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Labels on Genetically Modified Foods: Let the Voters Decide!

July 6, 2011
Organic Consumers Association
by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins

Reason #1 - The Voters Agree: If Genetically Modified Organisms Are Used to Produce Food, the Food Should Be Labeled "GMO"!

Poll after poll has shown that most consumers want to know whether their food includes engineered ingredients.

The results of an MSNBC poll that posed the question, "Do you believe genetically modified foods should be labeled?" indicate that nearly all Americans believe that foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should indeed be labeled.

Of the more than 45,000 people who participated in the poll, over 96% answered "Yes. It's an ethical issue -- consumers should be informed so they can make a choice."

It's not news that most Americans support labeling of GMO foods. Since genetically modified foods were first introduced in mid-1990s, scores of public opinion polls have shown that the vast majority of consumers want mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods. These include recent polls by CBS News/New York Times, NPR/Thomson Reuters and the Consumers Union.

Reason #2 - We Need to Bypass the Federal Government, Given that Monsanto Has Bribed Politicians & Infiltrated Regulatory Agencies

Monsanto spent more than $1 million on the 2010 election cycle, splitting its contributions evenly between state and federal candidates. It spends much more on lobbying -- more than $8 million in each of the last three years. Monsanto's money has bought it influence and allowed it to move its lawyers and scientists through the revolving door into roles within the regulatory agencies. The USDA, FDA and State Department is full of appointees with connections to Monsanto. Monsanto's efforts have successfully stifled attempts in Congress and state legislatures to pass GMO labeling legislation.

Reason #3 - We Need High-Profile Statewide Campaigns to Wake Up Consumers Who Don't Even Know What GMOs Are

A 2006 survey conducted by the Pew Initiative for Food and Biotechnology found that only 26 per cent of respondents thought that they had ever eaten GM food, even though most Americans have likely consumed GMOs in the last few hours. Just about all sweetened processed foods and drinks, from soda to ketchup to yogurt, contain genetically modified high fructose corn syrup or sugar made from genetically modified sugar beets. As many packaged and prepared foods sold at grocery stores and restaurants contain genetically modified vegetable oils (often in the form of dangerous trans fats) made from Monsanto's corn, soy, cotton or canola.

Reason #4 - Winning GMO Labels in Even One Big State Could Change Packaging Nationally

Even if just one big state made GMO labels mandatory, the practice would quickly spread across the country, both because it will be more convenient for big companies marketing nationally to use the same packaging, and because they'll get pressure from consumers to respect their right to know, in every state.