[Transcript] – How A Magical Soap Company Is Fighting Toxic GMO Crop Production.

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Podcast from:  https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/what-is-dr-bronners-soap/ 

[00:00] Introduction

[03:22] The Story of Dr. Bronner

[10:07] What Makes Dr. Bronner's Soap Different from Other Soaps

[14:41] Other Dr. Bronner's Products

[17:51] Organic Whole Kernel Virgin Coconut Oil

[21:22] Why David Wrote His Anti-GMO Article

[41:40] What People Can Do To Help

[46:37.2] End of Podcast

Ben:  Hey, folks.  This is Ben Greenfield.  And as you may know from reading an article that I wrote last year on how to detox your home and your body, basically if I can't eat something without it killing me, I generally don't smear it on my body either.  And from liquid soaps, to my bar soap, to the lip balms that my kids use, to lotions, one of the companies that I kind of use as a go-to source for the things that do smear on my body or in my hair is this company called Dr. Bronner's.  And Dr. Bronner's is kind of a unique company, they do things like use natural vitamin E from sunflower seeds, and citric acid from fermented tapioca for freshness, and they don't use things like chelating agents, and dyes, and whiteners, and synthetic fragrances.  They use essential oils for example as a fragrance for their products.  All of their soaps are biodegradable and nature friendly, their bottles are made from recycled plastic and also have all sorts of weird phrases written all over them which I'll talk a little more about later on in today's episode.

But today I've actually got the president of Dr. Bronner's on the call with me.  His name is David Bronner.  He's a guy who's been arrested multiple times for hemp activism, he recently wrote a really polarizing article in The Huffington Post on GMO labeling that we're going to talk about.  I live in Washington State and actually there was an initiative called Initiative 522 over in Washington State where I live that David helped to champion.  It lost by a pretty razor thin margins but is now being revived in another form which we'll also talk about in today's episode.  So if you are into healthy personal care products, if you're into the whole GMO controversy, or if you're generally just wanting to kind of stay on the cutting edge when it comes to your health, this is going to be a cool episode for you.  So Dr. Bronner, thanks for coming on.

David:  Thank you, Ben, for having me.

Ben:  Technically you're not The Dr. Bronner, right?  Was that your grandfather?

David:  Yeah.  My grandfather was Dr. Bronner.  Yeah, I'm not a doctor.

Ben:  Okay, yeah.

David:  But, yeah.

Ben:  I'll bet you get that a lot though?

David:  Yeah, I do.   I say I'm a doctor of trouble.

Ben:  So who was the original Dr. Bronner?  Like what was his story?

David:  So Dr. Bronner grew up in southern Germany in a German-Jewish soap making family.  He, himself was the third generation.  His grandfather had started the family enterprise in 1858.  By the time he was coming of age and he was apprenticed in the guild system of time and became a master soap maker himself in his early 20's, the family enterprise had grown quite large and had three different factories including a large factory Heilbronn in Southern Germany where my granddad grew up.  By the late 20's, kind of fascist, Nazi situation was starting to get bad, I mean it's still early, and my granddad was part of the Zionist movement.  My granddad was a very intense guy from day one, and he was working with his dad two uncles who were running the show and was having a lot of clashes with them.  They were a little more simulationist, bourgeois, like, “Hey, stop rocking the boat,” this man is going to blow over.  I mean my granddad had a lot of kind of newfangled soapmaking ideas, and just a lot of generation clashes with his father and uncles.

And so in his early 20's, in the late 20's, my grandad came over to the US, and just kind of bailed and said, “You know, I'm going to go start my business and life in America.”  And he became a consultant to the US soap industry.  So he was helping out P&G and various companies build factories.  But at the same time, obviously things are getting fast, getting really bad really fast over in Germany and he was desperately trying to get his parents out, and his two younger sisters, one got out in '36 and went to the [0:05:17] ______ Israel, and his other sister got out in '38.  And they had a family vacation, they tried to get their parents out and they were unsuccessful.  The Nazis nationalized a factory in 1940 and his parents were gassed soon thereafter.

Ben:  Holy cow.

David:  And at same time he had also married and had three children, and my dad's mom, so his wife died when my dad was very young, when my dad was four.  And this is all in the same period.  So my granddad was just dealing with a lot of tragedy all at once.  But it was also always this kind of a grand mystical spiritual guy and had these just very intense experiences and insights that if we don't realize our transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides and realize that we're all children of the same divine source and get over these trivial differences, we're going to kill ourselves in a nuclear armed world.  And so he felt urgently called on this mission to advance what he called “All-on-God faith” or the “Moral ABC”.

So in the post-war era by the late '40s, he was going around the country lecturing and advancing his peace plan.  And at the same time in the post-war era, better living through chemistry was really starting to take off.  Diverse industries were starting to transition to petroleum and petrochemicals as their primary feedstocks instead of the natural ingredients, and this included body washes and personal care which we're moving towards petrochemical detergents.

And so the natural soap recipes that my granddad had brought with him, these old world, high quality soap recipes, very natural and biodegradable, they were out of vogue.  So granddad launched his own business and was selling these soaps on the side while he would go out lecturing and advancing his vision and peace plan.  This was in the '50s and he realized people were really starting to come hear him talk, not so much necessarily hear what he had to say but to get the soap he was selling on the side.  At which point he started to put what he was saying on the labels of the soap.   So you'd referenced that our soap labels are now packed with various axioms and wisdoms from my granddad more or less just driving that…

Ben:  So he wrote all of this?  Like I'm holding a bottle of your soap right now and the whole thing is like covered with writing.  And some of it's kind of straightforward.  It's like, “breathe deeply, health is wealth.”  But then some of it, it just says like, “All one or none.  All one!  All one!  All one!”  And like, “Back with the full truth I've learned, back to the way.”  And just like I've stood in the shower before and just like read the whole bottle.  It's crazy.  So all of these come from a friend, his name was Emmanuel, right?  Emmanuel Bronner?

David:  Yeah, Emmanuel.  And you're right.  You kind of get all sides of the man on the label there.  He was a visionary, health food pioneer.  He actually did develop various health food seasonings grow early.  He saw early on the problems of this speculative chemistry and the ecological havoc that was imminent.  But he also had this kind of more mystical kind of biblical prophet crazy streak that, you know, crazy like a fox.  I mean he was totally right on, but it came out in some pretty idiosyncratic ways, definitely.  Some of the aphorisms on the label are a little more hard to understand than others.

Ben:  So how's this different, I mean he calls it Dr. Bronner's, or you guys call it Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.  Obviously magic is a little bit of marketing there, but like what's different?  I mean when I read the label, the soap that I'm holding, this is the stuff I use in the shower.  It's your hemp soap, the hemp lavender stuff.  It's water organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, lavender extract, fair deal of hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, lavender extract, and tocopherols.  How is that different, like how is his process different than the average soap?  Like what set Dr. Bronner's aside in terms of the way he was making soap?

David:  Yeah.  Well, I mean basically he just kept making soap the way it's been made for thousands of years.  Obviously somewhat better, more refined process.  But the basic soap reaction is pretty ancient.  I mean pretty much there was cooking bread and then there was making soap.  And it's a very simple process where an oil is combine with alkali and it's a contained reaction, it's called the saponification reaction.  You can just do it on your kitchen stove.  And the process is there's no waste stream, it's very ecological, and the result is very high quality product, well depending if you know what you're doing.  Soap making's all about taking the right balance of oils with the different fatty acids chains.  All oils are chemically triglycerides, what distinguishes them is the link to their fatty acid chains and how many double bonds they have, and that gives you a more molliant feel or a more high lather, and so it's all about balance.  My granddad and his family had really worked out a wonderful coconut olive [0:11:15] ______ soap recipe.

And by contrast with better living through chemistry and kind of the advent detergent-based body care, the simplest surfactant of which soap in a way is the very first, but it's just so categorically simpler it's just called soap, but all the rest are called detergents and surfactants, and they involve at least minimum five different processing steps.  There's a lot of waste stream.  You're generally attaching petroleum radians, even if you have some natural components to your detergent molecule, you're attaching a sulfate and just basically ingredient that are coming off petrochemicals and it's just a dirtier process.  And then also the end result is a less biodegradable molecule.  So soaps are incredibly biodegradable.  You can wash by the stream and not worry about it.  It's going to biodegrade rapidly.  Whereas, a lot of these more modern body washes and detergent-based body care, the ingredients are not nearly as biodegradable and it's much more of a problem

And you had referenced earlier about what you eat, you shouldn't put on your skin what you wouldn't eat and I mean we don't recommend eating the soap.  I mean it tastes like soap.  But it's not going to hurt.  By contrast, this other stuff is really a bad idea.  You become poison control if you swallow some.  And the other thing about the skin, whatever you put on the skin and is absorbed through the skin does not go through the liver, which is basically how you detox, stuff you eat that's not so great.  And so in a way, what you put on your skin, a lot of these formulations, they have penetrator, you have these enhancers that actually aid penetration, they're actually moving stuff across the dermal barrier directly into the bloodstream.  And then you noted the fragrance issue.  I mean there's all these compounds, and fragrances, and synthetic preservatives, some of them implicated hormone disruptors..

Ben:  They've done some interesting, I don't know if you've seen any of these studies, there was one a couple years ago, they did it on guys and soap with pthalates and parabens in it, and they tested their urine.  And within three hours after taking a shower in this stuff, it was winding up in their urine and they were basically peeing out hormone disruptors after taking shower with the average bottle of soap that comes out the counter.  I personally, I travel with one of your guys' bars 'cause frankly liquids are just annoying for me to travel with because I can never remember if it's a four ounce or a five ounce container and even through go through TSA pre-check now, I still get stuff confiscated every now and again.  So I just travel with your bar and I don't touch the soap in and of the hotels that I go to and I literally just used to use the bar in my hair and on my body and that's it because I don't want a lot of those disruptors in my body.  But you guys have other stuff too.  Like I mentioned you've got like lip balms and body balms, but what else does Dr. Bronner's have?  Like we're all familiar, or those of us who have seen Dr. Bronner's are familiar with the big bottle of liquid soap with the 30,000 different words written on the outside of it.  What are some of the other things that you guys have that people should know about?

David:  Yeah.  Well, this is basically a kind of diverse personal care line.  So we've got a hair rinse product that pairs well with the soaps.  So the soap is not optimized with petroleum conditioning ingredients that are in most shampoos.  So you could buy a hair rinse, an organic rinse and leaving cream that will give you the same feel and really luxurious feel without all the synthetics and really problematic ingredients.  Along with like the lotions, and the lip balms, and whatnot, we also have our own virgin coconut oil for culinary purposes and I actually talk about the fact that all of our ingredients are certified organic, all our major ingredients are organic, all our products are certified under the same organic program that certifies food.

In addition to that, they're also certified fair trade.  Like what we realized is that like while organic is crucial in as far as supporting agriculture that is not polluting our food and water and is not introducing a huge pesticide load in our farm working communities and into our bodies through the residues in our food that doesn't tell you the social conditions under which ingredients are produced and what were the wages, what were the prices and working conditions.  So we've also certified all our stuff, all our major supply chains fair trade, which is pretty key.  ‘Cause I mean you wouldn't wish a lot of the conditions on your worst enemy that our common consumer goods are produced under, and it's really important that you also are looking for the fair trade, especially for, in our case we have, a lot of our oils are tropical.  So you know they're being produced in the developing world and a lot of times you need to have that third party check.

So anyways on the coconut oil, we had a project that, it grew out of a tsunami relief project in Sri Lanka.  One thing led to another and we set up our own fair trade coconut factory.  Initially they supply our soaps, but then a partner in the project that was supposed to take the food, we were going to output a cosmetic and a food grade coconut oil, and Sri Lanka produces the highest quality virgin coconut oil for food.  It's also at a price premium, and that partner backed out of the deal so we're kind of left holding the bag and went ahead and just like, “Well, we got to introduce this on the food side,” so we introduced the virgin coconut oil under Dr. Bronner's brand in 2011.  And that is actually now our second, after the liquid soap, is now our top-selling product line.

Ben:  I actually have some and I was going to ask you about this 'cause I was waiting for you to come on the show to ask you this question.  Your coconut oil says “whole kernel” on it.  “Organic whole kernel virgin coconut oil”.  What does whole kernel mean?

David:  Yeah.  And we actually also sell a white kernel, which is the more traditional virgin coconut oil on the market.  So the whole kernel, it's kind of like brown rice versus white rice.  Coconut have, you have the husk, you have the shell, and then you have the skin on the coconut.  And that skin is generally shaved off prior to drying out the flesh and then pressing the oil out, and we have a version that does that.  But it turns out, like with brown rice, that a lot of the nutrition is right there with the skin.  So you lose a lot of the nutrition when you do that.  And if you press the coconut flesh with the skin still attached, and so you know part of the situation, you get more of a nutritious oil.  And the flavor is really not that different.  I mean it's slightly yellower, it's a slightly nuttier flavor, and I actually prefer it.  I think it actually outsells our other more traditional VCO two to one.  I think most people prefer the slightly kind of coconuttier flavor.  And it's also just healthier than the traditional VCO.

Ben:  Okay.  Interesting.  So there's a whole kernel version and a white kernel version.

David:  Yeah.  Exactly.

Ben:  Those are the two different types of coconut oil you can get.

David:  And generally we're one of the very few that offer a whole kernel.  Most people just do the white just because it's a more neutral flavor.

Ben:  So is it more of like the fatty acids that make the whole kernel more nutritious and gives it that kind of nutty flavor?

David:  I think the fatty acids, those medium chain lauric acid, that make coconut super healthy generally is that holds through all varieties.  This is more of the micronutrients, vitamins, and whatnot that you lose when you peel off the skin.  Those medium chain, those fatty acids really is what drives the current health craze around coconut rightly so is that that does exist with both varieties.

Ben:  Okay.  Got it.  Well what I'm going to do for people who are listening is, but before he starts talking about GMO, 'cause I really want to get into that, I will put a link in the show notes for this episode over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bronner.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/BRONNER if you want to check out the show notes and look at the coconut oil and some of the other stuff from Dr. Bronner's that I personally use.  I mean you can grab most of the stuff off of Amazon or even at your local health food store, grocery store you can find a lot of this.  But I want to kind of change course here a little bit, David, and talk about this article that I saw that you recently wrote on The Huffington Post.  And your article is called “Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Skyrocketing While Pro-GMO Media Run Interference”.  It's a pretty provocative title.  So first of all, from what I understand, you wrote this article in response to an article that was written in The New Yorker.  Can you tell me about that original article that was written in The New Yorker and why it is that it seemed to have kind of pissed you off and inspired you to write this article in response?

David:  Yeah.  Sure.  I mean the problem with a lot of high profile pro-GMO media or articles, New Yorker was the latest, and Amy Harmon over in New York Times is another kind of problematic writer, science writer, and Nathanael Johnson at Grist is another problematic writer is they kind of had bought the chemical industry's propaganda on what genetically engineered foods are about.  And we all like to think that this technology is about boosting yields, and making crops more drought tolerant, and improving photosynthesis, and other things people like to think about with the technology.  And it's false.  I mean in potential form, yeah, hopefully someday that'll happen.  But what's happening on the ground, over 99% of GMO crops that are in US soil are engineered to do two things.  One, resist herbicide.  So they survive high doses of Monsanto's leading weed killer.  So they can just blast huge amounts of weed killer on our food crops and/or, two, they produce BT insecticidal protein inside the tissue of the plant so that every single cell of every single plant within the entire growing season is expressing insecticide.

The problem with this is that both traits have rapidly led to resistance in the target weed and target insect populations.  So much like overdosing antibiotics in the factory farm, in these horrible, deplorable factory farm situations where these animals aren't going to survive, they're just completely sick, horrible situation, and 80% of the antibiotics in this country are going into animals.  And what that's done is rapidly selected resistance in the targeted bacteria and pathogens so that now they're resistant to all our different antibiotics.  And it's become this huge worldwide crisis that now all our antibiotics that we need for people are not working because they've been overdosing them in these factory farms.

Ben:  Really?  So it's not, like usually you hear about anti-bacterial hand soaps, and an antibiotics as being the reason for bacterial resistance.  And you're saying that GMO crops are contributing to this as well?

David:  No.  I'm making the analogy.  But that's another thing you were making, which is the antimicrobial, like overdoing it with soap.  Like throwing in a super powerful antimicrobial, like soap does plenty good job putting in the antimicrobial.  Now you're like going overboard and you're creating resistance in these target pathogens.  So I'm saying, like by analogy, what is happening with antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria is this is happening in the weeds and the insects.  They've been blasting so much herbicide.

Ben:  Okay.  So in the same way the human beings are becoming resistant to a lot of these powerful super bugs, we're creating the same kind of super bug resistant crops?

David:  Well, yeah.  Or the weeds and the insects themselves are now resistant, like we can't kill them.  Like they've throw in so much because of engineered resistance.  And pretty much every weed scientists and pest scientist that was not on the chemical industry's payroll was saying you can't blast that much weed killer year, after year, after year, and not also use non-chemical methods of pests and weed control like cover cropping, and rotation crops, and break the pest cycles in natural ways.  And then in addition when you throw that much chemical toxins on our fields, you're eliminating all the natural pest predators.

So what's happened is genetic engineering has led to what's called the pesticide treadmill.  So far from freeing us from pesticides or reducing the pesticide load on our farms, it's led to this huge spike because they create a resistance in the target weeds and the target insects so they're not dying with the usual chemical dozes.  So instead of like, “Oh, okay.  We really need to rethink this and bring in non-chemical modes of control,” they are doubling down and are throwing more and more chemical insecticides and herbicides much more powerful, much more toxic herbicides including  2,4-D, which is half of Agent Orange.  It was an herbicide that supposedly with the advent of genetic engineered, we weren't going to have to use anymore.  Well now that the weed killer that they have been using doesn't work anymore, now they're breeding resistance, or engineering resistance into the next generation soy and corn crops that are resistant to huge amounts of 2,4-D, which is like a known toxin.  It's a terrible chemical.  It's not even allowed in various Scandinavian countries at all, and now we're breeding resistance in our…

Ben:  It's called 2,4-D?

David:  Yeah, 2,4-D.  It's linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and just all kinds of bad news stuff.  But the chemical industry has just right this month railroaded 2,4-D tolerant crops through EPA and USDA approval process.  And so kind of getting back to Michael Specter in New Yorker, this is all happening, what's actually happening in the ground, what's actually happening in the regulatory pipeline, like the whole game of chemical industry with genetic engineering is not talked about.  He has a 10-page article that's bashing Vandana Shiva, an activist in India who's really great and has been calling out kind of excesses of this industrial ag machine that's so completely pesticide-driven and chemical-driven and just attacking her, like just kind of picking little pieces of this and that as a substitute.  Like basically making a straw man and spending 10 pages talking about crap that does not exist in the ground or is happening in the regulatory pipeline.  So basically running writing a huge puff piece, pro-industry puff piece, giving cover to them, even as the USDA and EPA, which are captive agencies, the chemical industry, Monsanto down to Pond, they spend huge amounts of money on both parties to make sure their hand-picked people who are in EPA and USDA, they are making the key regulatory decisions.

So as this is happening, they've got Michael Specter in New Yorker, kind of like a leading liberal, center left publication kind of talking to the center left people, like, “Hey, GMO's are just the best thing ever and anti-GMO are these dumb, whatever, people who are totally anti-science and irrational.”  And not once does he mention the 2,4-D resistant crops.  That's the whole game.  That's the game.  This is what they need.  Like they're first generation, herbicide corn crops don't work anymore.  Like glyphosate does not work on half the country.  They desperate need this 2,4-D, and it's such a disaster.  And not once is this even mentioned in the New Yorker article.  And it's just like, wow.  New Yorker, I mean this just shows the power of the chemical industry, that they've penetrated it and they spent so much money lobbying not just government elites, but our media elites, our scientific elites, and they basically pulled the wool over everybody's eyes.  Not everybody, but to many.  Michael Specter is just like the latest example of someone who should really know better, the editors at New Yorker should know better.  This is embarrassing that you have such a pro-industry puff piece, even as, literally within eight weeks of the of the USDA, EPA regulatory decision, which everyone knew.  I mean everyone's like jumping up and down, like “Whoa, it's real bad news.  This is happening.”  And he just writes this huge article as mention it once.

Ben:  So what is it that the USDA and the EPA regulatory decision is deciding?

David:  Whether or not to approve the chemical industry's next generation herbicide tolerant crops.  So they basically have genetically engineered genes from a bacteria into corn and soy that produces an enzymes that enables the corn and soy to survive much higher doses of 2,4-D weed killer than any plant would otherwise be able to survive.

Ben:  So that means they're going to have to spray even more of those toxic chemicals on the food, or in the farming community?

David:  Exactly.  The bottom line is GMOs equals pesticides.  The chemical pesticide industry bought the seed industry in this country 20 years ago and is engineering resistance to the pesticides and that's the game.  And they're selling you both their patented GMO seeds and then they're selling you the pesticides that go with them.  And it's a completely unsustainable model.  It's driven by the short-term profit interest of the chemical industry.  We're killing our soil.  Our soil is just dirt.  The soil microme, the biome of the soil is dead.  So they're having to put more and more chemicals, each year it's more and more chemicals to bring these sick plants to harvest.  It's like three different herbicides, three different insecticides, three different fungicides just to get these plants to harvest.

The model is just so out of balance, there's no natural plant predators.  In fact, one of the main insecticides they're using is these neonicotinoids.  These are a new class of insecticides that now coat 90%, over 90% of GMO soy and corn.  They actually sell you the seed with these insecticides.  And they're so toxic that the seeds are by law required to be brightly colored so that you don't eat them, so no one will eat them or touch them.  And the problem is that these insecticides are water soluble and they're persistent in the environments.  So they get out in the environment and they've been identified conclusively as the leading cause of colony collapse disorder in bees, and they're now banned in Europe.  But over here, the chemical energy has such a grip on our regulatory process, on our regulators, on our government, and on our media that they're just getting away, it's just disaster.  It's like a slow motion train wreck.  And so what the [0:32:02] ______ movement is trying to do as like just as a first step.  Like our foods, if they've been engineered to resist pesticides so that the food is saturated with pesticide, we have a right to know that.  By having that on the label, people can have the opportunity to make an informed wise choice to support agriculture that's more sustainable versus this completely unsustainable…

Ben:  Yeah.  I live in Washington State.  Like back in 2012, a couple of years ago, we had initiative 522, and that was where they wanted genetically engineered foods to actually be labeled so you'd at least know if you were eating stuff that had been exposed to these herbicide sprayed crops, or had caused farming communities and farms to get blasted with these herbicides or genetically modified organisms.  And that failed.  They didn't fail by a lot.  I think it was like a little over 50% opposed it, so it failed by pretty slim margins.  And I know that Dr. Bronner's was one of the main contributors in support of a I-522 passing.  And I know it didn't pass, maybe if it comes back up here in Washington State.  But what can people do who are listening in, there's something coming up in Oregon, I believe, right?

David:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  The movement really reawakened in 2011, 2012 with the Prop 37 effort in California, and this is like when people started to really realize and wake up.  Like wow, genetic engineering is not about anything else than herbicide tolerance.  That's what is driving us the game, and it's rapidly failing, and it's leading to even more toxic herbicides blasting our food.  And that was like the kind of reawakening of the movement.  And Prop 37 nearly failed 51-49 in 2012.  The movement was really getting its act together for the first time.  It was completely naive, but we still almost pulled it out.  And then in Washington, it's not a good year to go in 2013.  It's an odd year.  It's an off year.  The electorate was not ideal.  We had a skewed, much smaller, older, and more conservative.  Nonetheless, we almost pulled that again, lost 51-49.  And in both times being outspent by 5:1.  I mean huge amounts of money on the other side.  They actually broke and smashed all records in Washington State that no one had ever spent that much money to defeat a ballot initiative.

Ben:  Who is spending all the money to defeat it?

David:  Well primarily it's Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Syngenta, BASF, and Bayer.  Those are the big six chemical companies that own the seed industry…

Ben:  And I suspect they've got a little bit more money than soap companies?

David:  Yeah.  Exactly.  And then the second tier are the junk food manufacturers, the Coca-Colas and Pepsi Cos of the world.

Ben:  Really? Why would they contribute to this?

David:  Well, I mean there's cracks appearing in that coalition.  I think they bought the propaganda a little bit that somehow they think they're getting cheaper corn syrup out of herbicides [0:35:20] ______ GMO corn, which is false.  But I think they bought that a little bit.  But I also think part of what they're concerned about is there's a new version of GMO coming online rapidly, something that's important to talk about, and it's called synthetic biology.  And rather than just inserting a gene from another organism into a different organism that can never interbreed in nature, which is traditional genetic engineering, synthetic biology is you actually will engineer DNA from scratch and insert it into yeast, and that DNA will, for instance it'll be programmed to take sugar that could just feed like a vat of yeast with this synthetic DNA, of a bunch of sugar and the DNA is programmed to make, say, vanilla, or saffron, or different flavors, or different other food molecules and food-like substances.  And this is actually happening as we speak.

So synbio vanilla, the synthetic biology, the nickname is synbio.  So synbio vanilla is actually in the market right now on label.  And I think that the food industry is like looking at this synthetic biology technology, and that's kind of more driving, it's not so much they don't necessarily care that much about herbicide tolerant business model of the chemical industry, maybe they believe it but they probably realize that the only one making money on that one is Monsanto, Dow, Dupont.  But I think they're kind of more eyeing is kind of in parallel application of the technology that's starting to come online, synthetic biology, and that's why they don't want to see any of the stuff labeled.

But we're not entirely sure what's mobilizing the big food guys as much as they are.  But we also know that there are backdoor channel communications between some of the major food companies and movement leaders in the sustainable agriculture movement that, actually Ken Cook, the founder of the Environmental Working Group, makes an analogy to big oil and big auto that for the longest time, big auto was a max with big oil as far as opposing mileage, higher mileage standards for cars.  Eventually big auto figured out that they sell cars and it doesn't matter how efficient the engines are, and they cut a deal with the Obama Administration, and we actually find our chance of meaningful mileage regulations phase in over time here and that they really did not need to be carrying water for the oil industry.  And I think there's a similar transition point we're getting close to here that big food companies are, I mean they're getting hit hard.  I mean basically getting, the brands are getting wrecked in the states that we're fighting these battles.  And it's not just these big food companies, they own organic brands.  Like Coca-Cola owns Honest Tea.  General Mills now owns Annie's.  I mean they own these organic companies that are basically getting boycotted and they're at war with their consumers own desire for basic transparency in their food.  And it's just such a loser for them.

So I think that we are starting to see fissures in that coalition between big food and big chemical.  And I really do see Oregon.  So getting to the crucial current battle, Oregon is like really the key battleground.  We've come together.  It's a great state as far as food culture, it's connection to real traditional family farming.  Less than 1% of agriculture in Oregon is actually the GMO in the first place.  And another dynamic is the GMO salmon, FDA is about to approve a genetically engineered salmon that's got these like eel-like ocean pout genes that enables it to grow abnormally fast.  So that's kind of…

Ben:  No way.

David:  Yeah.  It's a major issue in the northwest where salmon is a huge of cultural and economic importance.  So it's another good battleground for that reason.

Ben:  Have there been any studies on what that salmon does to you when you eat it?  I mean like is it bad for you or does it just lead to more of these, I mean does it cause the same issue in the ocean as it does with the land-based crops that you're talking about?

David:  Yeah.  I think, personally my primary concern and I think the concern that most have is that if have a genetically engineered salmon escape and are out-competing the native wild populations, that they can drive them extinct pretty quickly.  And that I think is the primary concern.  There's also concerns about, I mean is this really the most healthiest thing to be eating.  My personal concern is more on the environmental side.  Just in general I guess my concern is more motivated on the environmental consequences of this technology, on the traditional soy and corn, there's a huge pesticide load that is blasting our food, and getting into our food and water and in your environment, killing the pollinators and non-target wildlife.  Similarly with the salmon, the concern is more the impact it would have on wild species, the wild salmon stock, which are already overfished and it's not a good situation.  Yeah, anyways, Oregon's just a really great battleground for us.  The in-state coalition of grassroots is as huge and on fire.

Ben:  So what could people do?  Like if people, well obviously it sounds like at this point it would be people living in Oregon, right, who could do something?

David:  Yeah.  Well everybody can go to OregonRightToKnow.org.

Ben:  Is that just one word?  OregonRightToKnow.org?

David:  Yeah.  That's right.  One word.  And if you're in Oregon, volunteer, sign up the phone bank, canvas, drive up the vote.  This is going to come down to turnout.  Marijuana legalization is also on the ballot.  We're coordinating closely with our vote for the registration and getting up the vote efforts.  Both of us are targeting the younger voters who tend to be with us more on either issue.  There does seem to be a generational split for some reason.  Well certainly on cannabis, and it's also merged on GMOs, so it's really about kind of turning out the lower frequency younger voters.  And if we can drive them out, we're going to win.

So that's kind of the game is get up the vote.  And then wherever you live in the country, you can donate 'cause the other thing we need to be doing is while we're being totally outspent on the airwaves and obviously we're never going to be able to match them dollar for dollar, we do need to get our message and our messengers out there and get some critical amount of  mind share to push back on all the BS that they're saturating Oregon voters right now with.  I mean it's a real carpet bomb of a propaganda of our operation.  Basically bigger than Oregon's ever seen, just like bigger than Washington's ever seen.  You can't turn around right now in Oregon without seeing their BS.  So you know we also do need money in the door to just kind of close us out and get our messages and messengers out there.

Ben:  So OregonRightToKnow.org.  And I'm also going to put a link to that article that you wrote in The Huffington Post in case folks are listening in, and if you are listening in and you want to kind of read a little bit more of the details behind why it is that this is a problem, or you want to print that out, or link to it for your friends.  And also put a link to all this stuff over in the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bronner.  That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/BRONNER.  So it is pretty important, again even if you don't live in Oregon, you can at least go visit OregonRightToKnow.org and help to fight GMO crop production and the spread of some of this toxic crap all over the planet Earth.  So I think it's pretty important, in addition of course to using some darn tasty coconut oil and some pretty cool soap.

So anyways David, thanks for coming on the show and sharing this stuff with us.

David:  Yeah!  Thank you, Ben, for the opportunity.  Yeah, thank you.

Ben:  Alright, folks.  So that's your call to action.  Go head over to OregonRightToKnow.org, grab yourself some soap that's not going to kill you, and some coconut oil, and some other cool personal care products while you're at it.  And until next time, this is, oh, by the way David, this thing in Oregon is going pretty quick right?  ‘Cause this podcast is coming out November 1st.  What's the date people need to get over there?

David:  Yeah.  Well the vote is, well it's actually a mail-by-ballot.  Or ballot-by-mail.  But basically 80% votes will be cast between November 1st and November 4.  So that's game.  So right when this hits is it's like the real game-on.

Ben:  So you can pretty much get out in the next three days if you're listening to this podcast when it first comes out on November 1st, Saturday.  So take action, see you on November 1st through November 4th.  So don't sit on your butt and wait this thing out.  Go take action now as soon as you finish your running, or your bike ride, or your weight lifting session, whatever you're doing while you're listening in.  So check all that out.  It's over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bronner.

David, thanks for coming on.  And all folks, until next time, this is Ben Greenfield signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.  Have a great week.


As you may know from reading my article on “How To Detox Your Home“, if I can’t eat something without it killing me, I don’t smear it on my body either. From liquid soaps, to my bar soap, to lip balms to lotions, I’ve been using products from Dr. Bronner’s Magical Soaps (yes, that’s really their name) as one of my main personal care products sources to follow this simple rule.

Unlike most commercial soapmakers, who distill the glycerin out of their soaps to sell separately, Dr. Bronner’s retain it in their soaps for its superb moisturizing qualities. They use natural vitamin E from sunflower seeds and citric acid from fermented tapioca to protect freshness. They don’t add any chelating agents, dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances, and instead use pure and powerful high-quality certified organic essential oils. All their soaps are biodegradable and nature-friendly and their bottles are made from 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

In today’s podcast, I interview David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronners, and a guy who has been arrested for hemp activism, written a recently polarizing Huffington Post article on GMO’s , and who recently championed a drive towards labeling GMO foods in my own home state of Washington, a drive that unfortunately lost by narrow margins, but is now being revived in another form, which you’ll learn all about in today’s episode, including:

-The amazing story of the original Dr. Bronner…

-Why there are over 30,000 words on the label of Dr. Bronner’s soaps…

-What’s in Dr. Bronner’s soap…

-Why not all coconut oil is created equal…


Eliminate fatigue and unlock the secrets of low-carb success. Find out how in The Low Carb Athlete – 100% Free. Sign up now for instant access to the book!


I'm interested in…*

Fat Loss              Gaining Muscle              Having More Energy              Motivation & Willpower              Competition & Racing              Biohacking Mind & Body              Anti-Aging              Injuries/Pain              Just Help Getting Started!              Other/Anything Else


-Why David Bronner recently penned this controversial article in Huffington Post on GMO’s

-What you can do to stop the toxic production of GMO’s on our farmed crops…

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about Dr. Bronners or about GMO labeling? Leave your thoughts below, be sure to check out all of Dr. Bronner’s products by clicking here, and visit OregonRightToKnow.org to help fight GMO crop production, to cast your vote, to donate and to stop the spread of toxic herbicides.


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