The United State of GMOs – Keeping Us in the Dark

Watch: My Personal Account Of How Our Leaders In Washington Are Denying One Of Our Most Fundamental Rights:

As a delegate from North Carolina at the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC), I sought the truth about GMO-labeling from the leaders of our country and was completely appalled at what I discovered. As many people may know, our food is missing a very important label – one that President Obama, the FDA, and the USDA have made a concerted effort to deny us from having.

This label is for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are in 90% of our processed food. GMOs are foods biologically manufactured in laboratories – injected with new DNA, viruses, herbicides, insecticides and/or other chemicals – to be resistant to synthetic chemicals and are completely different than hybridizing techniques allowed by nature. Furthermore, GMOs receive patents by the U.S. Patent Office because they have been deemed to be unique and different. Over 50 countries around the world require GMOs to be labeled or regulated.The U.S.A. does not.

President Obama promised to label genetically modified foods during his campaign in 2007 but once elected into office, he abandoned this stance. Why? Upsetting Big Ag and the chemical industry was not going to help him get re-elected in 2012. Protecting the rights of American consumers and keeping his campaign pledge were obviously of secondary importance.

Representing North Carolina at the DNC, I believed it was my obligation to hold the leaders I helped put in office accountable for their actions. Below are highlights from the GMO–labeling conversations I had with national democratic leaders, media and celebrities. I now know why a GMO-labeling law has never passed.

DNC

  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party didn’t know enough about the issue to respond. She has had 7 breast cancer surgeries and didn’t have an opinion about this issue that is directly related to health.
  • Senator Kay Hagan from North Carolina said she does not support labeling and we needed to look at “the science” of the issue. I asked her – “What does science have to do with our fundamental human right to know what is in our food?”
  • Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio began to answer my question saying states shouldn’t label GMOs independently of the federal government but stopped talking to me after I asked him if he was working on a federal labeling initiative.
  • Edward Avalos, Under Secretary of Agriculture stated during a lunch meeting that GMO-labeling laws must be specific for him to support them due to added regulation and enforcement of labels. I was surprised that he thinks the additional regulation would be a burden to our food system, considering all the countries who currently label GMOs. If China can label GMOs for billions of people, why would it be more burdensome for the United States to do the same?
  • General Wesley Clark, former Presidential candidate is completely against labeling because he is co-chairman of a lobby group for ethanol, which uses genetically-modified corn.
  • Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles looked at me like a deer in headlights and wouldn’t comment on the issue.
  • Jesse Jackson, former Presidential Candidate and Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff for President Obama, both said they didn’t know anything about the issue and had me repeat the question twice.
  • President Bill Clinton deftly avoided answering the question and instead told me about being vegan. He said he’s mostly vegan, but he eats fish twice a month.
  • Chris Matthews, talk show host on MSNBC, rolled his eyes at me and asked “When has that (GMO-labeling) ever been an issue brought up on one of my shows?”
  • David Gregory, Donna Brazile, and Savannah Guthrie wouldn’t comment on the issue.
  • Chuck Todd, NBC News White House Correspondent responded “Get people talking about GMOs and I will.”
  • Celebrities Ashley Judd, James Taylor, Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, and Jared Leto all agreed that Americans have the right to know what’s in their food and had a better grasp on the issue than all of the politicians I spoke to.
  • Will.i.am gave me a “high five” and mouthed off to reporters asking him questions “Now that’s the type of question you guys need to be asking me!” and “that’s the best question ever.”

When Secretary of the USDA Tom Vilsack spoke at the convention, I protested and held up a sign saying “LABEL GMOs”.  It was hard to listen to what he had to say because I was besieged by video cameras and photographers in the front row who tried to capture what I was doing. When I re-read Vilsack’s speech, I was reminded that he is bureaucrat, not a man willing to go against his financial ties to protect the rights and health of American citizens.  (The Washington Times reported the news story here.)

Despite polls consistently showing that more than 90% of the population want GMOs to be labeled, our leaders in Washington refuse to acknowledge this truth and will not implement mandatory GMO-labeling at the federal level.

Lucky for us, we can take matters into our own hands and we don’t have to wait for Washington. Each individual state has the power to enact labeling on their own and if they do, it will have a ripple effect on the rest of the nation and encourage other states to do the same.

I am not sure how we can move this country “Forward,” as President Obama suggests, if our food policy and the resulting health of our nation continues to go backwards. Labeling GMOs will allow us all to finally understand what we are eating. As American citizens, it is our fundamental right to know what’s in our food.

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125 Responses to “The United State of GMOs – Keeping Us in the Dark”

  1. FrankRizzo

    I know what GMO is and why it is bad but what is the process of GMO? I especially want to know what the process is for GMO meat. I wouldn’t even know where to begin on how they would genetically modify our meats.

