Fake food news: Non-GMO Project sets standard for misleading consumers

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[Editor’s note: Kavin Senapathy is a freelance writer and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House.]

As a critical thinker and champion of social and environmental justice, seeing the butterfly seal everywhere I shop—from the pretzel crackers my kids love to whole grain bread—irks me to no end. For one, I like to make purchasing and parenting decisions based on facts, not fear and hype, but Non-GMO Project promotes common evidence-scarce myths about genetic engineering. “There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs,” the Non-GMO Project website states. It’s an easily debunked statement. Indeed, the consensus of non cherry-picked data and major scientific bodies around the world is vast and unambiguous, all pointing to genetic engineering being no riskier, and sometimes less risky than so-called non-GMO breeding techniques. The organizations that claim danger from GMOs have a tendency to promote anti-vaccine sentiment and even conspiracy theories, as I recently discussed. That such wrongheadedness is emblazoned all over the American food supply is a testament to the alternative facts era.

Fear and opposition to genetic engineering have a tangible impact, with anti-GMO rhetoric and marketing contributing to consumer fear and rejection, which influences policy, and leads to overly burdensome and ideological rather than science-based regulations keeping real solutions from farmers’ fields.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: The Non-GMO Project Is Ruining My Shopping Experience

  • Dajoenie

    Just one thing, You yourself don’t have a single fact in your artical.

  • Viva La Evolucion

    Some people choose to purchase non-GMO, not because they are fearful of GMO’s, but because they don’t approve of the current herbicide tolerant GMO’s currently on the market that result in perpetuation and overuse of herbicides. The majority of GMO corn, and soy grown in the US are used to produce beef and biofuels. Growing corn and soy to feed to beef is one of the most water/resource intensive methods of food production known to man. Growing corn and soy to make biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel often have a worse environmental impact than simply burning fossil fuels. So, while I think GMO’s have the potential to greatly improve farming as we know it, unfortunately I don’t think that is the case with most of the current GMO’s on the market.

    • Kevin Patti

      What are your thoughts re disease resistant Papaya in Hawaii?
      Or BT Corn (which is not the same thing as RR Corn)?

      • Viva La Evolucion

        I love the idea of the disease resistant Papaya, but I am just not a fan of the taste. When making a genetically modified product I think it is good for the genetic engineer to make sure that the product tastes better than it’s non-GMO counterpart by maybe having large scale taste test. Also, I like the idea of genetically modifying crops to be bigger, not smaller than their non-GMO counterparts, as is the case with the Hawaiian Papaya. In regards to BT corn, unfortunately it results in a lot more pounds on the ground of BT toxin than would be sprayed on a comparable non-GMO field, so while I like the idea of Bt corn/cotton/etc, I think in reality it leads to the emergence of BT resistance in insects faster than simply spraying crops with BT.

        • Kevin Patti

          I like the taste fine, and non-GM Hawaiian papaya taste similar (cultivars all taste different). The papaya was genetically engineered to keep the industry alive, not to taste better.
          And Hawaiian Papaya was always smaller than Mexican Papaya. It was engineered to save the industry, not to be bigger.
          And I’m going to go with [citation needed] re BT corn has more BT than sprays.

          • Kevin Patti

            Also, for the love of clarity: please use paragraphs.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            If you disagree with any of my claims then feel free to post a citation that proves my claim to be false. Otherwise, I suggest that you go play hide and go F yourself because I’m not going to waste my time providing citations to a troll. GeneticLiteracyProject is a propaganda arm of Monsanto. https://www.ecowatch.com/monsanto-hires-internet-trolls-2401703407.html

          • Jason

            I get that you feel some outlets are merely “propaganda”, but citing ecowatch is about as text book an example of what you’re referring to as anything I could imagine.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            If you think that Monsanto doesn’t hire trolls to post comments then you are textbook example of a naive person. Here’s another link for you. http://naturalsociety.com/monsanto-employee-admits-an-entire-department-exists-to-discredit-scientists/

          • Jason

            I don’t know whether they do or don’t. Quite honestly, I’d be shocked if they didn’t have some form of staff to counter misinformation about them. Wouldn’t you??

            Regardless, all you’re really doing is linking to multiple reports of the exact same story which really is nothing more than an accusation. You’re using unreliable sources as evidence of fact which is exactly what you accused him of doing.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Yes, I would be surprised if they did not have a staff to spread their misinformation that their products are safe. I hope wikileaks hacks into Monsanto emails soon and puts that on their site.

