Wednesday, April 10, 2013

NCGA Urges All Vendor Partners to Support GMO Labeling Initiatives

      Continued From Last Post.

    As just mentioned, the National Cooperative Grocers Association5 (NGCA),
a business services cooperative that represents 134 retail food co-ops across
the US, sent out a letter on February 28 restating its support of GMO
labeling, urging consumers to contact manufacturers directly with their
concerns, and encouraging their vendor partners to “consider the kind of
statement and negative impact that an organization makes by supporting or
donating to campaigns designed to prevent the labeling of GMOs, whether on a
state or national level.”

    This is yet another sign that retailers and food manufacturers who
opposed prop 37 have indeed been paying the price. Take the Cheerios fiasco,
for example. General Mills spent over $1.1 million to deceive their customers
by defeating Prop 37, and the backlash was significant. When General Mills'
Cheerios brand released a Facebook app last December asking "fans" to "show
what Cheerios means to you,” thousands used the app to express their disgust
over the company's betrayal.

    I believe we can expect far fewer brands to engage in biotech’s fight in
future state initiatives. They really were not expecting the consumer
backlash that followed in the wake of Prop 37, and are likely to be far less
willing to take another bullet. The NGCA’s letter to their vendor partners
reads in part:

        “There was substantial consumer backlash from manufacturer financial
support of campaigns to prevent GMO labeling in California. Now, campaigns
calling for state level labeling of GMOs are active in a growing number of
many other states. Many NCGA co-ops are supporting these campaigns and are
also considering one or more of the following actions related to GMOs in food
on a local level: discontinuing or boycotting items from companies that
support antilabeling campaigns or whose products contain common GMO
ingredients; excluding items that contain common GMO ingredients from store-
level promotions and new item programs; and/or shifting more of their product
assortment focus to certified organic brands.

        ...We believe GMO labeling will be a reality in the coming years and
hope your organization will join us by showing leadership in this area
through support of consumers' right to information to make informed purchase

Organic Consumers Association Calls on Whole Foods to Move Up Labeling

    Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! who
served as co-chair of Prop 37, has criticized Whole Foods timeline, saying
“Americans need labeling of GMO foods today, not five years down the road,”6
adding that “had they supported Prop 37 sooner, Americans may have labeling
right now.”

    Similarly, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) issued a response to
Whole Foods’ plan on March 117 stating that, while it is encouraged by the
plan, the five-year timeline is too long. The OCA urges Whole Foods to move
up its labeling deadline to July 2015, and to “take the lead in the organic
industry to end deceptive labeling practices by requiring all the stores'
products that include the word 'natural' in their labeling or packaging to be
GMO-free.” According to the OCA press release:

        “Washington's I-522 is expected to pass in November 2013, becoming
the first statewide mandatory GMO labeling law. The law establishes July 2015
as the deadline for compliance. Whole Foods Markets already complies with the
U.K.'s mandatory GMO labeling law in its seven stores in that country. Whole
Foods came under fire last year when the company dragged its feet in
supporting Proposition 37, California's Right to Know GMO Labeling citizens'
initiative. In October, CEO John Mackey confirmed in a blog post that Whole
Foods stores knowingly sell Monsanto's genetically modified corn, without
labeling it.”

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