Right To Know Blog

Natural Products Association Sides with DuPont, Monsanto

Proposition 37 prohibits companies from labeling a product as “natural” if that product is, well, unnatural.  Food that is genetically engineered in a lab is hardly natural, of course.

So, it was not surprising to learn that the Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) oppose our right to know.   Indeed, each of the inaptly named trade associations are composed of member companies that sell products routinely marketed as “natural” or “all natural,” even though they are produced using genetic engineering. Unlike organic standards, NPA standards do not preclude the use of GMOs.

One prominent member of NPA is DuPont, the same company that told us DDT is safe. DuPont has already contributed nearly $5 million to the No on 37 campaign.

NPA's position is in direct contrast with its mission since 1936 to protect and advance the healthiest quality products for health conscious, natural products consumers who want to know what is in their food and supplements.

NPA falsely claims that “Proposition 37 places every supplier, manufacturer, and retailer of food products at risk of unreasonable and frivolous litigation.” They also claim that Prop 37 “includes bounty hunter enforcement provisions".  It does not.

This “lawsuits” rhetoric is, of course, straight from the pesticide industry playbook. Prop 37 will not result in a slew of lawsuits, because manufacturers will obey the simple new labeling law, as they already do in 50 other countries.  

We have to ask ourselves: who is writing NPA’s script? The inaccurate statement about "bounty hunter enforcement provisions" comes straight from the talking points of the No on 37 campaign, whose largest funders are Monsanto and DuPont.  We invite NPA to read the law and see for themselves.  

For an accurate assessment of the legal certainty of Prop 37, see this analysis by legal expert James Cooper, PhD, of George Mason University. According to Professor Cooper, the scope and certainty of Prop 37 make frivolous lawsuits unlikely. 

As for "difficult business environment," also untrue -- except maybe for those companies that want consumers to believe their genetically engineered products are "natural." 

We have the right to know what’s in our food---and we have the right to know which products are truly “natural” and which are created in a lab by Monsanto and DuPont.

And to all those companies supporting NPA: you might want to take a closer look at what this trade association really stands for. 

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Showing 4 reactions

commented 2012-09-14 22:15:34 -0700 · Flag
I think Brent should read the initiative for himself rather than repeat the propaganda of the opposition. The opposition’s propaganda attempts to discredit Prop. #37 are poor and flimsy because the initiative has been crafted so well. Its the best they could come up with. The opposition will discover the hard way that people aren’t so easily fooled.
commented 2012-09-14 15:53:33 -0700 · Flag
The enforcement provision is written so poorly (or on purpose) it will create a Prop 65-like environment that will result in all segments of the food chain getting sued (see actual language) AND it defines the word “natural” in a manner that any processing (roasting, salting, etc) would prohibit its use.
commented 2012-09-14 15:06:51 -0700 · Flag
While it may not be perfect, especially since it appears to leave out a number of foods that should be labeled, and allows what seems to be a non-descript “small amount” of GE ingredients to be exempted, it’s a step in the right direction.

Certainly there is the possibility that GE foods don’t harm us, but on the other hand there’s a possibility that they do and we should be aware of what’s going on in our food.

One of of the main arguments is that GE has been in use for “over 2 decades” with no health impact.

Are we sure of that?

In the past 15 years, since GE foods have taken off, food allergies have increased 18% including a tripling of peanut allergies over that time. (http://www.foodallergy.org/page/facts-and-stats)

In addition, obesity rates have risen dramatically in the past two decades (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html).

While these may certainly be coincidences, it shouldn’t be overlooked (http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers/health-risks/articles-about-risks-by-jeffrey-smith/Genetically-Engineered-Foods-May-Cause-Rising-Food-Allergies-Genetically-Engineered-Soybeans-May-2007).

There has also been little evidence that GE processes improve yield or drive positive economic impact aside from for the producers of GE products – which restrict what farmers can do, and control pesticides used, leading to pesticide-resistant bugs and other issues – (http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/failure-to-yield.html), at least to the point it makes a significant impact on the overall production rate.

Drought-resistant crops didn’t fare so well this summer (http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/monsanto-drought-corn-1363.html), as an example.

We’d be better off not wasting 40% of what is grown (http://www.wastedfood.com/about/) and eating only what we need; then we’d be more than able to keep up with demand without promoting questionable GE practices.

So, yes, it is a flawed bill, but ultimately will help consumers make decisions about what they’re putting in their bodies.

Corps are quick to label things as “All Natural” and “good for you” despite knowing they’re neither if it helps them to make a buck, but are extremely reluctant to tell people what is really in their food so that they can make informed decisions (arsenic and antibiotics with your chicken anyone? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/kristof-arsenic-in-our-chicken.html)
commented 2012-09-14 13:31:46 -0700 · Flag
Please read the initiative before you pass judgement. This is a poorly crafted bill that will do more harm than good. The initiative is available here: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Text_of_California_Proposition_37_(November_2012)