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The Just Label It organization is actively seeking to block GMO labeling legislation because its key board members and operatives have been corrupted by the very same mega food corporations that oppose GMO labeling, high-level industry sources told Natural News.
This Natural News investigation has obtained on-the-record quotes from no less than five credible sources in the industry, all of whom accuse Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm and Scott Faber of Just Label It of betraying the GMO labeling movement and secretly pushing a covert agenda to sabotage state-level labeling efforts.
All five sources demanded anonymity, citing their fear that punitive action would be taken against them within the industry if their names were attached to this story. "When this comes out it will start a Civil War in the labeling movement," one source told Natural News. "There are those of us who believe that GMO labeling will never be achieved, at any level, as long as Gary Hirshberg and Scott Faber are siphoning money away from committed labeling campaigns and sabotaging real GMO labeling at the state level."
Gary Hirshberg's Stonyfield Farm is largely owned by the Dannon yogurt corporation, which strongly opposes GMO labeling
At the heart of the accusations against Gary Hirshberg and Just Label It is the apparent conflict of interest stemming from the fact that Stonyfield Farm is 85% owned by Danone, a $29 billion company that provided funding to defeat GMO labeling efforts at the state level.
At the outset, it seems extraordinary that a chairperson of the Just Label It organization could be someone with such strong financial ties to a powerful corporate opponent of GMO labeling. "The real problem with Hirshberg is his longtime partner in Stonyfield is Danone," a confirmed source told Natural News. "[Danone] had $29.3 Billion in sales in 2013, is a toxic pesticide / yogurt and junk food international conglomerate, with an agenda in the U.S. to block GMO labeling."
Other sources told Natural News that Gary Hirshberg had deliberately hijacked the Just Label It campaign. "Gary Hirshberg is attempting to turn a grassroots civil rights movement into a corporate controlled, special interest orgy [in cooperation] with other corporate organic bosses that are controlled mouthpieces of multinational junk food companies."
"In an effort to protect his massive corporate fortune, Hirshberg set up his own GMO non-profit Just Label It, only allowing corporate organic and other sellouts to be on the board," says an Organic Spies document acquired by Natural News (download link below).
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"What setting up a corporate front group does is ensure that Hirshberg has a seat at the table in negotiating any federal GMO labeling bill, which is essential to Danone and his corporate organic friends who want to water down any bill to protect their profits," reads the Organic Spies allegations document.
Natural News welcomes a response from Gary Hirshberg and Stonyfield, and we will be happy to publish that response if it is offered. We believe that Hirshberg, Faber and Just Label It should be afforded the opportunity to respond to these allegations.
Scott Faber, former GMA executive who supports GMOs
As part of this investigation, I spoke to Scott Faber who flatly denied the allegations leveled above, saying that Just Label It was fighting hard for GMO labeling at the federal level. He stated that the allegations were "utterly unfounded" and were being fronted by people who were attempting to create confusion and chaos in the GMO labeling movement.
But Faber himself is on the record saying that he believes genetically engineered foods are not just safe, but even "promising." As he testified before Congress in this video, when Faber was with the Environmental Working Group, he stated:
We do not oppose genetic engineering, genetically modified food ingredients. We think there are actually many promising applications of genetically modified food ingredients. ...This isn't a question about the technology, this is a question of whether or not to require labeling.
"Why would Scott Faber the Executive Director of Just label It repeat Monsanto's discredited claim that there is no scientific evidence that GMOs are hazardous?" a source asked me during an interview. "There is mounting scientific evidence that GMOs and the toxic chemicals that accompany them pose a major threat to human health and the environment."
Indeed, that very theme was driven home just yesterday when Jane Goodall, one of the most celebrated scientists in world history, went public with her warning that GMOs are the result of "...a huge conspiracy by the big companies who do genetic modification to keep the public from knowing the truth, to subvert the course of justice."
Goodall warns that "...the general public and government decision makers have been hoodwinked by the clever and methodical twisting of the facts and the propagation of many myths. ...[A] number of respected scientific institutions, as well as many eminent scientists, were complicit in this relentless spreading of disinformation."
"Jane Goodall nailed it when she talked about how the evil biotech corporations have infiltrated respected organizations to spread disinformation," another source told Natural News yesterday, after the news broke. "Just Label It is a propaganda conspiracy [led by a] corporate backstabber who takes his marching orders from corporations that strongly oppose GMO labeling."
A conspiracy to divert funds away from GMO labeling?
Allegations against Gary Hirshberg go beyond mere conflicts of interest. In investigating this story and speaking to high-level sources within the industry, Natural News was also told that Hirshberg essentially committed fundraising fraud and intentionally diverted funds away from the Prop. 37 California labeling vote.
