Sustainable Pulse interview with GMO FREE USA Founder, Diana Reeves, on the multinational companies that are scared of GMO labeling, the political supporters of Monsanto and much much more..
Diana Reeves Bio
Diana Reeves, a Connecticut mom-turned-activist, founded GMO Free USA in response to a failed initiative to label genetically engineered foods in her home state in May, 2012. Diana was on the fast track at a major accounting firm when her firstborn son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two. She walked away from her career to take care of him and became a stay at home mom. Her son died before he turned five and she has since raised three children. After Diana’s family developed autoimmune disease and other health problems, she began to learn about the connections between these illnesses and genetically engineered foods. Her family’s health-related challenges and her anger with untested and unlabeled GMOs have instigated her passion to bring positive change to our broken food system.
What is your opinion on GMO labeling – is it enough or should there be a full ban on GMOs in the US?
I think labeling is the first step. After GMOs are labeled, it will be easier to establish a direct causal relationship between GMOs and related adverse health effects. I would like to see international protocols put in place for standardized long term independent safety testing. Until that happens, the GMOs that have made their way into our food supply without adequate safety testing should be banned.
What US companies are the most supportive of Monsanto and their campaign to stop GM foods from being labeled?
The best place to find the answer to that question is on the list of companies that contributed to the propaganda campaign that defeated Prop. 37 to label GMOs in California last November. Most of the processed food manufacturers were on the list. The companies leading the charge were:
and of course, Kellogg’s!
Most processed food manufacturers contributed lesser, although not insignificant, amounts.
GMO FREE USA organized protests across the country for Earth Day Weekend (April 20-22) –who were you targeting with this protest and why?
GMO FREE USA’s protests targeted Kellogg’s. We are in the midst of a long term campaign that we began last summer, pressuring Kellogg’s to stop sourcing genetically engineered ingredients for their products. Kellogg’s was chosen for many reasons. First, having lost a child, I am extremely sensitive to any company that puts children at risk. Kellogg’s products are primarily marketed to children, who have vulnerable, growing bodies. 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. Second, Kellogg’s has been an American Icon for over 100 years. It’s time for Kellogg’s to step up and be a leader again. Third, Kellogg’s sells the same products in Europe and other countries, but without GMOs. Americans want the same products to be sold here. Last, but not least, Kellogg’s does not support transparency and truth in labeling. They contributed almost $800,000 to the propaganda campaign that defeated Prop. 37 to label GMOs in California.
What lessons have been learnt by the pro GMO labeling campaign since the failure of Prop 37 in California?
That is a very good question! What I have taken away from the experience in California is that the “right to know” is an important part of the message, but it’s not enough. First and foremost, the strategy must go beyond the right to know, to the NEED to know. I have health problems that I am 100% certain are triggered by consuming GMOs. Going to the grocery store is like walking through a mine field. The opposition to labeling attempts to trump any “right to know” arguments with propaganda about the high cost of labeling to the consumer and the negative economic impact of unnecessary labeling. Of course there is no negative economic impact related to labeling. Companies change their labels all the time and it’s a regular cost of doing business. Over 60 countries around the world require GMOs to be labeling and not one of them had a noticeable increase in food prices. On the flip side, we must fight fire with fire. There is a significant negative economic impact related to NOT labeling and this should be made a focal point of the discussion. My family has autoimmune disease triggered by food. Our medical bills last year exceeded $26,000. I know we are not alone and I’d bet that most people out there have no clue what’s making them sick. GMOs are putting an unnecessary strain on our healthcare system. This strain is contributing to soaring health insurance premiums. The financial burden of these health problems is taking its toll on our economy at both the state and federal level.
Is the US government not too heavily entangled with Monsanto for there to ever be a successful anti-GMO campaign anywhere in the US?
You raise a valid point and I share the concern. It was out of frustration with the lack of progress to label GMOs in the US that GMO Free USA was born. The federal government is so entangled that the FDA turned a deaf ear to a petition with over 1.2 million signatures. Our state governments seem to be succumbing to both corporate bullying and federal strong arming. There is one thing that can’t be ignored and that is the power of the people to come together and speak, collectively with their wallets. It could very well be that consumer rejection will precede labeling laws. The corporate takeover of our food supply continues, as does the genetic pollution of non gmo crops. There is no time to wait for labeling laws. With the resources we have available, our best bet is a strategic, targeted boycott of a major processed food manufacturer that supports GM agriculture. Enter, stage right, Kellogg’s. After less than a year of growing a nationwide boycott of Kellogg’s products, their latest earnings report showed slumping sales. We are making an impact and must keep the pressure on. We can’t stop fighting for labeling on both the federal and state levels. We have to tackle this issue from every angle.
