Friday, October 21, 2011

Anti-GMO protests

Anti-GMO protests heat up this fall
By Monica Eng
October 21, 2011

While last winter brought an unprecedented wave of genetically modified crop approvals from the U.S. government, this fall has brought an unprecedented wave of protests aimed at getting genetically modified foods labeled in the U.S.

Last weekend Right2Know marchers finished up their trek from New York to the White House, where they rallied for mandatory labeling of GMOs in food.

A couple of weeks ago Nature’s Path released its new infographic on GMOs in American food. And before that, Stonyfield Farms CEO Gary Hirshberg launched the broad-based “Just Label It” campaign petitioning the FDA to require GMO labeling similar to provisions in Europe, Japan and elsewhere.

October also happens to be national Non-GMO Awareness month, a designation started last year by the Non-GMO Project, which recently started offering a voluntary, non-GMO seal for products that it verifies to be free of GMOs.

But rather than a voluntary process, many activists want the FDA to require manufacturers to state whether their products contain GMOs. They would also like the FDA to establish a specific testing regimen aimed at ensuring that GMO foods are safe to eat before they are released on the market.

[Read More…]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Labels would scare consumers

State Department: Biotech labeling would scare consumers
By Philip Brasher
DesMoines Register
October 14, 2011

The Obama administration shows no sign of changing the government’s position on labeling of biotech foods despite a renewed effort by consumer advocacy groups and environmental organizations require manufacturers to disclose the use of genetically engineered ingredients.

Jose Fernandez, the State Department’s assistant secretary for economic, energy and business affairs, said today that such labeling would scare consumers away from those foods.

“If you label something there’s an implication there’s something wrong with it,” said Fernandez, speaking on a panel organized by CropLife International, a group that represents Monsanto, DuPont and other biotech giants.

The State Department has been working along with the Agriculture Department to encourage foreign countries to permit the production and use of biotech crops.

The European Union as well as Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and other countries already require biotech food labeling. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has long taken the position that ingredients need not be labeled based on crop breeding methods.

The Center for Food Safety, a group long critical of biotechnology, is leading a coalition called Just Label It! that is urging the FDA to impose a labeling requirement. The effort represents a renewal of an unsuccessful effort that began when biotech corn and soybeans took off in the late 1990s.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Philanthropist questions

Philanthropist questions America’s push of high-tech farming in Africa
By Philip Brasher
Argus Leader Washington Bureau
October 12, 2011

WASHINGTON - The genetically engineered seeds and high-tech farming methods that the United States is pushing poor countries to accept are no solution to hunger by themselves and actually might wind up harming small-scale farmers, philanthropist Howard Buffett said.

Buffett, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett, has worked with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to pay for the development of biotech seeds that could be used in Africa, including drought-tolerant corn.

“Seed is only part of the solution,” Buffett said Wednesday.

“Soil is more important,” he added, noting that African soils are widely degraded and that farmers don’t know how much fertilizer they need even if they can get it.

“Simply distributing seeds without a soil fertility plan will eventually be a disaster,” he told an audience at the annual World Food Prize conference that included scientists, officials from the U.S. government and many developing countries, and several agribusiness CEOs, including Hugh Grant of biotech seed giant Monsanto Co.

Buffett, who operates farms in Illinois and Nebraska, warned that encouraging poor African farmers to adopt U.S. farming methods could push them to abandon the crop diversity their families have long depended on and switch to growing just one crop, such as corn. That would leave the farmers’ families vulnerable if their crops failed or prices for the crop collapsed.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just label it

Just label it
By Doug Gurian-Sherman
Union of Concerned Scientists
October 6, 2011

Genetically engineered (GE) foods have been in our groceries for years, and are found in most processed foods in the U.S. But there is nothing on a box of corn flakes that tells you whether there are GE ingredients in that food—and the GE industry wants it to stay that way.

This is contrary to what the large majority of consumers want. Consumer surveys show that overwhelming majorities (over 90 percent) consistently say that GE content should be disclosed—as documented by a new campaign to require the labeling of GE foods, called “Just Label It!”

The campaign wants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reverse its misguided policy that says food companies cannot be required to disclose the GE content in our foods.

[Read More…]

Will Obama break promise?

Will Barack Obama break his GM food labeling promise?
By Tom Philpott
the Guardian Environment Network
October 6, 2011

As presidential candidate, Barack Obama promised he would force the labeling of GM ingredients in food. But he’s since gone silent on the subject, despite public support for the measure

Back in 2007, a presidential candidate named Barack Obama declared that foods that include ingredients from genetically modified crops should be labeled. As president, he vowed, he would strive to “let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.” (Check out the video from Food Democracy Now above).

The ambitious senator from Illinois was no doubt sensing a popular cause. According to a 2010 poll (PDF) conducted by Reuters Thompson, more than 90 percent of Americans thought GMO-containing foods should be labeled.

As president, Obama has been silent on the issue, as has his FDA, which oversees food labeling. Meanwhile, Obama’s USDA—which oversees farming practices—has been greenlighting GMO crops left and right, even while acknowledging that they generate herbicide-resistant weeds and other troubles.

But a vigorous grassroots pro-labeling movement has been gaining steam for a while, and this week, a coalition of sustainable-food NGOs and organic businesses has launched a campaign to “flood the FDA with comments so they know that the public wants labeling of GE [genetically engineered] foods.”

[Read More…]

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