some people not want to eat GMO just because they don’t want to eat it. I don’t want to eat seaweed either. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t want to eat.

          • WeGotta

            One side of what issue?
            Whether or not lobbyists like non-GMO people or your husband are ruining our ability to get unbiased information?

    • That’s a remarkable oversimplification. If we carried your thoughts to their logical conclusion we would all have to stop volunteering and donating to political campaigns, and basically restrict our right to free speech!

    • Julie Kelly

      Btw, I was taught to hit back.

      • gmoeater

        Absolutely! No more “nice girl” stuff — good for you, Julie! We got yer back.

      • gmoeater

        Absolutely! No more “nice girl” stuff — good for you, Julie! We got yer back.

      • WeGotta

        That’s great! Every one loves a good fight.
        The difference between criminals and heros is the cause for which they fight.
        From what I see, you are a dependent of someone in the lobbying industry who is fighting to stop some people from accusing the food industry of dirty lobbying because some other people do it too.
        I’m trying to figure out which that makes you.

        So tell me. Is our political system up for hire and is this a good thing for our country?

        • Julie Kelly

          I’m a “dependent”? How so?

          • WeGotta

            I will concede that word should have been left out as unecessary and a poor choice. My apologies.

            So how about this then?
            You are the wife of someone in the lobbying industry who is fighting to stop some people from accusing the food industry of dirty lobbying because some other people do it too.

            Is the rest accurate?

          • Julie Kelly

            Thanks for the apology.
            But huh? to your question. Never said “dirty” lobbying, simply identifying money trail behind organic industry’s attempts to lobby on behalf of their its as mainstream media either ignores or mischaracterizes it. If you want to dispute my figures with your own research, be my guest.

          • WeGotta

            I don’t dispute your figures. You seem detailed, tenacious and motivated and I don’t doubt your work. I know that lobbying is pervasive.

            I don’t doubt that you and your husband are good people struggling to make sense of the world just like the rest of us.
            I don’t doubt that you have love and compassion in your lives.

            What I do doubt is that government works better with lobbyists.
            I doubt that government has my best interests in mind with so many lobbyists around.

    • Julie Kelly

      Btw, I was taught to hit back.

    • Which would be a point of organic industry donors didn’t try to sell themselves of as squeaky clean home gardeners. Who lobby for laws to make planting GMO illegal. Last time I checked they successfully tested the waters in 2 Oregon counties were farmers can, actually have to be, arrested if growing GMO crops. I have yet to find any such laws against organic crops, or any attempt to outlaw planting them.
      The only real difference that apparently organic is good because ‘they’ are bad. Most anti-GMO sites have articles telling you how bad the other stuff is. Talk about kindergarten tactics.

      • WeGotta

        Things are only as “good” or “bad” as the people who control them and the people who let them.

        • Cairenn Day

          That is not true. When you LIE and push misinformation so it helps your product, that is not good.

          Can you imagine if Ford started a campaign that told folks that Chevys kill and use the ignition switch problem to push it? But instead of dealing with the facts, they start claiming that all high speed crashes of Chevys is due to a stuck switch?

          That is exactly what the organic folks do every day. There is a current meme circulating that claims that the rice, tomatoes, peas and potatoes that you buy are all GMOs unless they are organic. There is a new GMO potato but the current supply is sold out, there are NO GMO versions of the other available in the US/Can. Outright LIES.

          • WeGotta

            That’s still people lying. GM technology is not bad or good. It just is.

            People make the difference.
            People lie and cheat.
            People are greedy.

            People are the ones who use this technology to bring our country cheaper artificial sweeteners and oils used in junk food making junk food more plentiful and inexpensive.

            I don’t want to eat GM potatoes.

          • Cairenn Day

            Well don’t! But non GMO ones or organic ones. They are labeled. See. problem solved.

            Don’t eat junk food.

          • WeGotta

            I avoid GMO quite easily if I want. That’s not the problem.

            The problem is that most Americans will get sick and die expensively as a result of their food choices and people who claim a superior level of education or knowledge want to tell me what I can and cannot know about my food.

            Are things in a lab labeled by what they contain or what they don’t contain?
            Do experiments leave out certain steps because the processes don’t matter or are the processes just as important as the “ingredients”?

          • I’d rather die of obesity than starvation.

          • WeGotta

            We die one way or another. So why worry!?

            What if by dying of obesity you cause many deaths from starvation?

          • Wait a minute… you’re suggesting the more I eat the less someone else gets to eat? That’s absurd.

            The way to prevent starvation is to deliver modern farming to the Third World. Zimbabwe used to export food to the rest of the world until mass-murdering dictator Robert Mugabe booted out all the European farmers. Now Zimbabweans have all their land back and their starving.

            Farm or die. It’s been this way for the last 13,000 years.

          • WeGotta

            I’m suggesting that all of us in the “first world” are living high on the hog at the expense of all the rest of the world (including its other people).
            We mostly die from diseases of obesity while they die of starvation.
            We air condition while they die from the condition of their air.
            We use the most resources, mostly resources we obtained from their lands.

            Until we all can fully justify this situation, what good is any of our science or culture? How “holy” are our religious teachings?

            These are perfectly legitimate scientific questions that need our full attention. I will listen to only those who can acknowledge this is true and explain whether your world view makes you believe this is fair or unfair.

          • Reducing our quality of life isn’t going to help anyone in the Third World. Everyone in the world should live like we do in America, and our goal should be to triple global population by the end of the century. All we need is innovation.

          • WeGotta

            That’s the problem. Everyone in the world can’t live like we currently do in America. We can’t even go on living like we do for much longer.

            If you say technology will solve our problems for us in some imaginary future using some special power we don’t yet understand, then what’s the difference between this idea and the idea that God will solve our problems for us in some imaginary future with his magic powers?

            We are the only ones who can solve our problems and we can do so right now. We don’t need to wait.

          • There was a time when very few in the world enjoyed such things as running water, refrigeration and basic medical care. Without innovation, most of us wouldn’t even be here. With innovation, you and I live like only nobility did in Isaac Newton’s time.

          • Cairenn Day

            You have the needed information NOW. Why do you want to shove your preferences down other’s throat?

          • WeGotta

            I don’t have the power to shove anything. I’m an individual in a certain political system at this particular time where my opinions matter much less than the opinions of those with lots of money.

            I think it’s a bad precedent to label things as they are not just because people disagree about GMO.

            The issues are completely different but they have been combined together (as have food safety issues and food costs) because the interested parties have much to lose one way or another.

          • RoyWillaims

            I share your concern about the
            safety and health benefits (or not) of food.
            I am a senior citizen, and like all consumers, I really do not want to
            eat things that will make me sick. I do
            not want hazardous levels of chemicals, toxic metals, or pathogens on or in
            what I eat. I do want what I eat to
            contain useful nutrients. Unfortunately,
            there are hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals, toxic metals, pathogens and
            nutrients that could be, and in some cases are, on my food.

            There are probably 100,000
            different proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates, metals, and other
            chemicals in every food. Every one of
            those biological molecules and inorganic chemicals contributes to the
            nutritious value (or toxicity) of that food.
            There are thousands of different pesticides on the market. The technology to detect the presence every
            chemical that might be in or on food exists, but to analyze completely just one
            food would take many years and cost many millions of dollars – and the next
            sample of the same food would be different.
            There is no way to know what is really in our food.

