Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: Cash Download

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring GMOs, money, and Bellevue.

By Morning Fizz August 28, 2013

1. With a hefty $1.75 million contribution from the Grocery Manufacturers Association last Friday and a $562,123 from Bayer CropScience this past Monday, the campaign against I-522, the initiative for GMO labeling, has now raised $3,257,123—all of it from five out-of-state, food production and biotechnology interests: the Grocery Manufacturers, Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and Dow Agrosciences LLC.

Adding in last week's hefty donation, the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association has now contributed a total of $2,222,500 on the anti-GMO labeling effort. This contribution surpasses the $2 million they put into successfully beating down Prop 37 in California last year, a similar ballot measure that would have required GMO food labeling in the state of California.

The "Yes" campaign also has major out-of-state support (the biggest contribution coming from California-based Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps at $700,000). But they've also raised money from thousands of individuals; their average contribution is $25, from more than 5000 donors. In contrast, the 'No' campaign's average contribution is $465,303 from 5 national corporate donors.

With this week's out-of-state cash download to No on 522, both sides have now raised $3.26 million.


2. Lest you think Fizz is written by a bunch of biased, natural foods eating, urban hipsters, we must point you to this pair of articles published in the New York Times this week that complicates the fight against GMOs—an article in the Sunday NYT that ridiculed zealous anti-GMO activists (likening them to the anti-science Luddite right of the Bush-era) while hyping the benefits of genetically modified rice, and an article about lab experiments to make tastier tomatoes (thus getting more people to eat healthy salads).

From the Sunday NYT piece:

ONE bright morning this month, 400 protesters smashed down the high fences surrounding a field in the Bicol region of the Philippines and uprooted the genetically modified rice plants growing inside.

Had the plants survived long enough to flower, they would have betrayed a distinctly yellow tint in the otherwise white part of the grain. That is because the rice is endowed with a gene from corn and another from a bacterium, making it the only variety in existence to produce beta carotene, the source of vitamin A. Its developers call it “Golden Rice.”

The concerns voiced by the participants in the Aug. 8 act of vandalism — that Golden Rice could pose unforeseen risks to human health and the environment, that it would ultimately profit big agrochemical companies — are a familiar refrain in the long-running controversy over the merits of genetically engineered crops. They are driving the desire among some Americans for mandatory “G.M.O.” labels on food with ingredients made from crops whose DNA has been altered in a laboratory. And they have motivated similar attacks on trials of other genetically modified crops in recent years: grapes designed to fight off a deadly virus in France, wheat designed to have a lower glycemic index in Australia, sugar beets in Oregon designed to tolerate a herbicide, to name a few.

“We do not want our people, especially our children, to be used in these experiments,” a farmer who was a leader of the protest told the Philippine newspaper Remate.


Not owned by any company, Golden Rice is being developed by a nonprofit group called the International Rice Research Institute with the aim of providing a new source of vitamin A to people both in the Philippines, where most households get most of their calories from rice, and eventually in many other places in a world where rice is eaten every day by half the population. Lack of the vital nutrient causes blindness in a quarter-million to a half-million children each year. It affects millions of people in Asia and Africa and so weakens the immune system that some two million die each year of diseases they would otherwise survive.

The destruction of the field trial, and the reasons given for it, touched a nerve among scientists around the world, spurring them to counter assertions of the technology’s health and environmental risks. On a petition supporting Golden Rice circulated among scientists and signed by several thousand, many vented a simmering frustration with activist organizations like Greenpeace, which they see as playing on misplaced fears of genetic engineering in both the developing and the developed worlds.

3. While Vandana Slatter, one of two progressive, pro-light rail women competing for a seat on the Bellevue City Council currently occupied by conservative, anti-transit longtime council member Don Davidson (who lost in the August primary), can't claim the sole endorsement of current (and key) council progressive, Claudia Balducci (Balducci has also endorsed Slatter's liberal opponent, Lynn Robinson), the endorsement does give Slatter majority support from the council.

Robinson, though, has sole endorsements from liberal Bellevue council members John Stokes and John Chelminiak, while Slatter's advantage comes from sole endorsements from Davidson and his fellow conservatives Kevin Wallace and Jennifer Robertson (both backed by Bellevue megadeveloper Kemper Freeman).

Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee, a member of the council's Freeman-backed bloc, has not endorsed in the race.

4. Confused about the Seattle Schools contract negotiations? Check out Josh's primer on the contested issues that took center stage this week after the teachers union members voted to reject the District's offer.


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