The Great Organic Deceivers

August 21, 2012
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i_want_my_organic_coke_by_koert_van_mensvoortWhich organic brands really believe in organic—and which are working behind the scenes to betray natural health consumers?

Many natural and organic brands are actually owned by huge conglomerates that don’t support sustainable, organic, non-GMO, non-toxic agriculture. In fact, their product labels are often designed to mislead consumers just so they can grab a share of the lucrative health-conscious consumer market.

Even worse, many of the conglomerate companies that produce so-called natural foods—and even some labeled “organic”—are allied with the biotech industry fighting by any means to defeat “Label GMO,” a.k.a. Prop 37, the California Right to Know 2012 Ballot Initiative. Why are they doing such a thing? Because they sell more food that has GMO ingredients than organic food, and don’t want consumers to have a choice about the GMO. They especially don’t want consumers to know what is actually in their so-called “natural” products.

Keep in mind that the term “natural” has no legal or regulatory meaning at all: FDA has never created a definition for it and claims that “it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.” In fact, FDA even says high-fructose corn syrup is natural! “Natural” is nothing more than a marketing term, one that is in fact meaningless.

You’d think a “natural” food wouldn’t have genetically engineered ingredients, but you’d be wrong. Kashi, which everywhere proclaims its passion for “healthy, all-natural foods,” has GMO soy in its ingredients. Kashi is owned by Kellogg, the multinational food manufacturing company that produces everything from sugary cereals to Morningstar Farms vegetarian products (some of which are organic but still use GMOs) to Keebler cookies (filled with GMOs). The company has contributed $612,000 to defeat Prop 37 and keep GMO labels off their products.

Sierra Mist Natural wears that moniker proudly because their soda is “made with real sugar and 100% natural flavors”! The brand is owned by PepsiCo, which has contributed more than $1 million to defeat Prop 37.

What you may not realize is that many organic brands have been snapped up by Big Food companies; their ownership is deliberately hidden from consumers. While they purport to have an environmental and health-conscious mission, they completely undercut that claim by fighting GMO labeling. Honest Tea, for example, is USDA-certified organic. Yet Honest Tea is owned by Coca-Cola, which has also contributed more than $1 million to defeat Label GMO. We don’t think that’s very honest. Coke also owns Odwalla, which produces “all-natural juices” and “nourishing protein bars,” and supposedly supports sustainable agriculture. GMO is sustainable agriculture?

Silk carries the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal on its soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk products. Both Silk and the Horizon Organic brand tell their customers that the brands oppose GMOs. Yet both are owned by Dean Foods, which has contributed $253,000 to defeat Label GMO.

Lightlife vegan and vegetarian foods is owned by ConAgra, which contributed $520,000. Seeds of Change, the organic seed and food company, is owned by candy giant Mars, which contributed $100,242 to defeat Label GMO. General Mills, which owns Cascadian Farms Organic, Muir Glen, and Larabar, contributed $520,000. Smucker, which owns R.W. Knudsen and Santa Cruz Organic, contributed $387,000. The State of California has a website where you can see exactly which companies are fighting hardest to keep their GMO foods from being labeled.

What about groups like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), and the Organic Trade Association? Surely they’re all about protecting consumers from GMOs, right? No. Both of these organizations are funded by the very same Big Food companies that have made contributions to defeat the Label GMO initiative.

Back in 1994, Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, told the Kansas City Star, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” And that’s precisely what Big Food is so afraid of. Consumers will generally avoid GMOs if they can, and they won’t buy foods containing them. Can you imagine the consumer outrage if the labels on their favorite “natural” foods suddenly declare that their ingredients are genetically engineered?

The Cornucopia Institute has developed a shoppers’ guide to help you tell the sheep from the wolves in this battle.

