Organic food company steps forward with $25k to “protect the sacred natural order for future generations” (and their business)

Nutiva® Pledges $25,000 to CFS for Challenging USDA’s Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Organic food brand Nutiva® is pledging $25,000 in support of the Center for Food Safety’s effort to halt Monsanto’s spring planting of GMO alfalfa crops.

“Nutiva is concerned about the impact that genetically modified organisms are having on our natural world…”
Oxnard, CA (Vocus/PRWEB) February 17, 2011

Last month the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the deregulation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, Roundup-Ready alfalfa. According to the New York Times, this “would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa,” a decision profoundly disappointing to the organic community and one that promises an epic battle to determine the future of organic foods in North America. The Center for Food Safety (CFS), is pursuing all legal remedies to oppose this decision. CFS, a nonprofit organization, representing 180,000 members across the nation, is focused on curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and promoting organic agriculture. CFS Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell said, “CFS’s legal team is the organic community’s last line of defense against this GMO threat to farmers and consumer choice.” Nutiva has pledged $25,000 to CFS to support its legal work.

With Organic Foods Endangered, Who Will Take a Stand Against Monsanto?
Nutiva® founder and CEO, John W. Roulac, comments on the deregulation, “Nutiva is concerned about the impact that genetically modified organisms are having on our natural world and human health. Since its inception in 1999, Nutiva has exclusively sourced non-GMO ingredients.” According to Roulac, the impending massive spring 2011 planting of Monsanto GMO alfalfa seed could contaminate vast acres of organic food production. “Now is the time for every corporation that has profited from the organic movement to unite and stop Monsanto. Who else will step forward to protect the sacred natural order for future generations?” If Nutiva, a modest company in a land of large organic firms, can contribute $25,000, what will the largest organic dairy brands, international retailers and distributors do to join in the fight? Nutiva is encouraging all organic advocates to add their financial support to the efforts of CFS. Roulac is no stranger to taking on special interests. In 2002, Nutiva, in cooperation with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the Hemp Industries Association and Nature’s Path, successfully sued the DEA in the US 9th Circuit, HIA vs. DEA (# 03-71366) to establish the rights of Americans to consume hemp foods. Also experienced in espousing food industry rights, the Center for Food Safety has tackled GMO alfalfa and prevailed against Monsanto and the USDA before. A recently filed case (# 3:10-CV-04038) CFS vs. Vilack, covers GE sugar beets and is now at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Can Organics Coexist with GMO Alfalfa?
In the view of CFS, if the biotech industry achieves market dominance in numerous crops, the majority of organic foods will be genetically contaminated with foreign genetic material through pollen drift and accidental co-mingling. Said David Lively, a board member of the Organic Seed Alliance, “The reality is simple: When farmers lose the genetic purity of their seed, they lose their freedom to operate free of GE contamination.” A genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organism (GMO) is created in a laboratory process whereby DNA genes of one species, which may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, or animals, are artificially inserted into genes of an unrelated plant or animal. In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated, “. . . studies indicate serious health risks associated with GMO food.” These risks include the chance of infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

About Nutiva®
Nutiva is dedicated to a healthy and sustainable world, demonstrating its mission to nourish people and planet by using delicious organic ingredients, enriching the soil, and donating 1% of sales to sustainable-agriculture groups. Founded in 1999, Nutiva is the world’s best-selling brand of nutritious organic hemp, coconut and chia superfoods. Its products are offered nationwide, as well as in Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, at more than 10,000 natural-food retailers. The company can be followed at http://nutiva.com/ or at http://www.facebook.com/Nutiva.

About the Center for Food Safety
CFS is a national, nonprofit membership organization founded in 1997 to protect human health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture. The Center for Food Safety, currently represents more than 180,000 members across the nation.

David Tribe

Written by David Tribe

David Tribe’s research career in academia and industry has covered molecular genetics, biochemistry, microbial evolution and biotechnology. He has over 60 publications and patents. Dr. Tribe's recent activities focus on agricultural policy and food risk management. He teaches graduate programs in food science and risk management as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne.

18 comments

  1. The AAEM? Well bugger me sideways with a rusty porcupine – if a bunch of obvious quacks who link to Dr Oz stories on their main page are against it… sign me up immediately.

    Seems our compatriots over at CFS are willing to broadcast the word of even the most inauthoritative authorities to further their goal. Hey – they look, to the uninitiated, as if they’re an actual medical organization – lets quote em and hope nobody notices that our intellectual bankrupcy knows no depths. (I’d have responded to whatshisface over at McWilliam’s post with the same if laziness and work hadn’t got in the way)
    /golfclap

  2. Thanks for the link to the Science Based Medicine page. I actually asked them what they thought of the AAEM organization, noting the anti-vax and other weird stuff on their site. I forget when I asked them about it, must have been a while, nice to know that they did write something about them! Looks like it was a coincidence.
    Yeah, the AAEM is mentioned all over the place as if it was an authoritative medical source, but it is not. No one in this discussion would have ever heard of them if it was not for this position statement of theirs.

