Is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Committed to Telling Americans the Truth About What They Are Eating?

by Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

A few days ago, an article appeared in the New York Times entitled, “Food Politics Creates Rift in Panel on Labeling,” by Stephanie Strom. It was about my dismissal from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics work group for not disclosing a business that I don’t even have.

eat right

The work group was tasked to review the evidence related to food technologies, including genetically modified foods. I was happy to be a part of the group because I have seen how industry uses these position papers to support their stance.  Last fall in the state of California, we had a proposition on the ballot that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The state voters’ guide incorrectly said that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had concluded that “biotech foods are safe.” However, the Academy’s position was expired, so they actually had no position.  The Academy issued a press release about this, but it was too late. The voter guide was already mailed to over 18 million registered voters. And Prop 37 lost. This is why I wanted to be on the group. I was hoping to prevent this from ever happening again.

Being on the work group was an interesting experience. Right off the bat, I had some major concerns, including the following:

  • Two members, Jennie Schmidt and Marianne Smith Edge, disclosed their ties to industry groups such as Monsanto.
  • The evidence review was not going to link to the position paper. And it would only include human studies, not animal. The problem with this is that there are not very many human studies to review.
  • The position paper was going to be written by Christine M. Bruhn, PhD, from UC Davis, a vocal supporter of genetically modified foods who is against labeling. UC Davis has strong ties to Monsanto.

I mentioned some of my concerns with the group and I also sent an email to an Academy employee involved with the project about the potential conflicts of interest. Because of my concerns, members of the group were asked to fill out the Academy’s disclosure statement again and disclose any money they might have received.

On March 22, 2013, I received a letter saying I was dismissed for not disclosing my consulting business, listed on my blog, I was shocked to say the least, especially since I do not have a business. At some point I would like to pursue one, but I am too busy with my full-time job and family obligations.

I sent the Academy 3 emails explaining that I do not have a business, that I did have questions, and would like to talk. Since the dismissal letter specifically stated, “Please contact us if you have any questions,” I was expecting a response back. I waited for over 3 weeks, but I heard nothing

And that is why I decided to talk to the New York Times.

Then the Academy posted a statement that was filled with inaccuracies.

I did not refuse to “disclose any and all conflicts of interest.” Why would I disclose something that does not exist? I did disclose however, that I received $135.00 from two sources that were relevant to the project, as they required.

The Academy also says that “She was simply asked, repeatedly, to disclose this information and she declined to do so.” However, it was my questioning of the group’s policy to include people on the committee with ties to industry that led to the Academy’s request for more information from the entire group, not only me.  And I complied with their request.

It was clear their minds were made up. A nonexistent business, not disclosed, was a bigger concern than two people who are involved with industries that would directly benefit from an evidence review and position paper with a positive slant toward genetically modified foods.

All of this posturing takes away from the real issue: Is it appropriate to have people involved with the biotech industry, which could benefit from the outcome, sit on a biotech-related work group? I don’t think so. Additionally, I found it alarming that the Academy was intent on moving forward with a position paper, written by Christine M. Bruhn, PhD, to be published before the evidence review was complete. She wrote the Academy’s 2006 position paper, which said that GMOs “…enhance the quality, safety, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and increase the efficacy of food production, processing, food distribution, and environmental and waste management.” I am guessing her 2013 version will offer up more of the same.

Sadly, it is the American people who are the losers in this situation because they will probably not get clear, unbiased, and balanced information about what to eat from the organization that represents the largest group of nutrition-related health professionals in the country.

Considering that we have no long-term evidence showing that genetically modified foods are safe for humans, the most responsible position the Academy could take would be to say, “The long-term health effects of genetically modified foods are unknown. Until and unless we know more, at minimum, they should be labeled.”

Is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics committed to telling Americans the truth about what they are eating? I, for one, am not convinced. What do you think?


Thanks to all the people who have supported me. Your kind works and notes of encouragement have meant so much to me. Someone even started a petition to get me reinstated to the work group!

Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

The Truth About Proposition 37—Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods

I knew the battle over prop 37 would be heated, tough, and ugly. But I was not expecting biotech companies and food manufacturers to stoop as low as they have and spend a million dollars a day doing so. We’ve all heard the saying, “money talks.” In the case against prop 37, money not only talks, it also lies. Here is the truth about the false claims and inaccuracies surrounding prop 37.

Claim: It will increase the cost of food by “$400 dollars per year for a typical family.”

The truth is we will probably see no change in the cost of food just as they saw no increase in the cost of food in the European Union (EU) when they labeled genetically engineered foods. David Byrne, the former commissioner for health and consumer protection for the EU, said that labeling genetically engineered foods in Europe “did not result in increased costs, despite the horrifying (double-digit) prediction of some interests.” Additionally, when food manufacturers in the U.S. were forced to label trans fats in 2008, we saw no increase in food costs. Thus, there is no reason why we would have an increase in food costs from labeling genetically engineered foods under this proposition. For more information, see here.

Claim: It is “full of special interest loopholes and exemptions.”

