(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2011) In two weeks, a diverse coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals will begin to march from the Historic Flatbush Food Co-op in Brooklyn, NY to the gates of the White House to ask the Obama Administration to support labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The GMO Right2Know March will feature daily events between New York and Washington, DC October 1-16 as hundreds of marchers are expected to walk part or all of the 313 miles to the White House. The route and details on daily events can be viewed here.
“Pesticide companies develop genetically engineered food crops by combining DNA from plants, animals, bacteria and viruses, to contain or resist pesticide, which results in more pesticides sold and sprayed,” says Michael Hansen, Ph.D, chief scientist of Consumers Union. “Genetically engineered foods contain untested novel foreign compounds that can be detrimental to our health, just as they are to the environment and farmers’ livelihoods. American consumers deserve the choice whether they want to eat GMOs, just like their counterparts in Europe and Japan,” says Hansen who will join the Oct 1 NYC Right2Know March kick-off rally at Prospect Park at 11am to 1pm followed by marchers walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to the United Nations.
In addition to daily marching, the following are major events planned by the Right2Know March:
”¢RALLY — 1 Oct R2K Kick Off Event, 11am — 1pm Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY
”¢RALLY — 3 Oct, 10:45-11:45am Autumn Harvest Health Food 1625 East 2nd St, Scotch — Plains, NJ
”¢MEET-UP — 3 Oct, 4pm — 5pm George Street Coop Natural Foods 89 Morris St, New Brunswick, NJ
”¢RALLY — 4 Oct, 2:15 -3:15pm Whole Earth Center 360 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ
”¢MEET-UP — 5 Oct, 12:45 — 1:45pm Big Bear Natural Foods 322 West Trenton Ave #1, Morrisville, PA
”¢NON-GMO FOAM RALLY — 6 Oct, 3:35 — 4:05pm Weavers Way Coop 559 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA
”¢MEET-UP — 6 Oct, 7:05 — 8:05pm Mariposa Food Coop 4726 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia, PA
”¢RALLY — 7 Oct, 12 noon — midnight — The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum, 3819 Hamilton St. Philadelphia, PA
”¢MEET-UP — 8 Oct, 11:45 — 12:45pm Martindale Natural Market 1172 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, PA
”¢MEET-UP — 9 Oct, 10-2pm Newark Farmers Market, Market East Plaza, 280 E. Main Street, Newark, DE
”¢RALLY — 13-Oct, 11am — 6pm — Maryland Institute College of Art, 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave, Baltimore, MD
”¢WORLD FOOD DAY RALLY — 16 Oct, Concluding Rally 12:30pm to 5pm at the White House in Lafayette Park 1600 H Street, NW Washington, DC Marchers estimated to arrive at 1pm. Event to feature Mom’s Panel and conclusion of the march
“The Right2Know March is an unprecedented effort to win genuine transparency on Genetically Engineered foods,” says Katherine DiMatteo of IFOAM and a lead coordinator of the Right2Know March. “Most Americans agree they have a right to know what is in the food they put in their own and their children’s bodies, but current federal policy favors the pesticide industry and hides the facts,” says Ms. DiMatteo. “It’s time to reset U.S. policy on GMOs.”
Helping lead the march is Joseph Wilhelm, President of Rapunzel and Indian activist, Dr. Vanadana Shiva, both veteran GMO campaigners who twice marched across Europe for controls on GMOs and in support of GMO labeling, which is required in the EU. They will be joined at the events in NYC and Washington, DC as well as along the march, by advocates, media personalities, farmers and business leaders who will speak out for GMO labeling, including: Andrew Kimbrell (founder, Center for Food Safety), Frances Moore LappÑ (author, Diet for a Small Planet), Michael Hansen (senior scientist, Consumers Union), George Siemon (CEO, Organic Valley) and many others.
“No matter what you believe about GMOs, the bottom line is that we have a right to know what is in our food so we can all make better decisions for the health of our families,” says TV host and green lifestyle author Sara Snow.
Mothers are also marching and will speak out at the World Food Day Rally at the White House on October 16. “Without labeling, consumers have no way of knowing if the foods they are feeding their families have been genetically engineered to contain new proteins,” says Robyn O’Brien, author and founder of the Allergy Kids Foundation. “Because there is no definitive test that can be relied upon to predict whether a newly expressed protein might trigger an allergic reaction, it is important that genetically engineered foods are labeled so that the food allergic population can exercise caution and make an informed choice about what they eat. GMO labeling would provide essential and possibly life-saving information.”
Right2Know March spokespeople are available to debate GMO manufacturers on the labeling issue. “After 30 years and billions of dollars in research, only two principal GMO traits have been successfully developed: herbicide tolerance and insecticide production. Despite industry promises, there are no GMO traits currently on the market for increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other humanitarian or environmental benefit,” says Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, fiscal sponsor of the Right2Know March. “Americans should have the right to opt out of this experiment, and this march is about standing up and demanding that freedom.”
In July, a barrier to national laws requiring labeling of GMOs was overcome when the Codex Alimentarius Commission voted to allow countries to adopt such laws. This means that the laws cannot be challenged by the World Trade Organization, making it much more likely that countries would seek to adopt labeling laws.
GMOs and the increased pesticide use that accompanies them have been the source of serious environmental contamination and public health concerns. Beyond Pesticides is currently involved in multiple lawsuits involving Roundup Ready and other GE crops. The first lawsuit is filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and seeks to end cultivation of GE crops on twenty-five national wildlife refuges across the U.S. Southeast. The suit is the latest step in a campaign to banish GE crops from all refuges. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 12, 2011 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides, the federal suit charges that FWS unlawfully entered into cooperative farming agreements and approved planting of GE crops in eight states without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and in violation of FWS policy. This is the third in a series of lawsuits filed by CFS and PEER challenging FWS’s practice of permitting GE crops on wildlife refuges. In 2009 and 2010, the groups successfully challenged approval of GE plantings on two wildlife refuges in Delaware — Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge — which forced FWS to end GE planting in the entire 12-state Northeastern region.
In another case involving GE crops, attorneys for CFS, Earthjustice, Beyond Pesticides, and others filed a lawsuit against USDA in March 2011, arguing that the agency’s unrestricted approval of GE “Roundup Ready” alfalfa violates the Endangered Species Act. USDA announced plans to fully deregulate GE alfalfa in January, despite contamination risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers.
For more news and information on “Roundup Ready” and other GE crops, see Beyond Pesticides’ genetic engineering page.
To learn more about alternatives to industrial agriculture and GMOs, visit our organic food and farming page.
Source: Right2Know March
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.