My mom went to our local farmer’s market this past weekend. She texted me:
Woman at the farmers market was making a big stink [claiming that organic can still be GMO] and I thought she was wrong and the poor guy selling tomatoes didn’t know what GMO was. She said everything at Trader Joe’s was GMO even though organic.
You are my favorite child (J/K sis)
I wasn’t sure of such details on food labels myself until relatively recently. Several summers ago, I was put in charge of buying groceries for our extended family BBQ. A fellow shopper at Whole Foods looked at me with a disapproving eye that I was buying conventional strawberries after noting the organic was sold out. I thought that was a bit much.
I understand the concern extremely well now, but keep my disapproving eyes to myself because people have enough problems without me reminding them of more. However, for my own education and for anyone else who is new to this world, I made this chart. Unfortunately, there is no character graphic to go alongside, because no one slightly interesting besides the company of my labradoodles was involved in this chart drafting. The next trial can’t come soon enough for some graphics inspiration.
In particular, note the “All Natural” row. I am floored, because I have forever purchased the “100% Natural” over “unnatural” choices at Safeway. In a fashion similar to the EPA dismissing the facts behind Roundup, the FDA has been inconclusive on dictating the specific parameters around the food label “100% Natural”, “All-Natural” or simply “Natural.” Consumer Reports petitioned the FDA to address the misinformation conveyed in the “natural” labels, because for many the description seems equivalent to organic. This spring, the FDA announced that they are getting closer to a definition, but will keep “natural flavors” as a catch-all. (1)
Second, I’ve been trying to buy exclusively non-GMO foods, assuming that my glyphosate load would be extremely low. SURPRISE! Even with non-GMO crops, many farmers are still spraying the crops with glyphosate to dessicate them and make them easier to harvest. This practice is effectively a deluge of Roundup in my gut. We desperately need a widely-accepted “Glyphosate Free” label to help people make informed food choices. I distrust Roundup more than GMOs, but don’t want to eat either one.
News and More News
For a newbie to Twitter like me, the boatload of information that floods the #glyphosate Twitter feed is overwhelming. It has been hard to fully keep track of the latest, particularly when also getting my kids through their first week of school and dealing with a mysterious odor originating in my basement. If you are hurried like me, you might like a few highlights.
Interesting finds regarding Monsanto/Bayer/Roundup in the last few weeks:
- Bayer is rapidly replacing Monsanto signage as the merger takes full effect. They are employing a clean-eating/farmers market aesthetic. In St. Louis, Bayer unfortunately erected a gorgeous billboard, depicting the famous St. Louis arch composed of living kale and collard greens that will later be harvested. That is a brilliant marketing pitch. That PR team should be proud. Check out the devastatingly cool signage.
- I reached out to the City of St. Louis court to get specifics on trial timing. I was advised that it may be postponed, and as of two days ago, the judge “vacated” all individual trial dates. After canceling my hotel reservation, I heard that Monsanto successfully made the argument that taking one plaintiff out from a bundled complaint of many plaintiffs for a trial shouldn’t be permitted. A new case management order will be put into place, but we won’t be seeing any trials until 2019. Perhaps Monsanto hopes that jury selection will be more favorable after the recent media coverage of the Johnson trial dies down.
- Inspired by the success in the Johnson trial, Vietnam is seeking compensation from Monsanto for the horribly toxic defoliant chemicals, including Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War. The effects are still felt in Vietnam, and Monsanto continues to claim no responsibility.
- Our friends at General Mills suspected last March that glyphosate may be a problem, and I think they may ultimately be leaders in de-glyphosating our food. General Mills is being sued for their glyphosate residues in Cheerios and other glyphosate-containing foods. They subsequently removed the “Natural” from their Nature Valley granola bars. I used to purchase these bars for my tiny kids as a “healthy” option amidst vending machine choices, not realizing that the other vending items may have been no worse. Furthermore, I had to deal with my kids thinking I’m painfully strict, as if I gave out toothbrushes on Halloween.
Money and More Money
I’m digging more deeply into the financial details of the acquisition, because I have questions surrounding the bond issuance Bayer completed to fund their purchase of Monsanto. In my previous pre-mom life, I accompanied companies on roadshows to sell bonds, and I’m confused how the sharp institutional investors would think these bonds a wise investment. The offering was so successful that it was well over-subscribed.
My business opinion is that something doesn’t add up – how could no one foresee the potential risks of the Monsanto liability to Bayer? Or perhaps there is a general corporate perception that anti-glyphosate means crazy, emotional activist people. I’ve been called similar things a few times recently. I prefer the term “crazy smart” people who understand science and don’t just accept the EPA’s assurances blindly.
Keep telling everyone you know about Roundup – even educating one more person is a huge win! I’ve been so inspired by your emails – many people are making changes in their communities in response to the Johnson verdict, and your commitment is contagious!
© 2018 Kelly Ryerson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED