Category : Food/Water Integrity

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A ‘Water Enhancer’or Simply ‘Something in the Water’?

Note: Since this blog was published in January, Mio has won an industry award called “breakthrough innovation” from the Nielsen Company. Nielsen, best known for it television ratings system, selected 14 winners from packaged goods launched in 2011, all which achieved significant sales increases and jumped the many “hurdles” facing new products.

Now before you go sending Kraft a card congratulating them for this award, check out the gobbledygook advertising nonsense that went along with the “prize.”

Of all the 3,400 new products that Nielsen analyzed, the winners were said to have “demand-driven insight,” identifying the “unarticulated desires, partially expressed needs and recurring frustrations in consumers’ lives.”

What kind of packaged baloney is that? As you can see, the consumer is thought of as being little more than a rat in a wheel. Mio is simply an artificially flavored, colored and sweetened water contaminant. It’s a worse-ingredient version of Kool-Aid (also owned by Kraft). How in the world does this address “recurring frustrations” for consumers? If someone knows, please tell me, and if you’re still using this bottle of chemical additives to perk up your water, be sure to read (or reread) today’s blog all the way through.

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What happens when you take a perfectly drinkable glass of water and add some propylene glycol, acesulfame potassium, some artificial colors and a preservative? If you ask me, contaminated water.

But if you’re a really, really big company such as Kraft and get some brilliant advertising minds in the act, along with a super budget, what you get is “MiO Liquid Water Enhancer.”

Launched two years ago, targeting people between18 and 39 with the advertising slogan, “MiO answers this wish to personalize life’s experiences in a way no other beverage can,” the product is so successful it will now be included in the Big Parade of Super Bowl commercials. Making its debut in a 30-second third-quarter ad spot that will reportedly cost more than $4 million, MiO — an Italian word meaning “mine” – is a classic example of how expert marketing can lead us to consume chemical-laden products we don’t need.

In fact, the MiO concept of squirting a colored, flavored liquid into water is apparently so appealing and profitable that Coca-Cola introduced its own version late last year called Dasani Drops, also containing multiple artificial colors and preservatives.

Interestingly, the MiO lineup sold in Canada contains none of the propylene glycol additive, a chemical manufactured in several grades for a variety of both industrial, cosmetic and food applications, But then, there are very few, if any, food uses of this substance allowed in either Canada or Europe.

While the theme of the MiO Super Bowl commercial may be totally cool, the same unfortunately, can’t be said of this chemically enhanced variation on the Kool-Aid theme.

Rediscovering what we already knew

Providing yet another reason to stop promoting aspartame-sweetened drinks, a study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health released this week found drinking such beverages to be associated with a higher chance of becoming depressed.

Also found to raise the risk of depression, although not as much as the aspartame-laced drinks, were sodas, iced tea and “fruit punches” (such as Hi C and Kool-Aid) that are mostly all sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

Last week I reported on another example of the disturbing trend of replacing one test-tube sweetener (HFCS) with another –  a campaign recently launched in Howard County, Maryland called “Howard County Unsweetened” that promoted diet drinks containing aspartame as “better choices” to parents and kids over 13.

Another case of aspartame-pushing was reported last September in the New England Journal of Medicine, which described what was called an “intervention” among overweight and obese adolescents to see if replacing full-calorie beverages with no-calorie alternatives would slow weight gain. It consisted in part of a “home delivery” for a year of diet drinks to participants’ homes every two weeks.

Reading about these events and “interventions,” one would never know that aspartame is considered by some leading medical authorities to be an “excitotoxin” – that is, a substance that literally excites brain cells to death, especially in children whose blood-brain barriers are not fully developed or in older people in whom this protective mechanism has been compromised. Nor would one think that we’re talking about a substance that an FDA Public Board of Inquiry concluded years ago should not be permitted in the food supply prior to its being overruled by a political appointee.

In fact, “aspartame depression” has long been cited as one of the results of consuming this artificial sweetener, along with other side effects such as migraines, seizures and memory loss. One study, “Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population,”  conducted nearly two decades ago by the Department of Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Youngstown,  found  “a significant difference between aspartame and placebo in number and severity of symptoms for patients with a history of depression, whereas for individuals without such a history there was not. We conclude that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener and its use in this population should be discouraged.”

