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CONSUMERS & REGULATION: U.S. groups pressure administration to label genetically engineered foods



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   GROUPS PRESSURE ADMINISTRATION TO LABEL GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

SOURCE:  San Francisco Chronicle, USA

AUTHOR:  Carolyn Lochhead

URL:     http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2013/03/06/groups-pressure-administration-to-label-genetically-engineered-foods/

DATE:    06.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Following last November?s failure of Prop. 37 to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered material, activist groups are mounting a new effort to force the Food and Drug Administration to label the foods. Gary Hirschberg, who built Stonyfield Farm from seven cows to a $400 million organic powerhouse and is active in the Just Label It campaign, is teaming with Environmental Working Group on the new effort, headed by EWG top lobbyist Scott Faber. Faber promised to ?use every tool? to persuade the FDA to require labeling. Even though 20 states are considering labeling legislation, the Prop. 37 failure has shifted the fight to Washington."

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GROUPS PRESSURE ADMINISTRATION TO LABEL GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

Following last November?s failure of Prop. 37 to require labeling of foods containing genetically engineered material, activist groups are mounting a new effort to force the Food and Drug Administration to label the foods.

Gary Hirschberg, who built Stonyfield Farm from seven cows to a $400 million organic powerhouse and is active in the Just Label It campaign, is teaming with Environmental Working Group on the new effort, headed by EWG top lobbyist Scott Faber. Faber promised to ?use every tool? to persuade the FDA to require labeling. Even though 20 states are considering labeling legislation, the Prop. 37 failure has shifted the fight to Washington.

Faber, who once worked for the packaged food industry, said even though big food companies poured millions into the California fight, companies do not want to be in a position where ?they look like they are hiding something from consumers.? Labeling polls very well and it looked like Prop. 37 would breeze through until the packaged food industry mounted a mulit-million-dollar assault.

The benefits of labeling for organic producers and environmentalists are obvious: organic food producers want to gain market share and organics reduce pesticide use. The organic standard prohibits genetic engineering, antibiotics, chemical herbicides and fertilizers.

It?s a tough climb. Genetically engineered crops have never been denied approval by the FDA, USDA or EPA, thanks to a minimalist regulatory regime instituted by former Vice President Dan Quayle. GE crops are now pervasive in corn, soybeans and other staples of packaged foods. Despite arguments to the contrary, GE crops have led to a huge increase in pesticide use because they are engineered to tolerate Monsanto?s RoundUp and other gyphosate herbicides. Some crops such as cotton and corn are also engineered to produce their own insecticides.

The crops are so widespread that FDA is now considering approval of new GE crops that tolerate older herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba, because the old GE crops fomented insect and weed resistance, leading to ?super weeds? now rampant across the Midwest and South that are impossible to kill without a stronger cocktail of herbicides. Most packaged foods contain GE ingredients.

The FDA is also on the brink of approving a controversial engineered salmon now under an extended period of public comment that ends next month. The FDA gave the fish a preliminary okay for what promises to be the first transgenic animal crop to be approved. The Senate defeated an attempt to block approval.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   NATIONAL NONPROFITS TO COLLABORATE ON PROMOTING ORGANIC FOOD AND GE LABELING

SOURCE:  Environmental Working Group, USA (EWG)

AUTHOR:  Press Release

URL:     http://www.ewg.org/release/national-nonprofits-collaborate-promoting-organic-food-and-ge-labeling

DATE:    06.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Environmental Working Group and Organic Voices will collaborate to highlight the benefits of organic food and advance the fight for labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients, the two organizations announced today. ?This new collaboration will carry out our shared goals and build on the strengths of both organizations,? said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and board chair of Organic Voices. ?By working together, we believe that EWG and Organic Voices can educate and empower consumers about the benefits of organic food and GE labeling and bolster our advocacy efforts in Washington.?"

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NATIONAL NONPROFITS TO COLLABORATE ON PROMOTING ORGANIC FOOD AND GE LABELING

Washington, D.C. ? Environmental Working Group and Organic Voices will collaborate to highlight the benefits of organic food and advance the fight for labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients, the two organizations announced today.

?This new collaboration will carry out our shared goals and build on the strengths of both organizations,? said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and board chair of Organic Voices. ?By working together, we believe that EWG and Organic Voices can educate and empower consumers about the benefits of organic food and GE labeling and bolster our advocacy efforts in Washington.?

EWG has a 20-year history of providing consumers with valuable information and research about environmental and public health and has long supported organic food and agriculture. It has advocated for sensible policies that increase transparency in the food and farm system, including the creation of national organic standards.

EWG also publishes its annual Shopper?s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which ranks fruits and vegetables based on their total pesticide loads. EWG issued a landmark report in 1993 that addressed pesticide residues in baby food and resulted in significant shifts in the market and adoption of source testing by many companies.

Since 2011 Organic Voices has managed the Just Label It campaign, a national coalition spearheading the effort to persuade the federal Food and Drug Administration to require labeling of GE foods. In addition, the organization has worked to educate consumers about the benefits of eating organic food.

?Organic has significant benefits to our environment,? said Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at EWG. Faber will also serve as Organic Voices? executive director. ?We want to see this sector grow and also help consumers understand that only organic guarantees that food has been produced without synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or GE ingredients,? said Faber.

Since Organic Voices launched the Just Label It campaign a year ago, more than 1.2 million Americans have signed its petition urging the FDA to label food containing GE ingredients, and more than 600 partner organizations have joined the campaign to push for labeling. A recent poll found that 93 percent of Americans support labeling and that support for labeling cuts across all demographic lines.

?This is a pivotal time for GE labeling,? said Ken Cook, president of EWG and a board member of Organic Voices. ?More than 20 states will debate GE labeling legislation this year, and many food industry leaders recognize that it is time for the United States to join 62 other nations that already require GE labeling on packaged foods.?

Cook added, ?Roughly 3 billion people ? including consumers in Saudi Arabia, China and even Syria ? have the right to know whether their food contains GE ingredients. American consumers should have the right to know as well.?