Pepsico, Quaker Oats & GMO: You’re On Your Own
PepsiCo Inc. is a Fortune 500 global conglomerate with interests in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of grain-based snack foods, beverages and other products. PepsiCo was formed in 1965 with the merger of the Pepsi-Cola Company and Frito-Lay, Inc. PepsiCo has since expanded from its namesake product Pepsi to a broader range of food and beverage brands, the largest of which include an acquisition of Tropicana in 1998 and a merger with Quaker Oats in 2001 – which added the Gatorade brand to its portfolio as well.
Since 1989 Pepsico has contributed more than $10 million to federal and state political campaigns, and since 1997 they have spent an additional $28 million on lobbying. Topping their politician recipient list is former Pennsylvania House Speaker John M. Perzel, the alleged mastermind of the $13 million “Computergate” scandal that pled guilty to corruption charges and is currently awaiting sentencing. Rick Perry comes in number two, with Ed Rendel, Barack Obama and George W. Bush rounding out the top five.
We don’t know what Pepsico got from the money they gave to Perzel, but we do know at least one thing they are getting from their lobbying investment: So far, it has kept GMO warning labels off of their products.
“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism”, i.e. organisms whose genetic material has been artificially altered using genetic engineering techniques. The USA is the largest commercial grower of genetically modified crops in the world, and at least 75% percent of the processed foods consumed in America contain GMO ingredients.
GMOs are banned or significantly restricted in 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the nations in the European Union. But here in the Corporate States of America, consumers aren’t even given the benefit of GMO warning labels so they can decide for themselves if a risk exists and whether they are willing to accept it. To make matters worse, IN AMERICA IT IS LEGAL TO LABEL FOOD PRODUCTS AS “NATURAL” EVEN IF THEY CONTAIN GMO. And why are things that way? Because profit-before-principle corporations like Pepsico – working through co-opted and false fronts like the Organic Trade Association (OTA) – lobby to keep them that way:
“General Mills (currently represented on the OTA board by Craig Weakly of Small Planet Foods), H.J. Heinz Co. (invested in the Hain-Celestial Group), PepsiCo (Tropicana and Quaker produce a few organic products), and Kellogg’s (owns Kashi), joined a coalition of corporate giants – the “Coalition Against the Costly Labeling Law” – including chemical makers Monsanto and DuPont, agribusiness ConAgra, food processor Sara Lee, the pesticide lobbying group CropLife and the junk food lobbying group the Grocery Manufacturers Association, in spending some $5.5 million to defeat mandatory GMO labels.”
So before you sit down for your next piping-hot bowl of “healthy living” Quaker oatmeal, consider this:
“Quaker Oats states that it is an ‘all-natural’ product. Pepsico/Quaker Oats manages a processing plant that emits roughly 19,000 pounds of sulfuryl fluoride yearly. Sulfuryl fluoride is a toxic greenhouse gas used to treat crops like oats in storage.”
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