The Roberts-Stabenow Dark Act – an effort to hide clarity in food labeling

July 1st has come and gone, and the specifics of this date are extremely important for food labeling activists around the united states.  Specifically, this date has induced the first national Genetic Engineering Labeling Law in the United States.  This law is plan and simple, and it requires companies to put in plain English if the food product within the packaging has ingredients that use Genetic Engineering.   Much more can be read at Vermont’s Right to Know GMO site.

Like California laws regulating emissions and toxicity of fibers or chemicals that can cause cancer,  Vermont’s Label law is significant in a federal way.  The specific reason is that it fills gaps in regulations and laws that congress has not preempted or superseded.  However, on the heels of this victory – there is trouble brewing in the air.  This trouble is the “Roberts-Stabenow ‘Dark Act'”.  What is this act, why is congress so intent on making their own regulations and what could happen if they don’t make their own food labeling laws – are the 3 things I want to look at today.

To begin with, the Roberts-Stabenow act is a food labeling act attempted to be implemented by congress.  This would be the first labeling of Genetically Engineered foods at this level.  Currently there are no existing regulations on this type of food product at the national level.  There are roughly 50 state led efforts of varying degree.  The most successful of these is the Vermont law, which went into effect on July 1, 2016.  This law, simply put, requires all companies to put a simple statement if any of the ingredients are genetically engineered.

In the Federal system that we Americans live under, there are essentially 50 plus governments that create a standard of rules for the entire federal system.  This is because each state has sovereignty within it’s own borders.  Due to this sovereignty, there are existing situations where, either for the methods of prosecution or based on the will or need for safety of the people, individualized regulations have been created.  Such laws such as Cannabis regulation are an example of such sovereignty.  Truth in Food Labeling is another.  While states have rights to create their own regulations within their borders, these can not be in direct negation or conflict with the federal regulations.  States can for example, enhance requirements on air pollution locally that are stronger than say – EPA regulations.

This is especially true where Federal regulations have not set up regulations in their place.  When a state does come up with regulations that are more stringent or fill gaps that congress has not, it is possible for the states to step in and fill the role on a localized or even national level.    Have you ever seen on games shows like The Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune where they give away cars and the announcer says “this automobile meets or exceeds California Emissions Standards”?  As we can see in this New York State Government Website, California Emissions Standards are being adopted by multiple states around the nation as they were more stringent that those enacted by the federal government.  In order to sell their cars to the largest single US market, manufacturers had to meet the California Standards.  Instead of making separate autos for the rest of the states, these standards have become part of national automobile sales by default.

Why is this important?  According to the American Jurisprudence 2d – Constitutional Law ( available at most libraries by signing in through their web systems):

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What is your food policy?

When you go to the grocery store, how much effort to you put into thinking about what the food policy of your household is?   It’s an interesting question that has been pushing me around the web lately.

I grew up in Wisconsin and quite honestly, I remember having a garden all my childhood.  I worked in the gardens, spending summers weeding plants, composting and of course harvesting the ‘vegetables’ of my labor.  I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on a couple – harvesting hay and milking cows were the two things I enjoyed the most.

In addition, my grandparents would often take me out to find asparagus and walnuts.  In the kitchens of family members, and at home, preparing meals with naturally grown foods was a common occurrence.  At the same time, I remember growing up listening to local farm reports and highly respected media personalities talk about Roundup Ready crops.

Through some secondary education and into the career world I didn’t consider my diet much, consuming pizza and mass produced and big farm manufactured foods.  Based on my consistency of food consumption and employment my weight, mental state and overall health has fluctuated greatly.  Over the years I have seen how processed and prepackaged food have enhanced the levels of illnesses in others.   Avoiding soda and high sugar processed items, as well as my personal battle to prevent the purchase of plastics in my daily life has helped me to eat fairly responsibly.  I don’t by any means eat organic and it’s difficult to eat 100% fresh.  Especially on a budget.