75 Responses to “The Great Organic Deceivers”

  1. Rita says:

    I posted a comment that appears to have been deleted. My point was that while it is true that there are some big conventional companies involved in organic, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is made up of primarily small companies – and also of companies like Nature’s Path and Lundberg – that are funders of Prop37. And that the OTA formally endorsed and supports Proposition 37, so not sure why you are attacking OTA. That type of mudslinging/circular firing squad is not useful. Yes, OTA needs to have better board representation, and the trade as a whole is imperfect, but bashing them is not useful.

       4 likes

  2. Zoe says:

    Can whoever wrote this:

    “DNA from genetically modified food is proven to be incorporated into our own genes.”

    please link me to scientific research that actually shows this? I’d be very interested in reading it.

    Yes, it’s really important to make informed decisions and be given all the information, but it makes no sense to me to put all GMOs together as if they have something in common simply for being GMOs. Biologically, there’s little difference between a scientifically engineered GMO and one engineered through thousands of years of genetic breeding. Viruses have been tranferring DNA between different species since the beginning of life. Rather than asking whether a product is a GMO, we should be asking what specifically this GMO does. It seems to me there are plenty of areas where GMOs could be helpful, such as the Golden Rice, and perhaps salt-resistant crops for salt marshlands and the likes. While I agree that much of on-going GMOs today is focused only on economic gain and not on health and this scares me, assuming all GMOs are equal still makes no sense to me, and hinders the progress of it’s potential areas of helpful use. I wanna know specifically what pesticides or antibiotics etc an organism has been engineered to produce, what kill-switches the company has put into it, and from where that DNA came, and then I can make an informed decision about what it is and whether I want to eat it.

       3 likes

    • TruthSeeker says:

      Dear Questioner: for the most comprehensive, peer-reviewed study on the subject to date, may I recommend reading the explosive “GMO Myths and Truths” by well-known and respected independent geneticists, John Fagan and Michael Anoniou: http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58. I believe you will find most of the answers on the safety, or lack thereof, and efficacy, of transgenic seed technology that you say you are looking for in here. Good reading, and best wishes.

         0 likes

  3. Rita says:

    But OTA endorses Proposition 37…so I think you have at least that part of the conspiracy wrong

       1 likes

  4. Judith Gibson says:

    The article about Organic Deceivers was so well written, I just had to write and let you know how much I appreciate you. I also appreciated the fact that you not only had an Action site for asking GMO promoters to stop, but an Action site to thank people who support GMO labeling.

    Sincerely,
    Judith Gibson

       16 likes

    • Laura Pearson says:

      I would also just like to say thank you to writer of this article and all those who contributed in it’s construction and sound research, you’ve all done an amazing job! Thank you for taking a stand for us against GM foods and the immoral actions of big food companies today, also a massive thank you for allowing us to say thanks to those companies who remain moral in a corrupt- money grabbing world. I’m officially in love with your website :D

         1 likes

      • Cheryl says:

        I shop most of the health food stores in my area…..ask yourself or these people several questions….
        1 if Silk , Horizon and Kashi then pay the 150,000.00 for the non gmo project label…….
        2 before we call the kettle black 100%, do any of you wear 100% cotton clothes grown non gmo.
        3 what about the people who have to have granite countertops, how much of the earths foundation are we going to strip just to have a pretty kitchen and bath.
        4 how many are using horse and buggy for transportation…..electric cars????/they are still made of fabricated parts.
        5 how about the pricing.
        6 I do not see NON GMO on most of the companies you listed as pro……are you being paid by these companies for the propaganda….you wouldn’t be the first.
        Be thankful that companies are trying step by step.
        Until you live in a cave or bamboo hut with no cell phone or computer growing your own food, wearing leaves or skins you have no right to call out others.

           0 likes

    • kairologic says:

      What have we here? Possible proof that GMOs can indeed be slipped into the organic market by way of loopholes in the USDA Organic Program regulatory guidelines? I think maybe. http://kairologic.blogspot.com/2012/07/organic-schmorganic.html

         0 likes

  5. K. Peters says:

    We have the right to know what is in our food. Companies who pay millions in bribes to stop this from happening have something to hide, How can one ever trust those companies again.

