Transcription: Ken Roseboro and Jeffrey Smith Share Great News and Insights About Non-GMO and Organic Happenings
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity
Jeffrey Smith (00:03):
Hi everyone. My name is Jeffrey Smith, and I’m the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. I have been doing this work for 25 years, and there’s just a few of us that go back long enough to talk about the good old days, but also to understand what’s happening today in the context of the history of GMOs and organic and Monsanto, etc. One of those people is Ken Roseboro. Ken, welcome once again to a Facebook Live. I so value your opinion. Why don’t you introduce yourself? Usually I introduce, but why don’t you share what you’re doing and the introduction of that new newsletter?
Ken Roseboro (00:51):
Sure, thank you, Jeffrey. It’s great to be here with you again. Yeah, we’ve known each other for many years now…the GMO wars. I’m the editor and publisher of The Organic & Non-GMO Report magazine. We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and we focus on markets for organic and non-GMO foods and tracking the GMO issue and the problems with that and pesticides and the good stuff, the good things that are happening with organic and non-GMO foods and those trends, regenerative agriculture. We also publish a directory called The Non-GMO Sourcebook. It’s the world’s only farm-to-fork directory of non-GMO seeds, grains, ingredients, and food products, and that’s also in its 20th year.
Jeffrey Smith (01:49):
If people want to follow you–you have a very big Facebook page–tell us how people can follow your work before we dive into the good news today.
Ken Roseboro (02:02):
You can follow us on Facebook. Organic & Non-GMO Report is our Facebook page. We have a Twitter feed also, which is @NonGMO Report, and also I’m on LinkedIn. It’s my own personal LinkedIn page. I post news there as well. Our Website is www.non-gmoreport.com. We’re in the process of putting up a new Website, so you’ll be able to see our new Website. There are lots of articles we’ve published over the years that are archived on our Website, so there’s a lot of good information about the organic and non-GMO world.
Jeffrey Smith (02:51):
I have to say, Ken, you are unique in our world. There’s no one that does the kind of reporting that you do. There are certain things that you reveal, expose, and disseminate that no one else in the world does. That’s one reason why I keep sending you emails and say, “Ready for another Facebook Live? Ready for another Facebook Live?” ‘Cause I am subscribed to your newsletter online, and I see your non-GMO physical magazine in our nearby natural products store, Good Earth, so I’m following you all the time. I’m just trying to catch up with you, and when you have time I grab you, and now one of those times is today. I’ve told people that there’s really great news, really exciting news to share, and there’s actually a list, so let’s go to the top of the list. You and I were back, you know … 1999, 2000, battling the GMOs, which were primarily Roundup Ready and Bt toxin, and there was some, you know, LibertyLink, etc. but not much else. Now what’s the news about the fate of these original GMOs, which have occupied millions of acres for these two or three decades?
Ken Roseboro (04:10):
Well, Jeffrey, it’s interesting you should ask me that, because I wrote an editorial recently. It was in Acres USA magazine, and I posted it in our newsletter, Organic & Non-GMO Insights newsletter. I see the coming obsolescence of GMO seeds, that the herbicide- tolerant traits like Roundup Ready … weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, so its effectiveness is very reduced right now. The biotech industry solution is to come up with new GMOs that are tolerant to older herbicides like Dicamba, which is a disaster. Dicamba drifts–it turns from a liquid to a gas and drifts for miles and can damage other crops and farms, and millions of acres have been damaged by Dicamba. There are lawsuits to overturn the approval of that. It’s just a pesticide treadmill that the biotech companies and the pesticide companies have put farmers on, and it’s not sustainable. It’s not sustainable.
Ken Roseboro (05:27):
In fact, the growing trend in agriculture is regenerative agriculture–farmers that are using practices like no tillage or reduced tillage, cover crops, diverse crop rotations, things like that. In interviewing a bunch of these farmers who were using these practices, they say they don’t need the GMO seeds. They don’t need these GMO traits and they just stop using them. I think this is one way that I think these older GMO’s like Roundup Ready soybeans and Bt corn are going to become obsolete, because farmers won’t need them anymore.
