Groceries

Efforts to bring about national labeling regulations for foods containing genetically modified ingredients sold in the U.S. were strengthened by the recent announcement of a collaborative partnership between the Environmental Working Group and Organic Voices.

Organic Voices, headed up by Stonyfield Farm founder and chairman Gary Hirshberg, spearheaded the Just Label It Campaign in 2011, which has been instrumental in initiating consumer awareness about health and environmental issues connected with GMOs. So far, the Just Label It campaign has sent more than 1.2 million petition signatures to the FDA asking for labels on GMO foods. The U.S. is on the only developed country without any regulations on GMOs.

EWG has been educating consumers on environmental and public health issues for 20 years, including the benefits of eating and growing organic food. The group has also advocated for policies that support more transparent food and farm systems. EWG is well known for its annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” produce shopping guides that ranks fruits and vegetables based on their total pesticide load.

“This new collaboration will carry out our shared goals and build on the strengths of both organizations,” said Hirshberg in a statement. “By working together, we believe that EWG and Organic Voices can educate and empower consumers about the benefits of organic food and GE labeling and bolster our advocacy efforts in Washington.”

Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at EWG and Organic Voices’ executive director said organic food and farming has significant benefits to the environment, and helping consumers to understand the benefits to organics is a significant factor in GMO education and awareness. “We want to see this sector grow and also help consumers understand that only organic guarantees that food has been produced without synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or GE ingredients.”

The campaign also believes there is precedent within the FDA for the agency to create GMO regulations. The FDA has done this with several other label issues including irradiation and country of origin labeling. “This is a pivotal time for GE labeling,” said Ken Cook, president of EWG and a board member of Organic Voices. “More than 20 states will debate GE labeling legislation this year, and many food industry leaders recognize that it is time for the United States to join 62 other nations that already require GE labeling on packaged foods.”

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