Citizens from across the country, concerned by the increasing scientific data indicating serious economic, environmental and public health risks associated with GMOs (genetically modified organisms), have taken matters into their own hands, labeling foods that may contain GMOs in a nationwide campaign to “Label It Yourself” (#LIY).
Polls have consistently demonstrated that a vast majority of Americans want to know if food they are purchasing contains GMOs. While more than 40 countries around the world require labeling of genetically engineered food, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to require mandatory labeling, citing industry claims that genetically engineered food is equivalent to conventional food. But with an estimated 80% percent of processed food in the USA containing GMOs, Label It Yourself asks: “If there’s nothing to hide, why hide it?”
GMOs, also known as transgenics, are plants or animals that have been created by splicing DNA into them from other plants, animals, bacteria, or viruses to create an organism that would not otherwise occur in nature. Most GMOs on the market have been created to tolerate herbicides and pesticides applied to crops, in many cases incorporating the pesticide into the plant itself. While the long-term impacts of GMOs on humans are unknown, increasing evidence connects them with potential health problems (including infertility, birth defects, allergies, and digestive problems), environmental damage (including degraded soil health, and biological pollution) and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.
As like-minded citizens across the country advocate for mandatory labeling, Label It Yourself offers shoppers tools to know what products are most likely to contain GMOs as well as open source labels that can be downloaded to create stickers for people to do their own labeling of GMO food products in stores. Photos of citizen-labeled products uploaded by users to the Label It Yourself website show non-organic meats and dairy, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, granola bars, fast food, soy milk, pancake mix and corn chips, among others as potentially containing GMOs.
A 2010 Thomson Reuters PULSE™ Healthcare Survey poll found that 93% of US consumers support the labeling of GMOs. Despite these findings, and President Obama’s promise during his presidential campaign to push for labeling, the US government has refused to allow labels for GMO food to appear on grocery shelves in America.
“Human beings are not just consumers or voters as the corporate and political advertising industry likes to believe. People are free, and they want the truth, which, if you think about it, is the only thing worth advertising.” says a member of the Occupy Wall Street Food Justice Working group, “Label It Yourself is a citizen’s campaign to empower people to make informed decisions about the food they buy, without waiting for government or corporations to do it for them.”