Archive for the ‘Genetically modified organisms’ Category

Imagine if genetically engineered crops could contaminate conventional and organic fields through transfer of pollen or even virus.  Now consider the implications of random, unintended gene transfer crossing from the Plant Kingdom to the Animal Kingdom.  Finally, think about the after-effects of a transgene promoting resistance to toxic herbicides, like Glyphosate, the primary chemical applied to a growing number of crops throughout the United States – including residential lawns in the form of RoundUp.  This is not fiction. This is a runaway train fueled by profit-seeking and misdirection.  If we don’t stand up as a people and pull up the tracks right now – rail by tie across our nation – it will continue to pummel our legislators’ regulatory authority.

We have already discovered damning evidence of transgene contamination in a wide range of agriculture.  Researchers have also found proof that transgenes can cross from plant life to animal life harming the sensitive gut micro biome and resulting in disturbing health effects.  Know that despite the agriculture industry claims of GMO innovations being created to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, the reality has instead amplified the application of such chemicals.  Recently, the EPA ruled in favor of increasing Glyphosate levels in edible crops as petitioned by Monsanto without regard to public disapproval or safety.  In fact, the EPA approved regulatory increases that were 15 to 25 times the previous levels without any independent safety research or queries!  They just took Monsanto’s word for it!

These lax policies continue to lay groundwork for increasing health problems from autism to Alzheimer’s, celiac disease and food intolerance, as well as other auto-immune disorders.  It’s true that correlation does not necessarily equal causation, but Nancy Swanson’s statistical graphs paint such a strong picture it’s hard to deny the potential.

Graph depicting rise of glyphosate use corresponding to autism prevalence.

The rise of GMO foods has resulted in the increasing use of Glyphosate herbicides. When this data is overlapped with autism prevalence rates the correlation is astonishing.  To see more of Nancy’s statistical analysis, access her full report as archived on Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s MIT page here.

Today, successful biotech companies are vying to launch GMO salmon, GE mosquitoes, and even genetically modified grass and trees.  I wish these truths scared more people.  I wish they rattled them in their core as deeply as a missed touchdown or unexpected sack during the Super Bowl does diehard football fans.  But alas, here I sit on Transgene Island wondering how any corporation could be trusted to maintain contamination control of unregulated “RoundUp Ready” Kentucky Bluegrass, genetically engineered mosquitoes to be released in the Florida Keys, or even innovative GE trees in the Pacific-Northwest. Can we escape the pre-emptive damages if the TPP gets congressional approval for Fast Track Authority?  Will our state leaders fighting for GMO labeling continue to stand up when corporate giants like Monsanto threaten states’ rights to mandate regulations by lawsuit?  Kauai is coming together and fighting to restrict GMO testing as well as the use of experimental pesticides and herbicides.  Perhaps they will inspire more of us to make the necessary calls to government leaders, file comments with the EPA and FDA for relevant rulings, and continue to share growing knowledge about the damages caused by the biotech industry’s blatant disregard for safety and health.

More information:8108_325330440886734_1767318387_n

Watch Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s Presentation on the harmful effects of Glyphosate, “Roundup: The Elephant in the Room.”  Fast-forward to 19:43 for an enlightening explanation of the adverse effects of this toxic chemical in plant life as well as the human body.

Get tested for Glyphosate in your water and body through a lab sourced by Moms Across America.

Learn more about GMO basics in my earlier post GMO 101.

Understand how labeling presents no hardship to food manufacturers – read Truth in Coding.

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Many years ago, I was a marketing manager at a global manufacturer of industrial marking and coding products.  I also spent several years working with a bar code scanning manufacturer who was very involved in providing innovative automatic data capture solutions for a large number of challenging industries – including packaging. In my experiences working in these roles, I learned about how all manner of product was required to be marked or identified in some way.  Our clients needed to mark individual products with expiration dates or best buy codes.  They needed to identify entire lots or batches of products produced.  They not only needed to mark the products, they needed to track them through the manufacturing and distribution process.  Today, even the U.S. government tracks parts and assets used throughout the military with item unique identification codes (IUID) throughout their full life cycle of usage.  Whether for compliance to various regulations or conscientious safety reasons, these identification marks are made on parts and products from glass to metals to pharmaceuticals and even food products.  Today, you only need to look on the bottom of any can of soda to see a small inkjet print providing this identification.  Open your fridge and look at a container of milk or juice – you’ll likely find another inkjet or laser mark providing the product’s expiration date.  These marks are everywhere.  We rely on them to keep us safe.

