We Have the RIGHT to Know What’s in Our Food

It’s time to get serious about what’s in the food we eat. Today, the Obama Administration rolled out a new proposed “Nutrition Facts” label to replace the current nutrition labeling on foods, and it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. The new proposed labeling would display calories in a larger and bolder type, would include categories like “Avoid Too Much” and “Get Enough,” and for the first time would include an added sugars category.

The new labeling is supposed to reflect the changes in nutrition science that have occurred since food labeling and nutrition facts were first rolled two decades ago. While fats were the focus back in the 1980’s, nutritionists today are more concerned with overall calorie intake.

Speaking about the new labels, Mrs. Obama said that, “Our guiding principle here is very simple, that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it's good for your family.” Mrs. Obama is absolutely right. We have the right to know what’s in the food that we eat, and if it’s actually healthy for us.

But to achieve that goal, we need to go beyond a new nutrition facts label, and start labeling ALL of the things that are in the foods that we eat. And that starts with labeling all genetically modified foods.

Out in California, there’s a renewed effort to label GMO foods. California state senator Noreen Evans has introduced a new GMO food labeling bill in that state, that would mandate that all genetically engineered foods be labeled. Evans’ bill would also allow foods that only contained some genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled “Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

While Big Agriculture may not want you to know about genetically modified foods, an overwhelming majority of Americans – nearly 90 percent according to recent polls - wants to know what foods are GMO foods. And there’s a good reason for that. Despite what companies like Monsanto will try to tell you, GMO foods may not be safe for you.

As the Institute for Responsible Technology points out, even before the FDA decided to let GMO foods go unlabeled, the FDA’s own scientists were warning that GMO foods could create “unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems.”

And The American Academy of Environmental Medicine recently reported that numerous studies on GMO food consumption in animals have shown the serious health risks associated with genetically modified foods. Mice that have been fed genetically modified corn for an extended period of time have had fewer and smaller babies.

Rodents that have been fed genetically modified corn and soy have shown signs of toxicity in their immune systems. The stomach linings of rats fed genetically modified potatoes have shown excessive cell growth, which can lead to cancer. In India, thousands of buffalo, sheep and goats have died after eating genetically modified cotton plants. And in Germany, twelve cows died suddenly after grazing on genetically modified corn.

It’s pretty clear that there are still a lot of questions out there about GMO foods. As a result, the American people deserve to know which foods on grocery store shelves are chock full of genetically modified ingredients. But we shouldn’t stop there. We should also be able to know what countries our foods come from with Country Of Origin labeling, and if they contain any residual pesticides, herbicides, or other lab-made or potentially toxic chemicals. And in the case of meat, poultry, and dairy products, we should be able to know if synthetic hormones are present, and if antibiotics were used at the farms where the meat or poultry came from.

It’s great that Americans are going to have a better understanding of how nutritious – or not nutritious – their food is. But if we’re serious about being “able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it's good for your family,” then we must know about everything that’s in ALL of the food that we eat.


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

And that's for sure!!! But, if 90 percent of people want to know what's in the food they buy...why did the labeling proposition in California a few years ago get shot down? Could it have been that they were fooled by the dirty tricks that the agri-business opponents of the proposition resorted to? Like sending out mailers with smiling photos of Democrats...I think it was the Obamas and others..it gave the impression that the Democrats and the Green party were sending this mailer out and they wanted people to vote the proposition down.

N Z Sarah's picture
N Z Sarah 9 years 4 weeks ago

Glyphosate in Monsantos Roundup coming to you in everything. Enormous adverse health effects. This is a huge issue that is being supressed by main stream media. Search for information and it is all seriously bad. Crops are now being sprayed with roundup before harvest to dry them and make processing more cost effective. This is in our food now, and persisting in the environment. Not what it says on the bottle.

bobbler's picture
bobbler 9 years 4 weeks ago

I remember once when I was doing the access diet, whip creme said no sugar.. But after I ate, figured out the can was something like 40-50 servings. And each serving had less than [whatever magic number where they had to call it sugar].. Likewise, there are blatent attempts to deceive in many areas, because they are for profit.. And so they need to be regulated so that """"""liars"""""" do not have an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Smeone said dem and the Green Party were united against labeling. I'm sure there is more to it, if the Green Party was against it.. Because we can trust the Green Party.. The dem's unfortunately, are too similar to republicans in many areas To trust.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 4 weeks ago

Foods grown in Mexico, Central, and South America are more likely to contain toxins from insecticides and fertilizers. It has been observed and reported that the agricultural workers cannot read their own language, much less the instructions in English that tell when to time applications. The story is, all chemicals are good to these people, because they make plants grow better. So they think it is magic stuff they are putting all over the crops. Untimely application of pesticides can result in deposition of poison right in the fruit or edible parts of the plant.

Just about everything that looks too big and luscious is G-Mod. Monsanto should be put down by us just refusing to buy anything that is not organically grown. We owe this to the Organic Growers of America who have had to go through stringent procedures to become certified. Yields are lower and produce is smaller and the practice of organic production of course is higher.

Has anyone noticed the scent has been modified right out of florist roses?

Support your local farmers markets. Even chain store managers will have to cave in as we demand more and more organically produced foods. Believe me, they are only going to buy what sells.

Above all,

Don't Panic-Eat Organic.

2020Whalen's picture
2020Whalen 9 years 4 weeks ago

We are all in Monsanto's petri dish.

Eat up like good little citizens

Kernel John's picture
Kernel John 9 years 4 weeks ago

Sorry Thom. People still don't have a right to know what's in their food. The government does not support granting of this right. Government would prefer to support food producers and campaign contributors than the people who cast ballots. The people will never obtain the right to know what's in their food at this rate. As long as elected politicians keep moving half way to the goal, again and afain and again, the people will be given the impression that real progress is being made. I wonder if Michelle Obama supports parents buying for their children when no one is really sure what's really in it?

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 4 weeks ago

Two weeks ago we found out that our foxhound named "Liberty" has liver cancer real bad. She's only 10 years old. My wife looked up some facts and found that one in four dogs gets this cancer and it's most likely caused by the crap they add to the dog food. After a heart breaking conversation about Liberty, I looked ay my wife and asked, what's ten dog years equal in human years?...... because odds are good that the crap in our food isn't much better.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 4 weeks ago

10K, please accept my condolances. The situation with your dog sounds so sad.

delster's picture
delster 9 years 4 weeks ago

This is the problem with monopolies that are not regulated by our anti trust laws. They compete unfairly

with independents and they get power hungry. From agriculture to service organizations, to manufactureing and energy production. They have all become part of a shadow government that is dictating terms to our constitutional governemnt. This has jeopardized our constitutional rights and our right to privacy, and now it seems our right to health and well being. Now that they control the media there is little or no disclosure to their corruption or any citizens opposition.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 4 weeks ago

Eat organic - Yeah! Great advice, for sure... if only I could afford it. Even without buying organic, it's costing my husband and me roughly $300 a month just to eat... and that's on a diet that's meatless at least 90% of the time. We do the best we can with what we've got, which isn't much these days. I've nearly eliminated processed foods from our diet, buying mostly fresh produce and some frozen. We don't eat anything that comes in a box, very little that comes canned, and I refuse to buy anything containing high fructose corn syrup. We don't consume any sodas... that stuff's nothing but junk; all high fructose corn syrup and chemicals!

Today Thom was talking about the leading cause of cancer in this country. He says there is strong scientific evidence that the vast majority of cancers (all kinds of cancers!) are caused by excesive sugar consumption. So dear comrades, keep this in mind when you're at the grocer's. - Aliceinwonderland

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 9 years 4 weeks ago

How much more $$ would it cost to label our food if it's ORGANIC or GMO?!!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago
Quote bobbler:Smeone said dem and the Green Party were united against labeling.
Maybe you had heard this elsewhere...but my remark about the mailer being sent around wasn't meant to say that Democrats and Greens were actually against the labeling proposition. I can't imagine that they would be! It was just a dirty trick by the agribusiness to make voters vote incorrectly...anyway, that's how I read it.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland: I certainly agree that "organic" foods (if that's what they really are...that's what they claim anyway)...are pretty expensive. But I suspect that could just be marketing hype in some cases. After all, do you really trust a government organization that takes money from these guys to really regulate them?** I suppose if those "organic" foods look too good to be organic...they probably aren't organic. And even if you buy them at farmer's markets...you really can't be sure they are organic either.
Leighmf: "Has anyone noticed the scent has been modified right out of florist roses?"

