200+ Groups Call on President Obama to Keep Campaign Pledge to Label GMOs
More than 200 organizations and businesses called on President Barack Obama today to uphold his 2007 campaign pledge to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. Congressional champions for GE labeling, led by Rep. DeFazio (D-OR), held a press conference in support of a letter sent to President Obama. Congressional leaders were joined by Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group (EWG), Just Label It and other supporters of GE labeling.
“Regardless of age, income, education level or even party affiliation, Americans want the right to choose for themselves,” the letter states. “Two state legislatures have already approved GE labeling, and more than 20 other states are considering GE labeling laws. While we will continue to support state labeling efforts, we believe there should be a national mandatory labeling system.”
"In 2007, during a campaign stop in Iowa, President Obama pledged to give Americans the right to know whether they are eating genetically engineered food,” said Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now, who captured then-Sen. Obama’s pledge on video. “It’s time for the President to fulfill his commitment.”
“President Obama has long argued that transparency is essential for ensuring public trust," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety. “We couldn’t agree more. American consumers want and deserve mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods."
"Relying on companies to voluntarily disclose the presence of GE ingredients is simply not enough,” said Kimbrell.
Rep. DeFazio and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) introduced common sense legislation in 2013 to compel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement a mandatory labeling policy. The FDA has the authority to require food companies to disclose the presence of these novel food ingredients, and the agency has already required labeling for more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes.
“In advance of this year’s State of the Union address, we urge President Obama to fulfill his commitment to require GE labeling and to add the U.S. to the list of 64 other nations that have given their consumers the right to know what is in their food,” said Ken Cook, president and cofounder of EWG. “Corporations should not be allowed to withhold this kind of information from the public.”
“FDA has a duty to act when the absence of labeling would leave consumers confused about the foods they buy,” said Violet Batcha, communications and social media manager of the Just Label It campaign. “It's been more than a decade since FDA approved voluntary GE labeling, and consumers are more confused than ever.”
“This is not an effort to stop GMO's, nor to mark them with a skull and crossbones—it is simply an exercise of our rights as citizens to know what we are buying and to be able to choose the ways that our foods are grown,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman and cofounder of Stonyfield Farm.
In 2011, Center for Food Safety, on behalf of Just Label It and 22 organizations and businesses, submitted a legal petition to the FDA providing a blueprint for a national mandatory labeling policy.
“National polls show that 93 percent of Americans support GMO labeling,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. “Consumers increasingly want to know how their food is produced."
Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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