          • Jason

            I would be surprised if they did not have a staff to spread their misinformation that their products are safe.

            Ok… I see your angle now. You have good day, m’kay?

          • Viva La Evolucion

            you too

          • Kevin Patti

            Telling me to “play hide and go F yourself” because I’ve asked you to provide proof of your claims, and calling me a troll when I’m trying to have an honest conversation? You don’t understand how civil discourse works, do you?
            Thank you for telling me to Do my own research when asked for proof of your claims. it shows that you know your position is based on falsehoods.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            I have read all of your comment history, and find it quite suspicious that you only comment on GMO related issues. Do you have absoutly no other interest, or are you a Monsanto troll? If you are gong to be a troll, at least put in some effort and comment on some non-GMO related issues now and then to not make it so blatantly obvious.

          • Kevin Patti

            This, children, is a textbook example of the “Ad Hominem” logical Fallacy.

            Please note how there is no response to my argument, and instead how the poster devotes his entire post to attacking my character with lies.

            Please note: If the poster had evidence to back up his statements (which he doesn’t, because they’re not true), this would still be an example of an “Ad Hominem” fallacy, because he’s saying I’m wrong because of who I am, not because of what I said.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            The point is that Mexican Papaya taste better, are bigger, are more desirable, and better selling type of Papapa than it’s smaller GMO worse tasting counterpart. If you think that GMO papapa receives more sales than non-GMO papaya then please provide a citation showing that and I will be happy to look at it.

            In regards to BT corn, unfortunately it results in more pounds on the ground of BT toxin than is usually the case with it’s BT sprayed counterparts, so there is more likelihood for insects to develop resistance than with simply spraying BT.

            If you think BT corn does not result in more pounds on the ground of Bt toxin than it’s BT sprayed non-GMO counterparts then by all means please post a citation showing that to be the case and I will be happy to look at it.

            Your failure to answer my simple question as to why you have no other interest than commenting on GMO and Roundup related issues, still leads me to believe that there is a good chance you are a Monsanto shill, but if that is not the case then I apologize.

          • Kevin Patti

            This is a classic example of the “Burden of Proof” Fallacy. As “Viva La Evolucion” has no evidence to back up his claim of BT Corn leaving more BT on the ground than spraying, he poorly attempts to shift the Burden of Proof to me.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            I know that I have read that BT corn contains more BT pounds on the ground vs a corn field sprayed with BT, but can’t find that info anymore. Do you know where I would find that info? You seem to have a lot of knowledge on this issue. I would love if you could prove me wrong.

          • Robert Howd

            I think this would be an apples vs. oranges comparison, because the Bt products sprayed on organic crops are a crude preparation, and the Bt in corn can only be measured as the Bt toxin. If there were good info on the amount of Bt toxins in the spray, this could be used for a comparison, but there are often (usually?) multiple toxins in a crude Bt spray, with different potencies. And manufacturers of these products don’t provide the relevant data.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            It seems like Monsanto could easily do an apples vs. apples comparison if they wanted to compare the amount of Bt on an acre of Bt corn vs Bt on an acre of organic corn sprayed with organic Bt pesticide.

          • Robert Howd

            There are at least 15 currently approved Bt corn varieties, expressing different Bt toxins, marketed by Monsanto, Pioneer HiBred, Syngenta, and Dow. There are hundreds of different Bt bacteria cultivars which may be made into the Bt sprays for organic crops, all of which contain multiple Bt toxins. So this is a complicated matrix of possible products to compare. Perhaps the Organic Consumers’ Association or the Organic Trade Association would be the more logical ones to provide this comparison, if they wish to show that their products are safer…..

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Bt corn is supposedly an improvement over non-GMO corn, so I think it would be more appropriate for the manufactuers of the GM Bt seeds to have comparison on their website showing that their products result in less Bt pounds on the ground than their non-GMO, Bt sprayed counterparts, if that were really the case. But, we both know that is not the case.

