Albuquerque, New Mexico — This week, City Councilman Isaac Benton, District 2, and co-sponsor Diane Gibson, District 7, introduced a memorial in the Albuquerque City Council that would support labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs) on a statewide and national level. The memorial was drafted with the support of the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch and is strongly backed by a diverse coalition of over 50 organizations and businesses in New Mexico including the La Montanita Food Coop, Dragon Farm, ProgressnowNM and Marchers Against Monsanto.
If passed, Albuquerque will join the city of Santa Fe in supporting giving people more transparency about whether or not their food contains GMOs. Since most processed foods contain some derivative of GMO corn, soybean or cotton, the city of Albuquerque would support labeling under this memorial.
“Labeling will give us the data we need to draw solid conclusions about GE foods, and it will give consumers the ability to make fully informed decisions about what we are eating and feeding our families,” said memorial sponsor Benton. “Right now, the companies that stand to profit from genetic engineering are making those decisions for us.”
GMOs are plants altered in a laboratory with foreign genetic material to create novel genetic combinations and exhibit traits that do not occur in nature. Although health risks associated with eating GMOs are not fully understood, these altered foods have become pervasive within our food system since they first became available in 1996. Companies submit their own safety testing data and independent research is limited because biotechnology companies prohibit cultivation for research purposes.
“It’s our right as citizens to know what is in our food,” said memorial co-sponsor Gibson. “In a democracy, corporations should not have special privileges that make it difficult for the average consumer to have transparency in what they consume. Labeling will give us the data we need to draw solid conclusions about GMO foods, and it will give consumers the ability to make fully informed decisions about what we are eating and feeding our families.”
Labeling GMOs is not a novel idea. Citizen-led campaigns have been successful getting legislation introduced in more than 20 states and ballot initiatives in California and Washington were narrowly defeated by multi-million-dollar campaigns waged by big food corporations. For years, polls have shown that the majority of Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled, just as it is in more than 60 other countries including the entire European Union, China, Japan and Russia.
“The impact of genetically engineered foods goes beyond consumer health. It also threatens the livelihood of farmers that grow non-GMO crops since GMO seed and the GMO-related pesticides can contaminate neighboring fields,” said Eleanor Bravo, Southwest Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Consumers should be able to decide for themselves if genetically engineered foods should be fed to their families.”
The memorial will be heard in the Finance & Government Operations Committee on April 28. Once it passes this committee, it will head to the full City Council for a vote in May. The memorial can be viewed here: http://fwwat.ch/Q5nToN
Contact: Eleanor Bravo, ebravo(at)fwwatch(dot)org, 505-633-7366