            So, while I agree with you about the
            principle of “tell me what is in my food”, the reality is that there is no way
            for anyone to tell me about everything that is in my food, and even if they
            could, I don’t have the time or desire to study thousands of pages of
            information. Even if we want to know
            what is in our food at a very broad, “high level” view, there are reasons we
            cannot know, as suggested by the example that follows.

            If I buy a bottle of vegetable
            oil, the corn or canola used to produce that oil may have come from many
            different farms. There is just no way
            anyone can tell me anything at all about how the corn was grown – such as which
            variety, what pesticides were used, what anti-fungal agents were used during
            storage or handling, or what chemicals were used to extract the oil from the
            plant. That is a huge amount of
            information no one is telling me about any of the food I eat, and those are all
            things that have a very real and immediate effect on the nutritional value of
            that oil, and to what extent it may contain toxic compounds.

            Now, let’s compare the
            information conveyed by the “certified organic” label and the “GMO” label. The “certified organic” label tells me that
            the product was grown under the USDA organic farming regulations. If I really care, I can go to subsection
            205.601 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations and get a list of
            chemicals that organic farmers are allowed to use on their crops. If the product is not labeled “certified
            organic”, then there is a longer list of chemicals that may have been used on
            the crop, in addition to those approved for “certified organic” farming.

            If a food is labeled
            “GMO”, that tells me one thing: that the genetic content of the plant
            from which that food was made was changed by some technique of genetic
            engineering. That tells me about the
            procedure used to create that plant variety.
            It does not tell me anything about what is in the plant. It does not answer any of my concerns
            regarding hazardous chemicals, toxic metals, pathogens, or nutrients. Why do I say that? (1) A lot of other genetic modifications
            (maybe done decades ago by mutagenesis) probably have already been done to that
            plant, and there is no information available as to what was changed. (2) Just saying something was GMO does not
            tell me what trait was put into the plant, or modified, or removed from the
            plant. (3) Saying that a plant is GMO
            tells me nothing about the conditions under which the plant was grown, what
            fertilizers or pesticides were used, or how the plant was processed. Yet everything I just listed affects the
            nutrition content of the plant as well as the possible toxicity of the plant.

            Even if we could determine the
            chemical content of a food – which for almost any plant would likely be 100,000
            different chemicals – you could never put all that information on a label! There are thousands of chemicals to which
            plants are or can be exposed – pesticides, herbicides, cigarette smoke, diesel
            smoke, oil, cleaners, plastics, and many
            more. There is no way food can be tested
            for all those possible contaminants.
            And, again, even if you had that data, you could never get it on a label.
            Certainly, saying the food is “GMO” does
            not tell me anything about the content of a food or its benefits or risks.

            You say that you have a right to
            know what is in your food, and that furthermore you care about what is in your
            food. I am with you on that. But “GMO” is not a “thing” that is put into a
            plant. Asking if a food is “GMO” is not going to help
            you answer your concerns, for reasons I just stated. If the techniques used to develop a plant
            variety are so important to you, why are you not asking for a label that says
            “developed by mutagenesis” or “this vegetable oil obtained from hybrid
            plants”? The demand that food derived
            from “GMO” plants be labelled is like demanding that houses designed using 3-D
            architectural design software be identified as such in the title papers.

            The campaigns like “Just Label
            It” are taking advantage of the average person’s ignorance of biology to
            advance the for-profit objectives of the sponsors of those campaigns by false
            advertising. Their tactics are no
            different from the tactics of cigarette makers two generations ago: convince
            consumers to believe (through false claims) that they (the consumers) have a
            particular “need” that can be satisfied by the product the advertisers are
            promoting. Companies like Whole Foods
            are promoting their products by making very false claims about competing
            products. Because of the fear mongering,
            I am being denied products that I would like to be able to purchase, and
            consumers everywhere are being denied new products that would offer a variety
            of benefits.

          • WeGotta

            You are confusing me (a person) for the corrupted and needlessly complicated systems that are currently in place regarding food and health which result in such confusion and harm.

            I don’t care about your opinions about GMO. I don’t care about the details regarding GMO safety or the history of GMO. All of that is irrelevant to this issue.

            If an organized group of people petition their government to have information about their food placed on the packaging it’s as good a reason to change the packaging as any other reason for which the packaging has been changed.

            Right now I have only heard of two groups of organized citizens asking for packaging changes. Those wanting a label for GMO and those asking for changes relating to marketing of known poisons to children.

            If you want my advice on healthy eating I would tell you this.
            Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Avoid processed “food” including those that contain artificial sweeteners and canola oil.
            By doing this you will also avoid GMO because GMO is mostly eaten by humans as ingredients in junk food.

          • RoyWillaims

            1. What “known poisons”? I did not know that anyone is allowed to put poison In food. If they do, there is a food recall. A manufacturer cannot keep screwing up and not get caught. Look at Blue Bell Creamery!
            2. Artificial sweeteners help me keep my calorie intake down. That is a good thing, not something to avoid. Which is better for me, sugar or artificial sweeteners?
            3. Why are you recommending avoiding GMO canola oil?
            4. Eating a wide variety of foods: good plan.

          • WeGotta

            Sugar and it’s artificial substitutes are dose dependent poisons which are directly linked to the most common diseases in the U.S.

            Businessmen and scientists collude to devise powerful marketing techniques directed against children in order to get them to eat more of it.

            So even though eating junk food is directly linked to things that cause most disease and death in the U.S., and even though health care costs continue to rise (most bankruptcies are due to medical bills), the junk food manufacturers are still allowed to sell it in schools, place it everywhere in public places, advertise it and they have more influence in government than doctors and other U.S. citizens.

            Unless you are human and you are eating GMO you are most likely eating junk food.

            Canola oil is highly processed and, like you said, contains sloppily regulated plants from who knows where.

          • RoyWillaims

            Your claim that sugar and artificial substitutes are dose dependent poisons is technically correct, because that statement can be applied to everything we eat. However, that does not mean that you should not eat them. We absolutely require some “sugar-like” material in our diets (yeah, most of us get more than we need!). But there is much medical advice based on our knowledge of the biochemistry of sweeteners that states that there are benefits to consuming artificial sweeteners over sugars. See http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936?pg=1

            (for one example of this advice).
            Could it be that the source you are relying on that claims artificial sweeteners are bad is funded by a large company that sells sugar?

            So what is wrong with “highly processed” food? I’ve been eating processed food for the last 67 years, and I am in pretty good shape for my age. I think if you take a look, most of the campaign against “processed” food, GMOs, and pesticides is being funded by some companies and individuals who are making a ton of money on organic food – pretty much the same complaint that a lot of people have against Monsanto. A lot of people complain about Monsanto making money from selling seed. Why is it OK for companies like Whole Foods to make lots of money by doing false advertising? Why do so many people believe that if Whole Foods says something is good, that is “truth”, but if a scientist or a biotech company says something is good, that is an automatic lie??

            I do not understand what you said: “Unless you are human and you are eating GMO you are most likely eating junk food.”

            Sorry, I don’t think I wrote anything about “sloppily regulated plants”.