       10 likes

  6. Seeker says:

    You are doing a great job, keep up the light work, we are the change we been waiting for !
    Thank You !

       8 likes

    • Kitty says:

      This is a revolting development! I just switched from Silk Soy Milk to Westbrae’s WestSoy Unsweetened Organic. What about this one? Is it a good choice? I’m glad there is someone out there to help us in our choices. Thank you!

         0 likes

  7. Nelli says:

    Thanks for this.

    I’ve been reading more and more about these large corporate conglomerates donating funds to Prop 37; I’ve known since early 2000 that Odwallla’s owned by Coke. I could never get over the irony of these horrid corporations with terrible track records for human & environmental rights selling these organic, ‘earth-friendly’ products.

    Glad to see the brands that have donated to support labeling as they’re some of my most oft bought brands.

       0 likes

  8. Les says:

    Regarding skincare, another safe brand that uses no GMO is Noli N Nali Organics, in Santa Cruz, CA. Until they are bought out by the majors, they remain untainted.

       0 likes

  9. we have the right to know what is in our food so we can decide whether we want to buy the product. more so, they should be making all our food with natural products. All the additives they use is making people sick. This country is corrupt and lets these companies sell us unhealthy food. This country does not protect it’s people. We need laws to remove additives, coloring etc.

       1 likes

  10. Shirley Heisey says:

    Companies who sell both lines of food, clearly and HONESTLY labelled– GMO or non-GMO– will not be hurt in the industrial shift. People will buy, They must eat. JUST GIVE US A CHOICE!

    Those who refuse to come clean, and deceptively mis-label, will pay the price WHEN the truth comes out–and it will. It already has.

       1 likes

  11. boycott coke says:

    coca cola is used as a pesticide in india

       2 likes

  12. Renee Rowe says:

    There’s just no way around it, most ‘organic’ prepared foods sold at stores including COSTCO, Whole Foods and even health foods stores are either not what you think, or are owned by big agra. The best way to keep our bodies healthy and to refuse to support big agra’s monopolistic greed is to eat locally grown foods in season, to know our food grower, and to prepare our own meals.

    Thank you for this web site. I will spread the word enthusiastically.

       1 likes

  13. Donna says:

    As a Californian I am definitely voting for the passage of Prop. 73. I was surprised to see some of the “natural” products I have purchased in the past on this list. Thank You ANA for bringing this out. These giant food producers can’t have it both ways – promoting their food as organic, and then making huge donations to make sure the labeling of GMO’s is defeated.

       1 likes

  14. hugh curran says:

    this is very helpful information. I did not know that so many organic companies had been absorbed by conglomerates. It’s shameful!. Under the circumstances the very least that should be done is to label GMOs.

       1 likes

  15. Denise says:

    The “share” options on this link are not working. FYI…

       0 likes

  16. Michael Elkins says:

    Consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their own bodies. DNA from genetically modified food is proven to be incorporated into our own genes, with no knowledge of how that will effect us, both individually and as a species. Do you want plant and other animal DNA incorporated into you body without your knowledge??

       0 likes

  17. Tracy says:

    I was signing to send thanks to companies supporting labeling until the form required my address. I think a great number will back out at this point. I urge you to omit this requirement so I can sign and also Share this article. I won’t forward it on as is. It makes me wonder if this truly from AFNH. Now I feel a responsibility to go to the AFNH site by typing the URL in the address field and contacting to confirm the validity. Lord knows I don’t have time for this, especially when I only have my cell phone right now. I should not have to do all this.

    Tracy

       2 likes

    • ANH-USA says:

      Thank you for your comment, Tracy. We realized you are correct – unlike with your legislators, there’s no need to provide your address for this thank-you letter. We have now made it optional to provide your address. Thank you for signing!

