Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Speech at press conference by NOFA's Executive Director, Bill Duesing

Here is the speech given by Bill Duesing, Executive Director of the Northern Organic Farmers Association. This brilliant speech reflects the views of so many of those involved in the GMO labeling effort. Thank you Bill!

Good Morning

Thank you for being here today.  Thanks to Representatives Phil Miller and Diana Urban for introducing GMO labeling legislation and to Richard Roy for championing this legislation last year.

It is great to be here representing the 800 members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, CT NOFA, and to be here as part of the GMO Free Connecticut Coalition.   It is really moms who care about what they feed their kids, especially moms who have studied nutrition and health, who are the heart of the GMO Free Connecticut Coalition.

CT NOFA members are farmers, gardeners, chefs, land care professionals, consumers, scientists, educators and moms.

GMOs are prohibited from use in organic farming and land care.  So it would be easy to say just “buy organic.”  We certainly encourage that, but we believe that the current crop of GMOs is so dangerous to the health of people and the health of the environment, that it is important for them to be labeled.

On average, we each eat our body weight in GMOs each year in a very large, uncontrolled experiment with human and environmental health.

The vast majority of GMO crops are designed as sales tools for specific herbicides; the majority of those sales tools for Roundup.  Roundup kills most all green plants that haven’t been engineered to resist it, so right off the bat we have a problem, since we depend on green plants for food, air and water.

Although the propaganda from the biotech industry claimed that GMOs would reduce pesticide use, a recent study found that herbicide use increased by over half a billion pounds in the 15 years between the introduction of GMOs in 1996 and 2011.

As a result, these herbicides and their breakdown products have increased presence in our food, our environment and our bodies.

This is not surprising.

The thing about Roundup is that it works by grabbing on to nutritional elements and holds on tight.  Plants die because they can’t get the trace elements they need.  There is evidence that because of this feature, genetically engineered plants are less nutritious and may even contain dangerous substances.

So GMO food has more pesticides and fewer nutrients.

But it is not just the herbicides and their residues.

Much GMO corn also is registered as a pesticide because it contains a pesticide in every cell.

A publication from the University of Minnesota lists possible problems as
Increased toxicity
Decreased nutritional value
And antibiotic resistance.

Recent published papers report a hidden viral gene has been found is several GMO lines.  Neither industry nor regulators had seen it before.

The writers disclosing this finding close with “The discovery will also strengthen the argument for GMO labeling: if regulators and industry cannot protect the public then why should they not be allowed to protect themselves.

There is a growing and vibrant local and organic food system in Connecticut- small farms, organic farms, urban farms, community farms and gardens, agriculture commissions, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture farms and more.  The great work of all these people is undermined by an industrial food system that hides the truth about the GMOs in our food system.

I encourage the Connecticut General Assembly to enter history by passing legislation to require labels on foods that contain GMOs.

Thank you.

Bill Duesing
Executive Director

Friday, February 8, 2013

Press Conference on GMO Labeling Bill

Yesterday, February 7,2013, Representative Phil Miller held a press conference to promote the GMO labeling bill which will be introduced again this session. We had 4 incredible speakers, including Tara Cook Littman,  leader of GMO FREE CT (and my GMO crusading soul sister.) Her powerful words are below.  Speakers also included Bill Duesing, president of CT NOFA, who's words I will add to this blog in a few days, because they too, were profound, Chris Eddy, executive chef of the 5 star Winvian Restaurant, and Wenonah Hauter, executive Director of Food and Water Watch. Chef Eddy discussed the importance for transparency in food, so that he can provide his customers with the best quality, safe food.  He announced that many of his colleagues are also behind this bill.  Ms. Hauter discussed her travels all over the country promoting GMO awareness. She said that in every state, they are looking to CT, which is leading the way to passing a labeling bill. She also cautioned legislators about any impending federal bill.

We are proud to announce the growth of the Right To Know GMO CT coalition that is bringing  individuals, organizations, farmers, restaurant owners and national organizations together to send a strong message that we will not stop until CT residents have the right to know what is in their food.

I represent the Grass Roots Movement that has been the heart and soul of the CT GMO Labeling movement. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, farmers, chefs, dietitians, and doctors among others, have come together to demand our right to know what is in our food.  Such a simple request - the right to know what is in our food so we can choose whether or not to feed our families GMOs.  A right the citizens of 62 other countries, including all of Europe, Japan, China, New Zealand, and Australia already enjoy. But not here in America where we are shopping totally blind, worse than that, we are being misled to believing we are buying non GMO products when we see the word natural on a package (show bag of corn chips, which have organic corn and “all natural”, but are fried in canola and soy oil, and how misleading it is. - Example of the desperate need for labeling so consumers can make informed choices.)  

We are grateful to Representative Miller, Representative Urban and all of our legislative champions for carrying the torch and building on what Rep Richard Roy started last session.  We could not ask for a better support.  We are hopeful that the 2013 CT legislature will be brave and put OUR right to know above any corporate interests that try to squash our right to know.  No corporation has a right to decide what is best for my three beautiful children.  I am their mother and I am responsible for doing what is best for them - please give me the tools to make that choice.  

While the jury may still be out as to whether we can say definitively that GMOs are harming us, I have read enough studies that raise serious doubts in my mind as to whether GMOs should be consumed by anyone.  And remember, GMOs were NEVER proven safe by our own Government.  Before anyone asks us to prove they are dangerous, go ask our own government to prove they are safe and they will not be able to provide you with one government funded long term study proving they are safe.

CT is a member of the Coalition of States for GMO Labeling, a national movement of the grass roots campaigns across this country that is 37 states strong and growing.  In CT, we gain momentum and strength every day as more CT residents learn what GMOs are and become angered at how they have been kept in the dark.    May 2013 be the year that CT decides to put the rights of its citizens above corporate interests such as their bottom line.