Then I learned about Genetically Modified Foods also known as GMO’s.  I learned how, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications,  roughly 90% of core crops: Sugar Beets, Soybeans, Corn and Cotton are grown with gmo seeds.   Modified seeds can’t be that bad, can they?  It’s a question I asked and did lot’s of research on.  Recently I saw a picture, it made things very clear to me, showing how GMO corn is: Corn +DNA from soil bacteria + genes from e.coli plus more bacteria that causes tumors in plants.

So, now I have a food policy.  In every circumstance possible I buy local.  I am trying to avoid shopping for processed foods, go to farmers markets and am doing my best to buy free range animals.  When in doubt, I am using a smartphone app call Buycott.  This app allows me to scan the bar codes of products and it tells me if I am about to purchase an item that is conflict with my core values.   In addition I am watching movies like Food Fight ( you need a HULU account), following entities like The Organic Consumers Association and watching feeds on Facebook from groups in my community like March Against Monsanto- Denver and GMO Free USA the parent group of many GMO free state entities.

All of this takes work, time and effort.  In addition to changing my shopping habits, I’m contributing time in my community focusing on educating others about what I have learned.  In addition I’m pushing for legislation that requires Food Labeling on all things containing any GMO products.

For me, it’s worth the quality of life, and the knowledge that I am not killing myself in the process of enjoying life.  Do you think being educated and making the kind of changes I am is worth it?

 

How do voices get lost in the crowd?

Sometimes, as a mid-lifer I enjoy taking the time to sit back and evaluate things… it’s much different than in my youth where I just moved and maybe if an adult was lucky, I’d actually consider the consequences of my actions sometime in the near future.  There are a lot of things to think about these days.  Science and progress are moving at rates that are unchecked and many predictions I remember from the classroom, my family and all the reading I did in magazines like National Geographic, Popular Science, Field and Stream is coming back to me.  Stories about how human expansion and development would cause problems, how changes were necessary to curb the damage the usage of fossil fuels, accelerate the development of renewable energy, protect the environment and remember the lessons of generations past.  My fathers stacks of magazines from the 60’s and 70’s showed wildlife in nature like I would never have a chance to see and they stressed the importance of conservation, on taking care of nature as we enjoy it so that it will sustain us for years to come.  I’ve become more and more aware of how much these warnings are coming true.  The concepts within Science fiction from 100 years ago is part of modern life, and many modern day science fiction movies are predicting a sad future for us.  On example is including the popular children’s cartoon by Pixar Studios – Wall-E where the main character has been cleaning up Planet Earth’s garbage for over 700 years with no shortage of work in site.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to get involved in a newer grassroots movement that continues to bring me amazement in the efforts of altruistic humanity vs the reality of greed and power.  While I know the history of the human effort to rise up against the oppressor is always a story of the one that does not have against the one that has; today’s oppressors are not the Kings and Queens or a murderous barbarian with his legions but instead are the face of private corporations with visions of Global domination in their marketplace.  Not all companies are ‘oppressors’ mind you.  There are many who’s leadership and the culture developed within them are intended to be beneficial not only as a company who’s services are useful to their customer base, but also have a moral and ethical guiding within them to provide products and services that are intended to benefit the world around them.

So many times this can happen where the consequences of such actions over time become a beast that turns the public against the company.  We don’t always know how the change has gone from a good idea to a bad one – but when a good idea has gone bad, it becomes clear to all of those who look at the problem in an unbiased way.  In the 70’s it was a good idea to open up trade on a global level – expose 2nd and 3rd world countries to manufacturing opportunities – until companies like Wal-Mart went to American businesses and said, “If you don’t take these manufacturing positions out of the country, we’re going to stop doing business with your company because we demand you lower the core cost of these items.”