         2 likes

  18. R Andrew Ohge says:

    Why not stop buying the products the Parent Companies make and channel your spending toward the actual Organic Products. We NEED to see THOSE Companies prosper-it’s hard enough to find Organic, as it is…AND it will send a positive and even more dramatic message to the Parent Companies…wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy non-GMO versions of our old favorites? Money talks-destroying an opportunity like this is another matter.

       0 likes

  19. Robert Ogden says:

    Thank you for all that you are doing. I will help to spread the word to my friends.

       0 likes

  20. Those readers interested in this column might want to read the new book, “Which Poison Will Change Your Life?”, which not only explains these issues, but also puts them into historical and modern perspective. Book is available from Amazon and B&N online and from the publisher, Authorhouse. Check out the YouTube blurb under the book title name. G. Chance

       0 likes

  21. mary dowling says:

    My goodness what has happened to our democracy!!!!

       0 likes

  22. Thank you for all the time and research you put into your articles.

    All best,
    Cindy Schwalb

       1 likes

  23. Richard Moore says:

    Good job! Just like politics, money and profit, seems to often times pollute the situation. Why would a big food corporation support deceiving GMO labeling other than pure profit? Corporations are people too? No! They’re not interested in people’s welfare because if they were they wouldn’t support not labeling GMO’s.

    Keep up the good work!

       0 likes

  24. Sondra says:

    Our country grows more food than we need. Using NO pesticides at all would reduce the total harvest, but still leave More Than We Need.

    Blessings of Happiness and Joy,
    Ageless Health and Beauty,
    Unceasing Creative Self-expression,
    and Opulent Prosperity.

       0 likes

  25. Lorraine Forte says:

    What could be lower than Greenwashing? Being aware of a problem and in a position to do something about it, and instead pitching lies for profit. Disgusting.

       0 likes

  26. Jan says:

    What about Tree of Life brand organic

       0 likes

  27. Karen says:

    Wholesome Sweeteners is also a sponsor on Non-GMO month. They are the nation’s leading supplier of organic, non-gmo and Fairtrade sweeteners.

       0 likes

  28. Lyrr Descy says:

    This is useful information. Thank you. These are lists to print out when grocery shopping.

    But please do not require full addresses of people who sign your petitions and alerts. You have no reason to collect this information. An email address, city or zip code should be enough.

       0 likes

    • ANH-USA says:

      Thank you for your comment, Lyrr. We realized you are correct – although your legislators do require your address when we send letters on your behalf, there’s no need to provide your address for this thank-you letter. We have now made it optional to provide your address. Thank you for signing!

         0 likes

  29. Paul Heiselmann says:

    Either the people take over the initiative in our supposedly ‘Democratic’ society here, or ‘Big Money,’ and all the puppet humans in its fold become our ‘God and conscious!’

       0 likes

  30. Rufus Green says:

    Hi,

    I am from the UK, and it seems I don’t understand your political system. Could somebody explain to me how contributions of money can influence the outcome of a vote? I understand about behind the scenes corruption that goes on all over the world, but open donations like this…I just don’t understand the process.

       0 likes

    • Don says:

      Money influences outcomes largely in 2 ways.
      #1. is Lobbying. Lobbying pays people to put information in front of legislators, is used to help sway legislative cooperation through vote swapping by identifying things that a legislator is trying to get passed and then get other legislators to vote for theirs if they vote for mine.

      #2. Which applies more in this situation as it’s gone to a public vote, by producing propaganda. People are easily swayed by misinformation put out by large corporate brands they ‘trust’. Messages that are or will be disproved or shown to be outright lies are usually exposed to late or never exposed to the avg person who heard and believed the message to begin with.

      it’s sad, disgusting and unfortunately a reality.

         0 likes

  31. brad peterson says:

    what you say about OTA funding is accurate…however they have come out strongly in favor of 37, so to imply otherwise is not correct. thanks, brad

       0 likes

  32. Cynthia Woodcock says:

    This kind of deception will eventually ruin anyone’s profits and make many sick in the process and needs to stop NOW.

