Today, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) is disheartened by the defeat of Washington State’s I-522 ballot initiative, which would have required foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) sold in the state to be labeled. NCGA has long been a supporter of GMO labeling on the national level. The I-522 effort was led in part by Washington State-based PCC Natural Markets, an NCGA-member co-op.
The initiative was modeled on the most common global GMO labeling standards and has garnered support from a diverse group of farmers, health professionals and consumer advocates who believe Washington shoppers have the right to know what’s in their food. Despite grassroots support, the measure was narrowly defeated at polls on November 5.
“Though the initiative was defeated, we thank PCC, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Center for Food Safety's Action Fund, Organic Consumers Association and its Organic Consumers Fund, Mercola.com Health Resources, Presence Marketing, Nutiva and all of the other supporters of I-522 for their work in this important area and remain hopeful that increased consumer awareness and demand will ultimately lead to the labeling of GMO foods, not only in Washington State, but across the nation,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “Regardless of your position on GMO foods, there’s no arguing that people want to know when food contains GMOs so they can make their own informed decisions.”
Since their emergence in the 1980s, GMO foods have remained a controversial topic. The initiative was put to a ballot vote as a result of growing consumer demand for GMO labeling, including 340,000 Washington State resident signatures. According to the Just Label It campaign a national coalition of more than 650 organizations, over 90% of Americans want foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to be labeled.
“In absence of GMO labeling, we encourage consumers concerned about GMOs to look to the USDA certified organic seal,” said Shrader. “The National Organic Program prohibits the use of GMOs in all certified organic foods, and the seal is the gold standard for consumers looking for GMO-free foods. Other options include avoiding ingredients that have a high likelihood of containing GMOs or looking for third-party certifications such as the Non-GMO Project label.”
NCGA has been working for years on a national level to ensure food 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.