Our Co-op Supports GMO Labeling

Gary-GMO-Poster-2Monadnock Food Co-op consumers are empowered shoppers who seek out healthy choices for their loved ones, community and the environment. They shop with both their values and concerns in mind, and flex their right to choose one product over another based on these beliefs.

One area where consumer choice is blocked is in the case of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  GMOs are created by taking genetic material from one species, whether plant, animal, bacteria or virus, and transferring it to a different species. This differs from traditional crossbreeding, where the genes of the same or very closely related species are exchanged.   GMO technology allows for the exchange of genes way beyond the species level, with new combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes brought together in never before ways.

In the United States there is no mandatory labeling law of these products, yet GMOs are in 60 – 70% of our processed foods. The Monadnock Food Co-op supports consumers’ right to know if their food contains GMOs and thus we support the New Hampshire House Bill 660: Requiring the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods.

Why should GMO foods be labeled? Irradiated foods are labeled… orange juice from concentrate is labeled…country of origin is labeled — along with 3,000+ other mandatory labels required by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Many of these labels came about due to consumer concerns – not proven health concerns.

Our Member-Owners and shoppers are very concerned about GMOs and reflect what 90% of New Hampshire residents agree with – that they have the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.  Like many, we’re concerned about the long term and unknown impacts of their use.

New Hampshire consumer concern around GMOs is not unique, but is a concern shared nationally and worldwide. Over 90% of Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods, and labeling is mandatory in 64 nations.  Even with this shared consumer concern, the FDA ruled that GMO foods are no different from other foods and therefore does not require mandatory labeling.

“Unfortunately, the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses,” said Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield Farm. “Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide – or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides – is materially different from traditional corn that does not.”

Although the FDA decided that GMO foods are no different from non-GMO foods, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed them patented inventions.  Six chemical companies hold most of these patents (Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont) and created their GMO crops to resist insects and herbicides (herbicides that the chemical companies also produce).  At first, these companies claimed that the use of their GMO crop would decrease the use of herbicides, but instead use of herbicides actually increased.

While many feel there are many reasons to label GMO foods — health and environmental concerns, ethical/religious reasons – there is one reason that is paramount in our eyes, that consumers have the right to know.  We invite everyone to learn more at this free event, “GMOs: What’s in our food” on Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 2pm at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, NH. Gary Hirshberg, who is current Chair of the Just Label It Campaign, will be our Keynote Speaker. For more details, please visit www.monadnockfood.coop/.