All natural, all organic ? The great deceivers, unmasked

First basic facts

The terms "organic" and "natural" are not defined by law or regulations the US FDA enforces.
The FDA has never created a definition for it. "Natural" is in fact nothing more than a marketing term, one that is in fact meaningless.

Most foods labeled 'natural' are not subject to government controls beyond the regulations and heath codes that apply to all foods. Exceptions include meat and poultry. Foods and supplements labeled 'organic' must comply with the regulations of the US National Organic Program (NOP) or its EU equivalent, though.

Another, quite disturbing fact

Many of the small companies that produce foods and supplements labeled 'organic' and 'natural' are in fact owned by huge conglomerates that couldn't care less about 'natural' and 'organic' except that with this type of labeling they can grab a share of the lucrative health-conscious consumer market. You'd think a 'natural' food wouldn't contain GMO ingredients, but you'd be wrong. Even some foods labeled 'organic' have GMO ingredients. Which is exactly why they don't want consumers to know what is actually in their so-called 'natural' products.

A final fact

While they claim to have an environmental and health-conscious mission, they undercut that claim by fighting GMO labeling (see below). 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. Not very honest. Coke also owns Odwalla, which produces "all-natural juices" and "nourishing protein bars," and states it supports sustainable agriculture. GMO is sustainable agriculture? For an overview of similar business links and the amounts of money they donated to fight Prop 37, look here.

Then we have groups like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), and the Organic Trade Association, (OTC). You'd expect them to be all about protecting consumers from GMOs, right?

Wrong.

Both of these organizations are funded by the same Big Food conglomerates that have made contributions to defeat the Label GMO initiative.

The details about Prop 37

Proposition 37, a Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, is on the November 6, 2012 ballot in California as an initiated state statute.

If Proposition 37 is approved by voters, it will:

  • Require labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways.
  • Prohibit labeling or advertising such food as "natural."
  • Exempt from this requirement foods that are "certified organic; unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material; made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered material but not genetically engineered themselves; processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients; administered for treatment of medical conditions; sold for immediate consumption such as in a restaurant; or alcoholic beverages."
James Wheaton, who filed the ballot language for the initiative, refers to it as "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.. A more detailed paper outlining the proposition can be found here.

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 the large conglomerates are afraid of. Consumers will generally avoid GMOs if they can, and they won't buy foods containing them. In the EU this mandatory GMO labeling is already in effect.

Can you imagine the consumer outrage if the labels on their favorite 'natural' foods suddenly declare that their ingredients are genetically engineered?