Jeffrey Smith (06:15):
I reported on a Facebook Live some time ago that because of the resistance by the bugs to the insecticide built into the corn, the EPA was recommending the non- registration withdrawal of nearly all Bt toxin-producing GMOs. It was amazing. I don’t know the numbers, but maybe you have it handy. It was like 40 out of 41 or something. There was basically one left because they had a type of poison that hadn’t yet been outwitted by the pests, and that was amazing. Now the weeds also are outwitting Monsanto/Bayer. So their efforts to kill–using either chemicals or a bio-agent within the corn and cotton, and in South America within soy–that is being overturned by nature herself. Does this mean, Ken, that all the work that you and I have done for the last 20 or 30 years, we could have just sat home and waited for the whole thing to unravel by itself?
Ken Roseboro (07:22):
I guess we could have. I think we had to work to overcome it. You’re right, with the Bt –the same thing. Nature adapts and that’s it. These biotech companies are in it for short-term profit, and their approaches with the GMOs are shortsighted. As you well know, the technology is fraught with risks and hazards, and consumers don’t want them. People don’t want to eat foods with GMOs in them, which is why we see the tremendous growth of the non-GMO market and the non-GMO project products.
Jeffrey Smith (08:06):
I know you and I both disseminate that information–promote Non-GMO Verified as something that’s valuable.
Ken Roseboro (08:14):
There’s a farmer–I may have mentioned it before–his name is Rick Clark. He’s in Indiana, and he grows non-GMO corn for Dannon’s non-GMO yogurt program. I’ve interviewed him a few times, and he’s one of these regenerative farmers who have adopted these regenerative practices, and he got rid of GMOs years ago. He and another similar farmer said, “I’d rather work with Mother Nature than to try to play God with GMOs.” Rick Clark has 7,000 acres, and now he’s converting the whole thing to organic, because as he became regenerative he’s reducing the number of the pesticides and synthetic fertilizers he was using, so he got to none. He was not using any, so he just figured, “Well, I might as well just go organic.” Sometimes these farmers are doing that. These farmers are becoming very influential. They’re in demand at speaking engagements and talking to other farmers, so that’s the trend. It’s a very positive trend, this whole region.
Jeffrey Smith (09:29):
We’re going to talk to what’s happening in Mexico, what’s happening in India, and an unlikely partnership with Rodale and Cargill in terms of an investigation going on. We’ll talk about those things in just a minute, but for those that may not be aware of why regenerative is the new word, it’s the new thing. One of the issues is that when you regenerate the soil with proper microbial activity and it builds carbon in the soil–instead of killing everything with the ammonium nitrate or whatever they do in the farms to kill everything, and then just add three nutrients and then grow from the dirt rather than the rich soil–when you build the soil, it pulls carbon out of the atmosphere. Most of the excess carbon in the air comes from the earth. This is a way to siphon, pull it in to the earth. I have understood that there’s belief based on research that’s been going on in some smaller acres, that if you do it right and you take a large enough swath of current agriculture without having introduced new agriculture and turn it into carbon sequestering regenerative agriculture, you could suck down 100% of all the excess carbon, and that would solve the problem of excess carbon that is the driver of climate change. Is that what you’ve heard?
Ken Roseboro (11:01):
Yes, the Rodale Institute published a study saying that exactly, that with these regenerative methods–they support the regenerative organic methods–that you could sequester a hundred percent of the carbon that’s in the atmosphere. That’s a big, big solution that is being promoted of regenerative agriculture: its ability to mitigate climate change. That’s why our current leaders, the current administration, President Biden and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, are trying to promote these regenerative practices. They’re talking about having farmers being paid to sequester carbon, and it’s already started to happen. There are companies who are paying farmers to sequester carbon. There are some controversies about that but yeah, it’s a big thing. There was a study that just came out that looked at soil in the Midwest, and the scientists found that as much as one third, possibly more, of the top soil in the Corn Belt–the Midwestern States–is gone. It’s gone, as much as one third of the top soil. This underscores the need for these regenerative methods that help to build the soil back. It’s a very urgent need to do that.
Jeffrey Smith (12:41):
Before we go on to the good news from our neighbors in the south, in Mexico, which is very good news I just want to say that there’s a bumper sticker or a sign that says, “Eat Organic Food: What Our Grandparents Called Food.” You’re talking about the qualities of regenerative agriculture–you know, cover crops and proper rotations–isn’t that how they used to do it? See now the new regenerative agriculture, but it’s actually … this is the wisdom of the ages that was destroyed, and you can destroy the wisdom of the ages and agriculture in one or two growing seasons, especially if you implement it for a generation. Then the farmers who knew the old ways die off, and the new ones just believe that farming is applying chemicals. This is basically a validation of the early understanding of organic and soil building.