Close-up view of actual existing identification marks on juice box.

Example identification mark as printed on typical juice box with batch, expiry, country of manufacture, and other information. This article proposes that the food industry could easily add three additional characters to identify various products as “GMO,” for far less than one penny. In fact, a typical industrial small character inkjet printer may print up to 85 million marks per single liter of ink – with one liter of ink priced at only $90 on today’s market. Most food manufacturers and distributors already have this type of equipment in place on their production lines.

Time and time again, pro-GMO food manufacturers present the suggestion that requiring labeling on GMO-containing foods is too cumbersome, expensive, and unproductive.  They suggest there are a great many hardships that must be overcome before the adoption of GMO labeling could be fully implemented – that the cost of food would soar, small producers would be overtaken with burdensome cost, and some retailers may be unable to accommodate mandated regulations.  The real truth to the cost myth associated with labeling GMO foods is that the biotech and food industry have been feeding us lies designed to emotionally impact voting participants.  They know that we are all affected by the fears associated with rising prices or economic hardship.  They know that these lies influence voters and have been effective in defeating both Prop 37 in California and I-522 in Washington in the past two years.

I am here to share some of the truth behind these labeling lies.  I have worked in the identification industry for well over a decade and the most constant thing I’ve learned in this time is that just about every company has a need to produce some kind of identification for tracking every product they manufacture.  The framework for this level of identification is already in place for most manufacturers – especially those within the food industry.  Regulations and industry quality standards require most foods to be tracked by production batch, provide an expiration date, and more, so that safety concerns can be controlled quickly and thoroughly in the event a recall becomes necessary.  Most of these manufacturers, and even many distributors, already possess the identification equipment to make these marks on products and packages within their facilities.

There is absolutely no hardship in requiring such manufacturers or distributors to add three characters to their existing identification mark.  In fact, we’re talking far less than a single penny to produce millions of such markings.  In this industry, our customers often look at a metric defined as the cost per mark.  This takes into account the actual cost of the proportion of ink, or other necessary material, required to produce actual marks on a customer’s packages.  Of course, we also consider the cost of maintenance and other important factors, but remember, these guys already have this type of equipment sitting in their production/distribution facilities, right now.  They don’t have to go and buy a new machine – it’s likely already there and has been printing batch, expiry or best buy date codes for years.  They just need to update the equipment’s existing programs to include three little letters, “G-M-O.”  I asked for estimated “cost per mark” figures from a number of companies on LinkedIn.  I would like to quote one leading manufacturer’s quoted cost per mark metric to ensure you understand how minuscule this labeling cost really is, “85 million marks per liter of ink with one liter of ink approx. $90.”  This cost is projected for small character inkjet marking, however another marking manufacturer suggested laser might be the best method of coding such information because these marks are impossible to tamper with after printing.  Either way a company might chose to go, the cost is not a factor.  Laser doesn’t use ink and the cost of ink to produce three additional characters alongside existing individual product coding is a non-issue!  Take 85 million marks and divide this number by three and you’ll agree we’re talking well under a penny for basic GMO labeling per item.

So how is it that representatives from the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and big biotech corporations continue to threaten voters with increased cost myths?  How do these distributors or manufacturers suffer from any hardship in adding three additional small characters to their existing coding process?  They only get away with this ruse because most people have no way to know or understand the actual cost of such things.  Why would an individual even care about the story behind the tiny marks on packages they encounter every day?  I didn’t until I entered the identification industry many, many years ago.  Seriously, think about these facts and share this article so that others may also understand the issue of cost is a myth and what’s worse, I believe this is a well known truth throughout the packaging industry by its biggest stakeholders.

These companies don’t need to incur costs redesigning packages or producing fancy new labels.  They don’t even need to provide extensive information, because for most consumers it only matters if a product contains GMO ingredients – not what percentage is present or specifically what ingredients are classified as GMO.  Three little characters printed by existing manufacturing equipment on individual product packages solves the debacle completely and without additional cost.

The real cost is the perception and recognition that these foods may not be “substantially equivalent” as the industry would like us to believe.  Ultimately, they are afraid that more of us will stop buying these products if such a label is enforced and mandated.  If it becomes even easier for us to avoid it because it’s clearly labeled.  If this “hyped up” issue becomes a reality that is spelled out on packages where consumers notice – if it’s mandated by state-level or federal government – then it must not be just a bunch of hullabaloo!

