Tag Archive | genetically modified organisms

Food Policy for Food Justice: Food Justice & GMOS

This is the seventh  in a series of weekly posts highlighting OKT’s Food Justice series. You can download series handouts here for free.

gmosGenetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are deeply entrenched in our current food system. Most of us don’t even know when we are eating something that contains GMOs. So what is the big deal? And what do GMOs have to do with food justice? The corporations behind the development and proliferation of GMOs would certainly like us to quit asking questions. Since Our Kitchen Table is a food justice organization, it’s our mission to ask such questions.

GMOs are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology. This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

GMOs are part of the current food system in a big way, as reflected by the above info-graphic. And, they are something that the public has had little or no say in. Genetically modified organisms cause numerous problems.

Since most GMOs are not fully tested, we don’t fully understand their impact on human health over a long period of time. According to sources like the Organic Consumers Association,

GMOs have been linked to:

  • Thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions.
  • Thousands of sick, sterile and dead livestock.
  • Damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.
  • Increased likelihood of allergies.
  • Damage of the immune system.
  • Damage of the liver.

The growth of GMO plants causes genetic pollution when GMO plants infect the DNA strain of non-GMO plants. This contamination may pose public health threats by creating “super weeds” that require greater amounts of more toxic pesticides to manage; threaten extinction of rare plants and their weedy relatives that we need for crop and plant bio-diversity. These weeds are not only the traditional relatives of our domesticated plants; they also assist us in overcoming crop blight.

GMO plants and seeds create huge problems for small farmers if, through naturally occurring cross-pollination, GMOs being used at neighboring farms contaminate their plants. Farmers save seeds from their crops to save money and rely on proven seed stock. When their seeds show evidence of containing the GMO’s DNA, the current US legal system allows companies like Monsanto to sue the farmers unless they pay royalties. Seems unjust doesn’t it? Well, it is unjust. However, since agribusiness entities have lots of influence with the political system, the courts often rule in their favor, leaving both small farmers and the public on the losing side.

nongmo-logoThe good news is that an international movement to ban GMOs is gaining ground. Several dozen countries have already banned the use of GMOs; more countries are moving in that direction. Our Kitchen Table supports banning GMOs in favor of biodiversity. The more biological diverse our diet is, the better off we will be. We also support transparency on the GMO issue. Most of us are eating GMO foods right now and don’t even know it. In the US, food labels do not have list GMOs. Many states are attempting to pass legislation to require that GMOs are labeled, but the agribusiness sector is spending billions to defeat such efforts.

Our Kitchen Table practices food justice that rejects the use and proliferation of GMOs by:

  • Providing heirloom seeds and plants to families involved in our home gardening program.
  • Ensuring that our Southeast Area Farmer’s Market vendors sell only non-GMO produce.
  • Working on public policy issues that promote greater transparency and justice in our food system.



Kellogg boycott raises awareness of GMOs in foods marketed to children

“Kellogg’s total advertising for their child and family cereal brands came in at $162.3 million in 2011 … Kellogg spent another $790,700 to help defeat Prop 37 in California, a ballot initiative that would have required the mandatory labeling of GMOs.”

GMO Free USA uses education, advocacy and action to foster consumer rejection of genetically modified organisms, until they are proven safe. Its current Kellogg boycott campaign is one strategy the group is using. The following article and video are reposted from the GMO Free website:

We aim to speak collectively to force food manufacturers to come clean with the ingredients they use in their products, and to remove untested and potentially harmful genetically modified organisms (GMO). If they won’t remove GMOs, we will boycott them until they do. We will begin with one industry leader until our numbers grow large enough to expand our boycotts.

Kellogg states, “At Kellogg we believe that when you start with a great breakfast, great things can happen. That’s why we make foods that you and your family know, trust and enjoy.” After repeated attempts to get them to be transparent and cooperative on the issue of GMOs, in the interest of the health and well being of their customers, we only got the cold shoulder.

We began with and targeted Kellogg, an American icon since 1906, because of its heavy marketing to children and its wholesome family image. While all people – children, teens, and adults – should be concerned with their health, children are most vulnerable because their bodies are still developing. Increasing evidence suggests that long term consumption of GMOs is harmful and that the escalated use of toxic herbicides and pesticides in GMO agriculture is compounding the problem. Additionally, Kellogg was chosen because they sell the same products abroad, in countries that require the labeling of genetically engineered foods, but without using genetically engineered ingredients. Americans deserve the same.

According to the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, marketing of cereals to children has increased significantly over the years. Their first study found that the least healthy breakfast cereals are those most frequently and aggressively marketed directly to children as young as age two. Kellogg is one of two companies that led in child-targeted marketing, in spite of their participation in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), the food industry’s self-regulatory program.

Kellogg’s total advertising for their child and family cereal brands came in at $162.3 million in 2011. And this year, 2012, Kellogg spent another $790,700 to help defeat Prop 37 in California, a ballot initiative that would have required the mandatory labeling of GMOs. So not only does Kellogg market its most nutritionally deficient products to children, all of which contain GMOs and toxic chemicals, they decisively bet against Democracy and peoples’ freedom to choose by funding a propaganda campaign designed to trick people into voting against their own best interests.

Well Kellogg, we used to know, trust, and enjoy your foods, but not anymore! We will continue to grow this boycott. We will ramp up our efforts in the coming months. And we will not stop until you address and work with us to reach a solution. The solution: remove all GMOs from your products.