          • Robert Howd

            Here’s an actual estimate: The content of Bt toxin in one transgenic corn (MON88017) has been measured by Nguyen and Jehle (J Agric. Food Chem. 57:9990-9996, 2009). They estimated that “up to 905 g of Cry3Bb1 is produced per hectare Bt corn,” although the actual content varies over the season. One of the commercial dry Bt products (JavelinWG) contains 85% BT solids, and its application directions for various crops recommend about 0.25 to 1.5 pounds/acre, with applications “as needed.” This often means weekly, since the Bt toxins are rapidly destroyed by sunlight. With the appropriate unit conversions, the middle of this range of application amounts is about 1 kg/hectare. If it were applied weekly for 3 months, this would be 12 kg/hectare of the dried product, or 10 kg of the Bt solids. Agaisse and Lereclus (J. Bacteriol. 177:6027-6032, 1995) say that Bacillus thuringiensis produces a “crystal inclusion” of the insecticidal proteins that comprises “up to 25% of the dry weight” of the cells. This corresponds to 2.5 kg of the mixed crystalline Bt toxins applied/hectare, which can be compared to the 0.9 kg/hectare of Bt toxin estimated by Nguyen and Jehle.
            So no, the Bt content of GMO corn is not necessarily higher than the Bt amounts used in organic agriculture. The comparison will vary, of course, for different GMO corn varieties versus the spraying practices by various organic farmers.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            You mentioned that non-GMO corn is often sprayed with Bt weekly for 3 months. That is a ridiculously high figure. I would say 3 sprayings of Bt over 3 months to be more real world application rate. Also, you mentioned that Bt spray is rapidly destroyed by sunlight. Is the Bt within the GMO Bt corn also rapidly destroyed by sunlight? If not, would that mean that it persist longer, and thus will increase likelihood of insects evolving resistance to it?

          • Robert Howd

            As I said, application rates and frequencies vary. No, Bt in the corn is not particularly susceptible to breakdown by sunlight, but it does have some turnover in the plant. Yes, since it persists longer, it might increase likelihood of development of insect resistance.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            I agree that since Bt likely persist longer in Bt corn than a Bt sprayed field, that adoption of Bt corn would increase the likelihood of development of insect resistance to Bt, which was my point when I said that I liked the idea of Bt corn in theory, but felt that it was not the best use of GM technology due to increased insect resistance. I would like to see genetic engineering be used to create traits like disease resistance, drought tolerance, and production of bigger, tastier, high yielding crops – instead of it’s current applications such as pesticide manufacturer traits or herbicide resistance traits, which both results in perpetuation of putting pesticides/herbicides on farmland be them sprayed with Roundup or Bt insecticide within the actual plant.

          • Robert Howd

            Various biotechnology approaches are now being used to provide many improved traits, including drought tolerance, salt resistance, healthier fatty acid composition, decreased browning, increased vitamins, and increased growth rate.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            I can’t wait till the day that Roundup Ready style herbicide tolerant GMO’s and BT corn are replaced with traits like drought tolerance, salt resistance, and dare I say it improved flavor.

          • Good4U

            You are waiting for stacked traits that will be put into corn & other crop plants that herbicide tolerant ones already have. You would not be waiting for their replacements. There are no replacements. To control weeds in agricultural crops, you’re pretty much going to have to use herbicides or else go out with a tractor mounted cultivator or pull them out by hand. Saaaay, when did you last spend any time out in a corn field hoeing & pulling pigweed, lambsquarters, goosegrass, etc., etc., etc.? I’ve got a job for ya!

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Surely you know about no-till organic farming, which uses cover crops in conjunction with high tech no-till mechanical weeders like Roller Crimpers? People who say that one can not control weeds in agricultural crops without herbicides are either suckers who have fallen for Monsanto’s fake news stories, or are Monsanto trolls. The fact that you barged into this decision spouting the usual can’t grow food without Roundup narrative, and also have your comment history as private leads me to think you are the latter.

          • Good4U

            I’ll repeat…..When did you last spend any time out in a corn [soybean, cotton, pick a crop, any crop] field? It’s now quite clear why you are quite ignorant of farming. There is no such thing as no-till organic farming, at least not such which would feed 7 billion (going on 9 billion) people. Now, it could be so, if only the anti-tech GMO screamers would settle down and actually learn something instead of picketing and flailing the air, vociferating while their mouths are full of food. Barging into the discussion with hair-brained organic schemes such as you have, illustrates nothing but contempt for biotechnology from your uninformed viewpoint as an armchair farmer. You should get a real job as an authentic grower of food and fiber. Come back after a decade or so and let us know how well your roller crimper is doing at feeding you and your family, plus the other 45 families somewhere in the world who depend on you.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            You should check out Gabe Brown’s TED talk video. He uses high intensive rotational grazing instead of mechanical no-till with great results. If one was truly concerned about feeding the world, then they would surely advocate for a less water/resource intensive method of food production than growing corn/soy to feed to cows, as that is one of the most water/resource intensive methods of food production known to man.