I haven't noticed that about roses but I sure have a problem with store-bought tomatoes...they have no flavor at all...and they usually have a very tough skin.

And although one might suppose that they are very careless in our southern neighboring countries about using pesticides...I wouldn't trust the agribusinesses in the US any more than I'd trust agribusinesses outside of the US. Probably the same companies anyway.
**And now, I have just finished reading about the war crimes, and other crimes just about as bad, by Bayer and other associated corporate criminals...and I think I have a headache from it. Dare I take a couple of aspirins?


Film: "Seeds of Death"

And here's a shorter film..about 9 minutes..from the Majority Report...Sam Seder shows a clip of a 14 year old girl, an anti-gmo activist, Rachel Parent...a Canadian..who shames a gmo-industry bully who constantly tries to trip this girl up. But it is she who beats up on the guy and her last comment is really a good one...I won't spoil the ending.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 4 weeks ago

PD - I saw that video of Rachel Parent maybe a year ago and was appalled by the attitude of the man interviewing her. What a prick. But Rachel kept her cool and stood up to his condescention with poise and eloquence. Pretty impressive for a 14-year-old. She had her facts straight; the truth was on her side and she knew it. The interviewer only made an ass of himself with his stupid comments. Anyway I highly recommend this video clip to anyone. - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Both the Democratic Party and the Green Party supported California's mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered Food: proposition 37. As of November 3, 2012, about $45.6 million had been donated to the "No on 37" campaign effort by agri-businesses, junk-food businesses, and pesticide businesses...and the leading opponent and biggest donor was Monsanto followed by Dupont and 39 others. There were only 4 bay area and close to bay area newspapers that were "yes on 37" and 16 other California newspapers, including The San Jose Mercury News, that were "no on 37".


"Lies, Dirty Tricks and $45 Million Kill GMO Labeling in California"--headliner at Huffington Post.


Looks like there were quite a few more dirty tricks that I wasn't even aware of in addition to the one I mentioned before.

Here's the one I was referring to...the deceptive mailer that tried to make it look like the Democrats and Greens wanted you to vote "no on 37". The photo of the mailer showing a smiling Obama and Feinstein...and a header that said "Vote for a Greener California"..."Vote Green". It embedded a "No on 37" along with other propositions that "lefties" would be apt to vote "yes" on...oh, and also a vote NO on 38...which they said was to stop an increase in middle class taxes. I guess they sacrificed some propositions...just as long as you voted "No on 37".


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland: Here's another very bright young girl who gives a very good talk on Banking. She's also a Canadian.... Cambridge, Ontario. Her father was a Project Manager for RIM (Research in Motion) for a time and her mother is a Principle at a Christian Academy School.


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Closing up shop for the night...it's sleepy time!

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 4 weeks ago

I know, yeah great. You have to pay extra to not eat poison. Speaking of which, our immune systems might target cancer cells better if we don't drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

Sorry men, but even beer counts. The medical definition of alcoholism is 3 ounces of any type alcoholic beverage consumed on a daily basis, according to the Merck Manual.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 4 weeks ago

Organic food is already labeled "Certified Organic." If it isn't, it may have been grown organically, but not qualified as Certified. This was a move the growers made because there were too many cheaters who call things "organically grown" or "organically produced" whose prices beat true organic growers out of the market. The Certification requirements were years in the making. That is why the food costs more- it takes 5 years to become a Certified Organic producer and following very stringent regulation and requirements.

There is also a big difference between "All Natural" and "Certified Organic." All natural does not have to be produced "organically."

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Here's an interest viewpoint: "Organic" Foods: Certification Does Not Protect Consumers" by Stephen Barrett, MD. It runs down the history of the attempt to "certify foods as organic". It's been modified over the years. I don't know... do we believe this guy or, perhaps, the very last comment by a Reader objecting to what Barrett says?

Interesting that he pointed out a company, now defunct, in Florida that was trying to sell the public on their "organic" foods that had "healing effects".

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

I didn't have time before, but here are a few quotes from Quackwatch.com
By the way, you should check out Stephen Barrett, MD on Wikipedia.

