Take a drive through rural Missouri or Illinois and you’ll fly by row after row of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the form of crops like corn and soybeans.
Depending on who you talk to those crops are modern marvels or a threat to our food supply.
Now, local activists have joined other groups from around the country in an effort to require labels be placed on food made with GMO ingredients, which can range from soft drinks to breakfast cereal.
“We’re out here today because we’re concerned that GMO’s in food are not labeled,” says Barbara Chicherio, an organizer for the Gateway Green Alliance, which advocates against genetically engineered crops.
Over the weekend the group took aim at Whole Foods Market, which they say doesn’t do enough to inform customers.
“They label foods as organic, and if they’re organic they do not contain GMOS,” says Chicherio. “But they do not alert people of the unlabeled food that it does, most likely, contain genetically modified materials.”
Whole Foods, a go-to destination for many shoppers who prefer organic food, uses Non-GMO Project to certify its organic food.
Kate Klotz, a spokesperson for Whole Foods, applauds the spirit of the protesters but says the retailer can’t single handedly change food label regulation.
“It’s really something that should be addressed by the government,” she says. “It should be a government regulation, and at this point, unfortunately it isn’t.”
Klotz says Whole Foods is like any other supermarket chain, and does the best it can to serve its customers within the framework of the larger food industry.
Federal law doesn’t require companies to label food made with GMO ingredients and biotech giants, including St. Louis based Monsanto Co., have long maintained that foods made from GMO crops are safe for human consumption.
Nevertheless, efforts to require labeling for GMO food are gathering steam around the country.
Just Label It, a campaign to label food made from genetically engineered crops, says more than 1.1 million people have signed an online petition requesting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration make labels mandatory for food made from GMO crops.