Interesting, isn’t it, how we seem to forget what researchers knew years ago, only to suddenly find ourselves rediscovering them?  Maybe it’s the result of all that aspartame we’ve been exposing our collective brains to over the years.

Who’s Afraid of Supplements? “Do You Believe in Paul Offit?”

by Alison Rose Levy

The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Paul Offit’s new book and media blitz pretend to be objective, but really offer one-sided bashing of natural healthcare.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013 ). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”

If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.

Products Using “Carmine” – A Food Coloring Derived from Ground-Up Insects

Below are just a few recently released products that contain the insect-based food coloring known as “carmine.” There are thousands of others already on the market. Please check back here from time to time for updates to the list as we identify more products containing carmine — food coloring made from crushed whole cochineal beetles.

 

quik

Nestle Nesquik: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich (Strawberry)

alive

Nature’s Way: Alive Women’s 50+ Multivitamin/Multimineral

superdieter

Laci Le Beau: Super Dieters Fast Dissolve

mentos

Rainbow Mentos

fruitconcentrate

Healthy America: Triple Strength Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

libidomax

Applied Nutrition: Libido Max for Women

prenatalmulti

CVS Pharmacy: DHA Prenatal Multivitamin

memoraid

Naturade: MemorAid with Omega 3 & Vitamin D

smoothie

Lucerne: Smoothie Dairy Beverage (Strawberry Banana)

twinlab

Twinlab: Ripped Fuel

werthers

Werther’s: Original Sugar Free Caramel Cinnamon Flavored Hard Candies

hotpockets

Hot Pockets: Snackers

parfait

Meijer: Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

candymix

Harry & David: Valentine Candy Mix

yoplait

Yoplait: Original Variety Pack

redvelvetcake

Betty Crocker: Red Velvet Cake Mix

omega3

Jamieson Natural Sources: Omega-3 Age Defence

 

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Food Safety ACTION ALERT: Stop the FDA’s War on Small-Scale Farmers and Food Producers

Washington, DC – You may recall back in 2010 we worked to stop passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The bill was an effort by Congress to appease angry consumers fed up with a spate of incidents of food contamination (like that year’s salmonella outbreak and recall of eggs) resulting from the unhealthy livestock farming practices of industrial suppliers.

We were concerned that the bill would apply the regulations explicitly crafted to regulate large industrial facilities (factory farms and industrial agriculture and manufacturers) to small businesses as well (family farmers, organic growers, farmer’s markets, food artisans and local suppliers). The financial impact of complying with the burdensome reporting requirements could have put such small suppliers out of business.

That’s why we fought so hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment. It authorized more modest reporting requirements for small providers and exempted them from the extensive ones required of larger companies. This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.

Read Your Labels: Are Recent Nutritional Snapshots Helping – or Confusing?

Yet Another Company Jumps Into the Business of Helping Consumers Make “Healthy” Food Choices

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

July 11, 2013

“Everybody wants to get into the act,” a catchphrase made famous back in the day by show business legend Jimmy Durante, seems to have found a new meaning.  Apparently, everybody now wants to get into the act of helping the busy food shopper quickly determine what items are the “healthiest” ones to grab off the supermarket shelf.

But isn’t this a good thing? After all, supermarket shopping can be an annoying, tedious chore that isn’t exactly top on most people’s list of fun things to do. But if you plan on eating the food taken home from such an expedition, it helps to know what’s in it. And the only real way to acquire such knowledge is to read the ingredient label — something all of these health-conscious ‘helpful Hannahs’ seem to be steering you away from by calling your attention to superficial and often misleading criteria instead.

The latest player in this  game of mock health marketing appears to be the technology and data company Vestcom out of Little Rock, Ark. Vestcom, which specializes in “shelf-edge solutions,” consisting of messaging and pricing information tags posted on store shelves, has now entered the nutrition advice arena with “healthyAisles,” which it describes as “nutrition info your customers can trust.”

The healthyAisles tag makes the same kinds of nebulous claims as do all those other quick nutrition guides. It’s angle is to choose from a list of  35 “health and wellness” attributes such as “heart healthy” or “low sodium” to describe each product without offering much more in the way of information as to what these processed foods actually contain. The system has already been sold to enough retailers to now appear in over 5,000 stores, according to the trade pub FoodNavigator.com.

