You can’t help but reflect as the year winds down, even amidst the craziness of the holidays.
And this one has been a big one.
With campaigns to label GMOs running in Colorado and Oregon and growing consumer awareness about these hidden ingredients in our food, Monsanto launched a PR campaign.
In the world of finance, there is a term “capture the regulator.” With the new PR campaign, Monsanto captured the media. From Oprah to the Supermarket Guru, their logo was everywhere, happily spinning a story to consumers while keeping us in the dark about their business model which is the sale of agricultural chemicals and seeds designed to withstand them.
Needless to say, consumers want these genetically engineered products and the pesticides they carry labeled. By some estimates, you will hear that it’s upward of 90% of Americans that want these products labeled. If 90% of Americans even knew what GMOs are, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. They’d be out of our food system. More realistic estimates put the number around 40-50%.
A food awakening is happening, driven largely by the escalating rates of food allergies, cancer, diabetes and the other chronic conditions and diseases impacting the people that we love.
Many are part of it. This fall, I had the opportunity to debate lobbyists representing Monsanto and the biotech industry—industry spokesmen. They claimed that these products are safe, in light of the fact that no long term human health studies exist, no pediatric cancer research, autism research or long-term synergistic toxicity studies to show for it.
We are that study. It’s brutal to hear, especially as we lose loved ones to food allergic reactions and cancer.
This year, a lot of friends lost loved ones.
As I reflect back on 2014, a year that started working with two families on food stamps, that included presentations at Bloomberg, Target, some of the world’s most powerful food companies and others, films like Fed Up, Food Chains, Food Patriots and others, while watching a friend lose his mom to cancer, too many moms lose their children to food allergic reactions, this I know:
Love is more powerful than fear. The truth is irrefutable. It stands strong in the face of industry-funded spokespeople, and as a growing number of us opt out of genetically engineered foods, artificial junk and other non-food ingredients that have been pumped into our daily meals, the food industry is taking notice.
Monsanto and the biotech industry will tell us that these crops are needed to feed the world, while the USDA and United Nations highlight record food waste. What if productivity isn’t the problem? What if it’s a distribution model?
Monsanto and the biotech industry will also tell us that these crops have reduced the use of agricultural chemicals being applied to farms. Their earnings reports tells us the exact opposite: a 23.3% increase in the sales of these chemicals.
We need smart technology to address the changing landscape of food for our families. We need to iterate on designs, innovate and create solutions, solutions that are safe for 21st century families dealing with cancer, autism, food allergies and so much more.
The truth will prevail with the courageous voices of those willing to speak it, both inside the food industry and beyond.
To protect the health of our families and our children is one of the most patriotic things that we could do. It is also one of the most important economically, as our health care costs continue to impact us at home, at work and in our economy.
It can be intimidating to speak out on an issue that can be so loaded, but there is nothing more patriotic that we could be doing.
Our country was founded by pioneers who believed in a better future for their families. As we tap into that spirit in 2015, here is to building a food system that works for 21st century families, refinancing and restructuring our existing one, so that a clean and safe food system that is affordable and accessible to all.