          • Good4U

            Right…a vegan! I knew it! I met a vegan once. She didn’t live very long, and wasn’t particularly intelligent (small brain size is correlated with veganism). Me, yeah, I’m having meat for dinner. Tomorrow I may eat a fish, if I can find an AquAdvantage salmon. How about you? Eaten any biotech fish lately?

          • Viva La Evolucion

            No, I’m not a vegan. I eat beef, chicken, pork, fish, etc. Nevertheless, I think it is good to acknowledge that beef is one of the most water/resource intensive foods. Also, I think it is good to acknowledge that pasture raised beef has more omega 3, and is more nutritious than it’s grain finished counterparts.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            To each their own I guess. However, I noticed that my local grocery store stocks way more Mexican Papaya, than the Hawaiian type, so I am assuming it is the better selling of the two, and that most people agree with me that it taste better. In regards BT corn resulting in more pounds on the ground of BT toxin than non-BT corn that is sprayed with BT, I suggest that you provide a citation showing that is not the case or else go play hide and go F yourself. Also, you have been flagged as a Monsanto troll. https://www.rt.com/usa/386858-monsanto-hired-trolls-court/

          • Kevin Patti

            I asked about the Disease-ressitance trait. Not what your local supermarket carries, how it tastes, or how big it is in comparison to a different cultivar.

            Regarding BT Corn: You made the claim, you back it up. If you have no proof of your accusation, then your claim will be considered invalid.
            https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrBT8KW6zZZhkcAyCRXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByOHZyb21tBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1496800279/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fyourlogicalfallacyis.com%2fburden-of-proof/RK=1/RS=QhTkhmuNQPU_rAbgKazfC3kBmOY-

            Calling me a Monsanto troll because I asked you a couple of difficult questions? Classy.

            Also, RT is a propaganda arm of the Russian Government. Might want to get some actual proof of your claims.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RT_(TV_network)

  • WeGotta

    A “champion of environmental and social justice” would be at a local farmers market with reusable bags and not at a grocery store.
    Buying snack foods at the store makes you an average person.

    Filling your cart with gmo means you have a cart filled with processed junk food filled with risky chemicals wrapped in too much packaging.

    Critical thinker my foot.
    Only emotionally fragile people perseverate over one of the various ridiculous things splattered on food packages.

    • guest

      Farmers’ Markets have limited foods. Getting all your shopping done in one place (the supermarket) is more environmentally friendly.

      • WeGotta

        Translation:
        I just made up something about farmers markets so I can try to convince you that buying crops after they’ve been shipped and processed and shipped and manufactured and packaged and shipped and stocked is more environmentally friendly than buying plants directly from the people in your community.

  • Good4U

    Right on target, Kavin, so thank you for calling out Hole Foods for what they are– nothing more than a marketeering smarm shop.When I shop for food, I use the non-GMO label as a purchasing decision fulcrum. If a product has that label, I leave it on the shelf.

    • WeGotta

      Choosing gmo products means you are most likely choosing foods that are bad for health and leave your trash filled with plastic.
      Why do you hate science so much?

      • Robert Howd

        An increasing number of Non-GMO labels are on products that have no GMO equivalents. So this is just marketing hype. Avoiding such products, like orange juice, just avoids misleading advertising, and the misuse of otherwise (potentially) informative labels.

        • WeGotta

          This must be a record for amount of confusion packed into a short paragraph.

          My opinion: Things should be labeled in the affirmative.
          In line with science? Yes.
          Consequences of adopting rules with no basis in science: confusion, misleading information, non-sense in general.

          Your opinion: “non-gmo exactly means things that have no gmo-equivalents”.
          Fact: things that are not gmo are “non-gmo”, including things “that have no gmo equivalents”.

          Your opinion: “some people market their products” means every person who buys that product is only buying it because of “marketing hype”.
          In line with science? No.
          Consequences of believing things that are not in line with science: lost credibility.

          My opinion: Most marketing used today is misleading misinformation and it should be stopped.
          Your opinion: ?
          My guess: You don’t want to stop marketing at all. You only want to bring it up when you can use it for leverage.

          Fact: a gmo label is informative. It informs people that it’s gmo.
          Fact: a “non-gmo” label is informative. It informs people that it’s not gmo.
          Fact: information is informative.
          Fact: most stuff on the food packaging is misleading, misinformation marketing hype.

      • Jason

        This is a lie. Please do not make false statements and hide behind “science” as your defense.