    Reply
    • Chelsea (to FrankRizzo)

      Frank Rizzo, the animal itself is not genetically modified, they call it GMO meat only because the feed that the animal consumed before processing was GMO.

      And my question to the Food Babe, could you list some sources where you got your statistics from? I’m just curious to where you get your information and what research you have done on GMOs.

      I agree that Americans have the right to know what is in their food, I just feel that they should talk to farmers and people that directly deal with agriculture to learn about GMOs and how their food is produced instead of relying on internet information that isn’t always the real truth.

      Frank or Food Babe, if you’d like to learn more information about these topics, I can provide you with several links from bloggers who are real farmers and share how they produce the food we eat.

      Reply
    • Sol Rosenberg (to FrankRizzo)

      Hey Frank,

      Awesome name!

      Reply
  2. Larry Patchin

    Thank You for your involvement in making our food safer to eat.

    Reply
  3. Betty

    Vani,
    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the work you are doing for all of us who care about what we eat!!!

    Reply
  4. JOSEPH KEENAN

    We loved reading this article and if our government isn’t going to do anything about it…THANK GOD WE HAVE A MOUTH! We can spread the news like wildfire!!! Its so important that our friends and family know the dangers of GMOs, and once they understand and change, they will pass the word to the next person. VANI, THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT OUR COUNTRY.

    Reply
  5. Ana

    Thank you!!! When I had my first child I started to look at what I was actually feeding her. Yikes! It made me crazy to know what we as Americans are consuming on a regular basis. We wonder why kids have so many behavioral issues and adults being overwhelmed with depression and anxiety. The pharmaceutical companies are creating and pushing medicines we don’t need to cure illnesses that can be prevented with proper diet and nutrition. The more “illnesses” the more drugs they can make and sell for profits. Who else gains from this – politicians. Same with the food industry- cheap chemicals and GMO’s mostly coming from Monsanto go deep into politicians’ pockets. Not to mention most of the panel on the FDA use to work at Monsanto. There’s a place for science and technology, and there have been many issues these industries have honorably helped solve, but they have let greed go overboard and saturate our markets with consumables that are literally killing us slowly.
    It all comes down to $$ – and we forget that as citizens we have the power of choice and responsibility to wisely chose where we spend our dollars. Thank you Vani for speaking up and rallying the FoodBabe Army!!

    Reply
  6. Rob

    I live in Canada and we have the same problem – NO GMO labeling. I found a solution – I stopped buying anything made by large food corporations like Kraft, General Mills etc assuming their “food” contained genetically modified materials. Anything like corn, beets, soy, canola produced by big Agro farming is genetically modified now – difficult to escape – and people do want to escape it – that’s why corporate food fears labeling. Solution – buy from your local farmer’s markets. You can buy a wider variety of produce, organic, fresh and produced by local people you know and trust. As a bonus your $$ go back into your local economy and support the wonderful people that grow it (your new friends)! Even buying organic from the supermarket doesn’t cut it if the produce is not fresh, picked unripened, shipped across the country dead and void of all nutrients.
    My first experience at our local farmers market was an epiphany moment for me. The selection astounded me – who knew carrots came in purple, yellow and white? Radishes that were pink, purple, white and every shade in between. Dozens of varieties of greens; multiple varieties of everything – and everything had taste – unlike the tasteless greens in the plastic box at the supermarket. I tried something new every week as the veggies came in and went out of season.
    As well as the great taste of REAL food, the enjoyment of talking to the actual growers and learning about food, good feelings about supporting people I genuinely liked and putting my money back into the local economy, guess what? My health also improved – my cholesterol went down, my blood pressure went down and I lost a few pounds (weight loss wasn’t really my goal as I was only 10 pounds over weight but on a healthy nutrient rich diet your body will stabilize to its normal weight naturally without dieting). I had previously ate a lot of pasta, rice and starchy foods. I cut out wheat (another long story, suffice to say modern wheat BAD). I replaced my high carb diet with a ton of salad greens – kale, arugala, spinach, chard, carrots, onion, radishes, tomatoes, apples – again multiple varieties of each, never tiring! To my shock and surprise I replaced a ton of carbs with greens and felt satisfied – no cravings like I used to get even after eating big meals of carbs. I later learned this is not surprising since the cravings occur when your body is not getting the nutrients it needs – it’s not about volume but the quality of the food you eat – no one ever told me that, I had to discover it myself!
    Anyway this is getting long but I was inspired to write after discovering Vani’s website. The truth is out there – do a little work, change your habits and your life will change. You don’t need to be held hostage to the corporations that are killing you!

    Reply
  7. Michelle Anderson

    Thank you for all of your hard work. I think you are an incredible leader in taking on the food industry. I look forward to your next investigation.
    TheNumberOneSister Michelle Anderson
    TheSisterProject

    Reply

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