Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 11, 2013 12:57 PM
The United States is currently the world's largest market for genetically modified organisms (GMO)—foods including soy milk, soup and breakfast cereals (made with soybeans), corn and other biotech crops manipulated to make them more resistant to insects and pesticides.
The debate over GMO labeling for organisms genetically engineered by introducing changes into their DNA structure continues to grab the attention of consumers and brands, exacerbated by the November 2012 defeat of Prop 37, a mandatory labeling initiative introduced on the California ballot. Large corporations including PepsiCo and Monsanto spent millions of dollars against Prop 37 and it was defeated.
Now Whole Foods Market is picking up the gauntlet and committing to full GMO transparency. Whole Foods—which made the announcement at the Natural Products Expo West—has committed to labelling all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores that contain genetically modified organisms by 2018.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 21, 2013 11:48 AM
Australia’s smokers had to start purchasing cigarette packs with extremely graphic images on the front last December, which did not sit well with the world’s Big Tobacco companies, whose lawyers have been set loose to try and repeal the Aussies' anti-smoking efforts. Now, New Zealand is ready to enact a similar effort that will remove branding from cigarette packages and sell them with plain wrapping.
New Zealand, however, won’t push forward with the practice until it sees how all that legal wrangling works out for its larger neighbor.
“This announcement demonstrates that the New Zealand government recognizes the significant international trade issues with standardized packaging and will not implement it until the pending international legal challenges to Australia’s law are resolved,” Philip Morris said in a statement. “There is no credible evidence that standardized packaging will lower smoking rates, but strong evidence that it will jeopardize jobs, benefit the black market for cigarettes, and is a breach of international trade rules that have already made Australia’s policy subject to WTO action.”
The WTO actions were set in motion by a few nations that happen to be—surprise!—big producers of tobacco: Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Indonesia.Continue reading...
sip on this
Posted by Dale Buss on January 28, 2013 06:35 PM
Consumer activists and trial lawyers have been feeling their oats in recent years as food and beverage companies have found themselves responding to several challenges by regulators. Increasingly, the public seems skeptical of the claims and motives of brands — and eager to take them on.
Two recent cases have nicked brands owned by PepsiCo and the Dr Pepper-Snapple Group — so far, with different outcomes.
PepsiCo announced last week that it would remove an emulsifier from Gatorade that also has applications as a flame retardant, prompting Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager who waged an online campaign against brominated vegetable oil (BVO), to claim victory. Meanwhile, Mott's, owned by Dr Pepper Snapple, is the subject of a recently filed class-action suit that claims "deceptive labeling" of its Mott's for Tots Immune Support Fruit Punch.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 4, 2013 03:06 PM
Public apologies by high-profile experts are rare, making this week's anti-GMO reversal — call it a GMea Culpa — by British environmentalist, author and Oxford University visiting research associate Mark Lynas particularly stunning.
Lynas spurred the anti-GMO movement in the mid-‘90s, continuing to argue as recently as 2008 that corporate greed was threatening Mother Earth and her inhabitants; but at this week's Oxford Farming Conference, he recanted his position in a very public way.
“I want to start with some apologies," he stated. "For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.”
“As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely. So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it?"Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 14, 2012 03:01 PM
It has been more than a year and a half since pretty much any new cigarettes or tobacco products have hit store shelves in the United States. So Big Tobacco must be finally caving to the growing drumbeat against them from lawmakers and health advocates, right? Well, no.
The lack of new product is actually due to those dang lawmakers. America's tobacco watchdogs at the Food and Drug Administration are “taking extra care in reviewing new product applications for public health risks,” according to WWLP Massachusetts.
And it isn’t just new product that’s been affected, either. The slowdown has also affected such things as brand-name changes as well as shifts in packaging or filters. But don’t feel too bad for Big Tobacco. They are still making a boatload of cash annually and they also just won a big case before the federal appeals court on Wednesday. In that case, the tobacco companies won the right to not sell their products in packaging that would feature graphic warning images, such as diseased lungs, a man with a tracheotomy smoking, and the cadaver of a (former) smoker.Continue reading...
truth in advertising
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 29, 2012 03:03 PM
Despite making billions of dollars every year, it likely isn’t always fun working in the tobacco industry. After all, people are always trying to stick extra taxes on their product or completely eliminate any branding from the packaging or sticking images of awful possible side effects such as dying on the packages.
The tobacco industry, which is being pressured worldwide to be more forthcoming about the dangers to consumers, took another hit Tuesday. A US federal judge ruled Tuesday that tobacco giants such as Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco, and British American Tobacco to buy a slew of advertising on various media to fill the public in on the health dangers of smoking and basically admit they lied, CNN reports.
So American consumers can now look forward to seeing ads in their newspapers and on television that say such things as "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day." Or perhaps: "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined." And if that wasn’t enough: "Secondhand smoke kills over 3,000 Americans each year."Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2012 05:22 PM
Competition from huge and established beverage brands hasn't been able to dent 5-Hour Energy's dominance in the energy-shot segment it created. And criticism of its elixirs by nutritionists and dietitians hasn't been able to slow its sales past the $1-billion-a-year mark.
But here's something that might take a bit of fizz out of 5-Hour Energy: The drinks have been cited in the deaths of 13 people in the last four years, according to reports received by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The New York Times reported, "Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the FDA, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion."
The energy shot made by a suburban-Detroit-based company, Living Essentials, has been associated with 92 "adverse-event reports" over that period, including 32 hospitalizations, an FDA spokeswoman told a number of publications. The death reports comprise open cases being investigated by the agency. The FDA stressed that there is no evidence linking the 5-Hour Energy brand to the deaths or hospitalizations, but that the agency continues to investigate the reports.
5-Hour Energy spokeswoman Elaine Lutz said in a statement that 5-Hour Energy takes "reports of any potential adverse event tied to our products very seriously" and that the company complied "with all of our reporting requirements" to the FDA. She also noted that the shots are intended for "busy adults" and that 5-Hour Energy is an effective dietary supplement and not a beverage or energy drink.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Dale Buss on November 6, 2012 05:08 PM
For a while, the notion of regulating genetically modified organisms (better known as GMOs) included in food seemed like a good idea, and anti-Big Food advocates in California attracted a lot of support in a state where residents like to be on the cutting edge of just about everything. Calfornians have never minded serving as a bellwether on new regulatory initiatives that end up sweeping the rest of the country, such as automotive emissions.
But the closer today's vote on Proposition 37 loomed, the more that initial support of the idea waned. And this U.S. Election Day, even backers of the anti-GMO initiative seemed resigned to its defeat, although it's still being closely watched. (Update: Prop 37 was indeed defeated at the polling booth.)
What happened? Well, a combination of huge contributions by moneyed CPG brands battered Prop 37's drive to label GMOs in a massive advertising and PR blitz with a "No on 37" drive. And backers of the added regulation alleged dirty tricks by the competition as they sought to sway voters (despite scientific evidence to the contrary) that GMO-containing products are hardly the stuff of "Frankenfood" that really harms consumers.Continue reading...