Just why another such ersatz health-and-nutrition merchandising system is needed isn’t readily apparent. But Vestcom is holding firm to the concept that healthyAisles is “fact based,”  “effective,” and a “national strategic partner with the Unite States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate,” although it doesn’t exactly specify what that “strategic” partnership consists of. Perhaps the company’s competitive edge is its appeal to older shoppers seeking a nostalgic connection to a time when buying food was considered strictly a woman’s job, as evidenced by its tag line: “Give her the nutrition advice she seeks, precisely when and where she needs it.”

Other consumer-confusing in-store “information” programs include:

  • Safeway’s “SimpleNutrition” program
    SimpleNutrition is comprised of 22 “benefit messages” under “two groups of messages” that are supposed to meet “lifestyle, dietary” and “specific nutrition or ingredient criteria.” Could anything be simpler than that?
  • Publix Markets’ “Nutrition Facts” tags
    Apparently not bothered that “nutrition facts” is the exact same term the government requires for processed food packaging information panels, Publix, a Southern supermarket institution, now features its own “Nutrition Facts” program that asks, “Who has time to analyze food labels? Luckily, when you shop with us, you don’t have to.”
  • Stop & Shop’s Healthy Ideas
    The creative naming of these programs is pretty much the biggest difference between them. Stop & Shop, for example, wants us to have “a simple way to know it’s healthy”: all you have to do is look for the Healthy Ideas shelf tag! Healthy Ideas tags are also on nearly all the fruits and vegetables in the produce department. Duh.
  • NuVal Scoring System
    This “nutrition made easy” program was purportedly “developed independently by a team of nutrition and medical experts.” NuVal is another shelf-tag system that rates the “nutritiousness” of foods by scoring them from 1 to 100 using a patent-pending algorithm. But despite all the hoopla from NuVal, and its partner company Topco Associates, LLC, the system is a bizarrely flawed idea that rates sugar-free jelly higher than eggs.
  • Guiding Stars
    Described as  “Nutritious choices made simple,” Guiding Stars appears to be another variation on the theme, It uses a rating system featuring one to three big yellow stars — perhaps to appeal to those those who can’t count to the higher NuVal numbers.
  • Supervalu Nutrition iQ
    Called “The better-for-you food finder” (which, by the way, is a pending trademark), nutrition iQ is a “shelf tag navigation program” that uses color coded tags below products to show which ones make the “healthy” grade. As Heidi Diller, Albertsons’ registered dietitian, explains in a Youtube video, “reading labels is important, but that takes time. If only there was an easier way to shop healthy. Let our science guide you..(to) better-for-you shopping.” Unfortunately nutrition iQ omits more facts than it offers.
  • Facts Up Front from the Grocery Manufacturers Association
    Soon to be the focus of a big-bucks advertising campaign, Facts up Front features some tiny blue boxes that will provide data on calories and three nutrients – but nothing, of course, about a product’s ingredients.
  • Walmart’s “Great for You”
    This front-of-package icon is designed to appear on food products that conform to the mega-retailer’s standard of healthiness.

There are also a number of nutrition advice programs that have ‘bit the dust’, including:

  • Smartspot, Pepsico’s self-serving “more nutritious” designations on its own brands, which was launched in 2004 and canned in 2010;
  • Sensible Solutions, a similar idea from the marketing gurus at Kraft, which made its debut in 2005 and was“put on hold” in 2009;
  • Smart Choices, a promotion designed and paid for by the food industry that got bad press when its ‘better-for-you’ icon started appearing on Kellogg’s Froot Loops packages. It came and went in 2009.

So there you have it, eight ways the food industry is helping us to shop.

If only it were that easy.

Organic Consumers Association Supports Crackdown on Radioactive Food

Early last month Citizens for Health, along with the other coalition members of Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN), filed a petition with the FDA to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, from a ridiculous 1200 Bq/kg to 5 Bq/kg (see why here, read why here). The Bq (Becquerel) is a measure of radioactivity. The FDA is now accepting comments on our petition and every person’s voice counts, so leave a comment in support here!

