To Tell or Not to Tell: The GMO Labeling Conflict

December 5th, 2012

This week on Business Matters, on the heels of the Proposition 37 defeat in California, we look deeper into the issue of labeling foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Why is it important for us to know when our food contains GMOs?  What information is out there about the effects of GMOs on animals and humans?  What are other countries’ policies and practices where GMOs are concerned?  What, exactly, managed to persuade California voters to choose not to know what’s in their food?  And which companies are using their resources to persuade us all to forego making our own decisions where food is concerned?

First, we hear of one savvy mother’s journey to find out why her children, and an alarming number of children across the country, developed allergies to common foods.  Though her search led her to knowledge she’d rather not have had to discover, her mothering instincts urged her on, and she shares her findings with us.

We then talk with an international authority on GMOs about Proposition 37, who refutes the arguments against labeling and reveals newly discovered dangers of GMOs.  We learn how other countries receive GMO-free versions of the same foods that in the U.S. contain GMOs and discuss what will create the tipping point for the U.S. to receive the same consideration, despite under-coverage of the topic by the traditional media.

We wrap up with a discussion on the tactics some food corporations are using to protect their continued use of GMOs, including masking their true identity, mischaracterizing safe food as elitist and unnecessary, and pouring money into political campaigns.

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Robyn O’Brien

Robyn O’Brien authored The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.  A former financial analyst, author, TEDx speaker and mother of four, Robyn brings detailed analysis to her research into the impact that the global food system is having on the health of our children. She founded the AllergyKids Foundation and was named by Forbes as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter.” The New York Times has described her as “Food’s Erin Brockovich.” Watch Robyn’s TEDx Austin talk here or visit her at

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Jeffrey M. Smith

The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, Jeffrey M. Smith, is the author of the world’s bestselling book on the health dangers of GMOs. His books are, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.  Jeffrey is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology.

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Mark Kastel 

Co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a populist farm policy research group based in Wisconsin, Mark acts as its Senior Farm Policy Analyst. He directs its Organic Integrity Project.  Mr. Kastel has played a key role in a number of cooperative ventures designed to empower farmers in the marketplace. His development work has focused on creating sustainable farmer-owned businesses.  Kastel played a key role in the farm community’s response to the introduction of rBGH and continues to be organic farming’s watchdog.

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Additional Resources

Just Label It Consolidating support for GMO labeling.

Prop 37 – Your Right to Know shows which companies financially supported each side of the California Proposition 37 debate about GMO labeling, and which companies were no-shows. From The Cornucopia Institute.

Who Owns Organics? traces the corporate ownership and involvement in the organic food sector. From The Cornucopia Institute.

Ask Congress to Label Genetically Modified Food Nationwide From The Institute for Responsible Technology.

A one-page fact sheet, “Seven Things to Tell Your Friends About GMOs” is available from the Small Planet Institute.

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