A close family friend once said to me in jest, “Well my kids haven’t started glowing yet, so I’m not really worried about it.”  But, I guarantee that the presence of such labeling would give validation and credibility to growing consumer concern surrounding GMO foods and may give more shoppers, like my good friend, some pause within the store aisles.  These are the REAL truths behind the industry’s myths.  Many corporations have spent millions of dollars repeatedly to keep consumers in the dark – not because the actual labeling process is costly or burdensome, but because it may be the death of their profits and they know it.

Yours truly,

Muckraking Maven

Learn more:

  • Want to understand more basics on the potential hazards of GMO foods?  Read GMO 101 here.
  • Are you coping with food allergies, Celiac, or other health concerns?  Did you know GMOs may be hidden these specialty foods too? Get information here.

Tonight there are a million thoughts rolling around inside my head.  Of everything ruminating deep in my brain, there is one common denominator that continues to ring true.  This common factor is personal responsibility.  We Americans, must stand up for our beliefs, continue reaching out to others spreading awareness, and possessing ownership for the presence of personal responsibility when it comes to protecting our democratic rights.

The truth here is that our government has little intent to correct the damages caused by the continued growth of GMO crops.  The biotech industry has even less reason to recommend the reduction of farmer’s use of herbicides and pesticides.  There are no corporate lobbyists behind the implementation of transparency when it comes to food safety, regulations, or even labeling legislation as demanded by today’s American consumer.

In fact, to me, it seems that the more common interest proves American citizens desire to have GMO foods labeled; the more these corporations are willing to shamelessly discredit any damning independent research, hinder statewide efforts for mandatory labeling, negotiate to increase the allowable levels for glyphosate (RoundUp) on edible crops, and even orchestrate closed-door, international trade agreements.

Right now, our President is currently pushing Congress to grant permission for “Fast Track” approval of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  I believe that each and every one of us must diligently take a stand on this matter.  We must contact our senators, representatives through snail mail, social media, email, and even attempt to schedule face-to-face visitors with these lawmakers.  This must happen right now – or all the momentum gained on GMO labeling, GMO hazards awareness, and increased honesty in regulation may be lost.  Fast Track approval, officially known as “Trade Promotion Authority” for TPP negotiations is more dangerous than simply thwarting the anti-GMO movement.  These secret dealings are driven by ruling corporations and impact everything from future copyright infringement to patent law, public health, freedom of speech, and of course, food safety, among other important issues.  Check out this helpful handout created by the Flush the TPP organization for more basics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  If you’re interested in more than a brief summary, you can also download their excellent TPP Toolkit.  Would you like to know the specific corporations involved in these meetings?  Take a look at the running list here.  (Here is a copy of the February 2011 TPP featured on multiple websites.)

There have already been several reported documents leaked from these secret meetings that prove these corporations do not have honorable or even ethical intentions.  Imagine how our world might be, if a corporation like Monsanto could literally sue a city or country for “trade barriers” like food safety regulations, GMO labeling requirements, and so on.  With the TPP, this is a real possibility.  Imagine how a country might react when faced with the reality that they must either lift their trade restrictions or face a giant behemoth like Monsanto in a special tribunal court.  How fair and unbiased do you think such a court might be?  If it’s anything like the current U.S. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), it will be secretive, unethical, and will most often side with the corporations that have carefully crafted these processes to skirt legislation and the growing dislike of GMO-containing foods.

It is critically important that we let our lawmakers know that we are not in agreement with Fast Track approval of the TPP or any other trade dealings.  If Congress chooses to grant this permission, then they have effectively given up our constitutional right for any democratic process in such a matter.  Sign the petition to President Obama and U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman issued by the Organic Consumers Association.  Then  start contacting your members of Congress and state representatives to make certain our message is clear!  Don’t authorize Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership!!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking Maven

Last week, my husband and I were excited to meet a new, developmental pediatrician that has received rave reviews from many Mothers in our area.  The clinic is prestigious and known for providing expert and timely help for special needs children coping with a wide range of complex to serious medical issues.  We were hopeful that this may be the very doctor we have been searching for to really listen and consider my son’s health needs – without the fast paced cookie-cutter approach favored by so many doctors today.

Overall, the appointment went well enough.  My son’s doctor was gentle, understanding, and very kind throughout the exam.  He had a calming effect on my son that was never present with any previous physician’s.  However, when we got midway through my 4″ binder of Wyatt’s medical history, we screeched to a halt on the matter of vaccinations.   Now, this is not a new debate to me, nor is it a surprising one, but I was a little surprised at how close-minded the doctor became upon discussion of the known risks and potential for vaccine damage in children with a predisposition to adverse reaction.  He waved it off nonchalantly with a mention of how many parents are misguided by celebrity-driven medical advice and quack-extremist websites.