"In the critical weeks before the Prop. 37 vote in California, Gary Hirshberg intentionally diverted resources from the campaign by holding fundraisers in California, including LA, where he misled celebrities to believe they were raising awareness and donating to Prop. 37," a source told Natural News. "Instead, Hirshberg raised money and media attention for his own organization, Just Label It, which focuses solely on a national labeling standard."
"In each successive GMO labeling ballot initiative, Hirshberg has donated insignificant amounts [of money] and encouraged his fellow organic company CEOs to give token amounts as well," the same source explains.
"I disagree with Gary Hirshberg chairman of Stonyfield Farm and leader of Just Label It, for putting all his eggs in the federal basket," wrote attorney Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit. "While Hirshberg and his company endorsed 37, he donated relatively little to the campaign and was even quoted in the New York Times saying he doesn't think this problem can be solved state by state. Obviously not, but how does Hirshberg ever expect to get anywhere at the federal level unless and until we can gain traction locally? This is exactly how most policy change is made, especially when we face massive industry opposition. Some are already predicting that the California loss will set back the effort nationally."
"Hirshberg has demonstrated himself as a skilled corporate operator who has numerous political and business conflicts of interest that should disqualify him from being any type of leader in the GMO labeling movement," reads the Organic Spies allegations report (see below).
Scott Faber was the Vice President of Federal Affairs for the GMA
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During every state GMO ballot measure, the GMA has viciously fought to block labeling laws, and it has been largely successful in doing so. To realize that Scott Faber held a high position in this organization for five years and is now the Executive Director of Just Label It raises a long list of red flags. This is even more interesting when considering the financial web between Danone and Gary Hirshberg's company Stonyfield Farm.
"Hirshberg and his corporate organic cronies have handed America's GMO labeling movement over to a corrupt hired gun with no loyalty to organics, family farmers or the food movement," says the Organic Spies allegations document. "Instead, Faber has a 5-year track record of selling America's farmer and consumers out in exchange for a large salary. It's no wonder Just Label It's DC strategy is in shambles. Failure by design is what Just Label It sounds like, while sabotaging real grassroots efforts that have a chance to succeed."
Infiltration and corruption: the Monsanto way
The biotech industry's playbook is founded on the infiltration and corruption of every institutional imaginable: science journals, universities, media networks, government regulators and grocery retailers.
"[T]he commercialization of GE foods occurred through the unbelievably poor judgment -- if not downright corruption -- of the US Food and Drug Administration (the FDA). ...[I]t apparently ignored (and covered up) the concerns of its own scientists and then violated a federal statute and its own regulations by permitting GE foods to be marketed without any testing whatsoever," writes Jane Goodall in the foreword of the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth - How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public by Steven Druker.
Biotech's infiltration and corruption of the mainstream media is also documented in the book. "[J]ournalists who tried to bring unsettling facts to light had their stories altered or totally quashed by higher level executives," writes Jane Goodall.
Given biotech's successful infiltration of the media, the U.S. government, science journals and universities, it's no leap at all to realize that infiltration of the GMO labeling movement is far more than merely likely: it seems inevitable.
Perhaps that's why so many voices in the industry are now saying it has already happened, and that Gary Hirshberg and Scott Faber are essentially "Monsanto minions" who have turned Just Label It into a biotech front group intended to block GMO labeling, not achieve it.
AGree a front group with ties to Monsanto, Bill & Melinda Gates?
As the Organic Spies writes, "[A]nother new front group that Hirshberg serves on as a 'co-chair', named AGree, is a massive threat to the organic movement."
"Hirshberg's connections to Michael Taylor and Tom Vilsack are almost tame compared to his involvement with another corporate agribusiness front group called AGree. AGree launched in the spring of 2011 and is controlled by former Monsanto and Solutia board member, William Ruckelshaus and Gordon Conway, who promoted GMOs for more than a decade at the Rockefeller foundation. As one of the "co-chairs" of the new organization, Hirshberg is collaborating with a rogues gallery of former top USDA, USAID officials that have a history of promoting GMOs and industrial agriculture, but now want to create a policy based decision 'framework' making process to 'address' challenges in agriculture for the future. Not surprising, AGree is fully funded by the Billionaire pro GMO, pro industrial farming monoculture globalist foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation, led by the heirs of the WalMart fortune."
The AGree website features cooperation with corporate partner National Geographic, which recently ran a brazenly dishonest hit piece entitled "THE WAR ON SCIENCE" which characterized anyone who disagreed with Monsanto's science fraud as being equivalent to those who "think the moon landing was faked." (This derogatory tactic of declaring anyone who opposes genetically engineered seeds as being "anti-science" is borrowed straight out of Monsanto's play book.)