       0 likes

  33. Terrence Grywinski says:

    We need to keep the organic label truly meaning organic.

       0 likes

  34. Bob says:

    I am interested to know whether you consider any form of GMO as safe, and where the dividing line is. For example, naturally breeding (or cross-breeding) to produce a stronger animal or plant seems safe to me. Isn’t that a natural form of genetic modification?
    But when it comes to altering the DNA of an organism, I agree that the public should be notified, so we can make an informed decision. Companies must be honest and let supply and demand do it’s work. Most people are still willing to take the risk with the cheaper product, trusting the FDA to cover them.
    How can we know if the new DNA is really safe for us? If the “new” GMO animal or plant is now more resistant to antibiotics and pesticides, and we eat them, then won’t we humans be consuming more antibiotics and pesticides (but we haven’t been genetically modified – yet!)? This is a major concern. Is anyone testing these foods for antibiotics and pesticides residue/content?
    On the other hand, if the GMO change makes the plant or animal more resistant to bacteria, insects, fungus, etc, without resulting in increased antibiotics and pesticides being transferred to humans, might that be a good thing? Except…
    What about the risk that the GMO, new DNA food material might harm our bodies’ proteins and DNA in ways that we have not foreseen (even if antibiotics and pesticides are not increased)? After all, this food is going into our tissues and cells. So it’s very important that labeling be completely honest, and that informed debate and open research continue, without bias due to lobbying by food corporations with big wallets.
    I would be interested in your thoughts.

       0 likes

  35. Jeanne Halverson says:

    I personally refrain from purchasing GMO products. I will send this information on to everyone that I know who loves to have good quality, healthy food. I will ask that they look at the list of those who oppose having GMO’s labled, and boycott any products that are produced by these companies. Thanks to all who are so selflessly protecting our food products, and the right to purchase them.

       0 likes

  36. Malisa Hodges says:

    This is so wrong of these companies. All they care about is $$$$$. If I was them, I would hang my head in shame.

       0 likes

  37. Elle says:

    Can you tell me how you know how much each organization contributes to fighting GMO labeling. How does a regular person keep up on this?

       0 likes

  38. June Ice says:

    It is so great to have a voice for the “little guy” out there! Without people like you, who knows what bill of goods we would be forced to accept. Keep up the good work!

       0 likes

  39. Jim Schantz says:

    Thank you! I did not know the corporate deception that was going on in many of these firms. I will let my wallet do the talking in the stores!

    JS

       0 likes

  40. Michael Leyva says:

    How anyone ask themselves why the FDA (Food Drug Adminstration) regulates food & drugs? Doesnt that seem like an odd pair?What does food & drugs have in common? The FDA knows very well, if you can controll the food. you can control the outcomes of health. That is were big pharma & the US Agriculture Department come in. Here is how it works., Monsato comes in with deep pockets pays lobbyist to create farming policies with the US Agriculture Department. If you do your homework you will find the revolving door between Ex Monsato workers that our now making farming policies in the Agriculture Department.First thing they do is destroy the soil with fungicides, pesticides amd herbicides, al know to be toxic. Secondly we feed these poison grains to our commercially process cattle,chickens and pigs. They carry loads of toxins Here where the pharmaceautical companies come in. How much you like your toxic cattle chicken and pigs to produce more milk, more breast meat, just add rbgh (growth hormone).Just in case your toxic animals get sicker, we have antibiotic to give to them. Finally the consumer who eats the toxic animals, get sick. Guess who back? Big pharma, who by the way educates and funds most our medical doctors, who then medicate you with more drugs. It is a big money ferris wheel ride !

       0 likes

  41. Faye lapp says:

    I think it’s Dr Mercola who’s posted an article on 5 things you’d not think would be allowed in Organic. Maybe it was Kevin Drum of Mother Jones….