I can assure you that I am not misguided, when it comes to my son’s health.  I doubt many parents have journaled, logged, and tracked data like I have over the years when it comes to my son’s autism and the ebb and flow of behavioral challenges or health concerns.  I periodically track his nutrition by reviewing his diet closely a few times a year on a spreadsheet.  (Yup,  I’m OCD about this stuff.)  This ensures that I’m packing as much nutrition as possible into the meals he is willing to eat.  If a questionable or negative behavior arises, I chart its occurrence – as well as the events preceding and following such an event.  This helps me to uncover a root cause to address.  When in doubt, I create a social story because this is the most effective means for my son to quickly understand expected social cues and upcoming new experiences.  I inhale scientific studies with my morning coffee on a wide range of subjects.  I read beyond a study’s Abstract, even if this includes 50+ pages on average, per research paper.  My opinion on the vaccine-autism link is steeped in personal experience, 60+ scientific research studies, and the fact that my son continues to improve as we improve his diet, reduce his exposure to toxins, and gain success through homeopathic means (NAET) proven to help reduce negative autoimmune responses.  If Autism were solely genetic; why would simple interventions like diet, supplementation, and natural detox be so effective in reducing his “Autistic symptoms?”

I am ready for more debate with this doctor and know we are game for real investigation into the root cause of past vaccine reactions.  He has referred us to an immunologist for further testing and digging – so I’m hopeful that this may provide some of the answers we’ve been trying to find for years.  What’s on my wish list?  I want to know if my son has a sulfate or glutathione deficiency, metabolic dysfunction, or methylation pathway abnormality before I consider any future vaccination.  I’d like answers for the continued G.I. complaints, that are now much improved, yet lingering with undetermined cause.  If there is a way to correct such a deficiency upon discovery, then this may enable a path where my son could be safely vaccinated in the future – but only with a single dose, milk-protein free, G.E. yeast free inoculation – and only for truly critical vaccines NOT flu shots.

If you doubt the potential for adverse reaction, browse the list of more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate a vaccine-autism link.

If you doubt the potential for adverse reaction, browse the list of more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate a vaccine-autism link.  It’s quite impressive and revealing.

I am so grateful for Ginger Taylor’s excellent list of studies supporting a vaccine/autism link.  Shared by a friend online, this resource couldn’t have come at a better time; since my notes are scattered here and there in all manner of folders .  Why do so many doctors rely on research conducted decades ago?  How can they not question the rising prevalence rates (1 in 88, now 1 in 50…) and environmental factors?  Why are they not aware of a vaccine’s ingredients or FDA mandated contraindications?  Why do they like to lean on studies like this that report incomplete data that skirts around the real questions;   like this recent study by the Journal of Pediatrics?  This study is often cited as the proof that any vaccine-autism link has been reputed, which is simply not the case.  This particular study focuses solely on the potential for adverse reaction with regard to the antigens and polysaccharides within vaccines, not the presence of heavy metals like Hg and Al, or the impact of genetically engineered ingredients like yeast, aborted fetal tissue, or other questionable ingredients.  Well done, JPEDS, I agree that the antigens and sugars are unlikely to lead to an Autism diagnosis…but what about the real questions that remain here?

When I get mad, I educate.  When I face opposition, I naturally debate an issue.  The list created by Ginger Taylor is AWESOME and I wanted to share it to help any other families that have experienced adverse reactions in their children’s health.  Vaccines do not harm all children and in theory they are powerful allies to our health.  However, I don’t see the need for heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other toxins to remain in the mix.  Take these ingredients out!  Reduce the vaccine schedule and eliminate combination series shots.  Is there a possible connection between the use of genetically engineered yeast in the Hep-B vaccine and my son’s recurring yeast overgrowth? (I believe there could be.)

I don’t understand why my son’s doctors wouldn’t be more concerned with the presence of allergens that are known to cause severe reactions in children with these conditions!  (My son has a long history of severe food allergies and intolerance – but somehow this is not a concerning factor.  Milk proteins cause intestinal bleeding in my son – I would imagine that a shot containing milk proteins is far worse than simply eating a food containing milk proteins.)  In fact, I believe this is why he had to be hospitalized for a week after his DTAP series of shots when only 2 months old. )  In brief, when there are 60+ studies that exist that do show potential for causation, why aren’t we pre-screening our children to ensure the noted deficiencies do not present a predisposition to vaccine damage prior to immunization?  I’m not asking for any weird science here…why wouldn’t we want to reduce potential risks in a product that is inherently not safe?  (And that’s exactly how our FDA puts it, “inherently unsafe.”)