Have you ever had a packaged beverage?  If you are reading this blog the obvious answer is of course: you have.  Virtually every very form of consumable product manufactured today has some form of plastic used as part of the system you pay for to have relatively safe, fresh, and consumable food to eat when you are ready for it.  While the manufacture of plastic polymer’s has been occurring for over 150 years, the active efforts of creating efficient ‘depolymerization’  efforts are so new that most people don’t even know the technology exists. Instead, we live in a world where plastic is considered ‘trash’ or ‘garbage’ as if the item has found the end of it’s useful purposes and is now devoid of value.  Instead, pristine locations around the world are becoming trash dumps.

Instead of having a unified voice of discontent forcing effective change on the wheels of corporate responsibility, large corporations have little to worry about as 1000’s of environmental organizations, fight for your attention to achieve aligned results.  The focus on education, raising funds to stay solvent, and achieve the stated objectives has each individual group swimming upstream while the flood of environmental toxins continues to be manufactured without thought to the reclamation process.  Big companies are safe from lots of little voices  talking at one time creating a din of noise.  The size and scope of lobbies and political action organizations in the United States has become what it is, because some of the little voices, and many of the big ones have come to understand that the impact of the unified voice.  Unions created at the turn of the 20th century were looked upon an unamerican and a danger to our country and way of life, yet they only wanted to have fair and equal treatment, and only by gathering in a unified voice were they able to achieve it.  Today companies like Wal-Mart, continue to teach disadvantaged Americans the ‘harms of the union’

Earlier this year, some people with inside information helped inspire, develop and legislate a measure commonly known as the, “Monsanto Protection Act”  because somewhere in the executive chain at Monsanto someone felt that it was time to seek federal protections from the liability from damages that their products could potentially inflict on local American Biospheres due to the fact that man made genetic organisms are being created on a regular basis and released into the world with only the manufacture of these creatures being determined to be responsible and liable to test these organisms and determine if they are safe for release outside of white sterile facilities to be released into the real world.  The problem with this is that the companies doing all the science behind creating these new life forms are indeed the ones being held responsible by our government, to test the safety. Here is an example on the FDA’s website. Why the United States government is following these uncommon practices might not make much sense to the common person, unless you understood how the system works.

The department within the United States government that is tasked with the responsibility of unbiased third party food safety regulation is the FDA or the Food and Drug Administration. Roughly thirty years ago, a young idealist was working for this very organization probably had no idea that history books in 100 years may point the fingers of blame directly on his role as a perpetrator in the poisoning and destruction of the American Population from within.  However, as  Michael R. Taylor, J.D., Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine’s own FDA profile indicates, he’s a former VP for Monsanto.

Here’s how things get tricky.  The FDA’s mission [according to this Powerpoint (found on their site)]:

“ helping to speed the innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer and more affordable; and helping the public get accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.”  Simply put, the only way to ensure ‘science-based information’ is accurate is to have 3rd party testing, something the FDA is NOT currently doing in this arena.  The example I provided is one where the manufacturer has said, “Our scientists believe this” and the regulator has said, “Great! Thank you for doing all the work – on your own products, for us.”

So I’ve been thinking, as I stated earlier, that things aren’t always what they seem to be.  It really is possible that all those warnings people have been making, maybe there’s not so much crazy to them after all.  Now, that I’ve exposed one current way that the naysayers might not be crazy, maybe you can help me figure out how to keep large unified voices active, without breaking them up into 100’s or thousands of small insignificant ones…

My guest post for the March Against Monsanto Denver

My guest post for the March Against Monsanto Denver

This was part of my grassroots efforts to share the educational process through using my experiences to help people understand the problems behind Genetically Modified Foods, also known as GMO’s.  The plants have been modified to survive the consumption of poison and are a mixture of plant and bacteria genetics incorporated into the human food stream while there is strong evidence of poisoning, genetic defects and terminal diseases in humans and animals that consume them.

What’s the deal with Monsanto, GMO’s and this #MarchAgainstMonsanto?

#GMO, #Organic, #M25, #MAM #Monsanto and #Poison are just some of the tweets you may be seeing over the next few months as many are predicting that 2013 is the year of protests and marches against corporations that are proven to have track records that are not environmentally responsible.

