WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Just Label It (JLI), a project of Organic Voices, today launched its national “Conceal or Reveal” campaign to publicly identify well-known brand-name food companies that are funding state and federal efforts to block mandatory GMO labeling.
Consumers have trusted many of these brands for generations and most don’t know that the same companies are spending millions to keep them from finding out what foods contain genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. The first company to be identified is Quaker Oats, whose parent company, PepsiCo, has alone spent $8.8 million to oppose grassroots GMO labeling referendums in four states.
Polls consistently show that 92 percent of Americans want GMO labeling. Just Label It believes that the federal Food and Drug Administration has an obligation to inform the public of processes or ingredients that alter or materially change food in ways that are not obvious. Familiar examples include existing requirements to label orange juice made from concentrate and farm-raised fish.
“It should be my decision whether or not to feed my children foods produced with GMOs,” said Anna Lappé, bestselling author, healthy food advocate and mother of two. “I can do that if they are labeled organic, but otherwise the only way I’ll know whether a food contains GMOs is if it’s labeled.”
Unlike the United States, 64 nations around the world – including the European Union, most of Asia and even China and Russia – require mandatory labeling of GMO’s, and most large U.S. food producers comply with those requirements overseas. Just Label It, along with its more than 700 corporate and non-profit supporters, wants them to do the same here at home.
JLI identified Quaker Oats first because the brand has a strong reputation among mothers as a producer of healthy snacks and other foods, but it is actively working to keep parents and other consumers from knowing whether its products are genetically modified.
“Because of corporate lobbying we now have a bill pending in Congress that would essentially permanently deny the public’s right to know whether food contains GMOs,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It and chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Farm. “These companies should stop concealing and start revealing how they grow our food and respect their customers’ desire to know and choose.”
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 – dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act by those who support labeling, “codifies our broken voluntary labeling system and blocks mandatory labeling,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It. “Companies have been able to voluntarily label GMOs since 2001, but they aren’t doing it – and consumers are more confused than ever.”
If passed, the DARK Act would effectively keep the federal government from ever requiring labeling and prevent existing state-level mandates, such as Vermont’s, from taking effect. It would also prohibit all other states from imposing mandatory labeling.
“Because of GMOs, many Americans are exposed every day to glyphosate, a probable cancer-causing herbicide that’s in our air, water, soil and food,” added Hirshberg. “The unnecessary and increasing use of herbicides is a direct result of the proliferation of GMOs. Without mandatory labeling, the public has no chance to reject this chemical treadmill.”
Glyphosate is the herbicide most widely used with GMO crops and was recently classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. The proliferation of GMO crops has led to a sixteen-fold increase in agricultural use of glyphosate since the 1990’s. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is now present in 60-100 percent of the rain in Midwest farming communities, and according to a recent report by Reuters, tests have found it in samples of breast milk and baby formula.
Just Label It is calling on Americans to ask Quaker Oats, PepsiCo and other popular food brands to stop funding anti-labeling efforts and stand with the overwhelming number of Americans who support mandatory GMO labeling. Consumers can join the “Conceal or Reveal” campaign by going to www.justlabelit.org/quaker.
JLI’s campaign comes on the heels of a federal court ruling allowing the Vermont labeling law - the first in the nation - to proceed, keeping it on track to go into effect in July 2016.
ABOUT JUST LABEL IT
Just Label It is a project of Organic Voices, which was formed in 2011 to educate and empower consumers by promoting the benefits of organic food and advocating for mandatory GMO labeling. Without mandatory labeling, the public cannot make informed choices about what they eat and the marketplace lacks the information needed to make decisions about innovations that meet consumer demand. Just Label It comprises more than 700 corporate and NGO supporters.