GMOs and the Organic Company Food Chain

Photo by Non-GMO Project

In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decided to allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. The Organic Trade Association says, “This means GE alfalfa can be planted without any federal requirements to prevent contamination of organic and non-GE crops. It also means that GE alfalfa does not have to be labeled, making it difficult for consumers to identify and avoid. This decision, to support big business at the expense of individual choice, sets a precedent for future deregulation of GE crops although genetic engineering has not been conclusively proven safe.”
This is a huge step in the wrong direction for many obvious reasons. I do not understand how our government can allow a company that manufactured 2,4,5 T, DDT, and Agent Orange to create GM seeds that will eventually be spread on every farm across America. Sadly, there are more GMO crops and salmon slated for approval and everyone (but the public) seems to be going along with it.

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) make up 75% of conventionally processed foods (Non-GMO Project). GMOs are organisms which the DNA have been altered to something that doesn’t occur naturally. An example would be to inject vegetable DNA with a pesticide protein, which will eventually develop into a plant that would be used to grow GM crops. By changing the DNA, the whole molecular structure is being altered and we do not truly know what that is doing to the nutrition value of the food. The FDA does not require labeling, so you can’t tell if you are purchasing GMOs unless you buy certified organic. And because of cross contamination, very few products in the U.S. are completely free of GMOs- even if they are organic.

The Grist reported that Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” GM seeds (mainly used for soy, cotton, corn, canola, and sugar beets) are having major issues with killing superweeds. Monsanto is paying farmers that have used Roundup Ready $6 per acre if they use at least 2 other herbicides on their GM crops. Roundup is made with glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide. Weeds have built up resistance due to the overuse. Now the crops are having to be doused with even more chemicals doing more harm to the environment and humans.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported that multiple GMO animal testing studies have shown significant immune dysregulation, including asthma, allergy, inflammation, altered structure and function of the liver, as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging. Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented from GMO food.
There are only a handful of independent organic farms/brands that haven’t sold out to larger companies. I try to buy locally as much as possible and I know my farmers and their practices. I decided to dig a little bit deeper into what our family supports when it comes to food and get to know some of their practices and connections. There are so many organic loopholes, that I wanted to feel confident we are eating healthy/non-tainted food. This is what I found out…

  • Heinz acquired Hain Celestial Group. Hain Celestial Group acquired Earths Best, Arrowhead Mills, Hain Pure Foods, Hain Pure Snax, Rosetto, The Greek Gods, Spectrum Naturals, Spectrum Essentials, FreeBird, DeBole’s, Garden of Eatin, Health Valley, Casbah, Breadshop, Imagine/Rice Dream/Soy Dream, Celestial Seasonings, Westsoy, Westbrea, Bearitos, Little Bear, SunSpire, TofuTown, Walnut Acres, Millina’s Finest, Frutti di Bosco, ShariAnn’s, Mountain Sun, Terra Chips, MaraNatha, ALBA, Estee, Avalon Naturals, JASON Naturals, Batherapy, Footherapy, Orjene Organics, Queen Helene, Shaman Earthly Organics, and Zia Natural skincare. (Some of these were listed on the OCA’s organic fraud sheet)
  • General Mills acquired Cascadian Farm, LaraBar, and Muir Glen.
  • M&M Mars acquired Seeds of Change.
  • Kraft Foods acquired Boca Foods, Back to Nature, and just bought Green & Black’s from Cadbury. They also make a organic line under Kraft.
  • Suiza Foods Corp owns Dean Foods. Dean Foods acquired White Wave, Silk, Horizon, and Alta Dena. (Dean Foods is known for PET dairy, Land O’ Lakes, and Schepps)
  • Coca Cola acquired Odwalla and Honest Tea.
  • Pepsi acquired Naked Juice and Tropicana Organic.
  • Kellogg acquired BearNaked, Kashi, and Morningstar Farms.
  • JM Smucker acquired R.W. Knudsen Family, Santa Cruz Organic, and After the Fall.
  • Group Danone/Dannon owns 85% of Stonyfield Farm which is also Trader Joe’s yogurt. Stonyfield owns Brown Cow.

According to the Organic Consumers Association in 2006:
Organic and Natural Product Companies Associated with Monsanto

Brand Name(s): Arrowhead Mills, Bearitos, Breadshop, Celestial Seasonings, Earth’s Best Baby Food, Garden of Eatin, Health Valley, Imagine Foods, Terra Chips, Westbrae, Millina’s, Mountain Sun, Shari Ann’s, Walnut Acres Owned By: Hain Food Group Principle Stockholders: Bank of America, Entergy Nuclear, ExxonMobil, H.J. Heinz, Lockheed Martin, Merck, Monsanto, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Walmart, Waste Mangement Inc. Significantly Owned By: Citigroup

Brand Name(s): Cascadian Farms, Muir Glen Owned By: Small Planet Foods Principle Stockholders: General Mills Significantly Owned By: Alcoa, Chevron, Disney, Dupont, ExxonMobil, General Electric, McDonalds, Monsanto, Nike, Pepsico, Pfizer, Philip Morris, Starbucks, Target, Texas Instruments
In 10 Things Monsanto Doesn’t Want You to Know, it is stated, “Tell the following companies to stop using and selling GMO Ingredients: Kellogg’s/Kashi • Coca-Cola Kraft/Nabisco • McDonald’s • Frito-Lay General Mills • Quaker Oats • Procter & Gamble Nestle • Safeway • CampbellSoup • Wal-Mart.” As for a full list for companies that use GMO’s, I couldn’t find one. Which could mean we are all probably eating them in some shape or form.
I did find this list of independent farms/brands that haven’t sold out: Alvardo Street Bakery, Amy’s Kitchen, Applegate Farms, Bob’s Red Mill, Cedarlane, Cliffbar- Luna, Eden Foods, Equal Exchange, Frontier Natural Products- Simply Organic, Lundberg Family Farms, Nature’s Path- Lifestream, Organic Valley- Organic Prairie, Pacific Natural Foods, Sno Pac, Springfield Creamery- Nancy’s, Traditional Medicinals, Turtle Mountain- Purely Decedent and So Delicious, and Yogi Tea.
Phillip Howard, an assistant professor at Michigan State University says that, “Most remaining independent organic processors have resisted substantial buyout offers (typically 2 times annual sales).” He created a really awesome Organic Processing animation where you can see the takeovers. If you have some time, read through some of his other material. It’s really interesting to see how everything is linked.
I know I will be printing this list and keeping it with me when I go shopping.
You can also:

  • Tell your local grocery store, restaurants, and food processors to label GMO foods and to offer certified organic
  • Join the OCA Millions Against Monsanto campaign
  • Talk to your local politicians and ask them to support truth-in-labeling
  • Get to know your local farmers and other places that you buy food. Find out what seeds they use!
  • Buy certified organic from local co-ops, farmers markets, CSA’s, or health food stores

What are your thoughts on what is going on with our food?

*Update: You can now find verified Non-GMO foods at the Non-GMO Project. 


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