            Why do you assume that if you don’t know where your food came from that the food is bad?
            Instead of blaming food for all our country’s health problems, how about teaching kids to take responsibility for their actions? As in: if you eat too much, you will hurt yourself. In addition to all the “good” food you recommend, I eat a fair amount of cakes, cookies, soft drinks, and candy bars, and I am not overweight and do not have weight-related medical problems, do not have a diabetic condition, do not have heart trouble, and I am not a fitness freak. It is not what you eat, it is how much you eat – and YOU alone control how much you eat.

          • WeGotta

            “So what is wrong with “highly processed” food? I’ve been eating processed food for the last 67 years, and I am in pretty good shape for my age.”

            What you ate the first 40-50 years of your life is completely different than what people eat today. Our food has changed and is changing dramatically.
            The biggest reason why I avoid it is because it tastes like crap. Eat real food for a while and then try and eat that plastic tasting crap again. Yuck!!

            “Sorry, I don’t think I wrote anything about “sloppily regulated plants”.”
            Here’s what you said: “If I buy a bottle of vegetable oil, the corn or canola used to produce that oil may have come from many different farms. There is just no way anyone can tell me anything at all about how the corn was grown – such as which variety, what pesticides were used, what anti-fungal agents were used during storage or handling, or what chemicals were used to extract the oil from the plant.”
            I think that’s a decidedly unscientific and sloppy way to produce food. We are running experiments on ourselves and no one is even keeping track of the variables.

            “Why do you assume that if you don’t know where your food came from that the food is bad?”
            Why do you think a company would choose to produce or process food in another country (to be sold to us) rather than just keep it all in the US? Because it makes them more money.
            Why would it make them more money, even with additional shipping costs?
            I don’t want my food made “as cheaply as possible” so that other people can make bigger profits.

            “Instead of blaming food for all our country’s health problems, how about teaching kids to take responsibility for their actions?”

            1. Compassion: people are suffering, both physically and mentally. I care about other people.
            2. Money: the consequences of their bad choices cost me a lot of money.
            3. Common sense: On one side there are highly refined marketing techniques, scientifically created food that is designed to make you want more, low prices, and a strong presence of the food industry in our government; on the other side is the average American struggling with ever decreasing amounts of money and time.
            Feel free to believe that people should be able to make good choices in the face of all that but I think it’s unrealistic.
            4. Science: the data shows clearly that people are getting sicker and sicker so something is wrong and needs to change if we want to say we value the health of our citizens.
            This is not an excuse for people’s actions. It’s a pragmatic approach.
            People are responsible for themselves.
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x9ZSdPtLSok

            You asked a lot of “why is it this way” type of questions. The answer is simple. Things are the way they are because the current conditions make them more likely to appear. Just like with nature. If you create a certain environment, certain things that do well in that environment will appear.
            So if you see something arise that you don’t like, don’t blame that something. Look for what conditions are present that allows and encourages such a thing to exist.

          • RoyWillaims

            I don’t understand the claim that food has changed a lot in the last 20 – 30 years. A 10-pound bag of flour is still a 10-pound bag of flour, and it makes cakes and pies just like it always has. I have eaten breakfast cereal out of a box ever since I was old enough to eat anything. White rice is still white rice. Wheat is still wheat, and corn is still corn. Oreo cookies are still the same Oreo cookies. O, yes, we lost one thing: the Coca-Cola that we used to be able to get from the drug store soda fountain. I still miss that.

            Grocery stores no longer have the foul smell of rotting produce – big improvement. But I don’t see changes in the food I have always eaten. There are many more pre-packaged options now, but they are too expensive for me on a per-meal basis.

            I do not understand what is so bad about a bottle of vegetable oil being made from the produce of many different farms. It has always been that way. If each bottle came from a different farm, the oil in every bottle would be different, and there is no way recipes would come out the same time after time. That would be a bad situation.

            I am not a rich consumer. I always shop for the cheapest brand /offering of whatever it is I am buying, unless I have learned that the cheaper brand has a flavor I don’t like. That means I never buy “organic”, and usually not “locally grown” – expensive compared to stuff from South America, Mexico, or from the other side of the U.S. I think it is great that farmers can sell their produce locally, but as long as the stores charge a premium, I won’t buy it. Driving to a farm stand is time consuming and very expensive, so I don’t. It would be a real economic burden to me if I did not have access to the less expensive produce. An apple is an apple, no matter where it grows.
            I hope the people producing food are making a profit! If they do not make a profit, pretty soon there will not be any food. I agree that in the “big picture”, money spent on advertising for food is driving up my cost of food. But I know someone who used to live in East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down, and her descriptions of grocery stores and food supply there are pretty depressing. East Germany did not allow commercialization, so there was no advertising and no competition. As apparently wasteful as our system is, the alternative would appear to be much worse. So I am happy to let them advertise and let them make a profit.
            What I see happening is a lot of people complaining about “industrial agriculture” “controlling” the food supply, but then I see more and more local regulations that limit farming, and farmers being forced to quit farming because of lawsuits and zoning laws. People want local food, but clearly they don’t want local farms. I’m not talking about farms covering thousands of acres. I’m talking about farms with just a few acres. If they try to farm organically, they get shut down because of odor. If they try to farm conventionally, they get shut down because some neighbor claims the noise of the tractor harms them or they claim that some “chemical” ran into their yard, or something else. People want “organic” food, and now a farm has been successfully sued for letting manure contaminate the water supply – a legal precedent that threatens all farmers that use organic fertilizer. How can you have local food and not have local farms?
            I agree that peoples’ bad choices are costing all of us a lot of money, directly or indirectly. And yes, an increasing percentage of people are in poor health. But I don’t think that focusing on whether a food is “organic” or “locally grown” is going to help solve the problem. Food is not making people sick – but eating too much food is making 2/3 of the people in this country sick, and the USDA and FDA don’t help by saying that people should eat 2,000 calories per day. I think all that is doing is either encouraging people to eat too much, or it is encouraging people to eat way too much, just because “the government can’t tell me what to do”. Then, to add to problem, all the “health gurus” (who are just in it to make a lot of money) claim that eating this or that will make you healthy – so then people eat that AND the other 2,700 calories they are eating! I know, because I see this in the checkout line at the grocery store every week: a cart full of calorie-dense food items, and then some “health food” items. Wrong!
            If you really want to help people, somehow convince them to eat less of whatever they are eating, and don’t give them the excuse that it is not their fault because their food is “bad”. The quality of the food is not the problem – the quantity is the problem!
            I don’t understand why everyone complains if some big company advertises some food product, but then those same people take as absolute truth some outrageous claim that some self-proclaimed expert says about food, just to get you to click on their website or watch their program so they can rake in the money. I don’t trust a thing they say, and all their noise is making the obesity problem worse.

          • WeGotta

            67 year old Ph.D. student in Molecular Biology at Dartmouth?

            What do you really want to know?

      • WeGotta

        Things are only as “good” or “bad” as the people who control them and the people who let them.