  3. I just don’t get it. Groups like CFS and UCS are theoretically respectable organizations with at least some scientists on staff. So, what the heck happens behind closed doors? Are any of their scientists saying “hey, guys, using this questionable evidence only undermines our stance” and the non-scientists reply “but we have to use whatever we can to scare the crap out of people so they give us money”. Or do they just hire people with degrees that sound sciencey but who have allowed the scientific method slip into oblivion, replaced with ideology? It’s so frustrating!! Grr.

  4. In general, I have not seen the UCS tarnish itself with the wilder anti-#GMO health claims, although Doug Gurian-Sherman has said some questionable things about carotenoids being dangerous. The CFS, however, is less selective and less respectable with regard to the rhetoric being used. Andrew Kimbrell, for instance, tried to drum up rejection of GE sugar beets by suggesting you would be poisoned by your candies:
    https://biofortified.org/2010/01/top-flops-of-2009/
    But this is not something that was put out by either of them, this is a press release from a company that is donating to the CFS (and quoting them) while also quoting the AAEM. I did a quick search on the CFS site and they don’t seem to have anything promoting AAEM on their site that I have found so far.

  5. As a technical, logical point, this is why I suggest advocates for GMOs focus on the question of health of the products. And be open to the idea that it might depend on how the technology is applied.
    But more fundamentally, what we have here is a clash of belief systems, and the fact that different groups adhere so strongly to different beliefs is rooted in human evolution. It is extremely difficult to shift beliefs when they are connected to the internal dialog of ones “tribe.”
    We have the tribe of “human progress is advanced through science and technology and GMOs are just a part of that system.”
    We have the tribe of “human technologies are destroying the planet and we need to find ways of living more in harmony with nature, which we only barely understand and which ultimately supports us.”
    Each tribe can supply ample evidence to support its own narrative. On the other hand, once one side creates a monster of the other there is almost no way to have a rational conversation.
    This is where human evolution comes in–we evolved as social animals in tribes and in that history any individual that went against his/her tribe was very likely to die. Conformity to your ingroup is thus a survival mechanism.
    Tribes in the ancient way would duke it out over territory and resources and we still do, though we try to make it less overt. But even in the land of plenty there’s social status and positional leadership that, while it may no longer confer much anymore in terms of reproductive advantage, gives us the same kind of neurological “highs” we evolved to get when we win.

  6. I may be mistaken but I think I’ve seen some hyperbole from UCS about antibiotic resistance markers. And then of course there’s the Failure to Yield report that we’ve already ripped apart.

  7. While I’d agree to an extent that there may be some tribalism involved the clash of belief systems here is not a clash of equals.
    I don’t, for instance, accept your splitting into two tribes here – nobody suggests that we’ve advanced through sci and tech therefore accept it – that’s an absolute straw man of the position of pretty much anyone who is currently “pro-GM” – if you look at the arguements made they’re grounded in the technology having been shown to be safe and having the backing of people who actually know what in the hell they’re talking about (real scientists doing real science)
    The other side is also, I feel, being horribly strawmanned by your characterization (if only because anyone who was that far gone wouldn’t be using a computer) – however when people refer to the authority of groups of quacks with a thin veneer of medical respectability the whole thing falls on its head. On the one hand you have the word of actual scientists doing real science, on the other you have a group of people who believe in magic. You pretty much can’t have a rational conversation with someone who thinks the AEMM is an authoritative opinion on anything. It’d be like discussing crime prevention strategy with someone who thinks transcendental meditation may be the answer.
    I’m not entirely sure I buy your whole evo-psych bit either – there are disagreements within the “pro-GM” “tribe” and proponents who’d simply love to be the person who discovered proof that GMOs were dangerous because the lure of a $1M nobel prize is a pretty big one – but who begrudgingly accept that the evidence thus far suggests their hopes are rather slim.

  8. Ewan, Jason,
    I suspect that Jason’s approach is strongly influenced by postmodernism. According to which, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, all of which are created equal. That even extends to peer-reviewed literature. It is the same as any other ‘text’ and is to be interpreted as such.
    Under such an approach, everyone is always right, all the time, so we can all be warm and fuzzy together.
    Unless, of course, you’re a soul-less deviant in the pay of Kapitalism and Korporations, which means you’re wrong all the time. During a discussion with an activist, I revealed that I thought ag biotech was pretty cool stuff. She replied that, under those circumstances, that means I’m a shill and she would doubt my prediction that the sun was set to rise the following morning!

