Recently on Facebook there has been a petition going around from sumofus.org asking Starbucks and Green Coffee to withdraw their support for the lawsuit against Vermont and stop fighting accurate food labeling. Vermont's recent law to label GMOs provides transparency to consumers about their food.
I at first was a bit shocked and amused by the various posts with outcries of "say it isn't so" and "what about my pumpkin latte?" Soon after, defenders of Starbucks started circulating a snopes.com post refuting some of the language in the petition. The claim is that Starbucks has joined Monsanto in a lawsuit against Vermont to avoid the implementation of GMO labeling regulations. More accurately, Starbucks and Monsanto belong to the same association. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a large food industry group of which Starbucks is one of more than 300 members, is a trade organization behind the litigation in question. The GMA membership includes Monsanto and Dow, Coca-Cola and General Mills.
When I was looking at the snopes.com website, an advertisement came across my screen from who else but Starbucks!
I am aware Starbucks is not the corner coffee shop in a Norman Rockwell scene. PepsiCo Americas Beverages (PAB) distribute and sell in the United States ready-to-drink Starbucks products including Starbucks Frappuccino, Starbucks Iced Coffee and Starbucks Refreshers.
Starbucks has been a branding genius at finding its way into the hearts of individuals, families and communities. During the holiday season we can even hear the Starbucks' soundtrack pulling on our childhood memories to the Christmas sounds of Charlie Brown.
Today in the magical Starbucks sensory world, you can even "steep your soul" in Oprah Chai as you scroll Twitter feeds seeking Oprah wisdom from a club chair in America's leading comfort zone.
I too am pulled in by the Starbucks magic; however, the reality is that GMOs are a serious issue, and working to stop food labeling is dangerous territory. And that pulls on my conscience.
Recently in Gary Hirshberg's post, he blogged about genetically engineered (GE) foods and the dangerous herbicide Enlist Duo. "The EPA approved the herbicide Enlist Duo to kill weeds in corn and soybean fields. In the months leading up to the decision, more than 500,000 citizens, 50 congresspeople and dozens of eminent physicians, weed scientists, and public health experts had urged the EPA not to approve Enlist."
Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, defended the Vermont law, "saying 60 other countries either have banned GMOs or require mandatory labeling of foods that contain them." (USA TODAY)
Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, Less Cancer board member, wrote this summer about Enlist Duo. "Enlist Duo represents a combination of two toxic chemicals: glyphosate (an ingredient of Monsanto's weed killer, Roundup) and the choline salt of 2,4-D for use in controlling weeds in genetically-engineered corn and soybeans. It is alarming to learn that 2,4 D is one of the ingredients of Agent Orange, which was banned by the EPA." Dr. Cuomo calls for action in protecting consumers, and I agree.
Starbucks has branded itself as socially responsible. Partnering by collaboration or membership to an association that works to stop GMO labeling is not socially responsible. I am asking Starbucks to do the right thing and work for GMO labeling, not against it.