I received this telemarketing call Friday evening. It came from an 818 number that seemed to be from Pomona, California, and the caller ID said “Organics Fund.” This appears to be the Organic Consumers Fund, a fund-raising arm of the Organic Consumer’s Association. They apparently called to lie to me some more about GMOs.
Alex: “Hello, this is Alex, and I’m calling from the Organic Consumers Fund. We’d like to thank you for your support [I never gave them a dime].
“We now have a national GMO labeling bill, but it just isn’t enough. Manufacturers only have to put a QR code on the package. We think the information should be spelled out.”
Me: “You mean you want to scare people with some misleading label?”
Alex: “We think that consumers have a right to know what is in their food.”
Me: “You do know the ‘GMO’ is a breeding process, not an ingredient, don’t you?”
Alex: “Yes, and people deserve to know that this was used on their food.”
Me: “And do you realize that there are thousands of technical papers concluding the GM food poses no harm?”
Alex: “We think people should be able to decide for themselves.”
Me: “So you want to use these labels to scare people into buying overpriced organic foods?”
Alex: “We want people to be able to make up their minds.”
Me: “And decide to spend money on expensive foods? What else have you got?”
Alex: “We also have a campaign to save the declining bee population.”
Me: “You do realize that the bee population has been growing for the last seven years, don’t you?”
Alex: “Well, thanks anyway.”
The Organic Consumer’s Association
This group, led by crackpot food-scare activist Ronnie Cummins has been spreading misinformation about biotechnology for years, and sends wildly inaccurate newsletters almost weekly making unjustified claims about the dangers of GM foods and scary nonsense about Roundup. You would not be surprised to discover that the preponderance of their budget comes from contributions from organic food companies such as Stonyfield Farms, Horizon Organic, and Organic Valley. Their sole purpose is to promote organic food sales by slandering biotechnology and anything else not organic.
While the OCA continues to hammer away about the “dangers of GMOs,” the overall scientific consensus is that they pose no harm. That is the position of every major scientific organization in the world, including the WHO, the AMA, and the EFSA. And for more on who funds GMO denialism, read Michelle Miller’s excellent piece here.
They OCA does have a crazy 2014 position paper claiming that “GMOs are killing birds, bees and butterflies,” but it is complete nonsense. Colony collapse disorder peaked in 2006, but as this Washington Post article explains, bee populations have risen each year since then. The article conflates GM seeds with neonicotinoid seed coatings, and while neonicotinoid insecticides can harm bees, they are not a significant contributor to bee deaths, according to the USDA. The major causes of bee deaths are parasites like varroa mites, pathogens like nosema and European foulbrood, and poor nutrition when bees are moved from one monocrop area to another. Data showed no consistent relations between pesticides and CCD-affected colonies.
The worst organization in the world
In addition, the OCA has taken a consistent and utterly unscientific position toward vaccination, it is an accomplice in persuading immigrants to avoid vaccination.
As reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a cluster of Somali immigrants near Minneapolis became concerned about the apparent incidence of autism in their population. Some asked discredited (and disbarred former doctor) Andrew Wakefield to speak to the Somalis about his entirely debunked idea that vaccines could cause autism. This theory was thoroughly debunked in a 2004 report by the National Academies of Medicine and by the Center for Disease Control.
However, a weekend misinformation session attacking vaccines including speakers from the Organic Consumers Association who have absolutely no qualifications to speak on this topic, but are very good at scare tactics.
Statistically, it turned out that the autism rate among Somali children was no different than anywhere else in the world, but because of these scare tactics, nearly 60% of Somali 2-year olds have not had their MMR vaccine, and so far 68 cases of measles have been reported in Minnesota, (58 of them in Hennepin County). Measles is one of the most contagious childhood diseases, and about 1 in 20 children with measles get pneumonia and this can lead to death.
Any organization that spews this antivaccine nonsense to a vulnerable population with less access to good medical facts, deserves the epithet of “Worst Organization in the World.”
And an organization that consistently lies about food safety is no better.