Crown Capital Eco Management Natural Awareness Campaign
Whole Fraud: Exposing the Myth of So-Called Natural Foods • On Jan. 31, organic and natural foods giant Whole Foods Market (WFM) once again attacked the Organic Consumers Association, the nation's leading watchdog on organic standards, as being too "hard-line" for insisting that retailers like WFM stop selling, or at least start labeling, billions of dollars worth of so-called "natural" foods in their stores - foods that are laced with unlabeled, hazardous genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
WFM's most recent attack on OCA predictably backfired, throwing gasoline on the fiery debate surrounding my previous essay "The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto." In that essay, written in January 2011, I criticized WFM and several other well-known organic companies for their foolish (now hopefully repudiated) stance of espousing "co-existence" with the USDA and Monsanto, in exchange for minimal federal regulation of genetically engineered crops.
In subsequent articles, OCA has called for an end to "organic infighting" and for the organic industry, farmers, and consumers to join forces and pass laws or state ballot initiatives (like the current campaign in California) that would require mandatory labels on products containing genetically engineered ingredients, as well as to make it illegal to label or market GE-tainted foods as "natural" or "all natural."
Anger is now running so high against Monsanto and the USDA, as well as anyone appearing to tolerate "co-existence" with either group, that rumors are fast spreading that Monsanto has bought out, or plans to buy out, WFM. That rumor is untrue. However, it has focused attention once again on the critical issue of food labeling. WFM, and all of us in the organic community, must put an end to labeling fraud in the "natural" products sector, by passing laws that will require brands and supermarkets to clearly label all genetically engineered ingredients on their products.
Growing awareness has created a strong organic movement • Millions of health-minded Americans, especially parents of young children, now understand that cheap, non-organic, genetically engineered, industrial food is hazardous. Not only does chemical- and energy-intensive factory farming destroy the environment, impoverish rural communities, exploit farm workers, inflict unnecessary cruelty on farm animals, and contaminate the water supply, but the end product itself is inevitably contaminated.
Routinely contained in nearly every bite or swallow of non-organic industrial food are genetically engineered ingredients, pesticides, antibiotics and other animal drug residues, pathogens, feces, hormone-disrupting chemicals, toxic sludge, slaughterhouse waste, chemical additives and preservatives, irradiation-derived radiolytic chemical by-products, and a host of other hazardous allergens and toxins.
If common sense weren't enough, scientists warn us that a public health Doomsday Clock is ticking. Big Biotech and Big Ag are the root cause of 80 million cases of food poisoning every year in the US, as well as an epidemic of allergies, reproductive disorders, food-related cancers, heart attacks, and obesity. Within a decade, these diet- and environment-related diseases - heavily subsidized under our Big Pharma/chemical/genetically-engineered/factory farm system - will likely bankrupt Medicare and the entire U.S. health care system.
Likewise, millions of green-minded consumers understand that industrial agriculture poses a terminal threat to the environment and climate stability. A highly conscious and passionate segment of the population is beginning to understand that converting to non-chemical, non-genetically engineered, energy-efficient, carbon-sequestering organic farming practices, and drastically reducing food miles by relocalizing the food chain, are essential preconditions for stabilizing our out-of-control climate and preparing our families and communities for future energy and resource shortages.
Millions of us - consumers, farmers, activists - now realize that unless we act quickly, global warming and climate chaos will soon severely disrupt industrial agriculture and long-distance food transportation, leading to massive crop failures, food shortages, famine, war, and pestilence. Even more alarming, accelerating levels of greenhouse gases (especially from cars, coal, cattle, and related rainforest and wetlands destruction) will soon push global warming to a tipping point that will melt the polar icecaps and possibly unleash a cataclysmic discharge of climate-destabilizing methane, now sequestered in the fragile arctic tundra.
Thanks to this growing consumer awareness - and four decades of hard work - the organic community has built up a $30-billion "certified organic" food and products sector that prohibits the use of genetic engineering. The rapidly expanding organic/natural products sector - organic (4% of total retail sales) and natural (8%) - now constitutes more than 12% of total retail grocery sales, with an annual growth rate of 10-15%. Even taking into account what appears to be a permanent economic recession and a lower rate of growth than that seen over the past 20 years, the organic and natural market will likely constitute 31-56% of grocery sales in 2020.
This consumer-driven movement, under relentless attack by the biotech and Big Food lobby, and with little or no help from government, has managed to create a healthy and sustainable alternative to America's disastrous, chemical- and energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture. Millions of organic consumers are now demanding food and other products that are certified organic and non-GE, as well as locally or regionally produced, and minimally processed and packaged.