Many people who read this may ask why.  It’s a valid question.  Is this something new?  No it’s now new.  Here’s the skinny –

Monsanto is a poison manufacturing company that has been making corn and soybean plants that survive to their poisons for over 20 years.  This began as an improvement over the types of poisons being used on farm fields before the EPA banned the use of DDT on Dec, 31 1972.   These plants are now part of our food stream and foods and animals like it are becoming commonplace without labeling and exposing the research that proves eating poison resistant food causes cancer in lab rats.  Generally when lab rats don’t react well to things, it’s bad for humans.  The poisons being used on ‘weeds and insects’ are not cycled so the weeds are becoming resistant to the current versions.  Now Monsanto wants to increase the levels of poison or ‘insecticide’ because the weeds aren’t going away as well anymore.

There has been a stir in the United States of late because we are just catching up to all the crap going on in the United States.  I mean we’ve been at war for the last decade.  Additionally we have been dealing with greedy banks and an automotive industry that collapsed.  Besides being in a recession, health insurance, mental health, gun violence and an exploding murder rate and oceans that are on the verge of death because of plastic pollution and nations that won’t follow the rules…  oh that and our government is being exposed for being in bed with Monsanto… http://twitpic.com/cqmlh9

Why has this become an issue?  Like all things that come to the level of attention on an international level where the EU has banned growth of GMO plants and Golden Rice is being contested around the world , it’s because the growing problem threatens life on earth as a whole.  GMO’s aren’t  just corn and soybeans by Monsanto Corporation, it’s Apples that don’t brown so fast, fish and chickens developed to grow larger than nature created and at a quicker rate.    Let me explain it this way, if they created a way for a 9month old child was the size of a five year old – would you freak out?  This is an example of what they are doing.  Some of this was created for the purpose of  saving the world and developing stronger food crops, like the Golden Rice project.  For major food crops, the problem of pesticides on crops is not anything new.  Monsanto is the major player in this game, and has grown on an international level to have a major level of control over the planets food system.

Like all things that involve science, research costs money.  To invest in creating these things lays an expectation by shareholders that the research becomes profitable.   The research was begun as a way to feed people more efficiently.   Unfortunately, it hasn’t stayed this way.  Monsanto’s efforts have become such a power grab to control the world’s food stream that they have positioned themselves, and former emploee’s in positions of government where regulations impacting the future of our food stream are being pushed through a regulatory process to implement across the board ability to produce without repercussions if something goes wrong. This is a problem because Monsanto has a history of creating things that are proven to cause harm to animals and humans.  This doesn’t account for the new products they are trying to introduce into the farming system.  Honestly, many rural farmers are caught in a bind.  As planting season is upon us or already complete in much of the country, the concerns about the ability to harvest biotech crops is a concern many farmers face.

So, March Against Monsanto has been created.  Why?  Because the people are responsible for the education of one another.  Change happens when people ask questions of one another, when congressional representatives are called into action and accountability to watch over the welfare of the people.  On May, 25 2013 people from around the world will be gathering, in cities large and small.  They will be coming together in peaceful assembly on the steps of state capitals and community centers around the world.  The effort and intention is to bring world wide accountability, a unified voice of the citizens of the world saying enough is enough.  The intentions of making better crops has been surpassed and there is science to prove it.  Just take a few minutes to type “Cancer, GMO, Testing”.  Either you will get sick or you will be glued to your screens for days to come!

What to do about it now?  Register for your local march!!!  This link takes you to the closest march near you.  Scroll the line to the right and you will find the Facebook link, Go Register and show support by telling others!   Go to Facebook, Twitter, your local grocery store.  Post some flyers, be the Grassroots change!   Begin requesting labeling of GMO foods, call your representatives and tell them how you feel.  Come to the March itself!  Be proactive with your shopping, buying from local organic farmers, converse with them about the food you are eating.  Plant a garden in your yard.

This is a video I found on YouTube that is about 13 Minutes long, by TheHealthRanger but it’s extremely important in getting the truth out.