We thought you would appreciate the chance to review comments in support of this petition recently submitted by the Organic Consumers Association:

“The Organic Consumers Association supports the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network’s petition requesting the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to promulgate regulations to protect U.S. consumers from Cesium 134 and Cesium 137 contamination.

No food should have more than 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134/137. All food should be tested for and labeled with its Cesium 134/137 contamination.

The damaged Fukushima units continue to leak 10 million becquerels of Cesium 134 and 137 per hour into the environment with no sign of stopping. Unfortunately, Cesium bioaccumulates and biomagnifies over time. Since Cesium 134 has a hazardous life of about 10-20 years ad Cesium 137 has a hazardous life of about 300-600 years, the threat of contamination in our food supply is a long-term issue that deserves immediate attention.

We are alarmed at the lack of testing currently in place to meet the present-and-growing threat of Cesium 134 and 137 contamination in our food supply. The time is past-due for a comprehensive response to radiation present in our food supply from the Fukushima disaster.

Various products in the U.S. food supply have Cesium 134 and 137 contamination, including pistachios, oranges from California, grapefruits from Florida, prunes from California, and almonds from California.

The California coastline itself is now in danger of radiation contamination. Scientists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station found levels of Cesium 134 and 137 from the Fukushima disaster in bluefin tuna caught off the California coast in Feb. 2013.

FDA should promulgate a binding U.S. threshold of 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134-137 contamination, but there is no safe dose. Consumers should have the information they need to manage their own Cesium 134/137 intake. The FDA should require the testing and labeling of Cesium 134/137 in food.”

New Research Suggests High Fructose Corn Syrup Triggers Addictive Consumption Similar to Drugs

Industrial Sweetener Implicated as Cause

of Global Obesity Epidemic

 

WASHINGTON, DCNew research by a neuroscientist has found that lab animals self-dosing on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), the industrial sweetener used in hundreds of grocery store products, followed the same pattern of behavior as those that were self-dosing on cocaine.

Addiction expert, Dr. Francesco Leri, an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, presented new research to the Canadian Association for Neuroscience that showed how High Fructose Corn Syrup caused behavioral reactions in rats similar to those produced by addictive drugs. He concluded that, “Addiction to unhealthy foods could help explain the global obesity epidemic.”

In Dr. Leri’s tests, the lab animals could press a lever and receive as many doses of HFCS as they wanted. He discovered that the more he increased the sweetness concentration of the HFCS, the more the subjects worked to obtain it.

Illegal Monsanto GMO Wheat Found Growing in Oregon

By Frank Herd
Program Coordinator, Citizens for Health
 

Chances are you’ve heard already, but the news is disturbing enough to make sure.

The exact same variety of GMO (genetically moified) wheat developed by Monsanto in the 1990s (the field trials were supposed to have ended years ago) was discovered to be growing in an Eastern Oregon farmer’s fields, in clear violation of US law. (Important note: The farmers who discovered the alien wheat sprayed repeatedly to kill it, but could not. They sent it to a university lab for analysis, which is how Monsanto’s concoction was discovered).

CFH warned long ago about the dangers of such experimenting. Regardless of how vehemently Monsanto asserted that protections were in place to prevent cross-pollination of farmland neighboring areas in which experiments were conducted, we questioned exactly how Monsanto would control the wind, rain, and agricultural runoff that threatened to spread the Frankenseeds. (Never mind that they would probably love to do exactly that).

Well, now Monsanto and the USDA are scrabbling to reassure consumers concerned about just how deeply into the environment this GMO wheat may have spread. Even though they assure us that the wheat is safe for human consumption, the USDA has launched a formal investigation to determine how this spread of Monsanto’s illegal wheat occurred.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is no more confident about this than consumers are. Bloomberg News reported today that Japan has suspended imports of US-grown wheat, and the price of wheat is falling. Of additional concern according to KGW in Portland: “The discovery also could have implications for organic companies, which by law cannot use genetically engineered ingredients in foods.”

Enough is enough. This past weekend CFH stood with food activists against Monsanto’s machinations at the March Against Monsanto, and we urge you to stand with us now and take action to label GMOs. If we can’t predict when such accidents will occur as a result of genetic tampering, we can at least ensure we’re informed when GMOs are present in what we eat and drink.