Jeffrey Smith (13:41):
Just to give the final note to this loss of topsoil, it does not take millions of years to build top soil. With the proper inputs you can build soil. It used to be that you’d have the animals on the farm with the crops, and you’d have the manure; you’d have a whole program to build the soil in this cycle. Now, almost all farms … the grains and beans are grown in one farm and the crops and the animals are raised in another, and you don’t necessarily have that cross-promotion and regeneration between them. Again, it’s another way that the old style has proven its resilience and sustainability and regenerative nature that is being called forth right now to remediate climate change, loss of topsoil, low mineral content, and also just the terrible state of industrial agriculture today. Tell us what just happened in Mexico.
Ken Roseboro (14:48):
In Mexico at the end of the year there was a presidential decree that Mexico would phase out the use of glyphosate herbicide and also GMO corn–phase out imports of GMO corn from the United States by 2024. This is huge, because Mexico is the U.S. corn farmers’ biggest market and so to lose that market is a big deal. Evidently Bayer and their cronies or whatever and the U.S. government are pressuring Mexico to not institute this ban because of the economic damage to the U. S., but so far Mexico is sticking to it. The agricultural minister has said that he thinks that glyphosate is damaging to soil. It’s not good for health, so they’re moving ahead, and it’s interesting.
Ken Roseboro (16:07):
They plan to replace the lost corn because it’s like–I forget how many–16 million bushels or something of corn that they would need as a result of these lost imports from the U.S. They planned to grow it domestically. I was thinking and some other people were thinking that this is an opportunity for U.S. farmers to grow non-GMO corn for Mexico. Instead of saying, “Oh, you can’t do this. We’re going to sue you. We’re going to take you to the World Trade Organization,” why don’t you say, “Hey, if you want non-GMO corn, we’ll give it to you.” You know, it’s like Business 101: we’ll give the customer what he wants. I plan to interview some of the non-GMO grain suppliers in the U.S. to get their take on this, to see if this is possible that they could help to supply Mexico with the non-GMO corn that they need. It’s an exciting possibility. There was one article I read that said, “Oh, this is awful. This is terrible for U.S. farmers. What are we going to do? They can’t do this,” instead of seeing it as an opportunity. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. I hope Mexico sticks to it.
Jeffrey Smith (17:41):
Where Ken and I come from–we used to work at a GMO detection laboratory and we’re aware that when unapproved varieties of GM corn, for example or rice, were found in U.S. grain supplies, then foreign import markets shut down to the U.S. This caused tremendous chaos and loss of dollars in lawsuits–StarLink corn, more than a billion dollars of losses–other things like that. It made it very clear that foreign export markets can dictate U.S. agricultural policy. Even if the current administration is driving forward with GMOs as Secretary Vilsack, former Biotech Governor of the Year by the Biotech Organization–they are pro GMO. But if our major export markets say no, then there is a huge risk to continuing to grow the unapproved varieties or to try and send contaminated shiploads to places that could be turned around (like they’ve turned around in Japan and China and different places), but it turns out Mexico is nearby.
Jeffrey Smith (18:60):
One of the grain dealers that I’ve spoken with, Lynn Clarkson—I know you know him well–he knows the logistics of shipping stuff to all over the world, and if you think about it, how do you get stuff to Mexico? Well, there’s the Mississippi River, which is right down the corridor of all the soy and corn—well in this case the corn and the Corn Belt. You can put stuff on barges there, send it right into the Gulf of Mexico, deliver to Mexico, and go from farm to market without having to put it into the common elevators–the grain elevators, which mix, which is the risk. So there’s an advantage to farmers.