    • Which would be a point of organic industry donors didn’t try to sell themselves of as squeaky clean home gardeners. Who lobby for laws to make planting GMO illegal. Last time I checked they successfully tested the waters in 2 Oregon counties were farmers can, actually have to be, arrested if growing GMO crops. I have yet to find any such laws against organic crops, or any attempt to outlaw planting them.
      The only real difference that apparently organic is good because ‘they’ are bad. Most anti-GMO sites have articles telling you how bad the other stuff is. Talk about kindergarten tactics.

  • WeGotta

    That sure is a lot of words!
    I think kindergarten students could summarize your position in quite a bit fewer words.

    Now Julie, it’s not nice to hit people.
    “Well he did it too!”

  • Emily Cassidy

    Interesting that the author neglected to mention how much money big food companies are spending. Propaganda indeed.
    Here’s an example of what big food has spent on lobbying just one cause — defeating GMO labeling efforts:

    More than $51 Million in First Two Quarters of 2015 Alone
    http://www.ewg.org/release/big-food-companies-spend-millions-defeat-gmo-labeling

    Much larger than the “tens of millions” Julie identified over a *four year period* (2009-2013). Where’s the side-by-side comparison?

    • Warren Lauzon

      Most of us know how much they spent. The target of the article is the fact that the pro-organics and anti-GMO crowd tries to portray itself as lily white and innocent of all those evil lobbying deeds. They are hypocrites.

      • Emily Cassidy

        Spending some money on lobbying when big companies spend much more is only hypocrisy if you claim you aren’t spending any money at all.
        But these non-profits (EWG, CFS, JLI, etc) disclose how much money they spend on lobbying. They disclose it on tax forms, they disclose it on their websites, they disclose it in blogs like this one: http://www.ewg.org/release/big-food-companies-spend-millions-defeat-gmo-labeling
        And this disclosure makes articles like this one easy to write.

        I’ve copied the definition of hypocrisy below as an FYI.

        “Hypocrisy is the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not actually hold. Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of “hypocrisy” in Rambler No. 14: acutely means you say don’t do that when you are doing it yourself.”

        • Julie Kelly

          Show me where they disclose donors or funding sources.

        • Julie Kelly

          Show me where they disclose donors or funding sources.

          • gmoeater

            Correct, Julie. Nonprofits must disclose total expenditures, especially for lobbying, to meet federal lobbying requirements and limitations for nonprofits. They do not have to list specific donors.

          • Julie Kelly

            Yes and lobbying is a very vague term. US Senator Jon Tester hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago with Gwyneth Paltrow and Just Label It to oppose HR 1599. Is that lobbying? Yes. How do you monetize it? You can’t.

          • Julie Kelly

            Yes and lobbying is a very vague term. US Senator Jon Tester hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago with Gwyneth Paltrow and Just Label It to oppose HR 1599. Is that lobbying? Yes. How do you monetize it? You can’t.

          • gmoeater

            Correct, Julie. Nonprofits must disclose total expenditures, especially for lobbying, to meet federal lobbying requirements and limitations for nonprofits. They do not have to list specific donors.

          • RobertWager

            Emily please answer Julie’s request

        • doom

          hypocrisy ‎(plural hypocrisies)
          The claim or pretense of having beliefs, standards, qualities, behaviours, virtues, motivations, etc. which one does not actually have. [from early 13th c.]
          The practice of engaging in the same behaviour or activity for which one criticises another; moral self-contradiction whereby the behavior of one or more people belies their own claimed or implied possession of certain beliefs, standards or virtues.
          An instance of either or both of the above.

        • Warren Lauzon

          I never made any such claim about them spending no money at all. Stop making stuff up.

      • Emily Cassidy

        Spending some money on lobbying when big companies spend much more is only hypocrisy if you claim you aren’t spending any money at all.
        But these non-profits (EWG, CFS, JLI, etc) disclose how much money they spend on lobbying. They disclose it on tax forms, they disclose it on their websites, they disclose it in blogs like this one: http://www.ewg.org/release/big-food-companies-spend-millions-defeat-gmo-labeling
        And this disclosure makes articles like this one easy to write.

        I’ve copied the definition of hypocrisy below as an FYI.

        “Hypocrisy is the claim or pretense of holding beliefs, feelings, standards, qualities, opinions, behaviors, virtues, motivations, or other characteristics that one does not actually hold. Hypocrisy is not simply failing to practice those virtues that one preaches. Samuel Johnson made this point when he wrote about the misuse of the charge of “hypocrisy” in Rambler No. 14: acutely means you say don’t do that when you are doing it yourself.”

    • Warren Lauzon

      Most of us know how much they spent. The target of the article is the fact that the pro-organics and anti-GMO crowd tries to portray itself as lily white and innocent of all those evil lobbying deeds. They are hypocrites.

    • Verna Lang

      If you did a side by side comparison, you should also correct for market share. Let’s be generous and say organics has a 5% share of the total food market. If their spending on initiatives to support GMO labeling adds up to more than 5% of what “big food” spends defeating labeling, they are actually spending proportionally more than “big food” to achieve their goal.

      • Quite right Verna. In fact, the whole raison d’être of the organic movement has become to simply oppose GMOs, and nothing more. While conventional food companies have to worry about day-to-day operations and meeting payroll, a disproportionate percentage of available funds in the organic industry are pored into the effort to label and someday ban this field of science.

        • Verna Lang

          I also wonder about whether the organic companies need to spend as much on marketing compared to conventional companies. They have an army of unpaid workers spreading their message online as well as boots on the ground with the March Against Monsanto. I am picturing a organic Chief Financial Officer chuckling with glee over how little they spend annually on marketing.

          • What’s more, the organic industry is heavily subsidized through direct payments encouraging farmers to convert to organic production. No sooner does an American farmer accept such conversion subsidies, he/she finds that every dollar ends up in the coffers of the organic certifying body which then uses the money to fight GMOs.

            Yes, we all know farming is subsidized at many level here in America. But only in the organic industry do ALL subsidies wind up being used for negative, anti-science propaganda campaigns.

            The irony of course is that the majority of organic farmers here in America agree with President Clinton who tried to unify the organic and GMO sectors. Go figure.

          • What’s more, the organic industry is heavily subsidized through direct payments encouraging farmers to convert to organic production. No sooner does an American farmer accept such conversion subsidies, he/she finds that every dollar ends up in the coffers of the organic certifying body which then uses the money to fight GMOs.

            Yes, we all know farming is subsidized at many level here in America. But only in the organic industry do ALL subsidies wind up being used for negative, anti-science propaganda campaigns.

            The irony of course is that the majority of organic farmers here in America agree with President Clinton who tried to unify the organic and GMO sectors. Go figure.

        • Verna Lang

          I also wonder about whether the organic companies need to spend as much on marketing compared to conventional companies. They have an army of unpaid workers spreading their message online as well as boots on the ground with the March Against Monsanto. I am picturing a organic Chief Financial Officer chuckling with glee over how little they spend annually on marketing.

      • Quite right Verna. In fact, the whole raison d’être of the organic movement has become to simply oppose GMOs, and nothing more. While conventional food companies have to worry about day-to-day operations and meeting payroll, a disproportionate percentage of available funds in the organic industry are pored into the effort to label and someday ban this field of science.

      • Julie Kelly

        This is dead-on. Economies of scale. If Coca-Cola spends $1M and Stonyfield spends $100,000 is that equal based on marketshare or profit? Stonyfield probably spends more on a % basis.