Who are Monsanto’s main political supporters in the US?
The Monsanto Company has done a fine job buying politicians through campaign contributions and the company has infiltrated the FDA and USDA. The problem runs deep and all the way to the White House. Whether our current president had good intentions when he said he supported labeling as part of his first campaign platform, or it was just a ploy to get elected – we will never know. What we do know is that he must now see that the economics are complicated. With China making just about everything cheaper than we can, we look to what we export to maintain a balance of trade. GMO seeds, agri-chemicals and animal seed are not to be sneezed at. Not only must we take back control of our food, but we must take back the democratic political process and get corporate interests out of our government.
What is your personal message to Monsanto and their supporters?
I’m going to pass on answering this question.
if i was an alien conqueror and i wanted to wipe out the population on a planet i would be Monsanto
Everything should have a label. Their hiding a lot of something if they won’t just put a label in it already!!! And they now we won’t buy it if we really know what’s in it.
Respect would earn you more money than gmo’s do. Please remove them from your food
I think another thing of great importance that’s being over looked about all these GMO related illnesses is there being treated with GMO drugs!! There are a couple new catch phrases in the drug industry. “Bio-Better”, and “Bio-Simular”!
List of the top 100 biotech Pharma companies.
I want to answer that question about a personal message to Monsanto and their supporters!
Look at your children, look at your children’s classmates…see the results of your poisons on the planet. Autism, Allergies,Auto immune diseases and alzheimers. You are not feeding the world. You are getting straight A’s in making people sick.
You are capable of much better. Please just take responsibility for what is not working and move on to another field. Make energy out of algae or work on solar energy. Use your money for good not illness. Anyone who works for Monsanto, please get a different job if they don’t stop this year. Toxins do not belong in our food.
Diana is such a huge inspiration to thousands of people who have begun to understand what monstersatan and the other biotech firms are doing to us.
My biggest concern in all of this is that they are taking over seeds, buying up seed companies and with their gmo crops they are also contaminating our heirloom and native seed. They are killing off our pollinators with their poisons. If we don’t do something soon we are going to be in big trouble..
Diana’s facebook group (10,000 strong and growing) www.facebook.com/groups/GMOFreeUSA/
and her fb page www.facebook.com/GMOFreeUSA?ref=stream
We are making progress! Come join the fight!
Diana-You are an angel, and I applaud you immensely. Your boycott of Kelloggs is succeeding where mine didn’t because people don’t understand a publisher’s boycott as opposed to an organization’s boycott.
If every mom was made aware that GMO’s were “approved with only 3 month’s of limited rat studies” performed by the Monsanto the producer and then passed by a FDA “filled” with ex Monsanto executives before it was placed in American infants “formula” we could mobilize this nation to force labeling that should have occurred 20 years ago. Many of the diseases such as inflammation of the intestines (ulcerative colitis) in humans are occurring in farm animals fed GMO animal feed. Farm animals have also displayed anti social, autistic like symptoms that disappear when placed back on a non GMO diet. This same company has been litigated for a past history of knowingly discharging Pcb’s on the people of Anniston Alabama for 40 years. Now they have bought the majority of seed companies worldwide and own patents on these seeds in an attempt to own a major portion of global food production. Its time for mom’s to fight this fight because “our” government has proved they will not!
how do we donate to Diana?????
The thought of not being able to find non-gmo foods in the future, due to contamination and Monsanto buying up all the seed companies, makes me PHYSICALLY NAUSEOUS! And so so very sad. I feel like doing something drastic like starving myself and somehow getting CNN to do a story on my slow starvation just to get the president to maybe take some action! Someone needs to scare America because I personally know only ONE OTHER PERSON that is even remotely interested in avoiding GMOs. It’s terrible.:-(
It seems to me that this is a long-haul battle, and in the meantime our children and us, adults are being poisoned by GMO’s because, on the absence of labeling, we do not know what we are buying. A week ago I discovered a market where 90% of all foods offered are clearly marked Organic and/ Certified GMO free. These companies have taken the trouble to label all their fresh, canned and packed merchandise a such, with no advocate or legal prompting. These companies, dedicated to sell non contaminated food have gone the expense to have themselves certified GMO free. So if GMO labeling fails, we still these Certified GMO producers, So why not everyone of us look for a regional Organic and GMO free cooperatives/markets.. and never buy other than. our health will be protected, while at the same time the GMO free markets get an increase on their profits..If all did that, what would happen to the GMO sales?