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3.18.2020
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The FDA/USDA/EPA launch a GMO Website, But the Bigger Plan is Much More Worrisome


We are fully aware that the world is facing an unprecedented challenge right now, and news about the organic food industry may seem relatively unimportant.

However, what we have also experienced is that organic food may have never been more vital than it is today.

Despite the very serious challenges that occupy our daily lives, Organic Insider will continue its coverage of the sector because organic companies will have an increasingly prominent role in nourishing our citizens. As such, policy, regulatory and business issues must remain front-and-center among industry stakeholders. And when presenting this news to you, we do so with an awareness and sensitivity of the incredible damage this pandemic is causing to all of us. That being said, we will evaluate our coverage on a week-to-week basis.

Thank you for your support and for being a part of this community.

If consumers are seeking fair and balanced information about GMOs, they certainly will not find it on the new FDA/USDA/EPA website called Feed Your Mind.

This site is part of the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative, which was funded by Congress, and is intended “to share science-based information that educates, informs and broadens understanding about agricultural biotechnology for consumers.”

Not surprisingly, it presents a very one-sided view of GMOs.

“Feed Your Mind is what you would expect from a government website and gives the impression that GMOs have gone through rigorous assessments for both human health and environmental safety. That is just not true. As a result, this website can be misleading to consumers,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, Senior Scientist, Advocacy at Consumer Reports.

The site claims that GMO foods are just as safe as non-GMO foods, and it references research from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an organization that is supposed to provide independent, objective advice to the U.S. government.

In a 2016 investigative piece for The New York Times, journalist Stephanie Strom uncovered that this was not the case.

In her findings of the organization’s committee, which would eventually deliver a report on genetically-engineered crops, several members had financial ties to biotech businesses and two of the scientists violated the National Academy’s extensive conflict-of-interest policy.

Furthermore, as she reported, an employee at the National Academy who helped pick the scientists to serve on the committee was pursuing a different job while he put together his recommendations for the group. As it turns out, three of the 13 people he recommended — all of whom were eventually selected for the panel — were board members at his new employer, a new biotechnology non-profit.

“Everybody knows that the GMO report from the National Academy was written by a group of scientists with heavy ties to the biotech industry, and the National Academy didn’t even deny this. This is very typical of the industry, which is highly skilled at creating its own science to back up the narrative it is trying to push — that GMOs are completely safe,” said Stephanie Strom.

One other glaring omission from the Feed Your Website is that GMOs are heavily sprayed with toxic chemicals, most notably the herbicide glyphosate.

Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is known to the State of California to cause cancer, and the World Health Organization said that it is a probable human carcinogen. Additionally, numerous courts across the country have ruled that Roundup causes cancer.

THE BIGGER GOAL — TO INFLUENCE CHILDREN

No one should be terribly surprised that the Feed Your Mind website does not present the risks that GMOs pose. After all, the ag-biotech industry has tremendous influence over the FDA, USDA and EPA, and this project was meant to promote GMOs, not to provide arguments from each side.

Yet, what is most unsettling about this whole initiative is that the Feed Your Mind website is merely the first phase of a multi-pronged effort.

The next phase will come in late 2020 or early 2021 when additional materials, including a supplementary curriculum for middle school classrooms, resources for health professionals, and additional consumer materials, will be released.

“This new website bears the imprimatur of the FDA, USDA and EPA, and thus appears to be credible, giving GMOs legitimacy that they do not deserve. With its colorful graphics and simple language, the website is especially dangerous because of its obvious appeal to young, impressionable children without offering any balance or other points of view,” said Stephanie Strom.

PLEASE NOTE: On Monday, we will be sending out a special Organic Insider that features both news from organic brands/organizations and new organic products that were planned to have been unveiled at Expo West.  We are also extending this to companies who are offering special discounts or offers because of COVID-19.

Please send a link to the press release and/or a short description to max(at)organicinsider.com and use the subject line EXPO WEST NEWS.