"The weed and pest-control methods to which this refers include crop rotation, hand cultivation, mulching, soil enrichment, and encouraging beneficial predators and microorganisms. If these methods are not sufficient, various listed chemicals can be used. (The list does not include cytotoxic chemicals that are carbon-based.) The proposal did not call for monitoring specific indicators of soil and water quality, but left the selection of monitoring activities to the producer in consultation with the certifying agent."

" For raising animals, antibiotics would not be permitted as growth stimulants but would be permitted to counter infections. The rules permit up to 20% of animal feed to be obtained from non-organic sources. This was done because some nutrients (such as trace minerals) are not always available organically. Irradiation, which can reduce or eliminate certain pests, kill disease-causing bacteria, and prolong food shelf-life, would be permitted during processing. Genetic engineering would also be permissible."

"Many consumers who "fork over a little more" believe that the foods themselves are more nutritious, safer, and tastier. But the USDA proposal itself noted that, "No distinctions should be made between organically and non-organically produced products in terms of quality, appearance, or safety." In other words, no claim should be made that the foods themselves are better—or even different! Some consumers believe that buying "organic" foster agricultural practices that are better for the environment."

Although, in Oct. of 2002 the USDA rules were revised again..this time they say that organic foods cannot have been irradiated nor genetically modified. Better, but many studies have shown that there is no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods. There is a slight difference in pesticide content..non-organic having higher levels but not exceeding the government limits. It's important to note that not even organically certified foods are without some pesticides. Remember, there's an exceptions phrase that allows the use of antibiotics and chemicals and still be labeled organically certified. And, of course, there is the question of just how well the USDA and/or the so-called organic certifiers..the inspectors..are enforcing the rules..or are they susceptable to being bribed like all the other governmental entities?

"Nevertheless, if you want to pay extra for your food, the U.S. Government will help you do so. Violators of the rules can be fined up to $10,000 per violation. But organic "certification," no matter what the rules, will not protect consumers. Foods certified as "organic" will neither be safer nor more nutritious than "regular" foods. Nor is there any logical reason to conclude that they have any special disease-curing properties. They will just cost more and may lessen public confidence in the safety of "ordinary" foods. Instead of legitimizing health nonsense, our government should do more to attack its spread."

I personally believe that not only do we, as consumers, have to put up with the poisons that agribusinesses will put into their products, but we also have to watch, and be very skeptical of, claims of "organically certified" foods as well. There have always been "snake-oil-hucksters" promising the benefits of their products, whether it is in alternative medicine practices or vitamins and supplements or in claims of the merits of "organically certified" foods. And there will always be suckers that fall for it...leaving them the poorer... and the hucksters the richer.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 4 weeks ago

Palin, I honestly don't know what to believe. Most likely there is truth to the doctor's claim that an "organic" label is no guarantee you're getting something genuinely organic, or pesticide-free. But on the other hand, I don't trust doctors. And I definitely don't trust the friggin' USDA!

I don't know if you noticed, but beneath the doctor's essay is a rebuttal which I believe makes some very strong arguments. If you're going to present the doc's case, we might as well get the other side of the debate:

From an "organic food" fan: "In regards to your comment that organic food is not healthier or safer for you (comments on 'juicing') I must say, that is complete BULLSHIT. If you want to eat food that is coated in pesticides, plastic, and vegetable wax, FINE. But don't tell people that farmers who don't use pesticides are QUACKS. For example, the Web page of the Hartzler Family Dairy—details the history of a company dedicated to pesticide-free food and animal products; I thought you'd like to know there are professional businessmen and worldwide organizations interested in organic farming techniques, as opposed to just a few 'QUACKS' who like to overprice their produce. If you check out the site you'll see not all people who prefer organic food are tree-hugging vegetarian wackos who should be dismissed as nutty 'quacks'. It is people like you, medical professionals (who should know better) who group organic food with true quackery (like curing cancer with magnets) that really endanger the health of this nation. Granted, this IS America, and you have every right to eat what you want, and even to say you think organic food is overpriced, but don't group organic farmers with 'quacks' just because they prefer not to use pesticides. Honestly, is it so nutty to think we would be better off eating food that ISN'T full of chemicals and additives, preservatives and artificial colors? I feel sorry for you. You are so blind to the threat of toxins in your food that colon cancer will probably sneak up on you. You'll tell the doctor, 'But I ate a low-fat diet; but I drank my Metamucil everyday; but I stayed away from red meat,' but it won't matter. You will subject yourself to chemotherapy (because, being in the medical profession, THAT's the only thing that cures cancer, right?). You'll get sicker and sicker from pumping even more toxins in your body, and when it finally sinks in that maybe you didn't know everything, it will be too late to save you. It's too bad you don't think before you eat. You're fueling your body with poison on a daily basis."

