Commentary: Anti-GMO campaign tackles Valentine’s Day candy

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The anti-genetically modified food movement is now looking to scare the public from eating Valentine’s Day candy. The group GMO Inside launched a campaign against Hersey and Mars to force them to label GM products or eliminate them.

Hershey and Mars comprise approximately 70 percent of the U.S. chocolate market. Although chocolate is not genetically modified, many of the ingredients used such as the sugar is made from GM sugar beets or corn syrup, according to John Roulac, co-chairman, GMO Inside.

The campaign is calling for the public to use social media, e-mails and phone calls to pressure these companies into eliminating or labeling GM ingredients.

These groups’ strategy reminds me of when the Center for Science in the Public Interest launched its campaign against movie theater popcorn, Chinese food and other similar foods. At some point, CSPI jumped the shark. The public stopped taking them seriously and recognized them—not as a credible science-based organization—as an agenda-driven group designed to criticize people’s food choices. Groups like GMO Inside and others may have jumped the shark with this latest campaign. Attacking Valentine’s Day candy may be just too much for the public to bear and accept.

GMO Inside’s campaign against candy makers is only a small part of a larger strategy to target large food manufacturers and pressure them into labeling GM foods or eliminate them. The strategy seems to be ramping up after California’s Prop 37 was defeated, which would have required food manufacturers to label GM ingredients. After that bill failed, anti-GM groups are searching for any way to either get legislation on the ballot in other states with the goal of eventually having a nationwide policy of labeling GMOs or to pressure food manufacturers through the public to label their products.

Earlier this year, GMO Inside launched a similar campaign against cereal makers General Mills and Kellogg. In both campaigns, GMO Inside has tried to paint these companies as hiding information by tying the companies to donations they made to defeat Prop 37 in California.

Both Kellogg and General Mills defended their positions publically by stating that world organizations have deemed GMOs to be safe and that they continue to follow the science, regulations and consumers’ preferences.

These groups’ tactics are tantamount to bullying. In today’s bully-sensitive culture, this tactic seems crass and desperate. Without any specific, credible science to back up their claims, the only strategy they have left is bullying and name calling. And that’s not a very loving way to change people’s minds, especially on a day designed to foster love and kindness.

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PA  |  February, 14, 2013 at 08:19 AM

I think GMO inside is on to something. Common sense tells me that if a food is genetically modified to act as it’s own pesticide (i.e. an insect eats corn and dies due to the genetic modification of the corn), then why would it not make sense that humans would at the very least have some sort of reaction (like intestinal inflammation) to the same corn? My common sense trumps science in this case. I think 'consumers' preferences' will be changing soon once people start realizing that their food is being genetically modified. Most people have no idea. Bullying? Come on Colleen, I don't believe you actually believe that. -Rob Corbin

PA  |  February, 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Thank you for standing up for common good and common sense, Robert. The scientists that back up GMOs as safe are the ones that work for the chemical companies. There is greater proof that GMOs are linked to cancers, autism and GI disruption. Obviously ingesting chemicals is not safe, and handlers must wear biohazard suits when spraying. GMO Inside is only exposing the ugly truth, the truth that majority of consumers like to ignore since it disrupts their comfortable lifestyle, just like accepting cancer, diabetes and heart disease as a norm. Why is 75% of our seeds owned by chemical companies? Why do they have the monopoly in agribusiness? And if their product is so 'safe' why are they opposed to labeling the GMO? We as consumers need to educate ourselves, pull our head out of the sand and speak with our hard earned dollar, that we will not be poisoned any longer, let alone poisoning the earth as well. You talk about fostering love and kindness, well I am a warrior of the earth. I love her and all the beings she cares for, we deserve to be cared for with the highest kindness and compassion. Would you silently poison your loved ones? I think not. GMO Inside is offering some much needed tough love, the truth will set you free. Happy Valentines day Love, Alicia

CT  |  February, 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Bringing awareness on this issue is not a scare tactic... it's the GMO's themselves that are scary! Due to all the scientific evidence that raises all sorts of RED flags when dealing with GMO's. Please do a little research... start with Seralini's study: This is an independent study, not funded by any big ag co and I'll be glad to email you a list with more! Challenge yourself, go GMO free for one week & then write about it!

deirdre wear    
canada  |  February, 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM

People are waking up, they want to know what's going into their own bodies and it is becoming apparent to even the doziest that GMO agro is DESPERATE to prevent them from finding out. We are asking ourselves why are they refusing to proudly proclaim their products as what they are if they are as safe as they say? Not all of us have forgotten that the biggest GMO producer told us that DDT and agent orange were perfectly safe too. Agriculture needs to wake up too, Gm science hasn't actually improved the lot of farmers. The environment is depleted, erosion, runoff issues, occupational disease, cancers,loss of seed variety, possibly the bee population collapse, all side effects of big agro chemical based farming. Bullying puh-lease providing people with information is bullying? I really think that's just ridiculous

