What’s In A Name? Support Food Transparency! Join the GE Labeling Campaign In Chicago

December 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

What’s in a name? During this holiday season, you can be an “Iphone Advocate” and take action by signing this petition for GE Labeling in Chicago which is not a determination of the pros or cons of GE Foods but a call for food transparency!!!

Most of you who read The Local Beet are well informed in sustainable food issues and realize that the “GE” in the title refers to Genetically Engineered Foods. Wikipedia defines GE foods accordingly:

Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as genetically modified crops. GMOs have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.  Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding. ” Food and Water Watch defines GE Foods as “ altered with inserted genetic material — to exhibit traits that repel pests or withstandthe application of herbicides.” Here is FWW’s overview piece on GE Foods.

I am not here to debate the pros and cons of GE Foods, Ellen Malloy and Grant Kessler of the 100MealProject have gone down that path the farthest and with the most transparency and open-mindedness of anyone I am aware of.  Ellen and Grant went to the extent of visiting Monsanto. If you go and read their commentaries you will find that the topic of the benefits and dangers of GE foods is complicated! FWW who has made sure to have impeccable research has these papers on 1) The Greenwashing of GE Crops 2) How GE Crops Hurt Farmers.

What the GE Labeling campaign focuses on is transparency. We, the consumer, deserve the right to know how our foods are grown. In order to force better transparency, it is up to us, the consumer to push for that at a grassroots level. Most consumers support GE Labeling. History will show the results of GE foods, while the pros and cons are debated and studied, the consumer at least deserves a right to be aware of GE foods in the food supply and on the grocery store shelves and be able to make their own choice. One of the benefits of shopping at a farmers market like The Green City Market is that they have done the vetting of the farmers and the food for you. The labeling campaign is to make food transparency available on a larger scale when it comes to GE crops.

Food and Water Watch Chicago is spearheading a campaign for  a non-binding resolution before the Chicago City Council to support GE Labeling. If you are in favor of this, you can show your support by signing the Food and Water Watch petition here. If you represent an organization and want to show your organization’s support, you can email Jessica Fujan of Chicago FWW at jfujan@fwwatch.org.

Chicago has long been a national leader in promoting, producing, and consuming local, sustainable foods.  The campaign asks that the Chicago City Council takes the next logical step in food leadership by representing the consumer and urging the state legislature to make GE Labeling the Law.

Where does this legislation currently stand? On a state level, in Illinois over 3,000 people have signed the petition calling for GE Labeling and 750 of those are from Chicago. Rep. Deb Mell and Senator Dave Koehler will both introduce legislation that would make GE labeling the law.

In Chicago, we have the opportunity to send a strong message to all our local representatives by passing a resolution through City Council. Aldermen Walter Burnett, Bob Fioretti, Joe Moreno, John Arenas, Joe Moore, James Cappleman, James Balcer, and Rey Colon have all committed to supporting this resolution.  If your alderman isn’t on this list, get their attention by signing this petition. Currently, Alderman Bob Fioretti is introducing it to the Committee on Licensing and Consumer Protection.

If you want to get further informed on the Chicago Labeling Campaign, there will be a meeting this Monday, the 17th at 6:30pm at Sandwich Me In - 3037 North Clark Street. You’ll get updated about the campaign and talk about what you can specifically do to secure the win.

For further information on the effects of GE foods, Genna Reed of FWW wrote a blog post on the first long term GE Food study results are in and they are not pretty. One of the most cited studies on the effects of GE Foods is a feeding study on rats by Eric Seralini, called “The Seralini Study” which Tim Schwab of FWW covered here. It’s complicated!!