      • Julie Kelly

        This is dead-on. Economies of scale. If Coca-Cola spends $1M and Stonyfield spends $100,000 is that equal based on marketshare or profit? Stonyfield probably spends more on a % basis.

    • Verna Lang

      If you did a side by side comparison, you should also correct for market share. Let’s be generous and say organics has a 5% share of the total food market. If their spending on initiatives to support GMO labeling adds up to more than 5% of what “big food” spends defeating labeling, they are actually spending proportionally more than “big food” to achieve their goal.

    • gmoeater

      Emily dear, the “big food” money came from lots of sources. Farmers, ranchers, horse organizations, and ag organizations, grocery manufacturers, nutritionists, nurses, medical groups, scientists, and many, many others contributed to the anti-labeling campaigns. I don’t know what you think of as “big food,” but if you look at the long lists of contributors to the anti-labeling campaigns, you will see that the opponents represented a very diverse group of interests. Which isn’t the case with the pro-labeling campaigns.

    • gmoeater

      Emily dear, the “big food” money came from lots of sources. Farmers, ranchers, horse organizations, and ag organizations, grocery manufacturers, nutritionists, nurses, medical groups, scientists, and many, many others contributed to the anti-labeling campaigns. I don’t know what you think of as “big food,” but if you look at the long lists of contributors to the anti-labeling campaigns, you will see that the opponents represented a very diverse group of interests. Which isn’t the case with the pro-labeling campaigns.

      • Emily Cassidy

        I’m sure you’re right that the funding came from lots of sources, but here are the top sources: Coca-Cola ($5,040,000), PepsiCo ($3,230,000), Kraft ($1,180,000), Kellogg’s ($1,310,000), General Mills ($1,100,000), and Land O’Lakes ($720,000)

      • Emily Cassidy

        I’m sure you’re right that the funding came from lots of sources, but here are the top sources: Coca-Cola ($5,040,000), PepsiCo ($3,230,000), Kraft ($1,180,000), Kellogg’s ($1,310,000), General Mills ($1,100,000), and Land O’Lakes ($720,000)

        • Julie Kelly

          Not for labeling. For all lobbying. You’re missing the point, read the fine print on EWG’s piece.

          • Sara S

            I think if you look at the link to the Prop 37 funding you will see that anti 37 big companies contributed a lot more than the pro label groups.

        • Julie Kelly

          Not for labeling. For all lobbying. You’re missing the point, read the fine print on EWG’s piece.

        • Cairenn Day

          E C, did it dawn on you that producers. like Kraft understand what consumers can and can not afford and that forcing millions of low income consumer to PAY for the want of a few, is wrong ?

    • Julie Kelly

      Sorry, you’re wrong. The EWG cites total lobbying expenditures by companies who oppose labeling, not only on labeling legislation. Re-read it.

    • Julie Kelly

      Sorry, you’re wrong. The EWG cites total lobbying expenditures by companies who oppose labeling, not only on labeling legislation. Re-read it.

      • Emily Cassidy

        From the blog, “… lobbying expenditures that mentioned GMO labeling. The figures cover the period from January 2015 through the end of June.”

        • Julie Kelly

          “Mention” not solely GMO labeling. That’s the point, Emily.

          • Emily Cassidy

            The point, I think, is that we are debating the fraction of the $51 million spent by big food on GMO labeling in the –first six months of 2015– when your analysis found that these (nonprofit) organizations didn’t spent near that much in the 4 years of disclosures you’ve summed together.

          • Here are the straight goods Emily…

            Organic entities (whether corporations or not-for-profits) all exist solely for the purpose of destroying GMO farming, and have abandoned their once-proud goals of reducing toxicity in the environment, and delivering more nutritious food to the store shelf.

            The organic industry is pro-nothing, and anti-GMO. And that is all.

          • Here are the straight goods Emily…

            Organic entities (whether corporations or not-for-profits) all exist solely for the purpose of destroying GMO farming, and have abandoned their once-proud goals of reducing toxicity in the environment, and delivering more nutritious food to the store shelf.

            The organic industry is pro-nothing, and anti-GMO. And that is all.

          • Jason

            It’s understandable that an organization would spend to avoid legislation that they feel will negatively impact them. But the question is, why do organic companies spend so much to promote labelling a product that does not impact them in anyway?

          • Emily Cassidy

            The point, I think, is that we are debating the fraction of the $51 million spent by big food on GMO labeling in the –first six months of 2015– when your analysis found that these (nonprofit) organizations didn’t spent near that much in the 4 years of disclosures you’ve summed together.

        • Julie Kelly

          “Mention” not solely GMO labeling. That’s the point, Emily.

      • Emily Cassidy

        From the blog, “… lobbying expenditures that mentioned GMO labeling. The figures cover the period from January 2015 through the end of June.”

    • gmoeater

      Emily, please answer this question: If the donations were reversed, and, for example hypothetically, the anti-labeling campaign was outspent by pro-labeling Big Organic by 3-to-1 or more, would you be complaining about it not being “fair,” and hypocracy? Or are you only bringing this up because your side lost the last two elections?
      (so much for the “95% of voters support labeling” myth, by the way)

      • gmoeater

        No answer from Emily. I’m not surprised.

    • gmoeater

      Emily, please answer this question: If the donations were reversed, and, for example hypothetically, the anti-labeling campaign was outspent by pro-labeling Big Organic by 3-to-1 or more, would you be complaining about it not being “fair,” and hypocracy? Or are you only bringing this up because your side lost the last two elections?
      (so much for the “95% of voters support labeling” myth, by the way)

    • Jason

      How much of that $51M do you think would have been spent had organic lobbyists not spent to get the issue on those ballots to begin with?

  • Emily Cassidy

    Interesting that the author neglected to mention how much money big food companies are spending. Propaganda indeed.
    Here’s an example of what big food has spent on lobbying just one cause — defeating GMO labeling efforts:

    More than $51 Million in First Two Quarters of 2015 Alone
    http://www.ewg.org/release/big-food-companies-spend-millions-defeat-gmo-labeling

    Much larger than the “tens of millions” Julie identified over a *four year period* (2009-2013). Where’s the side-by-side comparison?

  • Julie Kelly

    Here is the link to the analysis from the Center for Political Accountability about political disclosure by corporations; Whole Foods gets very low marks: http://www.politicalaccountability.net/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/8642

    • agscienceliterate

      Very helpful link, Julie. I looked up the rankings done by this independent organization, for Whole Foods and Monsanto. Hundreds of firms are ranked on 24 different accountability indicators. (list starts on page 30 of the report)

      100% is the highest score.
      Monsanto ranking: 77.1%
      Whole Foods ranking: 10%

      Thanks, Julie.

      • Julie Kelly

        You’re welcome!

  • Julie Kelly

    Here is the link to the analysis from the Center for Political Accountability about political disclosure by corporations; Whole Foods gets very low marks: http://www.politicalaccountability.net/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/8642

  • WeGotta

    I’m confused as to what is your point (as usual).
    So is lobbying a good thing or a bad thing?

    • Sterling Ericsson

      The point is that the people that complain about lobbying being bad and going after food companies for doing so are being hypocritical, because the companies they support do the same.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      The point is that the people that complain about lobbying being bad and going after food companies for doing so are being hypocritical, because the companies they support do the same.

