GMO Labeling Fight Moves to WA State
From the Oragnic Consumers Association
GMO Labeling Fight Moves to Washington State
Activists in Washington State have been hard at work on I-522, a November 2013 ballot and legislative initiative to require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And they need our help!
Building on our Movement's near-victory in California (where we got 48% of the vote, despite being outspent five to one) the Label It WA team is rushing to meet a December 31, 2012 deadline for signature-gathering. Theyíve already collected 230,000 signatures. But they need 100,000 more by December 31 to make sure they have the 241,153 valid signatures required to get on the ballot in 2013.
This is another critical battle for GMO labeling, one with some strategic advantages we didn't have in California. I-522 already has strong support from Washington farmers, ranchers, and dairies, both organic and conventional, who are up in arms about the economic and environmental threats posed by genetically engineered wheat, apples, and alfalfa. Plus, Washington is far smaller than California in terms of population and registered voters and boasts a powerful network of co-ops, independent natural food stores, and grassroots organizations who are already fully on board with the campaign.
In addition, Washington's new Governor, Jay Inslee, is a longtime Congressional supporter of GE food labeling and organic agriculture. According to Washington State law, if the state legislature feels there is majority support for a ballot initiative, in this case mandatory GE food labeling, they can pass it into law before it goes for a statewide vote in November 2013.
If you live in Washington and can help collect signatures, or are willing to set up a meeting with your state legislator in December to convince him or her to support GMO labeling and I-522, sign up here.
Label It WA also needs money, for paid signature-gatherers, for public education, for coalition-building and to counter the inevitable attacks from Monsanto and Big Food. The Organic Consumers Fund has donated an initial $60,000 to the campaign, but we need to raise more. To support the campaign, donate here.
Monsanto and Big Food would love to see us go away, but the millions of people in California and across this country who fought for Prop 37, the California Right to Know GMO labeling initiative, have made it clear: we are here to stay. How is it that in 60 other countries, citizens have fought for and won this basic right, yet here in the U.S. we continue to let dirty corporate money corrupt our food and our politics?
Letís get I-522 on the ballot in Washington, let's help Washington voters convince their legislators to enact I-522 into law even before November 13, and letís win.
Volunteer in Washington
Follow 'Label It WA' on Facebook
Front page of the New York Times this morning--"Major Grocer to Label Foods With Gene-Modified Content." Whole Foods (not surprisingly) has announced that by 2018, it will require all GM foods sold in its stores will need to be properly labeled. They claim that customers, already, have responded positively (i.e., with their money) when foods are described as non-GM.
The article also mentions the struggles in CA and that similar initiatives have qualified for the ballot in not only WA state, but also MO (of all places!).
Reading such an article is not a bad way to start a lazy Saturday morning after a long week!
two hands together
* Footnote 1: I won't pretend that I don't have issues with Whole Foods. For example, it has a history of being rather anti-union, which--if you cannot tell by my pseudonym--is an issue for me. However, neither will I pretend that I do not regularly shop there. Its anti-union past is a topic for another thread. Kudos to Whole Foods in this (seemingly reasonable and simple) promise to properly label food.
** Footnote 2: For any of you out there living in the Chicago-land area, join the CSA (community supported agriculture). My farm is Genesis Growers--let Farmer Vicki bring you her local, organic (non-GM) veggies and eggs every week! Here is her website: http://www.genesis-growers.com/
Organic Consumers Assoc article
CONTACT: Organic Consumers Association,
Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090
FINLAND, Minn. - The million-strong Organic Consumers Association (OCA), North America's leading watchdog over organic and fair trade standards, said today that it is encouraged by Whole Foods Markets' plan, announced last week, to support consumers' right to know by requiring labeling of all foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its U.S. and Canadian stores by 2018.
However, the OCA called on Whole Foods, the nation's largest national organic foods retailer, to move up its labeling deadline to July 2015, and to take the lead in the organic industry to end deceptive labeling practices by requiring all the stores' products that include the word "natural" in their labeling or packaging to be GMO-free.
"We are pleased that Whole Foods has finally recognized consumers' right to know about GMOs," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the OCA. "This is a major victory for U.S. consumers who have for far too long been denied basic information which would enable them to make safe, healthy food choices. This also represents a major defeat for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry who have been deceiving consumers since they first conspired more than 20 years ago with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to falsely convince consumers that genetically modified foods are no different than foods that don't contain organisms created by manipulating DNA in laboratories or by injecting seeds with bacteria and pesticides."
But the Whole Foods plan does not go far enough, Cummins said. "We ask that Whole Foods step up its timetable for GMO labeling, to coincide with the July 2015 deadline prescribed by I-522, the citizens' initiative for GMO labeling in Washington State. We also call on Whole Foods to stop selling products that contain GMOs under the misleading "natural" label, and to require any product in its store called "natural" be GMO-free."
Washington's I-522 is expected to pass in November 2013, becoming the first statewide mandatory GMO labeling law. The law establishes July 2015 as the deadline for compliance. Whole Foods Markets already complies with the U.K.'s mandatory GMO labeling law in its seven stores in that country.
Whole Foods came under fire last year when the company dragged its feet in supporting Proposition 37, California's Right to Know GMO Labeling citizens' initiative. In October, CEO John Mackey confirmed in a blog post that Whole Foods stores knowingly sell Monsanto's genetically modified corn, without labeling it.
Last week, the OCA launched a new nationwide campaign: Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA). The new alliance will aggressively promote organic food and products, and expose and eliminate the rampant "natural" labeling and marketing fraud that has slowed the growth of America's $30-billion dollar organic sector.
"Routine mislabeling and marketing fraud has confused millions of U.S. consumers, and enabled the so-called "natural" foods and products sector to grow into a $60-billion- a-year powerhouse, garnering twice as many sales in 2012 as certified organic products," said Cummins. "It's time we stopped allowing food companies to market unhealthy food products, containing GMOs, pesticides, and synthetic and chemical compounds, as "natural," and we call on Whole Foods Market to take the first step."
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.
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