Lead and GMO Sugar in Halloween Candy?

kid-and-halloween-candy-sqUrban 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.

To help get GMOs out of kids candy click here.

Halloween candy shouldn’t be a horror for our kids!

Comments Closed


  1. Jennifer
    Posted October 24, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I sent your message to Mars Foods and got a message that I would have to comment on their website in order for them to read it, so I did and i hope others did, too! (but if you haven’t yet, The Link is http://www.econsumeraffairs.com/mmm/contactus.htm)

    Here was their response:

    “Thank you for your email.

    Our overriding commitment is to offer products which satisfy consumers and meet the highest standards of quality and safety.

    It is possible that our products contain genetically modified ingredients. The government does not make a distinction between genetically modified and conventional ingredient sources, therefore, neither do the suppliers from whom we obtain our ingredients.

    While many government agencies and scientific organizations worldwide have confirmed the safety and benefits of genetically modified foods, we recognize the use of genetically modified ingredients is a cause of concern for some consumers. We are constantly reviewing our ingredient supply sources and continually look for ways to offer consumers the choices they want in the marketplace.

    Have a great day!

    Your Friends at Mars Chocolate NA”

  2. Sean Sullivan
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jennifer! As you can see from today’s post, not only are we on it but we’re fighting back against Mars’ inaction. You’re not the only one to get Mars’responsiblity free response but hopefully you’ll be among the last.

  3. Jim Lester
    Posted October 29, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    This is truly disgusting to know that so many kids are going to be eating GMO sugar on one night. I was shown this great little GMO cartoon at http://www.larryleptin.com and I have been doing some looking into this disgusting info on candy. It makes me not want to take my kids out trick-or-treating any more!

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