Please visit our partners in this fight at JustLabelIt.org and tell Congress we’ve avoided long enough taking the steps necessary to ensure we are informed about what we feed ourselves and our families.

Read Your Labels: Six Healthy Sounding Snack Food Scams

Another reason to “Read Your Labels”, Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 23, 2013

Vegetables, antioxidants, fiber – these are all good things, right? Sure, unless they are actually just your cabbage-variety junk food masquerading as healthful food substances.

With gazillions of products on store shelves vying for your attention, don’t think that food and beverage manufacturers are unaware that consumers look for these buzz words, along with pictures of fruits and veggies on packaging.  And they’re especially tuned into the guilty feeling that comes with snacking on less than stellar foods — guilt they make no bones about taking advantage of. Below are six examples of these fraudulent products, followed by some tips on healthy substitutes you can choose so you won’t fall prey to this snack-food scam.

Sweet Potato Chips from Food Should Taste Good:
I don’t think even the company that makes this product is quite sure what it is. While “Sweet Potato” is presented in a great big font, further down, in much smaller letters it says “tortilla chips (it’s a cracker too!)” and then the fact that it’s really: “made with sweet potato.”

Yes, it is made with some sweet potatoes, but this chip (or cracker, if you choose) is mostly made from corn. It’s essentially a corn chip, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. But don’t get misled by the sweet potato come-on.

Home-made sweet potato chips are quite easy to make. The hardest part is cutting the sweet potato which you can make much easier by using a mandoline-type cutter. The rest is as easy as opening this bag of corn chips in disguise.

Veggie Crisps Mixed Vegetable Snack from Herr’s:
Instead of the slick photo of veggies taking up a good top half of this bag, here’s what would be depicted if Herr’s accurately represented its contents: a bag of potato flour and potato starch, a bottle of canola oil, some “natural” flavors, more oil, and, finally – some tomato paste and spinach powder.

Considering that one little ounce of ‘real’ spinach will give you 56 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin A, 14 percent of your C and 5 percent of your iron, this bag of corn flour chips contains zero of those nutrients, so whatever amount of paste and powder are in them doesn’t amount to much of anything.

All Natural Veggie Sticks from Nice!:
Nice!, the new-ish Walgreens store brand has put a lot of thought into the package design of these potato-flour thingies they call “veggie sticks.” Front and center is a “pot” labeled “spinach” with the “veggie” sticks in them bearing a sign that says “eat your greens.” Maybe they mean the color green, as the small amount of spinach powder these contain doesn’t amount to a hill of, well, spinach.

Fiber Plus Antioxidants from Kellogg’s:
If you just went by the front of this box you may think this product contains everything you need for health and happiness; fiber, antioxidants, coconut and fudge.

With just one bar providing 35 percent of your daily fiber “value,” it sounds like a heck of a deal. But the fiber in these Kellogg’s chewy bars isn’t from whole grains, but rather from chicory root fiber, an additive that food manufacturers love, since it adds loads of fiber to foods, is slightly sweet and mixes well with other ingredients without adding a strong flavor.

Unfortunately, one big problem with chicory root fiber is that individuals can differ greatly in just how much they can tolerate without suffering from gas, bloating, nausea and flatulence.  Even small amounts can set some folks rumbling. So considering what Kellogg’s is packing these bars with, perhaps you’d be better off not to try them for the first time on your way to that big job interview.

But it’s not the turbulent chicory root fiber that puts these bars in the “fake” category. It’s the rest of the ingredients, which include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors and partially hydrogenated oil – making this a healthy snack not.

Green Tea Ginger Ale from Canada Dry:
I don’t care how many antioxidants they pump this with — it’s still soda! And a soda with high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient and two preservatives to boot. If it’s green tea you’re looking for there are numerous high quality ready-made brands (such as Honest Tea with honey) to choose from, or you can make your own with boiling water and some tea! I know it sounds crazy, but folks have been brewing tea like that for centuries, I’ll bet you can probably do it, too.

Garden Veggie Straws from Sensible Portions:
The folks that designed the Garden Veggie Straws package must have had a moment of  truth about this product. A small moment, perhaps, recorded in very small type way down on the bottom of the package, which refers to it as “potato snack.”  But that, of course, is eclipsed by the super-gigantic “veggie” name and basket of vegetables graphic.