Jeffrey Smith (19:51):
There’s also a locational advantage, where certain ones near the Mississippi and other places that are close to Mexico would have a gateway there, could have a bonanza. Also, just to underscore how important U.S. trade policy and this type of thing is to governments, etc.–when NAFTA was passed, the U.S. was able to sell corn to Mexico below the cost of Mexican production. Mexico was producing tons, literally tons of corn for their own consumption. They have a huge consumption of corn each day. I’ve forget the percentage–I just read it recently, it was very high. When the U.S. started to export below the price of production because of NAFTA, the imports went from 2 million metric tons to 6, and I understand–and this number may be wrong because it was astounding to me–2 million corn-growing farmers went out of business.
Jeffrey Smith (20:52):
A lot of them actually came to the U. S. for work. The whole immigration, the economy, everything, was affected by these trade policies. Now that they’re shutting off GMO corn, not only does it provide a boon for U.S. non-GMO corn growers, but it also can help restore some of the farms that were lost because of NAFTA, which can drive better economies there. The corn that’s grown from the traditional varieties in Mexico is higher in nutritional content. It’s better for health than the standard hybridized types that are available in the United States. It also will reduce the level of contamination of the indigenous corn varieties in Mexico, which is the source of corn genetics. Looking through the lens that you and I have been for 25 years, there are so many things that are related to it.
Jeffrey Smith (21:51):
One of the things is this: you said something which was probably lost on most people. You said the Minister of Agriculture said that these things are dangerous. It is extremely rare around the world for anyone in any ministry of agriculture, especially, the minister, to say anything against GMOs or the biotech industry or the herbicide/pesticide producers. They are usually the captured regulatory agencies, the captured ministry. I’ve been to 45 countries. I’ve seen it over and over again, and there was tremendous pressure on Mexico. Freedom of Information Acts came pouring out with evidence showing that Bayer/Monsanto was putting pressure on Mexico, and they were confident they could overturn it, and it was just confirmed by the Mexican government. This is a huge victory with ramifications around the world.
Ken Roseboro (22:51):
Yeah, exactly. Like you said, corn is Mexico’s life. The people in Mexico eat corn tortillas and in other foods every day, and like you said, it’s the center of corn diversity. I don’t know how many varieties of corn have come from Mexico, so they want to protect that resource. It’s a precious resource, and GMOs are just the threat, the huge threat, you know. Remember back in 2001 Ignacio Chapela found GMO contamination in a remote region of Mexico, so that’s great that they’re doing this, and great that they’re taking this stand to produce their own non-GMO corn.
Jeffrey Smith (23:42):
And they kicked out Roundup, which is amazing.
Ken Roseboro (23:46):
Yeah, that’s also big.
Jeffrey Smith (23:47):
Let’s move over to India. There’s interesting news from India. There was both an organic side and the non-GMO side. Let’s start with the organic side and then move to the non-GMO side, the organic certifying situation in India.
Ken Roseboro (24:04):
Oh, yeah. The national organic program has had what’s called an organic recognition program with India for many years–that Indian companies can export things to the U. S. and they’ll be certified by this Indian food standards agency or something through them. But the USDA’s National Organic Program recently ended that organic recognition program, so now companies in India that want to export to the U. S. have to be certified according to the National Organic Program rules. They will have to go through an accredited NOP National Organic Program Certifier in order to sell to the U. S. It makes sense, because they’re having concerns about fraud with organic products coming from other countries. There was even a situation where there was some cotton that came from India that was fraudulently labeled as organic, and that may have stimulated this whole ending of this organic recognition program with India. So the Indian companies are going to have to get certified through the USDA’s National Organic Program now.
Jeffrey Smith (25:42):
What this means …I’m going to interpret it for consumers who are worried about the source of their organic foods–what this means is that an organic product from India will have more power behind it now than before. There’ll be more confidence. No one can say there’s a hundred percent safety in anything grown anywhere that says organic. That’s just the nature of nature and how things work. But people can have more confidence going forward in things that are certified organic from India than in the past, because it’s going to require standards from U.S. certifiers, which are aligned of course with what’s happening in the United States.
Ken Roseboro (26:28):
Right. It’s interesting. A company in India contacted me, Nature Bio Foods, and I wrote an article about that recently. They’re very committed to integrity, organic integrity. They have multiple certifications; they even have biodynamic certifications. They work with 60,000 farmers in India. There’s something like 3 million organic farmers in the world. India has one third–that’s a million of them. This company–they seem like they have a lot of integrity, and they’re doing things right and want to assure people.