      • WeGotta

        So it’s bad. Got it.
        We should demand it all ends right now!

        • Sterling Ericsson

          Not even what I argued in the slightest.

          • gmoeater

            Sterling, nothing he says is on point. It’s all trolling to get you to respond. He gets off on any response. Your point, Sterling, was perfectly clear. He chooses to twist and confabulate and gaslight no matter what anyone says. A waste of time, unless playing with trolls is fun, which it isn’t. Thank you for reitering Julie’s point about the total hypocracy. The troll doesn’t get it, but the rest of us do.

          • WeGotta

            That’s noble of you to help your friend.

          • WeGotta

            That’s noble of you to help your friend.

          • gmoeater

            Sterling, nothing he says is on point. It’s all trolling to get you to respond. He gets off on any response. Your point, Sterling, was perfectly clear. He chooses to twist and confabulate and gaslight no matter what anyone says. A waste of time, unless playing with trolls is fun, which it isn’t. Thank you for reitering Julie’s point about the total hypocracy. The troll doesn’t get it, but the rest of us do.

          • WeGotta

            Oh, so your point is that people who say one thing should automatically be assumed to be speaking for everyone else who may also think that same thing?

          • WeGotta

            And I still demand it all ends right now.

          • WeGotta

            And I still demand it all ends right now.

          • Cairenn Day

            Well get elected and do something. ‘Make a difference, instead of making a noise’

            Right now, you are making noise

        • Sterling Ericsson

          Not even what I argued in the slightest.

      • WeGotta

        So it’s bad. Got it.
        We should demand it all ends right now!

  • WeGotta

    I’m confused as to what is your point (as usual).
    So is lobbying a good thing or a bad thing?

  • One thing that may not be well understood by the public is that 501c3 organizations like Organic Consumer’s Association are restricted in how much they can lobby before their tax exempt status is jeopardized. For this reason they often have companion 501c4 organizations, like the Organic Consumer’s Fund mentioned in the article as a PAC. This is the fundamental distinction between them.

    http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Lobbying

    Another group to look at is Public Citizen and its companion 501c4, the Public Citizen Foundation. I know that they have done some activism/lobbying on the GMO issue, though mostly in relation to the WTO.

    • Great point Mike.
      I believe any group which opposes an existing form of business that is legal should not qualify for charitable, tax-exempt status. And no, this would not infringe on anyone’s rights to free speech. It would simply mean that no one else is forced to subsidize anyone’s speech that is anti-business.

      • Biron_1

        They are not anti-business – they are pro-business (organic)cleverly channeling the anti-business sentiments of their audience.

        • It’s a fraudulent business Biron, to no fault of domestic organic farmers. Three-quarters of all organic food is imported, and a whopping 43% of it tests positive for prohibited pesticides. Why defend that?

          • Gene

            i don’t suppose you have a reference for that 43% number.. i looked with google but it sent me back here to glp mostly. after some digging i found this article:

            http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/manitoba/pesticide-residue-found-on-nearly-half-of-organic-produce-1.2487712

            however it doesn’t say anything about ‘prohibited’ pesticides and included this:

            “they were still considerably less than the 78.4 per cent of non-organic samples the inspection agency found containing pesticide residues, violating the allowable limits 4.7 per cent of the time.”

            so you know, detection.techniques are incredibly sensitive now. ‘residues’ can come from neighbour fields or runoff into well water used to wash produce

          • Oh darn. I was hoping no one would ask for a reference. I just made it up!

          • Gene

            lucky guess huh?

            if the cbc article is accurate would it not imply that organic farmers are more careful not to exceed allowable limits?

          • No my friend. Far from it. Let me help you out on this…

            Samples for organic certification MUST be collected in the field. The samples in both the Canadian and American studies were collected from the store shelf after synthetic-pesticide residues had ample time to dissipate.

          • Gene

            so, do samples from conventional farms get taken in the field too?

          • What samples are you talking about?

          • Gene

            well my friend, let me help you out on this.

            you wrote “Samples for organic certification MUST be collected in the field”
            so i asked “do samples from conventional farms get taken in the field too?”

          • Samples are supposed to be collected to ensure organic crops are pesticide free. There is no such regimen for conventional crops that I’m aware of. So I asked you what sort of sampling you were talking about.

            Are you familiar with organic farming standards? Are you familiar with farming?

          • Gene

            “There is no such regimen for conventional crops that I’m aware of”

            if that’s the case then it would be an unfair comparison to test residues on the farm in one instance and packaged on a grocery shelf for the other. to make the analysis valid, the residues were both tested at the same stage

            you are correct about dissipation, organic pesticides often do dissipate faster

            “Are you familiar with organic farming standards? Are you familiar with farming?”

            let’s pretend i’m not. explain to me how that knowledge would help me understand why twice as many conventional crop samples contained higher than allowable amounts of pesticide residue

          • hyperzombie

            Well it really is not an unfair comparison for at least 2 reasons. Conventional crops are not marketed as synthetic pesticide free, and conventional farmers don’t have access to banned pesticides, but Organic farmers have easy access to pesticides that are banned in Organic farming.

            Why did conventional crops test higher for pesticides? like Duh, they are allowed to use them. The big question is why did so many organics test positive for synthetic pesticides?

          • Bang on hyperzombie. Bang on.

          • The rules for organic production were written, edited and finalized by organic-industry stakeholders. If it’s not fair to collect samples in the field to ensure organic farmers aren’t cheating, then please explain why the rules were written this way.

          • Gene

            holdon, nothing i wrote was critical of the rules. what i wrote was concerning the pesticide comparison you first brought up then i found the reference to

            the study compared levels of pesticide residue in both organic and conventional samples & you pointed out the analysis was done on samples from “the store shelf after synthetic-pesticide residues had ample time to dissipate”

            if the compared samples were both collected from the field a comparison would be accurate, if compared samples were both collected off the store shelf a set time later that would also be an accurate comparison..

          • Sounds like you don’t like the rules Gene. The rules stipulate that there is no such thing as a post-harvest organic inspection. Case closed.

            Meanwhile, there are no such rules for the conventional sector because conventional farmers are ALLOWED to use these synthetic pesticides.

          • Gene

            i have no dissatisfaction with the rules. if you cannot follow a discussion there is no point in continuing. bye

          • You were trying to take the conversation in a direction conducive to your agenda. I brought you back down to earth with the rules. Welcome back to reality my friend.

          • Gene

            and what agenda would that be?

          • Your agenda is to argue that even though a whopping 43% of all organic food tests positive for prohibited pesticide residues, it’s still slightly-more pure than conventional food.

            What you fail to grasp is that conventional food is not marketed on the claim that it is free of synthetic pesticides. Organic food is.

