Reprinted from Reader Supported News
David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap.
(Image by (photo: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap)) Permission Details DMCA
Jane Ayers: With the Oregon/Colorado GMO Labeling vote coming in 5th in the nation in the amount of campaign monies spent for political influencing, did you foresee that your company, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, would end up giving over $1 million to take on the deep pockets of Monsanto, DuPont, Pepsi, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and others that have dumped over $19 million into campaigns in these two states to influence the vote against GMO labeling?
David Bronner: Unfortunately, we do know how desperate the chemical pesticide industry is to keep Americans in the dark about the secret changes they are making to our food. They are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to make sure consumers don't know they are genetically engineering our major food crops to survive high doses of the pesticides they sell. They are financing one of the largest and most sophisticated propaganda operations to confuse voters. We all have a right to know basic information about our food, like whether ingredients are truly natural or artificial, or if fish is wild-caught or farm-raised, or even if juice is from concentrate or not. It's ridiculous that we live in the land of the free but don't have the right to know if our food is engineered to be saturated in pesticides, unlike 64 other countries worldwide, including all of the EU and Japan.
Ayers: In Oregon alone, these multinational agricultural/chemical and food companies have broken the record for the highest amount of monies ever used in the state of Oregon against a State Measure (Measure 92). Right now the polls are showing a tie in the votes. Why do you think the vote in Oregon is so scary to them?
Bronner: They know that if voters win their right to know if their food is genetically engineered in a state like Oregon, the dam will break and most states will immediately follow suit, and then a national labeling program will follow. So they are breaking records confusing Oregonians into thinking a simple label disclosure will somehow drive up the costs of their groceries by hundreds of dollars. They are just spreading lies. The reality is 64 other countries worldwide require labeling, and grocery costs did not go up. It costs nothing to add a label disclosure, and they care only about protecting their profits, not our right to know.
Ayers: You have a Biology degree from Harvard and recently wrote a scientific report with Dr. Ray Seidler, the retired EPA micro-biologist and senior scientist who started the initial federal program to monitor the safety of GMOs. What are your current concerns for the public's health regarding the dangers of planting and eating foods from GMO seeds?
Bronner: Over 99% of GMO crops in US soil are engineered to survive high doses of herbicide and/or produce their own insecticide. Overdosing our farms in pesticides has rapidly created a resistance in target weed and insect populations, so now we have "superweeds" and "superbugs" that aren't killed with normal doses of pesticides. The pesticide industry's "solution" is to introduce new GMO crops that are resistant to much more toxic pesticides, so more and more pesticides are being blasted in our farming communities, contaminating our food and water, and killing non-target wildlife and pollinators. Our agricultural systems need to move to a less chemical-intensive model to be truly sustainable and feed future generations. But GMOs are doubling down on the pesticide treadmill, not freeing us from it. We have the right to know if our food is engineered to be saturated in pesticides, so we can choose more sustainable alternatives.
Ayers: You mentioned that 64 countries worldwide, including the EU, mandate GMO labeling or have banned the use of GMOs. Why do US policies celebrate and encourage companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, etc., to continue their GMO programs with American farmers?
Bronner: The chemical industry spends huge amounts of money lobbying our government, the scientific community, and media elites, and they spread huge money across both parties. Their goal is to make sure their hand-picked people are appointed to key regulatory roles at the EPA, FDA, and the USDA, to rubber-stamp their genetically engineered crops into the American market and onto our dinner plates. Of course, all these GMOs are untested and unlabeled. They also benefit from all kinds of agricultural subsidies and export assistance. It reminds us of how Enron had bought off both parties and bamboozled our media, even as they gamed our energy markets in plain light of day. The chemical industry has bought the seed industry and is engineering our food for heavy pesticide use, and we're watching a slow motion train wreck in our agricultural systems as they overdose farms with their pesticides. Yet some journalists and politicians, who should know better, are running interference.
Ayers: Are you saying it is a conflict of interest that former Monsanto officials are now at the helm of the EPA, FDA, and/or USDA? Haven't there been examples of Supreme Court justices ruling on cases about Monsanto, when they themselves were former attorneys for Monsanto? Is this what you are referring to?
Bronner: Absolutely. It's a travesty of justice and our political system. They spend huge sums on both parties making sure certain people are appointed to the key decision-making positions in our federal regulatory agencies, who then green-light their pesticide-intensive products into the US market without testing or labeling.
Ayers: Tom Hormel, heir to the Hormel Company, also unexpectedly donated $500,000 in favor of GMO labeling, in response to the Hormel Company's contribution of close to $300,000 against the labeling measure. The Consumers Union also just came out in favor of GMO labeling. What other companies have joined forces to level the playing field in this debate?
Bronner: There are a lot of champions in this fight, like the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, and Food Democracy Now. But to be clear, it's far from being a level playing field. The other side is dumping huge amounts of money and unfortunately, we do not have the ammunition to respond to a lot of their underhanded attacks and lies. A lot of their punches get through undefended, as we have to focus on the priority messages and responses with relatively scarce resources. But we are bringing a huge fight, not only with money but with a grassroots army of concerned moms, dads, farmers, doctors, nurses, and citizens of all stripes and occupations who are waking up to the disaster of the modern industrial agricultural machine, especially with its unsustainable chemical-intensive model of genetically engineered agriculture.
Ayers: You placed ads in many major publications over the past two weeks about the dangers of GMOs. Two journals, Science and Nature, refused to print the ad. What was the controversy there?
Bronner: We took out full page advertorials that I wrote entitled, "Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Skyrocketing While Pro-GMO Media Runs Interference; Former EPS Senior Scientist's New Article Sets Record Straight," which summarized a white paper of [former EPA Sr. Scientist] Dr. Ramon I. Seidler's "Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops." The ads ran in The New Yorker, Scientific American, and other magazines because the public needs to know that rather than reducing pesticide inputs, GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity. Unfortunately, recent high-profile pro-GMO articles in The New Yorker and other publications amount to pro-industry puff pieces that provide cover to the chemical industry, even as the EPA and USDA rubber-stamp their next generation of 2,4 D herbicide-tolerant crops.