Protestors gathered in Pack Square last May to rally against Monsanto Company as part of a growing national interest in genetically modified foods. Now a petition launched in Asheville will ask Ingles Markets to label GMOs. (Jordan Foltz/ Mountain Xpress)
A group of citizens is collecting signatures for a petition to regional supermarket chain Ingles Markets asking the store to label genetically modified food products, commonly known as GMOs, and to promote the labeling of these products to Monsanto Company and the Grocery Manufactures Association.
“If the grocery chains start speaking up about GMOs like they’ve done in other countries, that’s when you’ll begin to see an effect,” said Deb Criss, who organized the petition through MoveOn.org.
The petition, titled “You Can Do It Ingles!,” went live shortly after Thanksgiving and has gained over 2,000 signatures at this time, according to organizers. Though Criss and her organization are based in Asheville and the signatures will eventually be presented to the Ingles corporate office in Black Mountain, the petition is open to anyone in the Ingles service area to sign.
Criss said Ingles has been accepting literature and listening to arguments from both sides of the GMO labeling argument. She credits the grocery chain with being receptive to community input.
Ingles Markets has not returned requests for comment at this time.
Criss said it is likely that future petitions to other regional grocery stores will be made based on this petition's model, which emphasizes public education about GMOs, not removal of the products from stores.
“It’s about allowing for choices,” Criss said. “Removing all GMOS would require a major shift in how food is produced and that could take years. This campaign is about educating the public.”
More information about the petition is available at MoveOn.org.
Update: In a statement to petition organizers and area press, Ingles Markets Chief Financial Officer Ron Freeman writes:
We appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns about items containing genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients and would like to assure you that we are committed to the following:
1. Supporting efforts of our food industry association, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), towards national legislation that enables the FDA to call for manufacturers and farmers to identify products and ingredients that are “GMO-free” or “Non-GMO”.
2. Abiding by all product labeling guidelines currently set forth by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as by state and local regulations.
3. Continuing to monitor the conversation nationally and among manufacturers and retailers on the topic of genetically engineered crops and ingredients as well as relevant scientific studies and research.
4. Continuing to provide our customers with a wide variety of options and choices including USDA Certified Organic products (which by definition are “non-GMO” – not genetically engineered).
5. Continuing to source products that bear the certified “Non-GMO project” seal.