june 2012

Millions Against Monsanto—And Counting

In California, grass roots volunteers delivered almost a million petitions signed by registered voters seeking to restore our fundamental right to know what's in our food.


In a May 31 article for Mother Jones headlined "How California Could Force the Rest of the US to Label GMO Foods," Tom Philpott observed:

In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it-nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state's proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods.

This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Croplife America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops-corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton-are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman's mayo would have to bear a label reading something like "Contains GMO ingredients."

That would send a shockwave through the food industry-one that could ultimately be felt on the industrial-scale US farms that have been devoting their land to GMO crops for years, and the companies that profit from selling them patented seeds and matching herbicides. The reason isn't just that California represents an imposing chunk of the US food market. It's also that a food-labeling law that starts in California is unlikely to stay in California.

Video from the 2011 Millions Against Monsanto campaign, narrated in part by Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association

Indeed, a campaign is underway in California to raise awareness of the ballot initiative along with the funds necessary to combat what will surely be an aggressive campaign by big agribusiness against the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. Writing in Mother Earth News on May 2, Ronnie Cummins, director  of the Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund, laid out the issues at hand and what's at stake. And as Mother Jones's Tom Philpott correctly noted, this type of initiative is likely to gain steam across the nation as more consumers demand a cleaner, safer food supply. Having reached its goal of raising $1 million by May 26, the Millions Against Monsanto campaign in turn received a $1 million matching gift to support the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act and other state GMO-labeling campaigns. As the Millions Against Monsanto website declares: "Passing this law in California is the first critical step toward requiring GMO labeling in every state. The scientific evidence is clear: GMOs are hazardous. You have the right to know if your food contains GMOs. But you don't. Not yet. Because Monsanto has bought off the politicians and the regulatory agencies."

The whole truth about Monsanto, with Marie-Monique Robin, director of the documentary The World According to Monsanto

Memo from Ronnie Cummins:
May 2, 2012 is the day Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have been dreading, and the day that millions of us have been waiting for.

Today a grassroots corps of volunteer petition gatherers arrived at County Clerks' offices in all 58 counties in California. They delivered almost a million petitions signed by registered voters along with this message:

Millions against Monsanto are taking back our democracy and restoring our fundamental right to know what's in our food.

This is the first step in putting the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act on the ballot in November. Now it's time for the next step: ramping up the campaign so that millions of fired-up voters in California will turn out in record numbers on November 6 to pass this initiative. 

To make this happen, a broad coalition of food, farm, health, public interest, and environmental groups all over the country, joined by leading organic food companies, are delivering this same message today: Let's drop the money bomb on Monsanto. 

After decades of allowing corporations like Monsanto to buy off our politicians and regulatory agencies, to intimidate everyone from small farmers and state legislators to the Governor of Vermont--to poison our food and our planet--it's time to say "No more."

monsantoIt's time to tell Monsanto and the rest of the Biotech Bullies that we demand the right to know whether our food has been genetically engineered. It's time for the 99 percent of us to tell our elected officials that if they won't protect us from CEOs and corporations--the 1 percent that are destroying our health, our food, and our planet--we will bypass them. We will organize ballot initiatives and write our own laws. And then vote them into law.

Monsanto, Big biotech and Food Inc. are desperate to defeat the California Right to Know Ballot Initiative. They will spend millions on a campaign based on lies and intimidation. They'll try to convince voters that GMOs aren't dangerous, and that labeling them will make food more expensive. They're counting on us to cower in the face of their massive spending and TV ads, and their threat to sue any state that dares to stand up to them.

What they aren't counting on is you--and millions like you across the country--who know what's at stake in California. Millions who know that if this law passes in the state with the eighth largest economy in the world, it's only a matter of time before we win the battle everywhere.

Monsanto isn't counting on millions of people like you who know that GMOs in our food have been linked to a host of health issues, including kidney and liver damage, infertility, auto-immune disorders, allergies, accelerated aging and birth defects.

It doesn't matter what political party you belong to, or which candidates you support. The right to know issue belongs to all of us. It's about our food, our health, and our environment. We are all in this together. That's why together, we are going to raise $1 million in the next few weeks to help pass this law, and shift the balance of power back to the grassroots, the 99 percent. 

Please donate today online, by phone, or drop a check in the mail. Every dollar that you contribute will go directly into the California Right to Know ballot initiative and other state GMO labeling campaigns, including a legal defense fund to defend states that pass GMO labeling laws from Monsanto lawsuits.

We can do this. It's time. Let's drop the money bomb on Monsanto and take back our food supply. Thank you! 

For an Organic Future,
Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund

All money raised for this campaign will go through the Organic Consumers Fund, a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action. Donations are not tax-deductible.

Read more: www.motherearthnews.com

The World According to Monsanto, directed by Marie-Monique Robin (full length)

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