Posts Tagged ‘gmo labeling’

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

Critical Calls to Action You Need to Know About

I am constantly amazed at the barrage against our rights by lofty corporations overstepping their political influence.  Today, there are a great number of threats to improving our quality of life, citizen’s rights, and even the safety of our children.  Please browse through the list of issues and let me know of any cause that’s near and dear to your heart I may have missed.  They are not in any specific order, but are listed as I brainstormed from the many social media and Internet sources that I frequently view.

Issue #1

State’s Should Have the Right to Mandate GMO Labeling Laws

Now that two dozen or more states are fighting to bring GMO labeling legislation to the table, the corporate lobbyists are working hard to defeat such damaging measures.  Recently, an amendment to the Farm Bill passed out of our House.  This amendment, better known as the King Bill, threatens the right for individual states to regulate and pass laws that govern production or manufacturing of any agricultural product.  It is presented as an interstate commerce protective measure, however analysts believe that this amendment’s ambiguous and broad-reaching language could be used to prohibit state-level GMO labeling and food safety laws.  Take action today!  Sign the Move On petition and let your representatives know we will not stand for such madness!  Learn more about this issue by reading the full Organic Consumers Association article online.

Issue #2

EPA Increases Permissible Levels of Glyphosate Residue in Agriculture

Wow!  This one is infuriating – especially in the wake of recent research that reveals some serious environmental damage.  If you’re not up to speed on what Glyphosate is and why it may be bad, then you’ll want to check out this informative article on .  Keep in mind that Big-Biotech wants us to simply believe that Glyphosate is virtually harmless to humans, however these recent studies prove otherwise:

Entrophy Journal, April 2013

PubMed, Archives of Toxicology, May 2012

There’s a lot more where these came from.  If you’re curious, Google Glyphosate to see what comes up.  This is a threat to our health and climate.  There is no rational need for the EPA to increase the allowable levels of glyphosate in our agriculture!  This is sadly a typical reaction to demanding Biotech lobbyists; such as Monsanto (Makers of RoundUp), Dupont, and Dow. Here are a few more articles you may find informative on this subject:

Read About the USDA Downplaying Condemning Research Results

Read About How Glyphosate May Harm Your Health

Don’t let this issue slip by without submitting your own comments to the EPA.  For a full explanation of the major details, read this article on the Organic Consumers Associate website, sign their petition, then submit your comments directly to the EPA here.

Issue #3

Want to Save the Bees?  The EPA Is Not On-Board with Us!

Recently, the EPA approved a pesticide that has been proven to be highly toxic to bees.   Sulfoxaflor has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as being severely toxic to honey bees.  This action provides even more evidence of the fact that our critical government agencies are not protecting our collective health and rights, that they were sworn to uphold. Pesticides that harm bees are a growing concern – and possess global interest.  Learn more by reading this article on EcoWatch.  Don’t forget to submit your comment to the EPA here!

Issue #4

Autism Still on the Rise While Research Gets Cut, Shoddy TRICARE Plans Pass, and More States Fight for Insurance Reform

If you, or a loved one has Autism, chances are these news tidbits will be of interest to you. Autism prevalence rates continue to increase, while little is done to research potential causes – environmental, genetic, or otherwise.  I like to visit the advocacy news page on the Autism Speaks website.  Signing up for their Autism Votes texting service will keep major issues at the top of your mind.

Issue #5

Major Media Refuses to Report on Massive March Against Monsanto

Did we expect anything less?  I’m very disappointed in the lack of media coverage for a peaceful activist event that spanned our entire globe last Saturday.  Over two million people joined in protest against Monsanto Company and the presence of GMOs in our food!  (Here’s a video with full details about this event.)  How could something this big not be worthy of CNN coverage?!  In fact, this is probably the largest-scaled protest against any single corporate entity in our history!!  March Against Monsanto activists are making some noise at their local media stations and independent journalists and citizen reporters (like me) are helping to spread the word.

Would you like to join those reaching out to credible media asking for real truth in journalism?  Submit and share your communications here.  Why is it that I can only find ethical journalism on TV?  (Have you ever watched Newsroom on HBO?  I love this series – but get super jealous that such a media group doesn’t exist in the real world.) What happened to reporters with a thirst for knowledge and desire to reveal our world’s injustices?  Have you all been bought out by Monsanto?

Well, I’m pretty sure that this is enough to get you going for this week.  Sadly, I think I could keep going with this list in so many areas – we have some serious work to do to get our world back to sanity.  Please contact your representatives and sign relevant petitions.  Our voices do matter!

Best regards,

Muckraking Maven