GE Food Labeling Initiative Up Against Record-Breaking Donations From Corporate Giants
A group fighting the Nov. 5 ballot measure that would mandate labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods in Washington has broken the record for the most money raised by an initiative campaign in that state.
With a $540,000 donation from Monsanto on Monday, the No on 522 Committee has raised nearly $22.9 million to defeat I-522, a citizens' initiative that would require foods containing GE ingredients to carry a label, according to campaign records.
The No on 522 committee is largely financed by five biotechnology giants and a food industry group. About half of the money came from the large food processing companies that were donating anonymously through the Grocery Manufacturers Association until a lawsuit by the state attorney general forced the lobby group to release their names.
Biotech and agrichemical firms including Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and Dupont are largely responsible for the rest of the war chest. Monsanto, the second-highest contributor, has donated $5.37 million. The No on 522 campaign has spent $13.5 million, according to state records.
Money appears to be making a big difference. In September, before both sides began spending on TV ads, GE labeling supporters held a 45-point lead, according to an Elway Poll. Just weeks after ads began to roll out across the state, an Oct. 21 poll showed that just 46 percent of voters supported the initiative and 42 percent were opposed.
Yes on 522, the campaign for GE labeling, has already been outspent by the opposition, with $6.8 million raised and $5.4 million spent. The campaign has received large chunks of its funding from natural products companies, organics firms and alternative health companies. The biggest supporter of I-522 is Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps of Escondido, CA, which has contributed $950,000. Other supporters include, Nutiva, Nature’s Path, Clif Bar, Organic Valley, Brad's Raw Foods, and Mercola.com.
Supporters of the labeling initiative in Washington state fear a reprise of a similar measure in California in 2012, where Monsanto contributed $8.1 million to a successful effort to defeat California’s Proposition 37. Monsanto was the No on 37 campaign’s biggest contributor.
Immediate donations are needed to fight back against the Monsanto corporate cash, said Delana Jones, campaign manager for Yes on 522.
Listen to what Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist for Consumers Union, has to say about the GE food labeling initiative:
Visit EcoWatch’s GE FOOD page for more related news on this topic.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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