Jeffrey Smith (27:20):
I’ll give a shout out to my friends at Organic India, too. They have amazing integrity. They build like LEED certified building. They have such an intense focus on building the economy and the life of the people who grow for them, it’s like a nonprofit that happens to make profit. It’s just amazing. I know the people. I’ve talked to their executive teams many times.
Ken Roseboro (27:45):
They’re a great company. This company Nature Bio Foods is doing the same thing–helping villages, putting money into infrastructure in villages.
Jeffrey Smith (27:57):
I should talk to them, too. But India has another thing which also works in our advantage now: they have a new requirement for imports.
Ken Roseboro (28:03):
Yeah, India now requires non-GMO certification of food imports into India. I know it applies to fruits and vegetables…produce. It may apply to other foods also. So any companies, any businesses that want to export to India, to sell to India, they have to get a non-GMO certification assuring that their product is non-GMO. Just recently I found out that–in fact yesterday–that apples coming from the U. S., from Washington State, have been shut out of the Indian market because they’re not providing the non-GMO certificates that India requires. The USDA is not providing these certificates. I know that the U.S. a few months ago was putting pressure on India (as they tend to do with Mexico), to persuade them to not require these certificates, but like Mexico India said, “No, we’re going to require these certificates.” So for the apple producers in Washington, it’s a shame. There was a quote from somebody at the Fruit Growers Association in Washington State who said, “You know, we’re losing.” I think India was their 12th biggest market for Washington apples. They’ve lost that market.
Jeffrey Smith (29:42):
This is interesting, because there’s a pain point with the apple growers in Washington. As activists and educators and advocates, we have tried to motivate and enlist the support of the conventional growers of certain species that are being introduced as GMO. We say, “If you allow a GMO to be introduced into your apple marketplace, you could suffer even if you are a non-GMO apple grower, because you may lose export markets.” That’s happened all over the world. You know, there have been countries that refuse to take any canola from Canada or even any honey from Canada because of the pollen that comes from the canola grains.
Ken Roseboro (30:34):
And corn in Europe–Europe doesn’t buy U.S. corn.
Jeffrey Smith (30:39):
The thing is, the entire marketplace is knocked out. With the grains, in many cases they won’t even bother with the non-GMO. In India they are saying if you just make sure it says non-GMO, because to make it non-GMO costs the non-GMO certifying company money. They have to have a documentation review and an online inspection, and they have to look at all that. It costs them money. One of the good news pieces for the pain points of the farmers is it demonstrates to farmers and to markets around the United States that if they allow genetically engineered wheat or anything into the marketplace, the non-GMO farmers can suffer, so this is an example. My hope is that the non-GMO apple farmers stop the commercialization or work against some ELA commercialization of the genetically engineered apple, which is engineered to not turn brown when you slice it. This is sold as pre-sliced apples. You can buy them on Amazon. They don’t say that they’re GMO.
Ken Roseboro (31:57):
The Arctic apples–there are two varieties, a Granny Smith and a Golden Delicious–the fruit growers in Washington were upset because India only buys the Red Delicious apples. There are no GMO Red Delicious apples, but still the fact there are these GMO apples casts doubts on the non-GMO status of apples from the U.S.
Jeffrey Smith (32:28):
There was a rumor that genetically engineered papayas were stolen from a Thai field trial 20 years ago, and Europe closed its doors to all Thai papaya from the rumor, so it has a serious impact. I tried to convince the Australian state governments just to not lift the moratorium on genetically engineered canola, warning them that they would lose their premium, warning them that they would be shut out of certain markets and sure enough, they didn’t. The states that had decided to lift the moratorium refused to meet with me. Everyone else, all the other states, I met with the ministers of agriculture and whatnot. But those that had already made up their mind–and some of them actually financially benefited from lifting the moratorium–it was a disaster, an absolute disaster because everything we predicted happened.
Jeffrey Smith (33:17):
I remember being on a plane with someone from Australia, a farmer, two years later. He said, “Yeah, I just saw a big mountain of canola sitting in the field for two years because no one wants it because it’s genetically engineered.” Anyway, let’s talk about the Cargill/Rodale Institute combination. I’m going to lead you into this one. Okay? When I was saying we can convert the food supply back to non-GMO, people were saying, “But there’s like 90% of the soy” (this was years ago) “90% of the soy, 90% of the corn–it’s already GMO. How are you going to reverse the trend? You’re telling people to go for non-GMO, but how are we going to change it?” And I said, “You know who will be our friends here? Cargill and ADM (Archer-Daniels-Midland Company).” They went, “What?”
