‘People don’t want to be a GMO Experiment’
313 Mile March for GMO Labeling Ended on World Food Day
Support of FDA Petition JustLabelIt.org Exceeds 300,000
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On October 16, World Food Day, hundreds of people rallied for 5 hours in front of the White House demanding the Obama Administration keep a 2007 campaign promise to enact labeling of genetically engineered foods, also termed “Genetically Modified Organisms” or “GMOs.” The Right2Know March, a new coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals, arrived at the gates of the White House after marching 313 miles and holding dozens of events as they walked from Brooklyn, NY.
“Genetically Engineered foods have never been proven safe for human consumption, which is why they are banned or labeled in most developed countries around the world,” says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO project which sponsored the Right2Know March. Westgate adds, “Most GMOs are engineered for herbicide tolerance, ultimately increasing the amount of toxic chemicals introduced to the environment and to our dinner tables. People have the right to know if they’re eating these experimental organisms. Clear labeling is essential.”
About 500 participants attended the White House rally including numerous food experts, organic industry leaders and concerned citizens. Many spoke out about their frustration with the recent approval of GMO Alfalfa by the Obama Administration. The decision threatens the viability of organic dairies across America due to probable genetic contamination resulting in a loss of organic alfalfa for animals to eat in a few years.
Keynote speaker and Indian Food Democracy activist Vandana Shiva highlighted the dire situation when she said from the rally stage, “The denial of food labeling is linked directly to a food dictatorship by Monsanto Corporation. I feel terrible that the White House with President Obama is doing exactly the same thing as Bush Senior and Bush Junior. We are here to hold Obama to his promise to label GMOs.”
From October 1-16 about 50 people marched 313 miles from NYC to Washington, DC to demand labeling GMOs. Every day, rain or shine, committed marchers carrying balloons and signs asking for GMO labeling would walk 20 miles and sometimes as much as 30 miles through busy cities and small towns, all the while handing out leaflets educating the public on the dangers posed by GMOs. The march brought together people of all ages and backgrounds including German organic food pioneer Joseph Wilhelm who already marched over 800 miles for regulation of GMOs in Europe; Eric Nies from MTV’s the Real World and his dog Sugar Ray; David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps; George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley Coop; author Ashley Koff R.D.; Percy and Louise Schmeiser who famously fought Monsanto over genetic trespass of GMO canola; and many individuals representing moms, kids and seniors.
Speaking about next steps for the Right2Know Coalition, Katherine DiMatteo, representative of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) said today, “The Right2Know March intends to continue to support the Just Label it Campaign. Our goal is to get 1 million signatures for the legal petition being considered by the FDA.”
The Right2Know March encourages people to sign the petition to the FDA at http://www.justlabelit.org/ . Since the petition effort was launched at the beginning of October it has generated over 300,000 citizen signatures in support of GMO labeling.
David Bronner said, “As we marched it became clear that every community from Jersey City, to Trenton, to West Philadelphia, to Amish country, to rural Maryland is concerned about the potential adverse health impacts of GMOs in their food. People we met on the street were universally outraged not knowing if our food is genetically engineered. This outrage matches numerous polls that show 90+ percent of respondents strongly favor the labeling of genetically modified foods.”
The march hosted events at local food coops and on college campuses including the University of Maryland College Park and Maryland Institute College of Art. These events included fun educational games, a non-GMO tea-hut, and music provided by the Sustainable Living Roadshow (SLR) – a group of environmental activists and artists on tour to spread the word about sustainable living. Along with SLR these events featured a brightly painted fire truck which is part of the ALL-ONE Ark non-GMO organic shower and spa experience (AllOneArk.org). The march was sponsored by Rapunzel, Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps, Natures Path, Silk, Organic Valley, Nutiva, Stonyfield Farm, UNFI, Dr. Hauschka, Kamut International, and Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association and Weleda.
“As a brand that has always produced our products without GM ingredients, Silk fully supports the mandatory labeling of GM foods so consumers can make educated food choices,” said Craig Shiesley, general manager of Silk. “We are proud of the Right2Know initiative and the impact it has on both consumers and the current administration.”
Marchers were met with support from local people including farmers donating vegetables and offering marchers a place to sleep. Popular musical group Beats Antique invited marchers and SLR musicians to open for their concert in Philadelphia, and in Washington D.C. the 50 committed marchers were joined by hundreds more including members of Organic Valley Co-op dressed in vegetable costumes.
Nature’s Path supplied the marchers with granola bars, cereal, and bright green t-shirts with a third sleeve that said GMO T-shirts are easy to spot; GMO foods are not. “We are determined to see GMO food labeling. We are excited to see so many mothers on this march because it shows that parents want the ability to choose if their children eat GMOs or not,” said Maria Emmer-Aanes of Natures Path.
Author and TV celebrity Ashley Koff, R.D. who spoke at the rally in Washington DC said, “The Right2Know March wants President Obama to keep his campaign promise made in 2007, which stated 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.’” Video of the President’s campaign promise can be seen at http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/10/fda-labeling-gmo-genetically-modified-foods.
Speaking in New York at the kick-off of the march Michael Hansen, Chief Scientist of Consumers Union said, “Pesticide companies develop Genetically Engineered food crops by combining DNA from plants, animals, bacteria and viruses, to contain or resist pesticide, which results in more pesticides sold and sprayed. Genetically engineered foods can be detrimental to our health, just as they are to the environment and farmers’ livelihoods. American consumers deserve the choice whether they want to eat GMOs, just like their counterparts in Europe and Japan.”
Joseph Wilhelm speaking in front of White House, summed up the march, “No to GMO, yes we can President Obama, keep your promise, label GMOs!”
SOURCE Right2Know March