Actually, this product is pretty much comprised of potato flour and starch with some rice flour and corn starch thrown in for non-veggie good measure. But then, there’s is the added tomato paste and spinach powder, which in some contorted, regulatory way, allows this product to be out in the marketplace with the term “veggie” in its name. (Oddly, it’s also distributed by no less than the Hain Celestial Group, one of the biggest players in the natural and organic food category.)

Are you really hankering for a healthy snack?

Then here are some simple suggestions for steering clear of scams like the ones mentioned above:

Veggies– the real thing: If it’s vegetables you want to snack on, then make it vegetables, not potato-flour chips! Carrots, peppers, celery – all these veggies travel quite well and can be easily prepped at home for any snack bag.

Organic corn and potato chips:  At those times when only a chip will do, the organic section of your supermarket is a much better place to look, with plenty of varieties to select from.

Nuts: Cashews, pistachios and almonds are now widely regarded as “health foods.” Watch out, however, for ones with flavor-enhancing additives. (Actually, nuts taste great with nothing added other than, perhaps, a bit of sea salt).

Fruits: Apples, bananas and oranges look as if nature designed them just for taking on the road with you.

Homemade goodies: Do you make your own popcorn, cookies, bars or fruit mixes from healthy or organic ingredients? Then make an extra batch to take along with you, and you’ll avoid becoming a hungry ‘hostage of the highway’, buying cheap chips and fake veggie products from convenience stores and rest areas vending machines.

Beware the Devil’s Seed(s)

Guest post by Kathleen Barnes

As I prepare to put in my garden this year, I feel a little like some whacko-zombie apocalypse fanatic. I am on a fervent mission to find non-GMO seeds and plants.

It’s not as easy as you might think since Monsanto, the father of Frankenfoods and RoundUp (what a pair!) has not only managed to protect itself against lawsuits from consumers whose health is damaged by its GMO products, it has also managed to buy up most of the seed companies and insert genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into their products.

The day is not far off when it will be impossible to buy seeds that have not been modified.

Until very recently, Monsanto had targeted corn, canola, soy and cotton, but now its gobbled up the market for the seeds you and I plant in our backyard gardens. Monsanto now owns 90 to 95 of all seed companies in the U.S. While Monsanto says it has no intention of making all seeds GMO, I can only say: If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

Let’s back up a few weeks to March 29 when President Obama signed into law, which has been dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. The bill allows Monsanto to promote and plant genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds and precludes the courts for litigating any cases contending the products are unsafe.

This unprecedented legal protection also gives Monsanto a green light to continue producing and expanding its market for GMO crops and seeds.

The danger now is that according to US laws, Monsanto always wins, even if its experimental crops are proven to be hazardous to human health and even if they cause a runaway crop plague. Now, the American government has given away the judicial power to prohibit the planting and harvesting GMO crops in almost any case.

Zombie apocalypse, indeed!

GMO foods have been scientifically linked to obesity, diabetes, immune system alterations and impaired ability to digest protein. malfunction. The Bt-toxin introduced by Monsanto in the 1990s to kill insects has now been found in the blood of 67 percent of all women, 93 percent of all pregnant women and 80 percent of umbilical cord blood in their babies.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. At least we, as consumers, have the right to know what we’re eating. Well-financed corporate interests helped defeat the GMO labeling amendment in California. Washington state has a labeling initiative pending. More than 60 countries now requires GMO labeling, but not the U.S. This is everyone’s fight, so I encourage you to get involved.

Back home, I’m seeking out heirloom seeds and plants for my garden. I found a good list at Garden of Eatin’ that not only give us a very short list of seed companies that have signed a non-GMO statement for their products and a much longer list of those that are either owned by Monsanto or have at least some GMO seeds.

Today’s revolution is with our pocketbooks. Don’t buy products from companies that have bought into the Monsanto lie.

This is a complex issue that I’ll be visiting and re-visiting frequently in the future. Stay tuned. Your health and mine and the health of the planet for the next seven generations depends on it.

All content is written by Kathleen Barnes and may be used freely if unedited and attributed.