(NaturalNews) Seattle natural grocer PCC Natural Markets is ready to stand up against Monsanto and other genetically modified organism (GMO) food producers. PCC has joined the fight to force food companies to label products that include genetically modified organisms, a practice found in much of Europe and in Australia, China and Japan.
The Seattle-based grocery chain said it will spend $100,000 to help collect signatures in support of legislative Initiative 522, which would require labeling in Washington of food with GMOs. The company also has launched an in-store signature-gathering campaign.
If lawmakers do not enact the initiative as law in some form - and they usually don't - it would go before voters in November 2013.
Consumers want to know what's in their food
Polls consistently show that the vast majority of the public, between 75 and 93 percent, wants to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering. Without disclosure, consumers of genetically engineered food unknowingly may violate their own dietary and religious restrictions.
Genetically engineered foods are not proven safe and the long-term health risks on humans have not been investigated adequately. Accumulating research has prompted a growing number of countries to require mandatory labeling.
Monsanto and others spending "millions" to prevent GMO labeling
Agribusiness giant Monsanto and others have spent more than $32 million to oppose a similar measure on the California ballot this fall. That's $10 million more than Seattle-based Costco Wholesale spent to support a successful liquor-privatization initiative in Washington in November 2011!
"Don't make any mistake, this is chemical companies" opposing labeling, said Trudy Bialic, director of public affairs at PCC. "It's the same people who brought us Agent Orange, DDT and PCBs, and they're saying now, 'Trust us with your food.' And people are saying, 'No, we want to know what's in it.'"
Opponents of I-522 say state labeling requirements are unnecessary and would become expensive for food companies and ultimately consumers, particularly if states pass varying laws.
GMOs already in much of the US food supply
Much of the U.S. food supply already contains genetically modified ingredients. More than half of the corn and soybeans grown in this country come from genetically modified seeds. This basically means DNA was taken from one species and inserted into the DNA of another to create a particular type of plant, such as higher-yielding corn or a redder tomato.
GMOs raise health concerns, in part because the inserted DNA sometimes comes from animals, bacteria and viruses, not plants. They also dislike that GMO plants can cross-pollinate onto non-GMO farms, creating crops that are genetically modified even though farmers may not want them to be and may have trouble marketing them.
At the consumer level, requiring foods that contain genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such is paramount to keeping the consumer informed about what they eat and affording them the opportunity to make decisions on their own if they want to avoid GMOs in their food.