Tuesday, May 10, 2016

GMO Labeling is Not Fully Effective: Puncturing Corporate (and Activist) Spin on GMOs

Photo: Saskatchewanian

Taurus season is still in full swing with the Sun, Mercury Rx, and Venus currently in a woolly bully conjunction. Asteroid Vesta is also in late Taurus at this time. As we open out of the Taurus New Moon May 6 (16 degrees) and into the following 28-day lunar cycle, farming, ranching, agriculture, and food issues are highly pertinent.

These issues are certain to heat up even more as Ceres, the dwarf planet associated with agriculture, grains, and the fertility of the Earth, transits warrior sign Aries until July 17, triggering the Uranus-Pluto square.

Ceres in Aries squares Pluto in Capricorn on May 31 at 17 degrees of the signs. It then moves to a conjunction to Uranus at 23 degrees Aries on June 23. This creates a very potent window of time between late May and late June that involves battles (Aries) around food and agriculture (Ceres), especially as they relate to biotechnology, chemicals, and the bloated institutional spin coming from both corporations/governments and pseudo-alternative scenes like some of the big anti-GMO and organic organizations.

As a complement to my recent article, I've done a YouTube video explaining why the unintentional and unknowing contamination by genetically modified crops - especially alfalfa - has made GMO labeling only partially effective, if not almost entirely null and void:

YouTube Video: GMO Labeling is Not Fully Effective: Puncturing Corporate (and Activist) Spin on GMOs 

This video includes information about the real situation. It is the potent truth - a truth that much of the organics industry and many of the big anti-GMO organizations are not fully admitting or working with in their own messages.

Despite the rhetoric, labeling foods produced with genetically modified organisms is not fully effective. Foods can be labeled non-GMO while still including genetically modified material. The video outlines how this is happening.

The message I'm putting out has been shunted aside and sloughed off by major farming groups, government officials, and anti-GMO organizations in Canada for years now. I have been ignored by newsrooms across this country. I have had a person held up as a leader for anti-GMO discourse in Canada attempt to censor my message, telling me not to use the term "Franken-hay" because her group didn't like it. At the time that I spoke with this woman three+ years ago, she did not understand what alfalfa really was, believing it was only alfalfa sprouts, and said she had a hard time explaining to the public why they should care. This was a woman considered by many to be one of the leading voices of opposition to GMOs in Canada! After I sent her my own Stop GM Alfalfa literature, she co-opted the information and then offered a watered-down version - and a watered-down response - from her own substantial platform.

Most recently, a major Canadian anti-GMO Facebook group removed the link I posted to this video.

I share these delightful anecdotes to illustrate the ineffectiveness of the "people behind the curtains" at many of the large anti-GMO organizations.

The reality of the matter is: these groups are most often not putting the full truth out to the public. Major anti-GMO organizations have dropped the ball on GM alfalfa, and they continue to drop the ball. They are far too late to the game and continue to put forth a much weaker effort on the subject than they should, especially considering their substantial platforms and public followings. These institutions are not our leaders. Instead, they stifle, censor, and attempt to control grassroots activists like me who do not come under their umbrella. 

As long-term readers here know, I've been writing about genetically modified alfalfa and doing extensive independent activist work since it first came onto my radar screen in 2011 (writing articles for other publications and newspapers as well as for my own blog, multiple letters-to-the-editor campaigns in newspapers across Canada, writing and distributing literature, creating and distributing bumper stickers, old school protesting with poster board signs on my body, contacting provincial and federal governments, contacting newsrooms across the country, etc.). You can read past WWA articles on GM alfalfa here.

Two thousand eleven was the year genetically modified alfalfa was first approved unconditionally in the United States, amidst huge opposition.

A study done on GM alfalfa by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2005 found substantial contamination of the natural alfalfa crop by transgenic varieties. "The study surveyed 4,580 fields in California, Idaho, and Washington state where conventional alfalfa seed was being grown. About 10 per cent of fields had feral or rogue varieties, and in 27 per cent of those cases, the rogue varieties were transgenic." Source: "GM Alfalfa May Already Be in Alberta" by Alexis Kienlen and Glenn Cheater.

Despite those findings, the USDA approved GM alfalfa unconditionally in 2011. The results of that study - showing the obvious danger posed by the spread of GM alfalfa - were just released to the public in late 2015.

Frighteningly, when the study was done in 2005, only 1% of alfalfa acres in the United States were genetically modified. Today, 30% of U.S. alfalfa acres are (knowingly) genetically modified.

The only logical conclusion at this point, eleven years later, is that cross-contamination of the natural alfalfa crop in the U.S. is widespread. And as a foundation stone of the organic agriculture system, this means that organic food products produced using alfalfa cannot be guaranteed GMO-free. As alfalfa is used as livestock feed and as fertilizer for fields, this touches many, many food products.

