We have a right to know - GMO-free March started in New York

Author: Karin Heinze

The Right2Know March to demand the labelling of genetically modified foods started on Saturday 1 October 2011 at the historic Flatbush Food Coop in Brooklyn in New York City. The march, that will end on 16 October – World Food Day – in Lafayette Park in front of the White House in Washington, is the idea of Joseph Wilhelm, the founder of Rapunzel. Together with friends in the worldwide organic movement, he is putting theory into practice. At the outset, a two-page declaration by IFOAM detailing the demands of the international federation of organic movements regarding international agricultural policy was handed over on Friday to a representative of the United Nations. (Picture: Joseph Wilhelm, Rapunzel Organics, Germany is the inventor of Genfrei Gehen. He walked two times againt GMO: 2007 from the north to the south of Germany and 2009 from Berlin to Brussels)

 

The Right2Know March is supported by Rapunzel and a broad alliance of American organic companies, wholefood retailers and NGOs. The aim is to achieve a legal basis for labelling genetically modified food so that consumers all over the world have freedom of choice. “We have a Right 2 Know – Label GMO” is the motto of the march: all people have a right to know what they are eating. As well as the demand for labelling, IFOAM’s two-page document contains declarations and demands pertaining to feeding the world, organic farming and climate change. (Picture: Before the March started an IFOAM-Declaration is handed to Maria-Luisa Chavez, Director of NGO affairs at the UN in New York)

At the kick-off event in New York’s Prospect Park, Michael Hansen, the leading scientist at the Consumers Union, was among the speakers. He said: “Genetically modified foods contain ingredients that have not been researched and could damage not only our health but also the environment and the livelihood of farmers. Like people in Europe and Japan, American consumers deserve to have the choice whether their food contains GMO or not.” After the opening event, the marchers crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and handed a declaration to a representative of the United Nations. “That’s the first high point in this historic march against genetic engineering in the USA,” stated Joseph Wilhelm, and IFOAM President DiMatteo asserted that “the time is ripe for a new start in the policy of the USA towards GMO”. In the USA, 20 % of all manufactured food contains genetically modified organisms, and in most cases consumers are completely unaware of this fact. (Picture: A group of Right2Know Marchers)

A host of well known critics of genetic modification will speak at events over the 16 days of the march, and some will accompany the marchers along the way. Joseph Wilhelm will walk the whole length of the march (about 550 km) and keep a diary for anybody wanting to follow it live. Among others taking part are the laureate of the Alternative Nobel Prize, Vandana Shiva, the President of IFOAM Katherine DiMatteo, Percy and Louise Schmeiser, who challenged Monsanto in the courts, and the lawyer and founder of the Center for Food Safety, Andrew Kimbrell. The list of VIPs could go on and on, but two people should be mentioned whose names are well known far beyond the organic scene: Frances Moore Lappé, the author of the best seller “Diet for a Small Planet” and the TV presenter and green lifestyle author Sara Snow. (Picture: Genfrei Gehen and Right2Know Marchers walking the route from New York to Washington)

On the American Homepage of the march you’ll find a quotation by Vandana Shiva (picture), the Indian critic of genetic engineering and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize: “The right to know is at the heart of democracy. The right to know what we eat is at the heart of food democracy.” In the USA, awareness of the risks inherent in genetic engineering in agriculture is not as widespread as in Europe. So it’s all the more important to make people aware and to mobilize consumers so that they can demand the right to have freedom of choice and know what they are eating.
Visitors to the American campaign homepage of the Right2Know March are called on to join in the march. “You are not alone in your struggle against GMO! Let’s join forces in favour of labelling!” Most US citizens want safe and healthy food and freedom of choice when shopping for food. That’s why the most important demand of the Right2Know marchers is directed at politicians to ensure that food products that contain genetically modified ingredients are labelled as such. Hitherto, no such labelling has been prescribed in America, and GMO is very widespread.

The critics and opponents of genetic engineering have good arguments in favour of a GMO-free world:

1. Agro-genetic engineering – contrary to the will of the people! The majority of the population rejects agro-genetic engineering and wants to see farming in harmony with nature, in which an ethical approach to animals and plants is of fundamental importance.

2. Patents on plants deprive farmers of rights. GM plants can be patented, the owners of patents being a handful of firms like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer or BASF. In this way, farmers become licensees of big concerns that can put an end to thousands of years-old practices like sowing seeds retained from their own harvesting.

3. Uncontrolled spread of GM plants. GM plants contain artificial genetically engineered material that can spread to GM-free crops or wild plants. It is difficult to assess the long-term impact on ecosystems worldwide. Once GM plants have been released into the environment, we can’t turn the clock back.

4. Risky technology. The methods of agro-genetic engineering are imprecise and can give rise to unforeseen consequences for plant DNA. The effects can be the modification of substances in genes or of the functioning of genes.

5. Risks to health. The impact of genetically modified food on humans and animals has hardly been researched. Numerous indications of negative effects on the health of laboratory animals are, however, a reason to adopt utmost caution.

6. Co-existence in the case of agro-genetic engineering is not possible. Genetically modified pollen or manipulated seed are spread uncontrolled via the wind and insects. It is as good as impossible to practice GMO-free agriculture growing GMO-free plants of the same species in areas where genetically engineered plants are cropped.

7. A small number of powerful concerns control our food. Genetic engineering strengthens the control of a few concerns over seeds and therefore over what finds its way onto our plates across the globe. Today, four firms are already selling half of all seed worldwide.

8. Organic agriculture jeopardized by GM plants Organic agriculture operates without the input of genetic engineering as a matter of principle. The almost unavoidable contamination is, however, becoming an economic threat to organic farmers and manufacturers.

9. More spraying because of GM plants. Through genetic manipulation, almost all GM plants are engineered to be insensitive to pesticides, or they produce insect poisons. But weeds and pests too become resistant! A senseless cycle of increasing the use of more and more aggressive sprays begins – to the detriment of our environment and health.

10. No solution to the worldwide food problem. The worldwide food problem is first and foremost a problem of the distribution of food, the lack of purchasing power and the absence of a holistic and sustainable concept of agriculture in a particular region. This is where organic agriculture offers forms of self-help, whereas genetic engineering creates dependency.

Support for the campaign: the whole truth and nothing but the truth! We want to know what is on our plates. We demand statuary labelling in the case of genetic engineering in animal products too! Everybody has the right to information about where a food product comes from and how it was produced. Support this campaign now with your vote: now!

You can follow the march at:
www.genfrei-gehen.de
www.facebook.com/Rapunzel.Naturkost
www.youtube.com/user/NaturkostRapunzel
www.right2knowmarch.org

07.10.2011

Comment on this article / Show comments
BioMeran