NCG Calls for Mandatory Labeling of GMO Apple

Feb 18, 2015

Today, National Co+op Grocers (NCG) expresses its continued objection to the lack of mandatory, federally enforced labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in light of the deregulation announcement last week for Arctic® apple, a variety of apple developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in Canada, that has been genetically modified to resist browning when cut or bruised.

“The deregulation announcement for Arctic apples is the latest example of a GMO being allowed into the food system without a mandatory, federally enforced label,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCG. “Shoppers deserve the right to know what's in the food they buy, including whether or not food contains GMOs. Clear and proper labeling of food containing GMOs is key to empowering consumers to make informed purchase decisions.”

Arctic apples received “deregulated status” from the U.S. government, which means they may be grown by farmers the same as any other food crop. Okanagan Specialty Fruits achieved deregulated status by submitting a request to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which has previously regulated the apple as a potential plant pest. Following two public comment periods, USDA decided to deregulate the crop.

While Arctic apples will not carry a GMO label, those sold in their whole, fresh state will have an Arctic branded label. These brand labels may not include a reference to genetic modification. Apples that are sold pre-sliced or to food service retailers and establishments will not necessarily carry the Arctic brand or GMO label.

“Shoppers who wish to avoid the Arctic apple and other GMO foods can continue to look for the USDA organic label. Buying certified organic is one of the most reliable ways to avoid GMOs,” said Shrader.

However, the deregulation of the Arctic apple could put certified organic apple farms adjacent to Arctic apple farms at risk. If an organic farm and a farm growing genetically engineered crops are located near each other, their crops will likely be cross-pollinated by the same bees or wild pollinating insects, forcing organic farmers to take extra measures to prevent contamination. This remains an unaddressed issue with GMO crops.

Since their emergence in the 1980s, GMO foods have remained a controversial topic. However, according to the Just Label It campaign, a national coalition of more than 650 organizations, over 90% of Americans want foods containing GMOs to be labeled.

NCG has been working for years on a national level to ensure labels provide consumers with information about what is in their food and where it comes from. The organization is also an active supporter of the Just Label It campaign, which calls for the mandatory, federally enforced labeling of GMOs. Last week, NCG expressed its support for The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act of 2015 (H.R. 913, S. 511) , introduced Feb. 12 in the U.S. House and Senate with a renewed call for mandatory federal labeling of genetically modified foods and ingredients.

About NCG

National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 143 member and associate co-ops operate more than 190 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales over $1.7 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.

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