       0 likes

  42. I will not cater to LIARS AND CHEATERS…

       0 likes

  43. marilyn i michel says:

    Thank you for alerting me to those brands which are really not organic. I will no longer purchase these fraudulent brands. Keep me up to date on which brands are legitimately organic.

    How can these manufacturers live with these lies?

       0 likes

    • Cheryl says:

      why not call the manufacturers directly instead of taking somebodies who probably has some gmo items in their home. clothes that you wear next to your skin. someone pointed out this site to me, and I was aghast on how many people aren’t really looking at the labels. silk, Horizon and Kashi do have non gmo product labeling and have to pay 150,000.00 for the certification…….think about it.

         0 likes

  44. Robert Cruder says:

    The “organic” label sacrificed a firm trade definition to grandfather the “organic” producers who had lobbied for it. The label could imply superiority without specifying any means to differentiate the “organic” product from non-organic. Production methods could differ among the “organic” producers while still not yielding a measurably different result.

    Some producers took advantage of choices that were not specifically prohibited to yield “organic” products at lower cost. A soybean grown using “organic” methods is an “organic” soybean even if some of its genes have been inserted rather than selected. It is merely less ideologically pure.

    Those who demand the most rigid definition of “organic” own so little of the market volume that no court would grant them ownership of the term or require their huge competitors to qualify their own use of the term.

    It is as if “free trade” coffee vendors demanded that non-free-trade vendors stop labeling their product as coffee at all or that they label it at their own expense as “subjugation special”.

    Absent a consistent physical difference in the result, perhaps the more “pure” methods should be reconsidered as rituals whose effect is non-material.

    “Organic” purists could achieve far more by proposing a new label for ritualized production similar to “kosher”.

       0 likes

  45. Katherine Forsythe says:

    My son has developed a severe allergy to all soy products and I have developed severe sensitivity to any fruit or veg with naturally occurring sulfites in them. Both of us have come close to death and have been very ill by hidden sources. It is very important, especially for food sensitive people like me to know exactly what I’m eating. Labeling is only honest and fair. I have a right to know what I’m eating and not be fooled.

       0 likes

  46. Tina Mizhir says:

    I only purchase NON GMO food. I shop at the Farmers Market and I refuse to eat, buy or support companies that produce products that contain GMO’s or companies that support the fight against labels. I have had it with corporate america and there are very few things you make that I need. I have decided to no longer shop at any corporate entity unless there is no other option. I will use my $$$ to support companies that are green and healthy and fair to their employees! I will no longer accept less than I deserve.

       0 likes

  47. Jeanmarie says:

    Thank You!

       0 likes

  48. Mr Marcus E Douglas says:

    I believe it is our personal right to know, as is everyone’s.

       0 likes

  49. Courtney Ellis says:

    I feel like a broken record today but it needs to be said. I think this is extreme and it isn’t getting to the root issue by blasting these companies because of who owns them. I talked to the Institute for Responsible Technology, the leaders in pushing Prop 37 and GMO information, and they informed me that Silk IS owned by Dean Foods but they are also under separate management and one has little to do with the other. Silk is not only non-GMO Verified Project food but they have their own agenda and that is to support labeling through the Just Label It campaign. I don’t think Kashi ever claimed nor does it say on their packaging that they are organic so I’m not sure why anyone who is in the know or wants to stay GMO free would eat this brand. I expect this extreme behavior from Natural News but not from you. I don’t work for Silk or any of these companies. I am a Mom and a consumer who wants straight answers and is willing to do the research. I would expect you do the same. I’m going to call the rest of these companies over the week to get an idea of whether or not they are going against their “parents” like Silk is. Thank you and please feel free to email me with a response. I have certainly not received one from Natural News….but I don’t expect to either.

       1 likes

  50. Richard Edlich says:

    It’s very important to eliminate from the market the sale of great organic deceivers that should not be allowed to be purchased by the consumers. It is an emergency!

       0 likes

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