Checkout Ginger’s up-to-date list on her blog.  Print it out and keep it available for easy reference.  Do you think my son’s new doctor might question the existing dogma if I printed out a hard copy of each referenced study?  I think that’s how I’m going to handle this.  Could you imagine the look on his face if I brought in 68 printed peer-reviewed scientific studies – delivered to him at our next appointment in Trader Joe’s paper bags?!  (Yea, because I recycle…and have far too many of these bags saved up as it is.)  Do you think he’d believe that I don’t rely on celebrities for my information after that?!  I welcome the immunologist’s perspective and ability to help sift through potential root causes of my son’s past adverse reactions.  Despite our difference in opinion when it comes to vaccines, this is a step that no previous pediatrician has been willing to do.  For that, I am truly grateful.

Take care,

Muckraking Maven

I live in Fresno, California right in the heart of bread basket of the West coast.  I can walk to Fresno State’s agricultural fields and regularly drive past their corn, cotton, and alfalfa on a regular basis.  There are beautiful orchards blooming in the springtime and large plots growing famous California raisins all around the neighborhood.

These are amenities that many might think I should appreciate more fully.  However, since I became aware of GMOs and the resulting increased pesticide use, I look around our town and cringe, wondering exactly how this could be adversely affecting my family every day.

Here are some enlightening facts about Fresno, California:

  • As featured in a recent WebMD article, Fresno is one of the worst smog cities in the country, ranked #4 in the nation, “High traffic and heavy farming make ozone a big challenge in this city.  Nearly 1 in 3 children in Frenso has asthma.”
  • Fresno also received a mention in an article presented by Scientific American, “Autism Clusters Found in California’s Major Cities,” By Marla Cone & Environmental Health News.  According to this article, “The ten clusters were located in Los Angeles County, the Laguna Beach/Mission Viejo area of Orange County, the La Jolla/Del Mar area of San Diego County, San Francisco, the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara are, the Redwood City area, and Fresno.”
  • Additionally, the LA Times cited the percentage of children in my regional school districts (Clovis/Fresno Unified) as averaging 0.6% of all children with an Autism diagnosis.
  • Finally, recent research this February 2013, entitled, “Air Pollutants Linked to Asthma-Related Epigenetic Changes,” suggests that, “In Fresno, not only do they have to deal with a lot of pollution, but the children have higher rates of asthma as well as allergic rhinitis and other allergies, including food allergies and atopic dermatitis, ” said Dr. Kari Nadeau.  “Compared with the usual rates of asthma (12%_ and allergies (30%) in California, the rates are 22% and up to 70% in Fresno,” she explained.”What we have the most unique data on is to be able to trace a molecular level change at the DNA level to a cell function change, which was then associated with a health outcome such as asthma,” said Dr. Nadeau, emphasizing that, “The changes in the DNA are not at the sequence level, but rather at the methylation level.”

Historically, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is charged with implementing restrictions and regulations concerning TACs (Toxic Air Contaminants) resulting from the Toxic Air Contaminant Act.  A paper titled, “Second Hand Pesticides:  Airborne Pesticide Drift in California,” points out that the state of California leads our country in overall use of pesticides.  More than 315 million pounds of these chemicals were sold in 2000.  I tried to find some more recent figures, however these are pretty scarce online.  What is clear is that the DPR seems to prefer changing the conditions of use to enable increased use of TAC-labeled pesticides with fewer restrictions – and this is a growing trend that began in 1995.

I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’ve already worried my poor head about which surrounding crops could be GMO – and most especially Roundup Ready.  Did you know that right now, the EPA is considering increasing the allowable levels of Glyphosate (Roundup) in our U.S. animal feed and food supply?!  Recent studies have proven that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be one of the worst toxins to be regularly exposed to – let alone consumed daily.  I don’t like to even consider the potential for drift occurring in our hometown, but it’s ever-present.

Don't forget to tell the EPA no before July 1, 2013.

Don’t forget to tell the EPA no before July 1, 2013.

Learn more by reading these recent and condemning studies:

June 2013, Journal of Food & Chemical Toxicology, Highlights mention that Glyphosate initiates breast cancer cell growth.

April 2013, Entropy, Highlights conclude that this toxin induces systemic inflammation and may trigger G.I. disorders, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more.

