Update: What’s in the jam, Smucker’s?
There's only two things that gets me more worked up than when a Fortune 500 company trashes the planet.—one is when the company lies about it, and two is when it spends hoards of cash to stop laws that would prevent the ecocide the company is causing.
Case in point: Smucker's. Yes, Smucker's, that family-friendly, health-conscious jam company. Smucker's and other giant food companies spent tens of millions of dollars in 2013 to block genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling. In November, Washington State was inches away from passing a GMO labeling initiative, I-522, when Smucker's and its pals dumped $22 million on misleading political ads. I-522 went from over 75 percent of Washingtonians supporting it in the polls to losing by just a few thousand votes on election day.
GMOs have enormous short- and long-term ecological consequences for the planet. In the short term, many GMOs are designed to survive pesticides like Monsanto's Roundup, which leads to an enormous increase in spraying. Furthermore, they perpetuate our system of industrial agriculture. (I'm not even going to try to rant in this post about the problems there.)
The long term concern is that there is almost no oversight or testing of GMO crops. It literally took billions of years for the plants that we have on our planet today to evolve to be the way that they are. When their genes recombined, traits that didn't help their likelihood of surviving died off quickly and only existed in a few plants at a time. We put our entire planet at risk when we make massive changes to our crops' genetic makeup—while barely testing how these changes influence the crops long-term health—plant millions of these untested crops, and provide no safety net to stop them from cross-pollinating with other plants.
GMO labeling is a critical first step in tackling GMO's threat to our planet. Without labels, we're unknowingly supporting GMOs when we go to the supermarket. Unless you're looking at a strawberry that's the size of your fist (wouldn't surprise me if those guys are going in Smucker's jam) there's almost no way of knowing. What's more, passing GMO labeling laws will educate tens of millions of people about the perils they pose on our planet and help us pass stronger public policy to reign in GMOs.
Our campaign is to stop Smucker's from blocking GMO labeling. This year, more than 25 states are looking to pass GMO labeling laws, including Oregon, New Mexico, Florida and New Hampshire. None of these states will stand a fair chance if Smucker's and its pals are free to spend tens of millions of dollars blocking these laws. The good news is that after Kraft, Mars Inc., and Dole spent millions of dollars blocking GMO labeling in California, our allies were able to create a massive backlash and convince them to stay out of blocking GMO labeling in the future. With enough public pressure, we can do the same with Smucker's and prevent it from funding anti-labeling ads in the States with initiatives this year.
We know that if we can get Smucker's attention, a company that relies on its family-oriented, health-conscious brand, we can show them that blocking GMO labeling is bad for their business, AND other companies will take notice.
Since November, we've:
- Sent more than 35,000 emails to Smucker's CEO Richard Smucker.
- Inspired hundreds of Environmental Action members to call Smucker's offices, clogging teir phone lines for days and causing a slight shift in their policy on GMOs.
- Taken over Smucker's Facebook and Twitter feeds, with thousands of posts calling on Smucker's to stop blocking GMO labeling. For four days straight, every photo Smucker's put up of jam had hundreds of comments from our activists.
- Run internet ads in front of 100,000 people across the country to educate them about Smucker's bad actions and the perils of GMO labeling.
Next week, we're taking all of this to Smucker's doorstep.
Smucker's CEO, Richard Smucker, is refusing to meet with us, but that won't stop us from meeting with them. On Saturday Feb. 8, dozens of activists are planning to show up at Smucker's offices in Orville, Ohio, to hand deliver the 35,000 signatures. We'll invite the media to make sure that the story gets broadcasted to thousands more people throughout Ohio and the rest of the country.
Hundreds of activists who aren't in Ohio will be holding events at their supermarkets on the same day. With signs that say things like "With a name like Smucker's, who know if it's GMO" and "Smucker's stop blocking GMO labeling, What are you hiding in the jam?" they'll stand in front of the Smucker's products, and then tell the store manager that they want Smucker's to label GMOs in their products. We'll collect photos and share them on our blog.
Stay tuned for an email from us later this week on getting involved and we'll make sure to update you on how the action goes.