Prop. 37 is simple, it labels genetically engineered foods that are sold in the grocery stores. California law only allows one issue to be addressed by ballot propositions so the food in grocery stores was chosen since it is what people eat the most. Prop 37 only covers foods that are genetically engineered and not animals that eat genetically engineered foods. This explains why dog food would have a label, since it is made with genetically engineered corn, but beef would not since it is not genetically engineered. It is the same issue with soy milk, which would be labeled because soy is genetically engineered, but milk is not. For more information, see here.

Additionally, Dr. Henry I. Miller, who is featured in the commercial about exemptions, does not work at Stanford University. Rather, he is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, which sits on the Stanford campus, but is not a part of the university. Dr. Miller is a long-time front man for big tobacco and big oil, has called for the reintroduction of DDT, and even stated that the people around the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster “may have benefited from it.” The bottom line is he has zero credibility.

Claim: Prop 37 authorizes “shakedown lawsuits.”

Actually, it was written to provide no economic incentives for lawyers to sue. Prop 37 does not give any penalties from labeling violations to consumers or lawyers, unlike prop 65, which gives 25 percent of civil damages to the plaintiff. The person legally responsible for putting the label on a food item is the manufacturer, not the farmer and not the grocery store owner. For more information, see here.

Claim: Prop 37 “conflicts with science.”

In fact, there are a lot of unknowns about the safety of genetically engineered foods. There are some animal studies with negative findings. Both the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association state that GMOs should undergo mandatory safety testing. Even the 2012 American Cancer Societies Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity says, “…long-term health effects are unknown.” Until we know more, shouldn’t they be labeled? For more information, see here.

Remember who is behind the “no on 37” campaign. It is basically the companies that create genetically modified seeds, pesticides, and processed foods. This includes Monsanto, Pepsi, Dow, Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s to name a few. Monsanto, one of the largest creators of genetically engineered seeds, also told us that DDT and Agent Orange were safe. Can we really trust what these companies say about prop 37? If you follow the money, you will see that that the biggest contributor to the “no on 37” campaign is Monsanto. Remember that when you see the negative ads on TV, such as this one, with “major funding from Monsanto.”

In addition, most of the newspapers that say “no on 37” are owned by the same company called MediaNews. Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund firm, has a large stake in the company. Alden’s parent company is Smith Management LLC, a privately owned investment manager. It sounds like their interest is Monsanto and other traded companies and not our right to know what’s in our food! See here for more information.

Over 50 countries around the world label genetically engineered foods. Some have banned them. The only reason they aren’t labeled in the U.S. is that companies that make genetically modified seeds, chemicals, and junk food don’t want you to know what you are eating. Prop 37 would put an end to that, but we need your help. Please vote YES on prop 37! We can win against these big corporations. While we don’t have a lot of money, we do have the power of the people. That means you! Please do what you can to get the correct information out and share this article with everyone you know in California. Thank you!

For more information, go to

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

Food Labeling Lies: Are Snapea Crisps Healthy?

By Carole Bartolotto, MA,RD

I think we all know that food manufacturers care more about their bottom line—money—than they do about our health. They will say just about anything to sell their products including manipulating serving sizes and making outrageous claims. Let’s take a look at one example.

If you’ve ever had Snapea Crisps, you’d know they are tasty and they seem to be healthy—at least based on the claims on the packaging. But can these claims be trusted?

The package says it’s a “snack salad” and is “baked.”

On the back it says, “Your Salad Never Got Such a Lift!” and that the company, Calbee, has a “….Mission of delivering the farm fresh goodness of vegetables to your table.”

I checked out their website and it says that, “SnackSalad was developed for the many customers who wish to get the healthy benefits of eating salad and fruit more often, but to do so in a more delicious way.”

All of these claims lead you to believe that you are eating something that is healthy and equivalent to a salad. In fact, this product is often found in the produce section of the market.

I think many people believe that Snapea Crisps are puffed peas. But actually they are ground-up green peas, genetically modified corn oil, white rice, salt, and preservatives, formed into a pea shape, and baked! A review of the Nutrition Facts reveals that 1 ounce of these crisps has 150 calories and 8 grams of fat. The more information I gathered about Snapea Crisps, the less they sounded like a salad. And the more they sounded like a bag of potato chips.

Both Snapea Crisps and Lay’s potato chips have 150 calories, similar grams of fat per ounce, and are highly processed. The difference between Lay’s potato chips and Snapea Crisps is that you know you are eating junk food when you grab a bag of chips. However, many people think they are making a healthy choice if they choose Snapea Crisps.

Is there a better option? Why not try sugar sugar snap peassnap peas? With just 41 calories for an entire cup, you can get a tasty, crunchy, low-calorie snack without any processed carbs, white rice, or calorie dense fat.

The moral of this story is to pay attention to the labels and claims on processed foods. More importantly, stick with whole foods as often as you can. I love Michael Pollan’s quote from his book Food Rules, which certainly applies in this situation.

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

See my update on Snapea Crisps here.

For more info, follow me on Twitter:


Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

What You Need to Know About GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

An important proposition will be on the November 2012 ballot in California which requires the labeling of genetically modified foods. This proposition, if it passes, could change the face of American agriculture. Biotech companies and food manufacturers will be spending between 50 and 100 million dollars and saying just about anything to prevent this from passing. Read on for the most commonly asked questions about GMOs.

Are genetically modified organisms in the foods you eat?

What do canned chicken soup, fast food French fries, sodas, potato chips, corn flakes, canola oil, salad dressing, corn chips, apple pie, and tofu all have in common? They all most likely contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) also know as genetically modified or engineered foods.

What are GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals created through the process of genetic engineering. GMOs have a piece of DNA from a totally different species, such as viruses or bacteria, forced into their DNA. Genetically engineered soybeans, for example, have DNA from bacteria and viruses sliced into their DNA to help them withstand the onslaught of weed killers such as Roundup. Genetically engineered corn has DNA added so that it has a pesticide built right into it. This process creates a whole new species of plant that would have never occurred in nature.

Hybrid foods are completely different. Hybrids are created when cross pollination occurs between plants. This process can be facilitated by man or it can occur spontaneously in nature.

Even though GMOs have been in our food supply since 1996, most people in the U.S. know little about them. Actually, the 2006 Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology poll found that only 26% of American consumers believe that they have ever eaten a food that was genetically engineered. The truth is most people, including babies and children, eat them every single day.

Which foods are genetically modified?

As of 2012, nearly all soy beans, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets are GMO. From these crops, products such as corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and many more are created and added to processed foods. This is why nearly 80% of processed and most fast foods contain GMOs.

Other crops that are genetically engineered include Hawaiian papaya, a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash, and alfalfa. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also considering approving a GMO salmon, which would grow much larger and faster than regular salmon.

Are genetically modified foods safe?

Despite what the food manufacturers and biotech companies might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health and the environment. The FDA has allowed GMOs into our food supply with only the research and assurances of safety from the biotech companies that create them. Interestingly, the person at the FDA responsible for this decision was Michael Taylor, former attorney for Monsanto (the largest producer of GMO seeds).

Independent research has found that several varieties of GMO corn caused organ damage in rats. Other studies have found that animals were losing their ability to reproduce. There are also concerns that GMOs can increase allergies or cause immune system problems.

Environmental issues are also a cause for concern. GMOs allow farmers to use more weed killers, exposing both us and the environment to more toxins. Super weeds and super bugs that are resistant to the weed killers and the pesticides built into GMOs are now showing up. The monarch butterflies are on the decline due to GMO farming which kills the milkweed where they lay their eggs. In addition, GMO crops can cross pollinate with non-GMO crops, irreversibly changing the face of plant life with unknown consequences.

Are genetically modified foods labeled?

The U.S. is one of the only developed nations that does not require labeling of GMOs. Fifty countries including all of Europe and even China require labeling of genetically modified foods. Many European countries have banned GMOs.

Will labeling genetically modified foods increase the cost of food?

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act will not increase the cost of food for you or food producers. It simply adds a label to genetically engineered food. Companies change their labels all the time. Remember, when companies where required by law to add trans fats to labels, the cost of food did not go up.

What can I do to eat fewer GMOs?

  • Vote “yes” on Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, which will require that genetically engineered foods are labeled. It will be on the November 2012 ballot. Once GMOs are labeled, we can make an informed choice. We have a right to know what’s in the food we are eating and feeding to our families. Visit for more information about the proposition and the truths vs. myths about it.
  • Buy Organic. All USDA certified organic foods are free of GMOs.
  • Avoid nonorganic products that contain GMO foods including soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and sugar beets. Read labels. If the food contains high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, or sugar, it probably contains GMOs.
  • Look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” label. Some companies have voluntarily labeled their foods.
  • Shop at Trader Joe’s. All of their produce and all Trader Joe’s brand foods are sourced to be free of GMOs. So look for “Trader Joe’s” on the label.
  • Try Whole Food Market. Their 365 Everyday Value labeled foods are sourced to be free of GMOs.
  • Try Follow Your Heart labeled foods. They are also sourced to be free of GMOs.
  • Use the free iPhone app Shop No GMO.
  • Go to and download their shopping guide.
  • Visit for help choosing products without GMOs including supplements and vitamins.


  • The Future of Food is an important documentary about unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods. You can watch it here for free.
  • Here is a clip from the above documentary about the process of genetic engineering.
  • Even Dr. Oz supports the labeling of GMOs. See here.
  • Bill Maher supports GMO labeling too. See here.

Resources and References:

  • Why Genetically Modified Foods Should be Labeled, LA
  • Go to Then click on “GMO Myths and Truths” in the Featured Report section.
  • New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. Séralini, G.-E. et al. Arch. Environ Contam Toxicol., 52: 596-602, 2007.
  • A three generation study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: Biochemical and histopathological investigation. Kilic A and Akay MT. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46: 1164-1170, 2008.
  • Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice. Velimirov A et al. Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, Familie und Jugend Report, Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV Band 3/2008.

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.