With gratitude,

Max Goldberg, Founder

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New Organic Products

New Organic Products

Plant-Based, Bolognese Pasta Sauce from Hudson Green

A member of BeyondBrands' first NYC accelerator class, Hudson Green has introduced an organic, plant-based Bolognese pasta sauce. Nutrient and fiber-rich but with only 70 calories per serving, this vegan product has a fantastic taste. Kudos to mother and son founders, Marie Rama and Will Reiter, for recently achieving USDA organic certification.

Spirulina Powder from Thrive Market

Available in both 8oz. and 16oz. bags, Thrive Market is now selling organic spirulina powder -- a type of blue-green algae that grows in mineral-rich, alkaline lakes. This spirulina is ethically sourced from Mongolia and is a concentrated source of B-vitamins, beta carotene and iron.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta from Solely

From the maker of delicious fruit jerky, Solely has come out with a spaghetti squash pasta. The shelf-stable boxed pasta cooks in five minutes, and each serving contains 85% fewer carbs and calories than traditional pasta. The product just started its national rollout at Whole Foods Market.
This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course
CNBC

Because of Coronavirus, Patagonia has Closed All of its Stores and Online Operations

By Lauren Thomas

Showing incredible leadership and compassion, as usual, Patagonia has temporarily shut down its business and will announce its next steps on March 27th.

Food Navigator

Court Rules Against the USDA over Organic Animal Welfare Standards

By Elizabeth Crawford

A very positive development -- The USDA now has 180 days to reconsider its justification in withdrawing the Organic Animal Welfare Standards.

Yahoo!

Everlane to Convert all of its Cotton to Organic by 2023

By Sarah Rohoman

Everlane, a fashion retailer that is committed to eco-conscious and sustainable practices, will be using all organic cotton in its products by 2023.

Second Course
Center for Food Safety

Center for Food Safety sues FDA Over Approval of Impossible Burger's GE-Protein

Center for Food Safety's lawsuit asserts that the FDA used the wrong legal standard when it reviewed and approved GE-heme to be used in raw Impossible Burgers sold in grocery stores.

Fresh Plaza

Organic Food Sales in Canada Now Exceed $5B

According to Statistics Canada, retail sales of organic food in Canada have increased 57% over the past five years and now top $5 billion.

The Guardian

Revealed: Monsanto’s Secret Funding for Weedkiller Studies Regarding Impact on Farming

By David Carrington

Monsanto secretly funded academic studies indicating “very severe impacts” on farming and the environment if its controversial glyphosate weedkiller were banned, an investigation has found.

Third Course
Business Leader

Takeover Deal Positions Planet Organic to Become the UK's Largest Organic Grocer

By Simon Angear

UK's Planet Organic has completed its acquisition of As Nature Intended, which now makes it the largest organic grocer in the country.

Center for Food Safety

Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population Decreases by More than Half, Migration Could Collapse

The yearly count of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico shows a decrease of 53% from last year's count and is well below the threshold at which government scientists predict the migration could collapse.

TechCrunch

Zume Pizza Co-Founder raises $2.7M for Regenerative Food Start-Up

By Megan Rose Dickey

Zume Pizza co-founder Julia Collins has raised a seed round for Planet FWD, which will be a regenerative food platform and snack brand.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* New Hope Network has decided to not move forward with a rescheduled Natural Products Expo West 2020.


* National Organic Coalition canceled its pre-National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in-person meeting in Crystal City, VA on April 28th. No official word yet as to whether the USDA will cancel the NOSB meeting from April 29-May 1, but a decision is expected within the next week or so.


* Dr. Bronner’s released its 2020 All-One! Report.


* Congrats to fellow Bostonian and long-time natural foods veteran Debra Stark on her great new book The Little Shop That Could: A Retailer’s Love Affair with Community and Food.


* Is it safe to order delivery or take-out food during a pandemic?


* As if we didn’t have enough to worry about…..foodborne illness pathogens and fecal contaminants have been found on new disposable gloves.


* Australian farmers who have already embraced regenerative farming are much more profitable than conventional farmers.


* What’s on Jay-Z’s rider while on tour? Among other things, organic milk for his daughter.


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