  9. Admittedly, I am vastly over simplifying the situation.
    But, people can hold very contradictory beliefs and live with the cognitive dissonance. For example, an anarcho-primitivist may still use a computer, put money in banks, and drive a car simply because they want to spread their message, and living in a hut in the forest, while preferable, will only be done for two months of the year to “recharge.”
    I do tend to think that there is a tendency, especially in America, to consider the technological “solution to problems.” And for many good reasons. We have been fantastic at it so far. Some would say that this is not just a tendency, but a particular world view or paradigm.
    I see this frequently in discussions of energy and environment. What are we going to do about co2 emissions? Sequester carbon, build out renewable energy systems, and party on. How are we going to feed the world? Precision guided tractors and better seeds, etc. Pick a problem, see who’s working on the technological solution.

  10. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it a world view or paradigm – I didn’t wait for a technological advancement to help with my rising cholesterol – I went on a diet (went off it again, but there were mitigating circumstances) – likewise very few people who talk about feeding the world are solely focused on just improving Ag – improving Ag almost has to be part of the solution because we can’t just put the brakes on (well, we can, but to do so would be utterly inhumane) but without other measures it’s futile (reducing popn growth is key, through a variety of measures (my personal preference is for negative growth, but that tends, for reasons I don’t understand, to upset people who tend to want to plateau rather than reduce, economists most likely, I like reduction because then we can actually party on while getting more environmentally benign in the process).

  11. I am NOT a postmodernist. That stuff is crap!
    Scientifically, one can study belief systems and how they are created, maintained, and altered.
    To be clear: I do not believe that all belief systems are created equal, and yet I am not making any claims about the validity of one belief system or another here.
    What I am doing is seeing the angst of folks on the list and saying that while YOU MAY BE FACTUALLY CORRECT there are forces that conspire against facts. Step back and appreciate these forces to perhaps alleviate your anger and see if you can improve the quality of the conversation.

  12. Appreciation of the forces that conspire against facts simply makes me more, not less, angry.
    I have no desire to engage in a conversation where the facts can be thrown out of the window and this not be raised as an issue – I don’t mind discussing things with people who are oblivious to the facts, or have their facts all a-muddle (I’m guilty of this often enough, but I at least think I have the good grace to admit to being wrong when this is the case) – but I do mind a conversation in which the facts can be disregarded entirely and nobody steps up and corrects nonsense (I’d believe a whole bunch of utter nonsense if it wasn’t for folk who step up and point out what I’ve got wrong, and do so loudly and persistently until I get it)

  13. Jason,
    “To be clear: I do not believe that all belief systems are created equal, and yet I am not making any claims about the validity of one belief system or another here.” is nonetheless unclear in light of your rejection of postmodernism.
    If you don’t believe all beliefs are created equal, then you are intellectually constrained to decide on the validity of one system over the other.
    Saying one MAY be factually correct under such circumstances adds makes things even more unclear. As a wise person (possibly Bernard Baruch) once said, “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”
    There are various re-castings of that statement:
    http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/everyone_is_entitled_to_his_own_opinion_but_not_his_own_facts/

  14. I am with you. Sometimes I get very angry with other people too. Try talking to somebody about evolution or climate change, just to add some glaring examples of conversations that are nearly impossible.
    What this does to me is make me doubt the ability of humans to manage themselves and the challeges/predicaments we face now and going forward. That is a pretty unnerving place to be, for sure.
    Much of it may stem from the enormous complexity of our civilization. Who really knows what others do and how things work? In ye old days anybody could understand how the blacksmith, baker and candlestick maker performed their work and what it meant socially. Now it is akin to magic, these modern marvels, and secrecy (such as non-disclosure agreements and trade secrets, etc.) it just adds to the whole potential for suspicion and distrust.

  15. Ah, sorry to be unclear Eric,
    In this context what I mean is that for the purpose of how belief systems are created, maintained and changed it doesn’t matter which is correct.
    As far as what I believe, it is complicated. On the one hand I have a doctorate in biology from a very nice private university and consider myself to have a strong grounding in both biological sciences and what we might call epistemology. On the other hand, my specialty is not genetic technology so it is actually difficult to evaluate the claims and counter claims without doing my own homework. And since we all have limited time and energy, how much of this can I afford to do? Hence I come here to learn from those with more expertise than I have.
    I also see troubling overlaps between those bashing GMOs and those bashing things like vaccines, etc. that I am suspicious of their extraordinary claims. So this site is a good one and I encourage you all to keep it up.

Comments are closed.