Matching Grant Challenge
BruceMatch
We’re slowly making headway in our annual fund drive, but not nearly fast enough to meet our make-or-break goal.  On the bright side, a generous CounterPuncher has stepped forward with a pledge to match every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate.
 unnamed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

How the Labeling Plan Falls Short

The Whole Truth About Whole Foods and GMOs

by RONNIE CUMMINS and KATHERINE PAUL

Whole Foods Market (WFM) is being praised in the media for announcing that it will become the first U.S. grocery chain to require that genetically engineered (GE) foods in its stores be labeled, by 2018. This is a victory for consumers and the GE labeling movement. And it’s a major setback for Monsanto, who for 20 years has worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to uphold the myth that GE foods and crops are “substantially equivalent” to non-GE foods, that they are perfectly safe, and shouldn’t require labels.

But let’s take a look at what led up to the announcement, and how the plan falls short.

It is consumer pressure that has finally forced WFM’s hand. Last year, consumers hammered WFM when the company dragged its heels on supporting California’s Proposition 37, a Nov. 7 citizens’ ballot initiative that would have required labels on all GE foods. The measure was narrowly defeated by a misleading $45-million ad campaign, paid for by the biotech and food giants. After calls and emails to WFM executives, and a fair amount of bad press, the company finally printed up some posters and leaflets, and offered a lukewarm endorsement. But it refused to contribute money to the Yes on 37 campaign.

Believing that the nation’s leading organic retailer should do more, consumers turned up the heat on WFM with the release of an undercover video showing store employees, either because they were misinformed or intentionally misleading, claiming that WFM stores sold no products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The employees’ statements contradicted previous admissions by WFM executives, including CEO John Mackey, that thousands of their so-called “natural” products actually contain GMOs. (By law, only organic foods are required to be GMO-free).

Consumers also hammered many of WFM’s organic and natural brands –“Traitor” brands, as they’re called – like Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea, General Mills’ Muir Glen and Kellogg’s Kashi cereals, because their parent companies had contributed millions to defeat Prop 37. In January, perhaps having realized that their alliance with Monsanto had cost them not only millions in campaign contributions but was also costing them customer loyalty, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, ConAgra, Walmart and a number of other food giants broke ranks with Monsanto. They headed to Washington D.C., to lobby FDA intermediaries for a federal GMO labeling law.

Could that have been the moment when WFM executives saw the writing on the wall? Or did the company just finally decide to live up to its 1998 promise to remove GE ingredients from its private label brands?

Either way, Mr. Mackey, go ahead, take a bow. Don’t get us wrong, we’re glad you’re going to require GMO labeling. But 2018? You can do better. In November 2013, voters in Washington State will get their say on mandatory GMO labeling, when I-522, another citizens’ initiative, appears on the ballot. Expected to pass in a state with widespread support from politicians, farmers and consumers, I-522 will require mandatory labeling of GMOs by July 2015. There’s no reason WFM, which already labels in its stores in the U.K., can’t implement labeling by 2015, too. Consumers shouldn’t have to wait five more years.

And while you’re at it, it’s time to stop bilking consumers by selling billions of dollars’ worth of products under the meaningless label of “natural.” Especially when you know full well that many of those so-called “natural” products contain GMOs, not to mention pesticides, synthetic chemicals and additives. How about being the first to implement a labeling policy with real teeth? A policy that says no product in our store that contains GMOs can be labeled “natural?”

WFM provides a valuable service to consumers in search of organic alternatives. But the company and its executives have made a fortune selling unlabeled and mislabeled products to consumers who choose WFM because it promotes itself as a beacon of health and sustainability. It’s time to live up to that promise. Honestly.

Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association. Cummins is author of numerous articles and books, including “Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers” (Second Revised Edition Marlowe & Company 2004).

Katherine Paul is director of communications for the Organic Consumers Association.