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02
Feb

Beyond Pesticides Joins Consumer-Backed Effort to Label GE Food

(Beyond Pesticides, February 2, 2011) Beyond Pesticides has partnered with the Just Label It (JLI) campaign, which is made up of a broad-based coalition of 460 partner organizations demanding that consumers have the right to know what is in our food. The campaign has already generated over a half-million consumer comments in support of a petition which calls for food that is produced with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients to disclose this information on the label. The petition was filed with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and written by attorneys at the Center for Food Safety. Sign the petition and submit your comments at www.justlabelit.org/takeaction.

Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products containing GE ingredients in an effort to sway consumer demand. The European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia, and China, require labeling for GE foods. Recently, the German corporation BASF announced that it would stop developing genetically engineered products targeting the European market, in part due to low consumer demand. Given that a that 93% of Americans support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, Beyond Pesticides believes that we can have the same impact here as in Europe.

In addition, the Just Label It campaign recently released a video by Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner. Stonyfield Farm Chairman Gary Hirshberg, a founder of JLI who was in Food, Inc., approached Mr. Kenner on behalf of the campaign to partner on the video:

“‘Labels Matter’ captures my conviction that consumers have the right to know what is in their food,” said Kenner, who produced and directed the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentary Food, Inc. “Labels Matter” is a part of Mr. Kenner’s FixFood project, a social media platform to empower Americans to take immediate action to create a more sustainable and democratic food system.

Organizers of the Just Label It (JLI) campaign predict that consumer demand for mandatory GE labeling is only going to get louder as FDA prepares to approve GE salmon and a proposal advances at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deregulate corn engineered to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a major component in Agent Orange.

In the video, three consumers share why they want to know what is in the food they eat. One is a mother whose child developed an allergic reaction to breakfast. Another is a pregnant woman who knows what she eats affects her developing fetus. The third has recently had a heart attack and wants to monitor what she eats.

“While the pros and cons of GE foods are debated, an entire generation is growing up consuming them,” said Mr. Hirshberg. “Until we have no doubt that GE crops are safe to eat, consumers should have a choice about whether we want to eat them. GE foods must be labeled. Consumers need to know.”

The best way to avoid genetically engineered foods in the marketplace is by purchasing foods that have the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Seal. Under organic certification standards, genetically modified organisms and their byproducts are prohibited. For many other reasons, organic products are the right choice for consumers.

Unfortunately, the current lax regulations on genetically engineered crops in the U.S. presents a unique risk to organic growers. Wind-pollinated and bee-pollinated crops, such as corn and alfalfa, have high risks of cross pollination between GE crops and unmodified varieties. No provision exists to effectively protect organic farms from contamination, although EPA has required “refuges” or non-GE planted barriers around sites planted with GE crops.

About Just Label It
The JUST LABEL IT: We Have the Right to Know campaign is dedicated to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, also referred to as genetically modified, or GMOs. The JUST LABEL IT message is simple: consumers have a right to know what is in our food so we can make informed choices about what we eat and feed our families. At the Just Label It website, (www.justlabelit.org/takeaction), people can submit a comment to FDA in support of the petition.

About Robert Kenner
Director Robert Kenner has won an array of awards and garnered rave reviews for his documentary work exposing some of today’s least-talked-about, but most impactful, social and environmental issues. Considered a craftsman of documentaries, Kenner is also a public speaker on environmental, social, health, and political issues. His documentary, Food, Inc. won two Emmys and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Take Action: Sign the petition and submit your comments at www.justlabelit.org/takeaction.

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