So, just like the FDA believes GMO foods are safe, the EPA believes that Glyphosate is safe.  However, if you really want a detailed explanation of just how unsafe and biased these beliefs are, spend some time reading this excellent article where Mike Adams breaks it down in simple terms.  The only reason why GM foods and Glyphosate are currently deemed safe is because the supportive research was completed and likely manipulated by biotech manufacturers – like Monsanto.  The increased allowances for Glyphosate residue on foods, edible oils, and animal feed is nearly 1 million times the confirmed amount needed for causing cancer!

Please take a few moments to learn more about the dangers of Glyphosate – whether consumed in the food we eat or breathed in from airborne pesticide drift – it’s definitely not an acceptable decision to increase the allowable levels!  Visit the EPA regulations page to include your comment.  Let the EPA know that we have had enough of this shoddy protection before their July 1st deadline!  It’s time to take a stand & restore the health of our nation.

Don’t forget to drop by the Moms Across America page for updates from Zen on her cross-country trip and to check out current parades planned across our nation on July 4th!

Have a wonderful night!

Muckraking Maven

Like any kiddo there are many foods that my son has come to prefer over the past 4 years. Since I became aware of genetically engineered food and its potential for harm, I have become adamant that he not eat GMO-containing foods. Let me tell you this is neither easy nor pleasant for its a very tough change for my 4 year old with Autism to understand why he can no longer have his Kinnikinnick animal crackers or chocolate-vanilla sandwich cookies.  What’s worse? We deal with some pretty severe picky eating and have already invested in several rounds of food therapy…making this switch even more challenging.

My little guy can read exceptionally well. He’s informed me that he doesn’t want any veggies in his juice. (Already checking out the labels…) He’s begged me to bring back his Juicy Juice and even argued with me at the store telling me, “Look, it’s 100% natural for 100% kids!”  Now he responds with, “Oh no! GMOooos!” Still not totally getting it, but I simply won’t budge on this one. It’s truly in his best interest to eat organic whole foods. His health has improved immensely since this dietary adjustment was made last August. He gets sick less often, has less upset tummy, and genuinely seems to feel better.

I decided to contact the food companies with products my son misses most and was seriously disappointed with the results. At the very start, I don’t even understand why it’s that much harder to find GFCF foods without GMOs. The children that eat these foods already have many issues with food allergies, G. I. complications, and the like. Why would genetically engineered food be considered a good idea?

What really got me going was the Ian’s website, which allows for a convenient search by allergen. They even have a checkbox for GMO Free, and yet when I click this box in combination with Gluten Free and Casein Free the results equal a big fat zero. From 18 products down to none! Why do they only offer GMO free/organic selections for the products containing wheat, gluten, milk, etc., and not the allergy-friendly selections?

Here is the handy search page for Ian's foods.  You can see that I've checked off 4 allergens - wheat, gluten, milk, and casein free.

Here is the handy search page for Ian’s foods. You can see that I’ve checked off 4 allergens – wheat, gluten, milk, and casein free.  There are 18 products available within these search parameters.

Here, I've performed the same search with the addition of GMO-Free.  18 choices disappear...

Here, I’ve performed the same search with the addition of GMO-Free. All 18 choices disappear…

Why is it so much more difficult for food producers to source GMO-free ingredients for children with food allergies?  There are 5 choices available - unless you're allergic to wheat, gluten, milk, or casein.

Why is it more difficult for food producers to source GMO-free ingredients for children with food allergies? There are 5 choices available – unless you’re allergic to wheat, gluten, milk, or casein.

I called Kinnikinnick to discuss their foods and got a scripted response from their customer service rep. She shared that their products are 80% free of GMO ingredients and that if they do decide to change and source non-GMO ingredients it will be a long transition-likely 5 to 6 years or more to complete. She encouraged me to believe the FDA position on GE food safety and also discussed the standard-BS-rhetoric everyone seems to spew about labeling costs, package redesigns, and other complications.  Oh well Mr. W, it looks like we’ll be waiting 5-6 years before we try another Kinnikinnick cookie or cracker.

