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Betrayed By Our Own: Just Label It, EWG, Whole Foods and The Organic Trade Association Are No Better Than Biotech, Sold Out Safe Food Movement

By On June 27, 2016

In news that should surprise no one, Monsanto and the GMA have been lurking on the Hill for the last several weeks, writing checks and bribing senators in hopes of stopping Vermont’s impending mandatory, GMO-labeling bill.

It seems their efforts have literally paid off as Senators Roberts and Stabenow announced last week that an agreement has been reached in compromise to a national labeling standard. The ‘compromise’ must have GMO labeling opponents, like the Grocery Manufacturers Association, giddy with delight. The agreement is the nail in the coffin for the labeling fight and a final assault to the countless constituents who want the simple right to know what is in the food that we feed our families.

Why would Senator Stabenow believe that her proposed QR code legislation is in any way an acceptable solution to on-package labeling? Why would she and the other members of the Senate body ignore the voices of hundreds of thousands of constituents that have demanded a national labeling standard?

I will tell you why.

We have been betrayed by our own in the most sinister and dark way imaginable, folks.

It was not Senator Stabenow’s idea to introduce QR codes. This was the idea of an organic food corporation and has been underhandedly supported by people like Stoneyfield’s Gary Hirschberg, Walter Robb of Whole Foods, the Environmental Working Group’s Ken Cook and Just Label It’s Scott Faber, who is a former lobbyist for the GMA.

I hope you’re as pissed off as I am. I have spent my family’s hard-earned budget to support corporations like Horizon, Organic Valley and Whole Foods only to find out that these are the very people in the ears of our senators working against us.

A well-respected leader in the safe food movement months ago is coming forward for the first time to expose the deception within the corrupt, corporate organic movement and it isn’t pretty. What has been discovered is shocking and enraging.

For example, Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg has intentionally used Just Label It as an organic elite front group to siphon off funds from the GMO labeling ballot initiatives. He has manipulated, deceived and worked behind the scenes to cozy up to key Senators and members of Congress so he could be seen as the face of the organic industry/GMO labeling movement. It now makes a lot of sense why Just Label It wanted nothing to do with the labeling fight in California back during 2012’s Prop 37, doesn’t it?

The Stabenow/Roberts bill is an utter disaster and far worse than the original DARK Act. The agreement includes current, old genetic insertion GMOs like “Round Up Ready” varieties but does nothing to address newer and even more alarming technologies like RNAi and gene editing. It’s even possible the agreement won’t even cover old GE technology due to the new definition of “bioengineered”. This was by design so the OTA and corporate organic could get some bogus handouts from Congress that most in our movement will oppose anyhow.

Here’s what Gary Hirshberg and the OTA sold us out for. It’s from the Stabenow/Roberts memo that went out last week:

Labeling Certainty for Organic Food: The organic industry is the fastest growing segment of agriculture. This bill contains four key provisions to maintain the integrity of the organic label.

• Ensures food certified as organic can clearly inform consumers that organic food is non-GMO.
• Prohibits a company from making a non-GMO claim solely because the food is not subject to labeling under this bill.
• Ensures the definition of “biotechnology” will not impact other laws or programs regulating biotechnology products.
• Provides for consistency between the new labeling law and the organic program rules and regulations.

For nearly a year, Gary Hirshberg and Scott Faber have been caught red-handed snaking around the Hill, brazenly telling Senate Chiefs of Staff that they were “perfectly fine” with the QR codes as the acceptable compromise for our movement. The lobbyist group investigating for the movement has insisted that it is blatantly evident that Just Label It and OTA are not on our side in this fight.

“I was told by Senator Murray’s staff that a board member of the OTA, during an official OTA lobbying meeting, told them their boss should ‘put on her big girl pants and vote for the Dark Act, because that’s what the OTA wants’. Besides the unbelievable offensiveness of this statement, it is another example of OTA saying one thing to its members and another to Congress.”

Scott Faber and Gary Hirshberg’s heinous actions have led to a majority of our Democratic Senators believing that the safe food movement actually wants and will accept QR codes as an acceptable solution to GMO labeling.

In reality, this horrific sellout is exactly what Hirshberg, GMA’s Faber and members of the OTA, including Smuckers and Organic Valley, were willing to accept all along.

Let’s remember that many of OTA’s members are actually owned by larger, conventional parent companies who will do anything to stop a national mandatory labeling standard.

The companies at the helm of this egregious attack are Stonyfield, Whitewave, Organic Valley, and Smuckers. Their lobbyists are the very people in executive leadership roles at the Organic Trade Association and Just Label It and are directly responsible for this.

Please be aware that we are dealing with very clever and very sneaky people. They have carefully bought up the necessary Democratic swing votes to pass Monsanto’s dream agreement. Smuckers, after all, is the top contributor to Sherrod Brown (D) in 2016.

This is an atrocious betrayal to our movement and each and everyone of us who has fought for the simple right to know what is in the food we feed our families. I personally have sacrificed years of my life and time away from watching my babies grow for this battle. I know I am not alone in this sacrifice and that is why we must fight now more than ever. People must be educated to the false allies that have impeded our efforts for years.

It has never been more imperative for the safe food movement to show its power. I encourage everyone who reads this to contact 10 senate offices. It only takes a moment to let your voice be heard. Please ask to speak with a member of staff regarding a health crisis…don’t just leave a message with the aid answering the phone. We have under a hundred hours left before the session is over and we need phones ringing off the hooks. For a full list of senate contact info, click here. Please make sure to call both Democratic and Republican leadership.

And let it be clear that the betrayal perpetrated by Scott Faber, Ken Cook, Gary Hirshberg, Laura Batcha, Missy Hughes and others will not be tolerated. Companies publicly associated with this corrupt bunch of fools have three options or will further risk damaging the shreds of organic industry integrity left in the wake of such deceit:

1. The reputable organic companies need to separate themselves from the ones that
just sold out the movement. Immediately resign from the OTA and form a new trade association that has integrity and would never put the livelihood of organic farmers and consumers on the line for their own selfish gain.

2. Sue the OTA for fraud and misrepresentation and demand your dues back for the
past 16 years or whenever the OTA first claims they went on record claiming that they supported mandatory labeling.

3. If you or your company does not agree with this outrageous deal crafted by the OTA and Just Label It – Demand all donations back from JLI and Gary Hirshberg. If JLI claims they have no money, sue Stonyfield and Gary Hirshberg personally because your company’s donations were intentionally misused against you and your company’s good will as they were lobbying for this corrupt deal on the Hill.

Now, go call and write a senator! For information on how to contact your senator, click here.