          • Gene

            first of all, i am not here to promote organic so please put your accusation aside

            second, we all know synthetic pesticides are commonly found in well water so detectable levels will be in any plant irrigated with it

            third, a comparison was made with ‘allowable limits’ without defining what those limits are. the CFIA has a maximum limit for safety but for organic when the level is above 5% of the max they report it to the organic certification people, so which is the ‘allowable’?

            fourth, organic food is marketed as from organic certified farms with appropriate handling. the farmers are not to use synthetics without justification. consumers know they are still using non synthetic pesticides but trust that they are used with lower frequency than conventional and believe the non synthetics to be less harmful

            fifth, if an organic vegetable from mexico tests for more than ppm levels of synthetics then that is the faulty regulation or unscrupulous farmer/handler and not a statement on the whole industry. i can accept that due to the massive increase in consumer demand driving a lot of farms to switch to organic, there will be profiteers.. but also there will be recently transitioned farms which had synthetics sprayed on them for decades and even if the farmer uses none on the crop we may find tiny amounts

          • You’re confusing American and Canadian standards.
            You’re also promoting organics.

          • hyperzombie

            ” we all know synthetic pesticides are commonly found in well water so detectable levels will be in any plant irrigated with it”

            Preposterous, very few wells are contaminated, and even if they were, the slight amount of contamination would be gone by the time it hit store shelves.

            “above 5% of the max they report it to the organic certification people, so which is the ‘allowable’?”

            Another cop out, so according to you Organic farmers can use synthetics as long as they test under 5% of the max. So I guess it would be OK for all of them to use roundup, it always tests under 5% of the max if used according to the label.

            “fourth, organic food is marketed as from organic certified farms with appropriate handling.”

            Laughable, the number one reason people buy Organic is the perception that there is no synthetic chemicals used. Do you really think people would pay 2x more for the same food if they just used slightly less of the same chemicals or the same amount earlier in the year?

            “fifth, if an organic vegetable from mexico tests for more than ppm levels of synthetics then that is the faulty regulation or unscrupulous farmer/handler and not a statement on the whole industry.”

            It is a statement on the whole industry, cause they don’t care if there is rampant fraud. Do you think that the olympic committee would have any credibility if the said that all athletes were steroid free, and proved it with no testing just athlete self reported paperwork.

          • Gene

            i haven’t actually made any comment about the rules at all and the study on residues made no mention of weather or not they were synthetic. if you cannot follow a discussion then there is no point. bye

          • Gene

            i’m not convinced mischa is a real person. he is like a caricature

  • Whoever spends the most has the most influence. The End.

    • I guess that’s why Big Tobacco lost in blocking packing warnings and Big Oil has won the battle globally influencing public opinion on climate change. Don’t you think your handy formula might be a bit too simplistic?

      • I’ll grant you the power of horrible death by lung cancer as a trump card. But this is about lobbying not public perception, and in that case you make my point Jon — where’s our climate bill?

    • agscienceliterate

      Don, do you really believe for one minute that the alleged 95% or whatever the activists say is the number of people who supposedly support labeling, and then turned around and soundly defeated the last two voter ballot initiatives, were stupid enough to be “bought off” by the anti-labeling dollars? That’s naive to presume that the voters are that gullible and stupid. The reason these initiatives failed is that the more voters found out about the misconceptions, misleading labels, costs to farmers and their own pocketbooks, and the lack of any meaningful consumer info, the more they decided that labeling was a sham.

      • I was speaking generally about lobbying in DC, since the thrust of Julie’s piece is about lobbying — not PR which is what you’re talking about. But speaking hypothetically and for the sake of argument let’s presume everything you say about labelling is right — how did that message get to voters? Who paid for the delivery system?

        • Julie Kelly

          But Don, you know there’s a fuzzy line between lobbying and PR particularly by non-profits. Was the Just Label It/Gwyneth/Jon Tester press conference on Capitol Hill a few weeks ago (and promoted by Tester’s office, presumably using staff time) “lobbying” or PR? If it’s lobbying (which I believe it was), how do you put a dollar amount on it?

          • That’s immaterial if you’re making an argument you want people to take seriously. Data is what you purport to use in your analysis and data is what you should stick with. Getting squishy by hoping to lump in PR or other intangibles which you can’t quantify is a distraction. For example, every year hundreds of state level Farm Bureau, Corn Growers, Soybean Growers…members and staff descend on DC in what are called fly-ins. They swarm congressional offices and are effectively lobbying for their causes, which is usually more pro-GMO actions, more anti-EPA actions and whatever else is on the front burner. I’ve spoke to dozens of these groups over the years – – how do you quantify that? You don’t. And you don’t try and fudge it in even if you’re making a good point because….data. The Corn Growers spend a million bucks a year on an ad blitz at the Capital metro stop to influence staff and lawmakers…should that be factored into a “lobbying” expose?

            Lobbying dollars, campaign contributions, those are tracked and have an impact. Conflating things doesn’t.

          • Julie Kelly

            I used data and made my point. Ok, then define “lobbying.”

          • Julie Kelly

            Do those organizations you reference disclose members and payments from those members?

        • agscienceliterate

          Don, if the contact is about a specific election (person or ballot issue), it is indeed lobbying. PR would be general education, for ex. about biotechnology (or organic) in general, not tied to any particular issue being voted on. When it’s being voted on, by elected officials or by voters as with a ballot issue, it is indeed lobbying.

          And I don’t think that whoever pays for the delivery system of the message (in this case, labeling) can be presumed to be able to influence the outcome. Unless, of course, there is a presumption, as in the case of the voter-disapproved labeling initiatives, that the voters were somehow so stupid they were swayed by the money behind the messages. I don’t buy that. I think voters are smarter than that.

    • Biron_1

      Wrong. There is a correlation between money and influence, but no guarantees.

    • Gene

      you are right, it took years of court battles & independent research to overturn the corrupt science put forth by oil& tobacco interests

      similarly, until 2005 virtually all safety studies of g.m.crops were done behind closed doors. not until 2008/9 did independent scientists gain access to the proprietary seeds for testing

      and we are already seeing negative effects of g.m.feed and their associated agricultural chemicals

  • Breahna

    I really do hope that your husband does speak with the teacher at least. He might not get anywhere but never know, she is one person who can influence a lot of future voters and contributers. It is possible that she is just poorly informed and if we don’t tell the other side, who will.

    • Julie Kelly

      I think he will. I’ll let him deal with that teacher while I speak with her health teacher who admonished her class about GMOs the first week of school and advised students to eat organic 🙂

      • WeGotta

        Are you saying you are more qualified to teach science than a science teacher?

        • Julie Kelly

          Teachers should give both sides of an issue. She gave an opinion. I don’t pay her to instruct my daughter to eat organic food.

          • WeGotta

            Both sides like creationism and evolution?

          • Julie Kelly

            That deals with religion. This was a health class, not science.

          • WeGotta

            Ya. What do health teachers know about anything.

          • Biron_1

            What do you know about this health teacher? Health teachers are paid to teach according to scientific consensus; not to parrot activist agitprop. She is totally out-of-line.

          • WeGotta

            What are your health teacher qualifications?
            Who are you to be the one who decides how health teachers are paid and for what?

          • Biron_1

            If she has been telling her students to avoid GMOs and pursue organic, she is advising them to spend additional money for a small share (4% of sales according to USDA) of the food market.
            Where can I find the recommendation to purchase organic food and avoid GMO in the Illinois state syllabus?

          • WeGotta

            You didn’t answer my question so I assume you have no qualifications as a health teacher.

          • Biron_1

            Since “our education system sucks” why do you assume this teacher is qualified?