        • WeGotta

          Ah, a dissenting opinion.

          Easily fact checked by listing the available gmo products in any average grocery store.

          Anyone doing so would find it’s mostly junk food in too much plastic packaging.

          So choosing gmo means you mostly support bad health and wrecking the environment.

          • Jason

            No. I’m afraid that is innacurate. Science has shown us that there are no unique health or safety risks. So one choosing gmo foods would find no difference in health compared to the same non-gmo foods.

            Packaging is an unrelated issue. Please stop conflating issues. You’re making up nonsense for the purpose of provoking an argument. That’s called trolling.

          • WeGotta

            You are afraid it’s accurate.

            That’s why you completely ignored what I said in favor of something you just made up.

            List the gmo products available in the average grocery store and you will see that gmo plants are mostly used for ingredients in processed junk mistakenly called food.

          • Jason

            Whether a product is used in junk food is not related to weather or not it is GMO. Again.. please stop conflating issues. It is misleading at best and dishonest at worst.
            You can not “choose” gmo where there is no gmo option. So that is not an available choice. Leaving then, all of the products where there is a gmo “choice”, there are no nutritional differences between the GMO and non-GMO options. There are also no packaging differences.
            Please take your complaints about junk food or packaging to a forum dedicated to those topics. They are not relevant to a discussion on genetic engineering.

          • WeGotta

            “Whether a product is used in junk food is not related to weather or not it is GMO.”
            This is the worst kind of dishonesty. The blatantly dishonest.

            Most gmo is eaten by humans as snack foods. If snack foods were to disappear from the face of the earth there would be less human disease.
            Junk food is related to gmo in just this way, no more or less.

            This is what the rest of your comment sounds like to me:
            “I just made something up to try and convince you to see the world differently than it really is. Go away. Your facts aren’t in line with my personal opinions.”

          • Jason

            This is the worst kind of dishonesty. The blatantly dishonest.

            Now you’re just lying. Snack foods were just as prevalent prior to GMO crops as they are now. HFCS was just as prevalent (and probably more so) prior to GM crop introduction. Sugar was just as prevalent prior to GM introduction. You are continuing to conflate issues to suit your purpose and to pick a fight about a topic that is not relevant to this article.

            Most gmo is eaten by humans as snack foods. If snack foods were to disappear from the face of the earth there would be less human disease.

            Whether this is true or not is irrelevant to the issue you brought up. GM snack foods have no nutritional difference than non-gm equivalents. Most non-GMO corn is also eaten as snack foods. As is most non-GMO sugar. And most non-GMO soy.

            This is what the rest of your comment sounds like to me:

            I’m sorry that you don’t like what I have to say, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

          • Robert Howd

            GMO foods: corn and canola oil, tortillas, cheese, some zucchinis, papayas, and of course the meat from all the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and farmed fish that consumed GMO corn and soybean feed. Add most of the breakfast cereals, then most of the vitamin products. You can then add in most of the dairy products besides cheese. “Real” foods as well as junk foods….

          • WeGotta

            I guess I’ll think of all animals fed gmo as gmo themselves. The scientists might get mad but I’ll tell them Robert told me.

            Does that make humans gmo too?

            Make the list and most will be junk food.
            So ya, blah blah, blah and mostly junk food.

          • Robert Howd

            According to the Non-GMO Project, animals fed GMO feed cannot be marketed using their Non-GMO label. Does that make them GMO? Of course not.

          • WeGotta

            Then why’d you put them on your list?

            On or off, most gmo is junk food.

          • Robert Howd

            I labeled them as GMO because the “official” labeler of such things, the Non-GMO Project, calls them GMO. But of course I disagree with most everything they say!

          • WeGotta

            So you did what you think was wrong because someone you don’t agree with does it?

          • Robert Howd

            Acknowledging different opinions is a good thing, I think.

          • And what is not a junk food?

          • WeGotta

            The definition of “junk food” is widely and easily available.

            What is not junk food is everything else.

          • I was asking because you have included meat, eggs, Milk, cheese, butter into the junk food category. Do I understand it right?

          • WeGotta

            I asked for a list of gmo products commonly found in stores and implied they would be mostly found in processed junk food.

            Robert gave a list but tried to pad it with those things you just listed claiming that those things were gmo (even though it turns out he doesn’t really believe they are).

        • Good4U

          This Gutta fellow is just wasting everyone’s time. It’s the only reason he visits this site. He hasn’t come up with an original idea since he started reading this site. So today he’s an advocate of science?? As if!