IFOAM Requests UN Require Members to Label Genetically Modified Foods

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 6, 2011.  Representatives of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) presented a special declaration October 1, 2011 to the United Nations (UN), requesting that the international organization commit all of its member nations to a world without genetically modified (GMO) foods and to identify existing GMO foods on product labels. The UN declaration was written in anticipation of the GMO Right2Know March which kicked off at the UN headquarters in New York on October 1 and will end at the White House on October 16.

The UN delegation included IFOAM representatives, Joseph Wilhelm, founder of Rapunzel organic products and the force behind “Gene-Free America;” and his employees.” Maria-Luisa Chavez welcomed the delegation and accepted the declaration on behalf of the UN. She will pass it on to the president of the General Assembly, the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

Mr. Wilhelm believes that consumers have the right to know whether the food they buy is genetically altered. “Twenty percent of all manufactured foods in the U.S. contains genetically modified ingredients (GMO),” he said. “We hope the Right2Know march will raise consumer awareness and influence U.S. legislators to require that labels indicate whether the product contains GMOs.”

The UN declaration was signed by: Katherine DiMatteo, IFOAM president; Joseph William, IFOAM member; and, Bernward Geier, NGO coordinator. It outlines the critical issues facing consumers in the U.S. and Europe. “Biased agriculture policies, research and development agendas, and private sector strategies favor short-term individual profits,” the declaration states. “This (behavior) is to the detriment of the long-term sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of all and is responsible for hunger, poverty, climate change, and the destruction of habitats and biodiversity.”

Companies leading production of genetically modified foods include Monsanto in the U.S. and BASF and Novartis-Syngenta in Europe. According to IFOAM, unless radical changes to curtail GMOs are adopted worldwide and the subsidy for agri-industry and monocultures is greatly reduced, the future of organic farming and healthy, natural foods will be threatened. IFOAM and its 750 member organizations in more than 110 countries are dedicated to uniting and leading organic farmers and businesses worldwide to work toward a safe and natural food supply.

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, beyondpesticides.org

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.