In Canada, GM alfalfa has not been approved for commercial sale. However, it has been planted in test plots in Ontario and Quebec since at least 2014. This ensures that GM alfalfa has been released into the natural crop in Canada to at least a certain extent.

In fact, in 2012, before GM alfalfa was even being planted on Canadian soil, an Alberta farmer discovered that his alfalfa seed had been contaminated by a GM variety. The farmer applied Roundup to a failed alfalfa crop in order to kill it, discovering that about 100 plants survived the application of the potent chemical herbicide. Those plants had been genetically modified to withstand Roundup. So although the farmer did not knowingly or willingly order, purchase, or sow GM alfalfa seed, he got it anyway. One would have to be highly naive to believe that this contamination was an isolated event. Source: "GM Alfalfa May Already Be in Alberta" by Alexis Kienlen and Glenn Cheater.

This echoes the case of Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan farmer who spent years battling Monsanto in court. The corporation sued Schmeiser after its GM canola plants were found contaminating his organic crop in much the same way as the GM alfalfa was discovered in Alberta.

Please educate yourselves, and speak your own message and your own mind - on any subject, not just on GMOs. Do not look to paid, institutional activists to speak for you. Do not give up your own responsibility on these issues, believing these organizations "have it covered."

From what I have seen, they do not.

From a previous article in April 2013:

"Anti-GM alfalfa rallies were held across Canada on April 9, spearheaded by the National Farmers Union and the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

These rallies got the issue of GM alfalfa on the public map to a certain extent, but only for a split second. Only for a minute-long news story or via a weak, poorly-researched newspaper article.

The cross-Canada rallies were a failure as far as making GM alfalfa an issue for all citizens, rather than strictly a "farm issue." They were a failure as far as catalyzing new leadership and providing a platform for new voices and new information within the anti-GMO movement.

The issue of genetic modification of our food is being funneled, in Canada, through an establishment-template communications framework called CBAN or the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Under this framework, information is carefully controlled to include only the least incendiary and most widely-palatable bits. Instead of a diverse group of well-educated people speaking out on this issue across the country, media are directed to a single communications person or a small handful of carefully-vetted farmers whose livelihoods are directly affected.

...We need many voices, many perspectives being heard publicly through media. Making the issue broader, hitting people at the fridge and at the fork, is a necessity.

But what we have is a single lobbyist and a handful of farmers sending the same messages over and over again through media. These messages do not make the leap. They don't make the necessary connections among alfalfa, hay, animals, fertilizer, soil, farmers, food, supermarkets, and citizens cooking and eating their daily meals. They do not facilitate the cross-over we need as far as catalyzing the entire eating public on this issue...

We need leadership and bold, immediate, new direction in the fight against genetic contamination of our food supply, but much of this is coming from the same templates and structures we are attempting to change. Much of it plays by the rules of establishment structures.

The old protest techniques and the standard channels for protest aren't going to get the job done now. We need to go beyond them, to complement them, as well as revamp and reinvigorate them.

The vast majority of people on this planet opposes the insidious genetic modification that is going on with our food, but those voices are not gaining the traction they need. We're butting up against politically-charged and often tongue-tied communications structures - outdated, corporate, and hierarchical.

This will not do, and it will not get the job done.

We need every voice raised on this issue in an immediate, undeniable, irrefutable global cacophony, and we need to keep these voices raised. We don't need public relations flaks controlling the flow of information or watering down the messages sent to the public. We don't need figureheads - farmer or otherwise - to legitimize this issue.

We need raw, messy, real, potent, effective, and undeniable.

We need to dig and dig and dig some more, repeatedly offering our findings on a silver platter to the consuming public.

And that's not what we get from a cleansed communications network following the template of establishment communications.

We get communications figureheads controlling who can say what and when. We get "official spokespeople" who keep the issue far too narrow to be truly effective. We get people jockeying for position politically within the protest movement, with paid lobbyists motivated, above all else, to keep their jobs.

You can see the complexity of these times and the challenges with which we're faced.

All hierarchical structures are failing us, and this includes hierarchical structures within protest movements. All established structures have poisonous power dynamics inherent within them that can keep us from reaching mutual goals. Most of our established structures are about control, and this includes established communications structures.

We need to bust out of this follow-the-leader Pluto in Capricorn template, but we have to understand how far and how deep the icy fingers of the control structures really go in order to do that.

No one controls my voice. No one controls your voice. And anyone who tries is working from a pitifully outdated set of rules..."

Use the energy of this Ceres transit through Aries to speak your own mind, make your own choices, and fight your own fight for a safe and non-toxic food supply. 

Educate yourself, and puncture the corporate and institutional activist spin on GMOs.

Apply your own critical thinking skills when reading or hearing anything about GMOs, especially if it is coming from a major organization or a food corporation itself. 

We must stop the growth and spread of genetically modified alfalfa if we are to halt the contamination of our food supply.

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