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News ::
Boston Citizens Label GMO Food at Star Market
30 Oct 2001
The FDA has refused to take responsibility for safety testing and labeling genetically engineered food. Instead they have called for voluntary labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Citizens began volunteering for this activity nationwide today, placing warning labels on foods containing soy, corn, canola and cottonseed oil.
Boston Residents Label Products to Highlight FDA’s Failure to Safety Test and Label Genetically Engineered Food
Day Marks National Launch of Citizen’s Labeling Brigade

Boston, MA— Citizens in at least 11 cities across America today took to grocery store aisles to label foods suspected of containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. In doing so, they launched a new volunteer movement committed to guaranteeing the public the ability to know what is in their food. In this National Day of Action, community groups used stickers to place warning labels on food products. The labels indicate foods that may contain genetically engineered ingredients, which have not been independently safety tested by the federal government. In Boston, citizens labeled shelves at the Fenway Star Market.

“We are here to uphold the consumer’s right to know that certain ingredients in their food have not undergone adequate, independent safety testing,” said Linda Setchell, Safe Foods Campaign coordinator for Clean Water Action. “The FDA is not telling consumers if they are eating genetically engineered food, Star Market has refused to tell its customers — so we are.”

During the past year Shaw’s and Star Market have received over 10,000 postcards from concerned customers calling for the removal of genetically engineered ingredients from Shaw’s brand products. However, Shaw’s headquarters and even local store managers have refused to meet with their customers or Safe Foods Campaign representatives. Shaw’s and Star Market’s parent company, Sainsbury, removed genetically engineered ingredients from their UK products in 1999, but are refusing to do it here in the US.

“We’ve politely asked Shaw’s and Star Market to address our concerns for over a year to no avail,” said Cambridge resident Margaret Beck. “If their parent company Sainsbury can rid 60% of products on their shelves of genetically engineered ingredients, why can’t they do the same here in the US?”

Volunteers were in the aisles of grocery stores in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Arizona, Burlington, Long Island, Rhode Island and Boston. In Boston, volunteers labeled food products such as cereals, pancake mixes, and granola bars while others handed out information about the FDA’s failure to both safety test and label genetically engineered food.

Thirty-two countries have laws requiring food producers to label any foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, including China, Russia, Japan, New Zealand Australia and all 15 countries of the European Union. By contrast, the Food and Drug Administration has chosen to ignore over 600,000 comments and has proposed only a ‘voluntary’ labeling standard for genetically engineered foods.

“The FDA allows voluntary labeling of genetically engineered food so we are here to voluntarily label these experimental foods,“ said Jessica Hayes, of Genetic Engineering Action Network. “Consumers deserve the right to know if there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food and the right to say no.”

The action in Boston comes the day before the MA Joint Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment takes action on two bills filed last year calling for a five year planting moratorium on genetically engineered food (HR 2007) and for the biotech industry to be held liable for any harm to human health or the environment (HR 3385).

“The Massachusetts legislature has a terrific opportunity to pass groundbreaking legislation in MA regarding genetically engineered food,” remarked Dan Feder, an Allston resident. “A five year planting moratorium would give scientists the opportunity to examine both the human health and environmental effects of releasing genetically engineered organisms into our food supply and the wild.”

In a recent ABC News poll (June 2001), 93 percent of respondents said they wanted mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Food producers, farmers and consumers worldwide have shunned genetically engineered crops because of concerns over the potential adverse health and environmental effects. Genetically engineered foods have undergone no long- term safety testing. However, initial evaluations of those genetically engineered crops now on the market reveal unpredictable effects on wildlife and the potential to cause allergic reactions in humans.

Members of the public interested in carrying out their own voluntary labeling of genetically engineered foods can get advice, stickers and inspiration at www.labelthis.org.






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