I was so fired up after that call that I drafted and sent an email to the president yesterday at Kinnikinnick. You can imagine how surprised I was to get a fast reply. He agreed that the labeling issues were minimal, but shared his insight to the underlying problem concerning the economics of sourcing non-GMO ingredients. Now, I understand the basic concept of supply and demand, but was disappointed at his complaints concerning premium cost for the purchase of said ingredients. I don’t know about you, but if your child is on the same diet as mine (GFCF) you’ve been paying premium prices all along. In fact, for $5.99+ for a small box containing only 10 or so graham crackers, I’m surely paying premium pricing for Kinnikinnick.  Why should I feel sorry for a lucrative corporation that wishes to cut more corners under the guise of necessary profit when the health of my child is at risk?! Bah!!  Work it out, and faster than half a decade people! We Mothers have become intolerant to the industry’s lackadaisical attitude surrounding the elimination of genetically modified ingredients!

Here is an excerpt from the President’s email (Jerry Bigam):

The packaging is only a minor problem and easy to resolve1I will talk to my staff to make certain that they have the proper response2.  The only problem is that there is not a simple answer to your question.    The major problems associated are primarily economic.   In short, non-GMO ingredients are considerably more expensive than regular products –  Generally speaking most of these ingredients are at least 25% to 30% more expensive. In addition the supply of many of these ingredients is not as reliable as with conventional products3.  At the moment, food processors like ourselves must rely on the supply of ingredients from independent suppliers.  There are simply not enough non-GMO ingredients to meet market demands and until farmers decide to plant much larger crops of non- GMO varieties the processing industry will have great difficulty sourcing the necessary ingredients.   Since the GMO varieties generally provide a significant increase in crop production for farmers it has proven very difficult to reverse the trend since these varieties provide better returns for their annual farming efforts3.  On a side note, a recent article I read noted that GMO varieties are responsible for about 25% of the world’s food supply and a shift to non-GMO will have major problems around the world…

I might add that in the cookies you mention that all the items are non-GMO except for the Canola, glucose and soy lecithin4.  I would also add that we have taken a great deal of time and effort to make allergy friendly foods.  All of our foods are gluten free, dairy free, tree nut free, peanut free and some are also egg free.  The addition of the non-GMO condition to all of these allergy friendly foods is a major problem which is just becoming an issue5.   If consumers in general decide that non-GMO is the way to go then that may force many of the ingredient manufacturing companies to produce the varieties that processors like ourselves would prefer to source.”

Now, I have several things to point out from the above statement:  1. First, here is another insider’s admission that the labeling/packaging complaints are a minor problem.  2. The awareness of GMOs and their potential for harm is spreading – so much so that this food manufacturer has provided their representatives with a script.  3.  Non-GMO crops have been proven to provide better yield with increased nutrition as compared to popular GMO crops.  There is no truth to the supply of non-GMO crops being less reliable than competing genetically engineered varieties.  See this comprehensive info sheet for more detail from The Non-GMO Project.  The President does discuss an important point regarding the need for farmers to make a definitive switch to non-GMO crops before food producers will begin switching out GMO-containing ingredients for more “real food” choices.  This is an unfortunate, but true fact. However, I’d like to point out the truth that our momentum continues to grow and pressure these companies with each passing day.  We simply will not give up on labeling GMOs, in fact, a large number of us want them banned entirely!

4. Any amount of GMO ingredients will not work for my son – so it’s not comforting to hear that only 20% of the ingredients are GMO.  As if the presence of genetically engineered glucose (from corn-likely RoundUp Ready or BT), soy lecithin (from likely pesticide-resistant GMO soy varieties), and canola (from rapeseed – likely pesticide-resistant varieties).  20% risk is too much for me!  5. I’m still getting over my initial shock that GMO foods entered the market as early as 1992 with little notice or knowledge.  I’m glad to see that this is becoming a bigger thorn to our food producers – that means we’re getting closer to that tipping point we’ve been striving for.

Goodbye Kinnitoos

It looks like we need to continue reaching out to one another, our lawmakers, and even the manufacturers producing our foods.  We need to correct the false technical information (Like Jerry Bigam’s perception that non-GMO foods are less reliable and productive than the GMO counterparts or that a global switch to non-GMO crops might harm the state of our world.), continue spreading awareness, and growing in numbers.  For this week, I find myself back in the kitchen to plan my own homemade animal cookie recipe. I thank Trader Joe’s for their awesome, new GFCF Oreo-style cookies to replace the old Kinnikinnick ones getting more stale by the month in my pantry. There’s no way my son would even eat his veggies without the standard, one cookie reward! Out with the Ian’s chicken nuggets and off to my local GFCF bakery with GMO info in hand. Remember to do your homework and be thorough when checking ingredients, sadly there’s more to be wary of than just the basic allergens we’ve come to live with.

Love the Trader Joe's Version!