          • WeGotta

            I don’t. Odds are she isn’t or she is but her hands are tied by political BS like standardized testing.

            It’s the same reason I won’t trust “scientists” to tell me what food to eat and which not to eat. Teacher, scientist, “experts”; these are terms that have lost all meaning in our unconscious culture where greed is good” and money is God.

          • Biron_1

            “Odds are she isn’t or she is…”

            Empty words, the probability of an event or its complement is exactly one. That’s a consequence of the fundamental axioms of probability, as any scientist knows.

          • WeGotta

            Mmmmmm. You left out the ending of that sentence and my qualifier for the event “she is”.

            Sloppy or deliberately dishonest?

          • gmoeater

            Exactly, Biron. Maybe her educational sources are the Food Boob, “Dr.” Mercola, Vandana Shiva, and flying yoga guy Jeff Smith. Sanctioned by the Ilinois state teacher syllabus? Excellent point!

            She’s certainly not doing her students, or their families, or local conventional farmers, any favors by pushing her personal organic agenda.

          • WeGotta

            Feel free to believe that this teacher is “wrong” and a state teacher syllabus is a shining beacon of unadulterated truth.

            I personally don’t care about someone’s qualifications or title. I especially don’t put any faith in a syllabus produced by a state board of anything. I have seen enough ridiculousness in those political circuses such as with creationism.

            That’s a big reason why our education system sucks.

          • Biron_1

            This health teacher’s GMO advice certainly “sucks.”

            And you are not qualified to certify her competency.

          • agscienceliterate

            If teachers aren’t teaching current best evidence science based curricula, then they indeed are doing their students a huge disservice. This has happened in local school districts also — teachers showing organic activist-funded anti-biotech films full of hype, fearmongering, and doomsday. In our area, farmer moms have ripped the school district a new one and have changed the curricula.

          • WeGotta

            Opinion.

            I’m not the one trying to certify her competency, you all are.
            You all are the ones saying that advice given by this science teacher is bad even though none of you seem to have any credentials besides your opinion that GMO is wonderful.

            You seem free to doubt the advice of a science teacher so I am free to doubt scientists claims about GMO safety.

          • Biron_1

            Opinions have likelihoods of being correct.

            Mine are science-based with far higher likelihood than yours which are reflexively driven by anti-business agitprop.

          • WeGotta

            Agitprop?

            I’m just saying that if you can know more about health than a health teacher then I can know more about science than a geneticist.

            One of my opinions is that sugar and its artificial derivatives are dangerous poisons that should be regulated, definitely not advertised. Is that science based?

          • Biron_1

            I have an engineering degree and likely know more science (although not health) than this teacher.

            Your premise, that those who are not health teachers cannot criticize those who are, is absurd. I’m no financier but I know that Madoff is a fraud.

          • WeGotta

            Of course it’s absurd.
            But that’s what people tell those who want a label for GMO.
            I don’t care what a scientist says about it. I know more about my health and about what I want to eat then any “expert” in anything.

            I also know that when you allow someone to give money in exchange for political favors it is dishonest, immoral and unethical. I don’t need any letters behind my name to know this.

          • Biron_1

            You have zero credible evidence and data concerning the effect of GMO on your health.

            “I also know that when you allow someone to give money in exchange for political favors it is dishonest, immoral and unethical.”

            When Biotech opposes GMO labeling — a dishonest lobbying initiative of Big Organic — they have every right to lobby with full force.

            Big Organic has made a significant investment in stigmatizing GMO and seeks to leverage that investment through compelled labeling.

            Biotech has a moral imperative to fight this repugnant strategy by all means and its lobbying for this purpose is absolutely justifiable.

          • WeGotta

            I don’t care about “big organic”, whatever that is.

            You will never win a fight against greed and corruption with greed and corruption.

            Just because someone else does something bad, it doesn’t justify your actions.

            I have plenty of evidence about GMO. It’s in junk foods. Eat too much junk food and you get sick.

            Any other information you would try to give me is unecessary and mostly serves to protect an industry who’s only goal is profit.

          • Biron_1

            Biotech’s anti-labeling lobbying serves the public good.

            “I have plenty of evidence about GMO. It’s inw junk foods. Eat too much junk food and you get sick.”

            That argument is absurd on multiple fronts. Junk food contains water and you wouldn’t remove that from your diet. Eating too many non-GMO french fries won’t do you much good either.

            “an industry who’s only goal is profit.”

            It’s also an industry providing massive employment and some of those profits benefit pensions and retirement accounts. What’s your beef with profit?

          • WeGotta

            Don’t you see that it’s just all your opinion? It carries no more weight than anyone else’s opinion. You should get down off your high horse.

            If you want to contend that yours is more “scientific” I would have to say I don’t trust your understanding of science. Why?
            Because you can’t even acknowledge simple scientific facts such as:
            -GMO is mostly consumed by humans as artificial sweeteners and oils which are mostly used to make junk food cheaper and more plentiful.
            -Most people are dying from eating too much junk food.
            -Marketing junk food to people makes them eat more of it when people should be eating less of it.
            -Tax funded subsidies result in more plentiful junk food.
            Why would I listen to anyone about more sophisticated science and truth if they can’t even understand these basic things? Why would I listen to anyone about GMO and health if you can’t or won’t take an opinion about the obvious things affecting all of our health?

            I don’t trust your opinions. Why?
            Why would I listen to anyone who won’t admit that greed is a huge problem in our society?
            Why would I listen to someone who can’t understand the simple and obvious fact that when profit is elevated as the ultimate goal you naturally end up right where we currently find ourselves in the world. Sick, in debt, lied to, confused and rapidly destroying our habitat. For what? Some illusion that money is good and stuff makes you happy.

          • WeGotta

            And I can’t seem to find any information on something called the “Illinois state teacher syllabus”.
            So did you two just make that up?

        • Biron_1

          Strawman – she said no such thing. The health teacher may be an otherwise decent teacher who is clueless on GMO.

          • WeGotta

            Tinman – she want’s to talk to the science teacher to explain how science works even though she has no training in science or teaching.

    • WeGotta

      Was the book’s characterization of lobbyists incorrect in any way?

      • Julie Kelly

        It was a stereotype. There’s more to lobbying than “schmoozing.” Although that is part of it 🙂

  • Verna Lang

    Commonsense and compassion? They are marching with their eyes wide shut to the tune of a corporate drum pounding out fear, uncertainty and doubt to demonize the competition and boost the market share of organic and non-GMO labels.

  • William Demaree

    Interesting article, but I would like to see how the “Goliath” spending compares to the “David” spending. While the author uses absolute numbers for David, she is silent with “Goliath.” Does David outspend Goliath? Do they spend the same? I suspect Goliath significantly outspends David.

    • Julie Kelly

      Hi William – There are plenty of articles and resources that furnish information about Big Food lobbying (two are cited in my piece). The purpose of my article is to cover the other side, which has been overlooked by the media.

  • Keith Edmisten

    It would be interesting to add in the size of the industries to this discussion of who is really David and who is really Goliath. I heard Jay Byrne give a talk about the anti-GE movement. He said something like the GE seed industry is about 35 billion, the organic industry is 65 billion and the organic/supplement industry as a whole is about 290 billion in revenues. Would love to see updated figures along these lines.