Jeffrey Smith (34:06):
I said, “No, no, no, you don’t understand. If we can provide the demand, they’re the middlemen/middlewomen that handle the market-making. They will make sure that they deliver to meet the needs.” And so if we can have a strong enough demand, if you buy it they will come.” I remember looking at the Cargill booth at the Anaheim Expo West Natural Food Conference Convention that you and I go to every year. There was a button being handed out at the Cargill booth with “Non-GMO – Cargill.” They had 40 varieties of non-GMO. Nineteen of them at the time had been certified or verified with the Non-GMO Project. They were like, “Sure, we don’t take a position ourselves. We just meet the customers’ demand.” So now they’re like the big conglomerate, the biggest private company maybe in the world–certainly the United States.
Ken Roseboro (35:04):
Jeffrey Smith (35:07):
They’re hated by a lot of activists for their damage to this and damage to that, but they happen to be working on behalf of the non-GMO community to get them non-GMO. Now, Rodale is one of the most revered institutes for studying organic and for promoting organic, so now what brings Rodale and Cargill together?
Ken Roseboro (35:38):
You could say it’s an interesting mix, the odd couple. That said, there’s an organic poultry producer in Pennsylvania, Bell & Evans, and they’ve been producing organic chickens. It’s interesting–I spoke with the owner of the company. It’s a family-owned business in Pennsylvania, and Scott Sechler, his name is–he told me they’re committed to buying only U.S. grains. They have to buy organic corn and soybeans for feed for the chickens. He won’t buy imports because he’s concerned about the organic integrity of imports, which as we know, there have been problems with imports. He sees that demands for his chickens are rising and his availability of feed is getting tighter, so Bell & Evans has launched an initiative to convert, transition 50,000 acres of land to organic production in the U. S., in Pennsylvania and in the Midwest.
Ken Roseboro (36:56):
This is huge. Bell & Evans has worked with Rodale for several years. Rodale has established an organic consulting part of their Institute, Crop Consulting Group. They actually got funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to do this. They’ve been working with Bell & Evans, and Bell & Evans has also been working with Cargill. They’ve been buying organic feed from a Cargill mill that’s certified organic in Pennsylvania. Bell & Evans has put the two together. Cargill is going to help with the transition. They’re going to work with the farmers. One of the concerns with these projects in transition acres is that the farmers have to find markets for their transitional grains.
Ken Roseboro (38:00):
It takes three years to transition to organic, and in those three years they have to find markets for those grains, so Cargill is going to help with that. Organic farmers have to grow crops in rotation, so they can grow corn one year, but then they have to grow other things—a small grain like oats or alfalfa or something like that. Cargill is going to help them find markets for that because they’re huge–like you said, they’re huge and they have connections everywhere, to all these specialty markets. Rodale is going to provide their consulting services to these farmers that are transitioning to help them with the transition–to be there for it. I spoke with the head of their Crop Consulting Division, who said that transitional farmers have challenges, like with weeds. How are they going to deal with weeds, and following the organic rules? So Rodale’s just going to be there, and so this initiative is being launched. According to someone I spoke with at Rodale they’re getting calls from conventional farmers who want to do this. It’s great and it’s interesting. You’ve always talked about the tipping point with the GMO issue. I think we may see a tipping point with organic acres, because some of these big companies have launched significant initiatives through transition acres. General Mills did it.
Jeffrey Smith (39:36):
General Mills went to regenerative. They went to a million acres of regenerative or processing. Did they go to organic, too?
Ken Roseboro (39:42):
Before the regenerative commitment they committed to doubling their organic acres. One example: they have a farm in South Dakota that’s 34,000 acres and they just transitioned that to organic. There’s also Ardent Mills, which is the largest flour miller in the U. S. They’ve committed to doubling their organic wheat acres. Anheuser-Busch–you probably heard about that, beer maker–they’re transitioning I don’t know how much land to organic for organic barley. There’s a bunch of these initiatives. In Europe they’ve committed to 25% to 30% of their land to be organic. In the U.S. just 1% of our farmland is organic, but I could see if this continues that the U. S. could go to 25% or 30% organic acreage, also.