According to the AGree website, its co-chairs include people who have deep ties to the biotech and processed food industries:
Dan Glickman - former USDA Secretary of Agriculture, "who helped lead the Monsanto deregulation charge under President Bill Clinton," says Organic Spies.
Jim Moseley - former USDA Deputy Secretary, "who was appointed to the USDA for his corrupt promotion of factory farms for the National Pork Producers Council," says Organic Spies.
Emmy Simmons - an "agribusiness lifer who spent 30 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that promotes GMOs," says Organic Spies.
The AGree mission statement reads like Dilbert comic strip "corporate speak":
AGree seeks to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to catalyze action and elevate food and agriculture as a national priority... Through collaboration and frank discussion, AGree has established a venue whereby a broad coalition of interests have built trust, found common ground, and developed shared strategies for achieving transformative change.
"AGree is incubated within the Meridian Institute, which is led by two men deeply connected to the biotech industry, each having used their elite ties to promote Monsanto's chemical GMO agenda around the world. Meridian Board Members: William Ruckelshaus, Gordon Conway, William Ruckelshaus, who serves as Chairman for the Meridian Institute, previously served as the first administrator of the EPA under Richard Nixon, where he banned DDT. Ruckelshaus later went on to serve as acting director of the FBI and named deputy attorney general and then once again at the EPA. According to SourceWatch, Ruckelshaus set up shop and started working with chemical corporations, to undermine basic safety regulations related to Superfund sites, including Monsanto, DuPont and Union Carbide. Eventually, Ruckelshaus served on the boards of Monsanto, and Monsanto spin-offs Solutia and Pharmacia."
Read more in the Organic Spies allegations document.
Organic Spies releases long list of allegations in detailed document
The Organic Spies is a secretive group of investigators and activists who are best known for exposing Whole Foods' embarrassing denial that their stores sold products containing genetically engineered ingredients.
It was Organic Spies, in fact, that ultimately forced Whole Foods to announce it would achieve 100% GMO labeling compliance on all the products it sells by the year 2018.
Natural News has acquired a document from Organic Spies which details a long list of allegations about Just Label It. The document is based on what the group calls "...a 3-year, behind the scenes investigation" and it details the apparent financial conflicts of interest and philosophical betrayals of Hirshberg and Faber.
Click here to read / download that document now (PDF).
Highlights from the document:
• "Just Label It" and Gary Hirshberg are a "corporate controlled front group."
• "Hirshberg not only declined to join Prop 37, but he undermined the campaign to potential donors for nine months, then sabotaged donations when the campaign really needed them by holding fundraising for Just Label It in Hollywood and San Francisco in the critical month of September 2012."
• "Gary Hirshberg calls former Monsanto attorney Michael Taylor and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack his friends, sells his low quality organic yogurt at WalMart, has sabotaged multiple state GMO labeling ballot initiatives behind the scenes and still wants you to believe he cares about labeling Monsanto's genetically engineered foods."
• "In 2011, Hirshberg, [whose] organic yogurt company is 85% owned by pesticide yogurt barons at Dannon, realized that the best way to greenwash positive PR for Stonyfield Farms and control the public debate over GMO labeling would be to create a front group, Just Label It, to control and sabotage any real grassroots GMO labeling movement that might demand more real and honest messaging from those on the frontlines."
• "...Hirshberg and his allies at Whole Foods ...tried to cut a deal over GMO alfalfa, to allow organic foods to become contaminated with GMOs, but the grassroots protected organic integrity and blocked the deal."
• "Hirshberg has flaunted his close personal friendship with current US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and Biotech Governor of the Year. Even better, in 2007, during Tom Vilsack's failed run for President, Hirshberg and Whole Foods' co-CEO Walter Robb personally vetted Vilsack and tried to raise money for him from fellow organic companies CEOs."
• "Hirshberg's Just Label It has hired a handful of expensive, overpriced corporate lobbyists and consultants including the corporate Democrat connected PR firm Fenton Communications, which not only lists the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a client but also corporate food giants General Mills Foundation and Unilever, among many others."
• "The overlapping nature of Hirshberg's handpicked board at Just Label It and the Organic Trade Association is an intentional move to consolidate power at the top of the organic industry, coordinate behind the scenes efforts and keep others in the dark about their true goals of undermining organic integrity and state GMO labeling efforts."
• "Right now the Organic Trade Association is working behind the scenes to try to get organic companies to remove the Non-GMO Project seal because they believe it is undermining Organic's value in the marketplace since sales of Non-GMO Project verified food products have skyrocketed in the past two year since Prop 37. Why is the Organic Trade Association trashing the Non-GMO Project label? Because sales of Non-GMO project verified foods are increasing faster than sales of organic food at places like Whole Foods and co-ops across the country, thanks in large part to the ballot initiative fights being led by grassroots activists and a handful of small organic companies."
Sources for this article include: