Courtesy of Abundance Cooperative Market

Are You Dining in the Dark?

A new, national advocacy campaign called "Just Label It: We Have a Right to Know" launches October to petition the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the mandatory labeling of any food products that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Just Label It and NCGA

Just Label It is a national coalition of more than 650 organizations across different sectors, including healthcare, consumer advocacy, agriculture, retail, faith communities, and many more.

Representing 134 food co-ops across the United States, including Abundance Cooperative Market, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) announced in August that it would seek to raise $75,000 in October in its bid to support the campaign. The chief executive officer of NCGA, Robynn Shrader, stated in a press release why the business services cooperative is supporting the advocacy campaign: "Food co-ops exist to serve their members. And the message nationwide from co-op shoppers has been and continues to be clear: shoppers want to know if foods contain GMOs. Whether they choose to buy GMO foods or not, consumers have the right to make informed choices about what they eat." NCGA has partnered with ten manufacturers of Non-GMO Project approved and/or organic certified food products to raise its donation to Just Label It.

The Non-GMO Project

Genetically engineered (GE) foods have been defined by the biotechnology corporation Monsanto as "plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs." Genetically modified crops were first introduced into the United States in 1996. The United States Department of Agriculture reported in 2011 that GMO varieties of plants are being grown on 88% of corn acres, 90% of cotton and sugar beet acres, and 94% of soybean acres.

There are currently no laws in the United States requiring the labeling of food products containing GMOSs, though there is sophisticated labeling of everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents. Many countries today have a regulated system that allows consumers to see what products contain GMOs: Japan, Australia, the European Union, and China. However, the FDA currently holds that food containing GMOs offer no more health risks than their conventional counterparts to consumers.

The Non-GMO Project is the only third-party verification system for labeling non-GMO products in the United States. It was launched in October of 2010 as a platform for raising consumer awareness of the importance of knowing what's in the food they eat.

What you can do

1) Tell New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Louise Slaughter to support Just Label in Congress by visit (If you live outside of Rochester or in another state, the site will direct you to your elected officials.)
2) Watch the Just Label It video "Dining in the Dark" and share it with your friends and family. Encourage them to petition Congress.
3) Stay up to date with alerts on New York State actions at the GMO Free New York website.
4) Like the Just Label It Facebook page.