Jeffrey Smith (40:45):
You know something–you’re going to play a much bigger role in that than almost anyone, and I’m going to explain why I predict this to be true. One of the reasons why farmers were not leaving the industrial agricultural model for so many years is that the information that they were getting was cooked by the biotech industry before it came to them. The farm radio and the farm journals received their advertising dollars from the biotech industry, Monsanto, etc. and could not afford to say anything that wasn’t the talking points of their masters. I had one person say to me after I gave a lecture, “Oh, I write for farm journals, and I loved your lecture. And I’d like to figure out how I can do a story on what you’re doing for some other journals.” I said, “Why don’t you do it for farm journals?”
Jeffrey Smith (41:40):
“Oh, they would never let me–the major advertisers would never let me.” The land grant universities that have the agricultural extension agents that visit the farmers, they’re run in part by the biotech industry. They receive research dollars. There’s a lot of influence on purpose. USDA is driven by Big Ag in so many ways, and they actually minimize the role of organic. When you try and get information out about a farmer who switches to non-GMO or organic and notices a benefit, because of the disinformation that was so successfully delivered, there’s an immediate shunning and disbelief. I’ve spoken to farmers that switched to non-GMO for their pigs or cows. The animals get healthier, they use two thirds or 75% less inoculations and antibiotics and things. The death rate is astoundingly different.
Jeffrey Smith (42:43):
There was one split farm where they had 400 deaths in one nursery and none in another. They went to market more quickly in the non-GMO and the ones who had GMO, they were dying, etc. If this information got into the popular press, normally it would cause huge numbers to convert or at least experiment. But there’s been a lockdown in the media–in the farm media and in the mainstream media to allow the benefits of organic and non-GMO and regenerative to get out to the mainstream. If these main companies like General Mills and Cargill–with data from Rodale and others and excited farmers who made the conversion because they had to but weren’t necessarily sold out until they saw the numbers–if they can get the information out and it’s picked up by other farmers, that’s the tipping point, when they hear so many pig farmers saying, “You’ve got to get your pigs on non-GMO.”
Jeffrey Smith (43:56):
Many cow dairy farmers, the same. When they hear the higher rates of return, the lower inputs, all of that–when they hear those numbers, and they can, and you can get it out to them, that will be the tipping point. Now you’re the man in this world that’s talking to those farmers more than anyone, and so I’m going to ask you to continue, to try something you may not have tried before, and that is to try to syndicate or offer your articles to a list of farm journals. Just send it out there. They may say no every single month, but if someone says yes and a farm journal is willing to pick it up–and it could be a finished article or it could simply be a proposal saying, “There’s a farmer who made this transition that has these data. Would you like an article about it?”
Jeffrey Smith (44:50):
If you just keep knocking at that door and they actually hire you to produce the article, it will be real. It won’t be a biotech industry pseudo writer trying to denounce the efforts of anyone going to non-GMO, because that’s what they do. They’re paid to do that. You could get your information out through the first available channels, and the thing is the best farm journals are those that are not already in the GMO species. The apples may be a good choice now, but if there’s a group that’s trying to go GMO, like if they’re introducing a new GMO… like right now there’s a pineapple, a GMO pineapple, the pink pineapple for $49 online per pineapple. Don’t eat it.
Jeffrey Smith (45:46):
I’m just saying that you’re in a situation where you can … like we were giving the information to consumers. The Institute for Responsible Technology, we are very, very responsible for a large amount of the tipping point that’s already underway among consumers. That’s happening, okay? I know that’s the case. I traveled, gave lectures–a thousand lectures. I saw what we did. You are perfectly situated. I will be happy to promote the farm successes through our channels so it circulates in social media, too. If you have a farmer that made the transition that got better–and I’m speaking to everyone listening, too–if you see a report from Ken, get on his Facebook page. Like it, get his information. Or if you see one of our interviews and it’s about farmers making more money on a non-GMO or organic or regenerative basis, circulate that to all the non-farmers you know and the farmers you know, because that, if it can get recognized, if there’s an idea virus that can get established, then you have the tipping point of information. Knowledge has organizing power. Then the farmers are going go, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that. It’s not some harebrained Luddite, hippy idea. I’ve heard that farmers like me are making more money. Now I’m interested.”
