Have you noticed the little blue labels under certain products in the aisles of the nearest Whole Foods Market? They read ‘Gluten Free’ and are placed next to specific items to let people with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance know that a product is safe for them to consume. This is a laudable and humane courtesy on the part of the Whole Foods Corporation – letting people know that some products are safe to eat, while others could cause life-threatening damage to the health of the consumer.
But there’s a label missing from the long shelves at Whole Foods and pretty much every other market in the United States: the one that should read Contains Genetically Modified Organisms. For the love of money, our government continues to refuse to label GMO products, and as the quote accompanying the above image indicates, genetic engineering corporations are fully aware of the fact that alerting the shopping public to the presence of GMOs could cause consumers to flee such products like the plague.
I am not personally hopeful about convincing compromised government officials or Monsanto’s minions as to the suicidal immorality of what they are doing to the world’s food supply, but I can see the sense in approaching Whole Foods and every surviving neighborhood health food store on the subject of GMO labeling, because every one of these markets trades on the idea of a higher quality product and a higher degree of commitment to human and environmental health. Don’t know the ABCs of GMOs yet? Before you read further, spend 1 hour and 50 minutes watching The World According To Monsanto and I can pretty much guarantee, your world view will be forever changed for the wiser and better by this acclaimed film.
“Heath Starts Here,” proclaims my Whole Foods shopping bag, which has also been variously emblazoned with slogans over the years along the lines of, “We’re making a difference,” “Healthy Eats”, “Pack A Healthy Lunch”, “Love What You Eat”, “Stock Up On Healthy Options,” etc.
These sentiments and tips all sound good, but our country’s truth in advertising laws are not compelling Whole Foods to back up claims of ‘healthy’ with any types of studies, warnings or labels regarding the presence of GMOs in a major percentage of the products they vend. Google ‘scientists against GMOs’, ‘doctors against GMOs’ and you will discover just how many non-compromised researchers are speaking out against genetic modification. And, be sure you watch the segment of The World According To Monsanto about the eminent Scottish doctor, Arpad Pusztai, whose discovery of the alarming effects of genetically engineered potatoes on laboratory animals resulted in him being fired years ago.
This is precisely the education every American needs to see beyond the vague and hollow claims of ‘healthy’ being used by markets and manufacturers to promote their strong brands and, very often, offer reason for the higher price tags on their goods.
The bottom line is that if what you put in your shopping cart isn’t 100% organic, and if it contains any trace amount of corn, soy, canola, cottonseed or beets, it is probably genetically modified. Because a major portion of all processed foods contain some form of corn or soy (often listed in techie-sounding ingredient terms that don’t use the words ‘corn’ or ‘soy), doing the math means that most non-organic processed foods are genetically modified. And the manufacturers aren’t going to label this because they make more profit out of doing things on the cheap. And the government is too tied up in profit arrangements to mandate such labeling. And the so-called natural food markets aren’t doing a much better job, despite their self-proclaimed stance of being ‘caring’.
In January of the this year, Whole Foods did something that was so the opposite of caring, it may make writing this article seem rather useless. Their own power truly went to their heads in appointing themselves representatives of the organic movement and urging the USDA to green light the ‘conditional deregulation’ of Monstanto’s genetically engineered alfafa, causing organic farmers, consumers and organizations around the globe to cry, “foul” and “what on God’s green earth are you doing?”.
So, why bother to confront a corporation that would do such a thing? Why bother to suggest that Whole Foods voluntarily begin putting a little colored sticker underneath any product in their inventory that is not GMO-free? I’m dreaming large, surely, but I’m not alone.
Dedicated, educated groups like Millions Against Monsanto and the Organic Consumers Association are spearheading organized citizen rallies and marches, urging companies like Whole Foods to stop claiming to support organics while selling billions of dollars worth of genetically engineered products. If you read the article I’ve linked to, you’ll see that these folks mean business and are forming specific plans for putting pressure on these corporations to start walking their talk. Wide scale boycotts may well be in the offing.
Dollars and ethics
I admire and respect every American who is joining in these rallies and movements. Without a doubt, in our capitalist society, our money speaks loudest to people who hear in dollars and cents. But I would like to put my request more simply, and this goes out to Whole Foods and every other natural foods market in the nation:
“Voluntarily label your products as genetically engineered because you actually do care.”
Take a load off our jaded shoulders, weighted down with the cynicism that comes of dealing with one lie after another, couched in the language of positive marketing. Don’t pretend to care. Care. You people at Whole Foods Corporate Headquarters are sitting in a position of genuine power for good or evil – and I mean of the epic, saga, cliffhanger kind of good and evil.
Just imagine if you were to label all of those GMO products carefully, with a little sticker in the style of the ‘gluten free’ one you already use. You would be able to watch, in action, exactly how many of your customers would stop putting all of that scary junk in their baskets and their bodies, because you’d lifted them out of ignorance into a position of dignified, informed decision making. And then, like watching a hero’s journey unfold, you could witness the live response of the companies who are so far skating by using GMOs in their products. You could watch to see if they face the music and upgrade to 100% organic ingredients or fall off the market into anonymity for failing to meet true consumer demand.
And, you could watch the organic farms grow – the ones putting in the special effort to source and grow organic corn, soy, and other crops. Your corporation is so huge: the money coming down to organic farmers vs. conventional ones really would make a difference – one you could tout with pride on your shopping bags and in your stores. You, Whole Foods executives, could make an absolutely real change in the world. You are in a unique position to do so. See this as your moment in history where you take a stand for what you stand for and know that your decision will be affecting life on Earth for generations to come.
Whew – that’s a lot on your shoulders, but in ethical societies, there has always been a certain obligation of the rich towards the poor. You’ve made yourselves rich, and you are definitely powerful. Your shoppers are absolutely ripe for this experiment – and it’s one without the harms and shames inherent in the GMO experiment going on with Americans’ health. Let your shoppers decide. Give them the choice. Really care. You’ve already got those blue sticker machines that print the Gluten Free labels. Turn on the presses and let them print the truth about what is in the non-organic products.
There are so many good reasons for you to do this, from a business standpoint, because telling the truth to your customers is the only way you will ever truly know what they want. But let me treat you, for just a moment, like folks – and ask you to do this not for money, but for love. I’m watching in faith and hoping to see you do something different – do something right.
For more info. on the GMO issue visit www.badseed.info
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