Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy

Food
Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy

The East Coast has been getting most of the attention lately on the state by state effort to label genetically-engineered food. Vermont recently passed a bill and New York State’s bill is now moving. But let’s not forget about the western states, which are also critical to this fight. Right to know advocates in Oregon and Colorado are currently gathering signatures to place measures on the November ballot. Both of these states have a good shot at convincing voters to pass GMO labeling.

Every state level victory counts now more than ever in the fight to label GMOs.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Keep in mind that a lawsuit by industry challenging the Vermont law is imminent, and lobbyists are continuing their efforts to undercut states’ rights in Washington D.C. The best way to head off a watered down federal “solution” is to show the strength of the movement at the state level. As we learned in California and Washington (states that narrowly lost GMO labeling initiatives despite being massively outspent) every debate draws more attention to the issue and weakens Big Biotech’s undue influence over our food supply.

Keep the Momentum Going

Just last month, voters in Jackson County, OR, approved a ballot measure (resoundingly, 66 to 34 percent) to not allow the planting of GMO crops. That, combined with three east coast states that have thus far passed GMO labeling bills—Connecticut, Maine and Vermont—is creating a huge headache for the biotech and junk food industries.

But it’s still not enough. Dave Murphy, founder of Food Democracy Now!, and co-chair of California’s Prop 37, says he’s always believed in, and fought for, a 50 state strategy.“With three eastern states passing GMO labeling bills in the past year, every state we win matters more than ever. It’s now the West Coast’s turn to lock down mandatory GMO labeling for Americans. When Oregon and Colorado pass this fall, the FDA and politicians in Washington D.C. won’t be able to ignore the issue any longer.”

Marion Nestle agrees that the states are vital to this fight. She told me:

With a federal government completely dug in on resisting GMO labeling—something the public has demanded for more than 20 years—campaigns at the state level are more important than ever. If enough states pass GMO labeling bills, the industry will beg the government to step in and pass some kind of uniform labeling law. Then the trick will be to make it a law that respects the public’s concerns.

Watch out for Colorado

Living in the San Francisco area it’s easy to think you’re in the center of the good food universe. But on a recent visit to Boulder, CO, I discovered a thriving network of companies, media outlets and professionals dedicated to promoting organic and natural products.

I was also happy to learn about a passionate effort to label GMO foods in the Rocky Mountain state. Given that Boulder is the home of several enormously successful organic and natural food companies such as The Hain Celestial Group, White Wave and Aurora Organic Dairy, just to name a few, the ballot measure is a great opportunity for these industry leaders stepping up to the plate. (See this list of sponsors of the Naturally Boulder networking group.)

A few local companies are on board, including Boulder Brands and retailers Natural Grocers and Alfalfa’s. (I visited Alfalfa’s and was impressed with the store’s GMO labels on shelves, but was told they would rather see mandatory GMO labeling.) Also, just last week, Whole Foods Market approved allowing the campaign to collect signatures at the retailer’s Colorado stores, which should boost the effort.

According to the campaign, “A voter win in Colorado—a renowned center of eco-awareness and healthy lifestyles —will be another critical milestone in GMO labeling.” I couldn’t agree more. The effort continues to gather steam, with 40,000 signatures so far, but an additional 100,000 are needed by the end of July to qualify for the November ballot. Larry Cooper, a leading proponent of Right to Know Colorado thinks his state has a great shot at winning this November. “Coloradans are an active group that stay healthy and care about what we eat; a high percentage of Coloradans eat natural and organic foods,” he told me.

Alan Lewis is director of special projects for Natural Grocers, a strong supporter of GMO labeling. I ask him why, as a retailer, this issue is so important. He told me that his store’s “customers want to know what is in their food because they understand how this can affect their health directly and through environmental impacts. They also want to return to a democratic food system, for which they are willing to pay a reasonable premium to support producers who share their values.” He also thinks Colorado can be a model for the nation because “Colorado regulates industry with a very light hand.” He added: “The GMO labeling initiative here takes a practical approach that does not threaten businesses. It merely allows consumers to be able to choose what they eat. When it passes, it will become the model for federal regulation because every government official will be able to support it.”

While California and Washington both suffered narrow defeats at the ballot box, their momentum and energy has spread to other states. And combined with the recent victories on the East Coast, wins in Oregon and Colorado would spell doom for Monsanto and Big Food’s efforts to undermine transparency in our food supply.

So, please donate to the Right to Know Colorado campaign and the Oregon Right to Know campaign.

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Rep. Pompeo to Introduce Koch-Funded, Monsanto-Backed, Voluntary GMO Labeling Bill

Maine Governor Signs GMO Labeling Bill

2014 Will Be a Make or Break Year for GMO and 'Natural' Food Labeling Fight

--------

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less