Mar 21 2012

New Campaign Gathers Signatures for GMO Labeling Via Ballot Box

Feature Stories | Published 21 Mar 2012, 10:17 am | Comments Off on New Campaign Gathers Signatures for GMO Labeling Via Ballot Box -

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Dozens of protesters in Davis, California on Friday shut down an office of the giant biotechnology company, Monsanto, to draw attention to genetically modified foods. The Occupy Davis action was fueled by claims that Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds could potentially disrupt the world’s food supply. Like most critics of GMOs, the protesters are demanding the labeling of genetically modified foods so that the public can decide whether or not to consume them.

Now, a growing movement across the country, and here in California, is calling for labeling, via the ballot box. A ballot measure aimed at this November’s election on GMO labeling has been sponsored by the Committee for the “Right to Know” – a grassroots coalition of consumer, public, health, environmental organizations and food companies in California.

The group is in the process of gathering 800,000 signatures before April 22nd in order get their measure onto the 2012 Ballot, which would explicitly require all genetically modified foods sold in retail outlets to be labeled as such. A recent study by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, found that nationwide, 80 percent of packaged foods contain genetically engineered ingredients. However, because they are not labeled, consumers remain ignorant. The US is far behind other industrialized nations – currently, all the European Union countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Russia require GMO labeling.

Recent polls show that 9 out of 10 Americans want genetically modified foods to be labeled, a simple step that would have no foreseeable cost impacts on food producers or consumers. However, producers of GMOs like Monsanto, vehemently oppose labeling. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the organic yogurt producer Stonyfield Farms, says the California initiative “gives a voice to the consumer-driven food economy that wants transparency that only labeling can bring.” A number of other states are also considering labeling laws and initiatives including Connecticut, Vermont, Washington and Hawaii.

GUEST: Gary Ruskin, Campaign Manager for the California Right to Know Ballot Initiative

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