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland: Yes, I agree with you totally! In fact, in my first mention of this link (in #21) I did point out that very rebuttal that you mentioned. "I don't know... do we believe this guy or, perhaps, the very last comment by a Reader objecting to what Barrett says?"

And yes, the rebuttal makes some very good points as well...thanks for showing them. I probably should have myself...although I tend to believe Dr. Barrett mostly.

I don't think that all organic farmers are quacks..there are likely some who are very dedicated and sincere and honest....and they may very well be selling produce that contains fewer chemicals. But there are also those, I believe, who are not so honest and merely rip people off. But just how do you know which ones are honest? We can't even trust our own government to be honest enough to enforce honesty. And I am getting very cynical about doctors and the medical profession. So, since I don't trust alternative snake-oil salespeople and I don't trust the medical profession...I guess I am if a real dilemma. I think the medical professions have pretty much lowered themselves, right down there with the alternative snake-oil hype-sters. As a matter of fact, have you noticed all of the snake-oil guests on the Dr. Oz show? I don't watch it all the time but it seems to me that it has become a real circus. Perhaps Dr. Oz often gives some good advice but I sure wonder about all those walk on guest "professionals". Oh, yes, I forgot...you don't watch TV. Good for you! Most of it is trash anyway! I don't watch it very much, myself...just a few favorite entertainment programs...and RT, Link, and FSTV.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 9 years 4 weeks ago

And I don't know of anyone promising that their foods, organic or non-organic, are free of radioactivity. Maybe we should all buy Geiger Counters and take them to the grocery stores or farmer's markets with us. Remember all the above ground nuke tests in the 50s and 60s, Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island and the latest...Fukushima accidents? That radioactive stuff lasts way longer than several generations .. some hundreds of thousands of years. We are all being slowly mutated by radioactivity...by microwaves applied to the brain through cell phones and microwave ovens and other devices. I wonder how many organic-conscious people are risking brain cancer through the use of their cell phones? They'll go out and spend hundreds of dollars..or perhaps way more over many years radiating their brains yet they are so touchy over the food they eat! I agree that we are all being poisoned one why or another. Most of us will most likely die of cancer some day...if we don't die of heart attacks first. It's inevitable! And there will always be someone there to stick their money-sucking proboscises into our bank accounts to drain us dry by feeding us lots of fear and promising to make it all better with their special snake-oil.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 9 years 4 weeks ago

Thanks Aliceinwonderland.....It was a struggle to post that very personal comment about my running partner, Liberty, but after reading Thom's blog, I felt obligated to say something. I couldn't agree more with your organic approach to diet...I'm still working on that direction in my own life. Pura Vida!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 4 weeks ago

Wow 10K, I didn't even realize Liberty was your running partner! If you and your wife were within reach, I'd give ya each a hug.

If I recall correctly, one dog year is equivalent to roughly seven human years. However longevity really varies quite a bit according to breed. Many large breeds like German Shephards or Great Danes live only half as long as those little bitty yappers, to highlight the farthest ends of the spectrum, so this is a very rough figure.

The diet thing has been like an evolving transition for us. When I think back on how my hubby & I ate back in the 1980s, I can only shake my head... Even so, that wasn't nearly as bad as many people habitually eat! If only it weren't for budgetary constraints, we'd all eat organic produce.

Organic gardeners do exist, Palin; if we could afford it I'd gladly shell out a few hundred bucks for a season's fresh organic produce, delivered right to our door each week for maybe half or two-thirds of the year! Coughing up that amount of cash all at once just for food isn't an option for us right now. I'm more distrustful of things labeled "organic" at the grocery store, however. I hate eating any product of corporate farming, even its vegetables. I try reassuring myself that we're still better off eating corporate farmed fruits & veggies than, say, pizza or pop tarts.

Anyway... like ole Bugs Bunny used to say: "That's all, folks!"

- Aliceinwonderland

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 4 weeks ago

I wouldn't believe anyone named Barrett, Bond, or Fleming. Or Ewing.

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