A new chapter. We’ve come so far. I’d like to tell you a little bit about GMO Free USA. GMO Free USA was born out of my frustration with the failure to pass a bill to label GMOs in Connecticut, my home state, in 2012. The bill had widespread bi-partisan support and we were very hopeful that it would pass. The bill was eviscerated by the Governor at the last minute. In 2013, Connecticut did become the first state to pass a GMO labeling bill, but due to the trigger clause which has not yet been met, the law has not been implemented.
At the time the bill died in 2012, I was one of 1.2 million people who had signed a petition to the FDA demanding GMO labeling. The ineffectiveness of the petition, coupled with my despair over our legislator’s inability to do their job, led me to think that there had to be a better way. If I could bring consumers together to focus on strategically targeted boycotts of major Big Food companies, we could force change. Boycotts work and I was very hopeful.
I started at the end of May and worked hard to gather 5,000 supporters to put some numbers behind the launch of our first boycott. At the end of July, we launched a nationwide boycott of all Kellogg’s products. It’s been 2+ years since the launch of the boycott. Over that time, we’ve flooded Kellogg’s executives’ email boxes with requests to remove GMOs, posted relentlessly on Kellogg’s Facebook pages and organized on the ground Honk & Wave events near grocery stores around the country to educate consumers and grow the boycott. We began and continue to distribute Boycott Kellogg’s buttons across the country.
We sent a box of Froot Loops to an accredited lab for genetic testing. The test results found that 100% of the corn in that box was GMO and it contained both the Roundup Ready trait to allow it to tolerate heavy dousing with the toxic herbicide Roundup, as well as the Bt trait, which means that the corn itself is a pesticide that is registered with and regulated by the EPA. This Bt toxic corn kills insects when they bite into it. On Earth Day, 2013, I traveled to Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, MI and met with local activists to deliver a petition with over 22,000 signatures and a copy of the lab report on Froot Loops, along with printed copies of scientific studies that found evidence of health harm from GMOs. Kellogg’s executives refused to meet with me. Instead, they sent their global chief of security to accept the petition from this concerned mother in her mid 50’s.
We’re now taking the boycott to the retail level. So far 8 independent stores have joined us and given all Kellogg’s products the boot. Kellogg’s North America net sales have been down for 6 straight quarters and despite their cost cutting efforts, North America net profit was down nearly 10% in the 3rd quarter of 2014.
Children eat more food per pound of body weight than the average adult. As a result, pound for pound, they have substantially heavier exposures than adults to any toxins that are present in their food. Children are undergoing rapid growth and development and their delicate developmental processes are easily disrupted. Because of this vulnerability, I believe we must make infants and children our first priority. Currently, there are no mainstream baby formulas that are made without GMOs. And so we added a boycott of all Gerber products in May 2013 to force them to go non-GMO. As a mother who lost her first child to a brain tumor, I have zero tolerance for any company or individual who puts children at risk. Families that can’t afford organic do not have access to non-GMO formula and this is something I cannot live with.
Beyond the boycotts, we’ve worked hard to provide supporters with GMO related news via social media channels. Our Facebook page has more than half a million followers. We have been sharing the news and educating consumers about genetically engineered foods to a growing segment of the population. It’s especially heartwarming to see many of our supporters educating others on our Facebook page and discrediting the industry shills that try to hijack the conversation. We are a community now. Working together, learning, growing stronger. America is waking up!
And now we embark on a new phase of our GMO Free USA journey. Over the summer, GMO Free USA officially became the 501c3 nonprofit that will be your GMO consumer watchdog. We are committed to providing you with the information you need to make informed choices about the foods you purchase. In the 2 ½ years that I have been working 7 days a week on the GMO issue, I have seen amazing growth in our movement. People across the country have become more aware of what they’re eating and are demanding the information they need to make better food choices.
Operation: Label GMOs , our new food testing program, is officially underway. We have begun regular testing of foods for genetically engineered ingredients, as well as for glyphosate, the “active” ingredient in the toxic herbicide Roundup, that goes hand in hand with GMO agriculture. With your input and financial support, we aim to test the foods you care about most. Move over FDA. If you won’t label GMOs, we’ll do it for you!