Ken Roseboro (47:10):
Yeah, that’s a good idea, contacting these farm journals, because there are a lot of them out there.
Jeffrey Smith (47:19):
If you need any assistance with that, I wish I had more staff to throw in your direction. I wish I could say, “And I’ll help you do the research. I’ll put the list together. I’ll do it.” I can’t. I’ve got my hands full. I’m protecting the global microbiome from genetically engineered releases in this generation, so I’ve got a different focus. I wish I had the ability to just say, “Here Ken, take it. It’s a good idea.” I mean, the leverage of your information could be historic in its impact, absolutely historic!
Ken Roseboro (47:55):
Yeah, I made a connection with Acres USA. That’s kind of preaching to the choir. It’s an organic farming magazine. I’ve written this op-ed about the obsolescence of GMO seeds for them. Yeah, I could send it to some other places that might cause a stir, I would think.
Jeffrey Smith (48:14):
Yes, absolutely. Put them on your list and say, “I’m submitting this certain thing, or I can do a custom version for you, a custom interview of the farmer for you.” Keep sending it. At a certain point, especially when there’s money to be made by the farmers, and the influence of the biotech industry advertising dollars starts to wane, there’s going to be a balance. They’re going to weigh it and then they may just try.
Ken Roseboro (48:39):
Yeah, that’d be great. Well, we’re headed in that direction.
Jeffrey Smith (48:47):
For all of you watching, you saw this first–it was birthed here.
Ken Roseboro (48:50):
Yeah, we’re heading in the right direction. That’s what I see.
Jeffrey Smith (48:55):
Yeah, we are. Your news has been great. Is there anything else you want to share before we go?
Ken Roseboro (48:59):
No, that’s about it, I think. There are lots of good things happening, yeah, with this Bell & Evans thing. It’s pretty exciting.
Jeffrey Smith (49:13):
50,000 acres, chickens … I’ve interviewed chicken farmers who switched to non-GMO, and the chickens got healthier. I’ve interviewed chicken farmers who say the chickens, when given a choice, would choose the non-GMO versus the GMO.
Ken Roseboro (49:26):
There’s another thing that just happened last week with Rodale. There’s a lot going on with Rodale. The Giant Company–which is a major retailer on the East Coast, Giant Supermarkets– they’re supporting Rodale’s efforts. They just announced an initiative to support their efforts, particularly their crop consulting services. I mean major retailers. As you know, like in Europe the retailers have huge power, and we’ve always tried to get the retailers to do something. Now with this, they’re going to Rodale and saying, “We’re supporting your efforts.”
Jeffrey Smith (50:12):
Is this our world? Is this the world that … this is amazing. This is great! This is really exciting news. Please everyone, share this interview with people. It’s long, we take time, but it’s also going to be available as part of my podcasts. To get my podcasts go to livehealthybewell.com or just subscribe to it wherever you get your podcasts, livehealthybewell. You’ll get this interview, so you can listen and you can pass it on. People will listen more to podcasts the whole way through because it’s while they’re doing something else.
Ken Roseboro (50:46):
Yeah, right…makes sense.
Jeffrey Smith (50:52):
Let me just check to see if anyone on the Facebook page is wanting to comment here. Susan says that you have the FDA, EPA, and USDA–they need to start working for we the people, not the highest bidders. The government is not serving us. She also said, “Glad to hear Biden is going to help us.” Rock Duffy applauded for Mexico, and I do, too. Great, it’s like finally, you have some major, major country standing up to the United States’ bullying. It’s just fantastic. All right, everyone, this also demonstrates that our efforts are working. You know, when I started activism in 1996 the response to almost anything I said was, “What’s a GMO?” Now 48% of the world’s population believes that GMO foods are unsafe, 51% of the U.S. population. We have more than we need to drive the market of consumers. And now Ken, who is a 21 or 22-year veteran in this, is helping to drive the entire supply chain, has been for 22 years and now he’s talking about a tipping point in organics. This is very exciting, and I’m so excited to bring you, Ken, to our community once again.
Ken Roseboro (52:16):
It’s great to be here, Jeffrey, always good seeing you and sharing information.
All right. Safe eating, everyone.