Urban legends of harmful products in Halloween candy and fruit have caused parents to greet Halloween suspiciously. However, a hidden threat is real in some of the candy on the shelves today – lead and GMO’s.
With Halloween coming, every parent wonders what sugary treats their kids will find in their trick-or-treat bags. But did you know that sugar from genetically modified (GMO) beets is now in widespread use, despite worldwide scientific concern about the potential health and environmental hazards that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) crops may create?
The biotechnology industry claims that GMO crops reduce pesticide use. In fact, about 80% of all GMO crops are engineered to resist high doses of pesticides. Ultimately, this means farmers will use more pesticides on our food and in the environment. The new sugar beets, made by the chemical/biotech giant Monsanto, are resistant to Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide. Called “Roundup Ready” crops, the GMO variety is sold along with the herbicide, meaning higher sales for Monsanto, and ultimately more pesticides used on the beets grown for our kids’ candies.
Last month, in a stunning setback for the biotechnology industry, a federal court ruled that genetically modified (GMO) sugar beets should never have been approved for introduction into the food supply. The court found that GMO sugar beets would inevitably contaminate natural and organic sugar supplies, making it impossible for farmers and consumers who simply want to eat the same safe, natural sugar they always have.
Despite the court’s finding, the leading U.S. candy makers Hershey’s and Mars have refused to commit to avoiding sugar from GMO beets, even though numerous polls show that most consumers don’t want to eat GMO food. Other food companies have rejected GMO sugar, including Organic Valley dairy, the nation’s largest farmer-owned food company, and PCC Markets, the nation’s largest consumer-owned grocery chain.
As if that’s not bad enough, candy that’s made for and sold almost exclusively to Latino children, is still contaminated with lead. That’s right: companies allowing lead – one the most potent neurotoxins known to science – into products that young children are eating, and they are profiting from this. Absolutely appalling.
Along with our allies at the Environmental Health Coalition, CEH sued the manufacturers and distributors of these unconscionable products and forced them to commit to legally binding, safe standards. And now we’re also going from store to store in Latino neighborhoods in our backyard (the San Francisco Bay Area), to check which suspicious candy products are still in stores.
Today’s San Francisco Examiner highlights how important this work is. According to the Examiner, just a small percentage of stores are actually taking the threat seriously and committing to protect kids from lead in candy.
Whether it’s GMOs, pesticides, lead, our children, or our neighbors’ children, we all need to stay aware this Halloween season and take action wherever we can.
Halloween candy shouldn’t be a horror for our kids!