Learn more about GMOs:

Visit http://www.momsacrossamerica.comand join with others helping to make positive change within our food supply.

Spend some time on the Institute for Responsible Technology to learn the science and hazards of genetically engineered foods.

Here is an excellent resource for GMO Myths and Truths.

Contact your child’s favorite food manufacturers and tell them you’re opting out until they make this right!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking Maven

A colleague shared a letter that she received from Senator Landrieu today in our Facebook Group, Major Moms.  I was deeply disappointed to see the misinformed perception of this legislator.  They were not in support of the Sanders Amendment, which would permit states’ individual rights to determine GMO labeling laws, because they believed labeling would be a burdensome cost to businesses, farmers, grocers, and food manufacturers.  Furthermore, this Senator stated their belief that this labeling legislation is not based on science because the FDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and EPA have all deemed genetically engineered foods to be safe.  Well, I’m certain you can understand how this got my blood boiling – within seconds of reading her posting!

So, for those who may not know,  I spent many years working in what is known as the identification industry – around 14 to be exact.  I was a marketing manager working for a leading marking equipment manufacturer.  Much of our strategy was focused on providing the maximum performance benefits for our customers at the lowest cost per “code.”  This industry is full of manufacturers who focus on providing solutions centered around the identification and tracking of produced products throughout a wide range of industries – including food packaging.  The sordid truth of this matter is that it would likely cost less than a penny to produce the necessary three character mark we’re all praying to see on the food sold in our country.  I’ll break it down as simply as possible to make the issue of labeling cost crystal clear.

Start looking at the products in your pantry and I'm certain you'll find the identification marks I'm discussing here.  How hard do you really think it would be to add three additional characters to indicate a product contains GMOs?

Start looking at the products in your pantry and I’m certain you’ll find the identification marks I’m discussing here. How hard do you really think it would be to add three additional characters to indicate a product contains GMOs?  We’re talking about a minuscule cost to implement!

1. Most foods require some kind of batch, best buy, or expiration identification on each individual package sold.  You’ll find this type of mark when you purchase nearly any perishable food – such as milk, eggs, or even beer.  Because this tracking is required for consumer safety, most food manufacturers and packaging/distribution houses already possess the necessary inkjet printing equipment to print these codes.  It’s even common today to find fruit packers making use of automated inkjet printing equipment for date and batch coding of produce.

2. Technically, the packaging design doesn’t need to change to accommodate the first wave of GMO labeling.  It would be extremely simple to add just three characters, “G-M-O,” right with the existing batch/expiry/date coding on products containing GMO ingredients.  These three characters, likely to be printed at a minimal size of 1/16″ in height would likely not add substantial or tangible costs for food producers, grocers, or farmers as is charged by Senator Landrieu.  Literally, the equivalent of a single drop of ink could achieve thousands of “GMO” prints on product packages.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t really care about which ingredients, specifically, contain GMOs.  If any food includes them, I don’t want to touch it. If food manufacturers were required to include three additional characters on their existing marking – this would not strain the system with undue burden.

3. Grocers don’t stand to experience any cost in legislative efforts to promote GMO labeling.  Most food products will arrive on the truck with proper labeling in place.  Additional products that need to be packaged within stores could accomplish the necessary objectives by simply modifying the basic information printed by simple label printers – like most of us encounter at a deli counter, meat department, or even throughout produce sections.

There simply is no burden of cost for any of the concerned parties!  The biggest burden is the fact that unpleasant truths will be revealed to consumers – and we’ll truly reach the tipping point of change that so many of us are working toward.

In response to Senator Landrieu’s statement regarding our labeling movement not being based on science, I’d like to inform this lawmaker that the proof of safety rests on the very corporations that have been proven to conduct unethical business holding profits above people at every turn.  Sure the FDA and EPA have approved GMO foods, but more and more studies reveal unbiased, independent research from around the world every day that condemns the consumption of these foods.  More countries ban the import or growth of GMO crops as more damning evidence is revealed.  I’d like to know how this loose regulation, its compass of substantial equivalence, and lack of proper safety testing offer any real science to U.S. citizens!  I throw the statement regarding government’s efforts to remain based on science right back at this Senator.  Sure it’s based on science – the science of manipulation and fraud.  Despite any setbacks on the Sanders Amendment we’ll continue to fight and spread awareness.  Learn more about how Moms and others that care are really making an impact – visit www.momsacrossamerica.com today!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking Maven

Want to know more specifics on GMOs?  Read GMO 101 for a nice overview with links to additional information…