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Citizens Arrest the Advance of Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs): Landmark Study Arms Shoppers with Knowledge to Identify Safe Food

For more information about the study mentioned in this article, please contact the Park Slope Food Co-op.

BROOKLYN, NY. APRIL 27:  The findings of an exhaustive study by members of the Park Slope Food Coop are being released so as to give consumers a way of protecting themselves from the adverse effects of genetically modified organisms in food. The study vetted the contents of the roughly 8,000 edible products stocked at the thriving Coop's store. It aimed to identify ingredients in the categories of produce on which genetic modification is practiced.

This is the first effort in NY State to provide consumers with the basis on which to make informed decisions about the presence of harmful ingredients in their food. Greg Todd, chair of the Coop's Safe Food Labeling Committee, noted that "Food is supposed to be nourishing, not illness producing, but until we could determine whether there were GMOs in our food or not, we couldn't make healthy choices."  Among the possible dangers found by researchers are organ damage, increases in allergies and genetic pollution.  (Source  --

After excluding certified organic products, which cannot include GMOs, and those produced in the European Union where safe cultivation is enforced, the study identified 555 products with ingredients from the GMO risk categories. A series of letters was mailed to the producers requesting verification of whether, in fact, genetically modified (GM) source material was, was not, or possibly was, part of their products.

Of these, 93 products were attested to as being free of GMOs. Producers of 9 products admitted the presence of GMOs among the ingredients, while the producers of a further 64 products identified them as "possibly" containing GMOs because they could not state with certainty that their products did NOT contain genetically modified source material. The remaining 393 products were included in the "possibly containing GMOs" category by default, because their producers declined to respond to the three-phased mailing. Apparently a state of denial characterizes the majority of producers' approach to GMOs.

The production of GMO affected foods was not confined to the large food corporations. It was evident among some of the 'health conscious' producers as well. "It's indicative of how pervasive these dangerous substances are becoming," said food industry chemist Gregg Bromberg, who is also a committee member. At this time, GM ingredients appear in 60 -70% of foods sold in the U.S.

The need for this time-consuming and labor-intensive study arose from the absence of any legal requirement for the identification of GMOs on food labeling. Like the financial industry, the food and drug industries have experienced several years of poor regulation and enforcement, with consumers being the biggest losers. "We felt it was vitally important to protect fellow members and citizens by accepting personal responsibility for properly identifying what we put into ourselves", said Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and Safe Food Labeling Committee member, Nancy Siesel.

"What this situation desperately calls for is a Federal law requiring producers to disclose the genetic status of their product ingredients. That way, everyone can make informed food decisions right at the point of purchase", said General Manager of the Park Slope Food Coop, Joe Holtz. He praised the work of the committee and urged the continued scrutiny of labels "because, at present, manufacturers can change ingredients faster than we can discover that they did so."

For more information contact:         
Greg Todd on 718 496 5139                         
or Gregg Bromberg