February, 14, 2013 at 11:10 AM

It is clear where this commentary came from. This campaign is about the FREEDOM TO CHOOSE what we eat and feed our families. 62 countries around the world give their citizens this right by putting a label on genetically engineered foods. It's about time Americans had the same right to know what's in our food. The bullying is coming from the chemical companies that came together with these big food manufacturers to the tune of $46 million spent on propaganda to trick people into voting against their own best interests last Nov. 7th. The bullying is coming from these chemical companies that are using scare tactics to convince people to support their chemical laden frankenfoods by telling the world we need their GMOs to feed a growing population. When the truth is ... GMOs don't increase yields and are not sustainable. Their other underhanded tactic is to scare people into thinking food costs will go up when not one of the 62 countries that have labeling laws have experienced any increase in food prices. Bullying, scare tactics and outright lies. v=lokKQcyR9HA&

IOwa  |  February, 14, 2013 at 01:41 PM

These are recent quotes from Mark Lynas about why he changed his mind about starting the anti-GMO crusade. “This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realize at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it.” Lynas likened the anti-science movement to those who deny climate change. He now realizes that the world needs to take advantage of all of the technology available, including GMOs, to feed the rapidly expanding world population. He stressed that there is no logical reason to prefer old ways of producing food. He also squarely lays the blame on anti-GMO activists and policymakers for why big companies dominate the industry. In order to get their products approved and licensed, they need to be large corporations that can afford to go jump through the regulatory hoops and anti-propaganda. With large corporations dominating, there is little to no room for smaller start-up companies to enter the field. They should address some of concerns below. Although I'm sure he will be shunned from your groups now that he has changed philosophies.

February, 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM

Alicia, I love your comment and it is written in a way in which those who aren't familiar with GMOs can understand. I would like to highlight your comment when I mention this article at FACT - Food Activists Coming Together - BTW, I'll be eating organic chocolate from Theo. :)

February, 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM

Alicia, I love your comment and it is written in a way in which those who aren't familiar with GMOs can understand. I would like to highlight your comment when I mention this article at FACT - Food Activists Coming Together - BTW, I'll be eating organic chocolate from Theo. :)

AZ  |  February, 14, 2013 at 02:10 PM

Seralini's work is anything but independent. It's well-known he is anti-biotech and works with that bias in mind. His study/work has been widely denounced in the scientific community. It was essentially a public relations stunt, and was designed to achieve a pre-determined anti-biotech bias in order that the "results" could be used and cited in the news, articles - and of course in comments and posts all over the internet.

Robert Bright    
Toronto  |  February, 14, 2013 at 03:18 PM

What a foolish, poorly thought out article. If these tactics are what you call "bullying" how do you describe the tactic of feeding unsafe, untested products to an unsuspecting, unaware public and lying to them about its alleged safety. What nonsense!

Connie Kuramoto    
Qualicum Beach British Columbia  |  February, 14, 2013 at 09:01 PM

"Without any specific, credible science to back up their claims" and like you are saying that GMOs do? I have reviewed mountains of literature, both pro and anti gmo. One fact stands out very very clearly. Every single time anyone comes out and says gmo's are good, safe, and necessary the lab, person, or organization has ties to bio tech companies. There is no science that I have found that has been done by independent labs that says that gmos are safe. If you scratch the surface you will see that every professor that promotes gmos works for a college that is heavily funded by Monsanto. An easy way to search is to type the college or university's name along with Monsanto in the search line. There is evidence that Lynas has been paid off by Monsanto. Dig a little deeper my friends, dig a little deeper. So you are saying that the Union of Concerned Scientists are all doing bad science when they warn about gmos? Read their in depth description of how these foods are approved here and you will see that the process is pretty lame, and industry, not government driven. Anyone who believes gmos are safe because the government says they safe, or the companies who make them are safe is living in fairy tale land. The only science that ever promotes gmos is bought by the companies who sell gmos. Is that really science? There is no independent testing. NONE!

PA  |  February, 14, 2013 at 09:19 PM

Thank you Simone, that's kind of you. Go organic!! Endangered Species chocolate is really good too :)

Joe Garman    
February, 14, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Really, bullying? Right to know is a basic American right. The companies can easily label GMOs in their products. If they truly stand behind them, this shouldn't be a problem. Let people choose, it's as simple as that. BTW, the science does raise questions about the health risks of GMOs. Many countries, including all of Europe and Japan, require labeling. As a result, many companies, like Hershey have non-GMO products in Europe. Some companies ban them outright. Tobacco companies tried this tactic -- calling the science into question. Ultimately, it didn't work and cost the industry dearly. The food industry could protect itself by labeling and letting consumers choose. My prediction as a scientist is that within ten years, everyone will recognize GMOs as a health risk, and companies that labeled or took GMOs out of their products will benefit both financially and in market share. Food companies -- your choice.

IL  |  February, 21, 2013 at 09:14 AM

Folks, you can't have it both ways! Do you want the American Farmer to feed the world or not? Before GMO crops, the concern was herbicide poisoning. Now it's GMO crops are poison. Take away all these 'technologies', and what you have is world-wide food shortage. By the way, do any of you eat seedless grapes? It's one of the earliest GMO crops produced. Guess you'd better stop eating those too.

WI  |  February, 21, 2013 at 01:27 PM

GMO's dont increase yield? Get your facts straight before making a statement like that. You think its magic that the yields have gone up? Do you think food cost's haven't went up because they are already extremly high in those other countries to begin with?

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