West Palm Beach Activists Launch Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Food
Food & Water Watch Launches Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Food in Florida with event in West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach, Fla. — Today, as part of Food & Water Watch’s “Let Me Decide” campaign to label genetically engineered (GE) foods in Florida, dozens of concerned citizens gathered in three communities across the state to demand the right to know what’s in the food they feed their families.
The West Palm Beach launch was held at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, where local citizens raised their concerns about the difficulty of identifying what is in the food they feed their families. A guest panel answered questions about genetically engineered foods in a lively discussion, which included Michelle Parenti Lewis MS, RD, LD-N, registered dietician and a member of Slow Foods Glades to Coast and past chair of the Urban Agriculture & Community Garden Subcommittee, City Green Task Force, West Palm Beach; Kenny Koleos, Vice-chair, Florida Food Policy Council; Suzanne Summa, single mother of son with Asperger’s Syndrome; Susan Lerner, interfaith minister & health educator, local coordinator for the F&WW “Let Me Decide” campaign.
Children and adults sent handmade Valentine’s cards to Florida legislators, urging them to pass a bill for mandatory labeling. Parents particularly were glad to have a chance to make their voices heard. “Most of our food is genetically engineered, yet we don’t know the full effects of what genetically engineered food can do to us,” said Jennifer Tinker, a Palm Beach County mother and teacher. “I care about my diet and I want to be certain that the food I put on my table and into the body of my friends and family is safe for us to eat. I want our legislators to make it a law to require labeling.”
Genetically engineered foods are created in a lab by transferring genetic material from one organism to another to create a specific trait, like making a plant produce its own pesticide. These foods are largely untested and unlabeled, and there are no long-term human health studies that prove that GE foods are safe for human consumption.
“It’s just not right that genetically engineered food isn’t labeled – food is labeled for everything else,” said Suzanne Summa, parent of a son with Asperger’s Syndrome. “I don’t want to give my son those foods because they haven’t been properly tested. We are not guinea pigs!”
Representative Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda (D-Tallahassee) will be sponsoring a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would require that GE food sold in Florida be labeled so that consumers can make informed decisions about what they are feeding their family.
“We have the right to know where our food comes from and how it was produced,” said Susan Lerner, an interfaith minister, health educator and master gardener. “I want to walk into the supermarket, and have a sense of freedom because I know and trust the source of the food. Over 50 countries in the world require labeling of GE foods, or have completely banned them, why not us? We all deserve to know what we are eating!”
In addition to the concerned citizens taking action today, organizations from across the state are also calling on lawmakers to support labeling GE food in Florida. A diverse coalition of over 200 organizations has joined Food & Water Watch in signing a letter to lawmakers urging them to support labeling. “Families deserve the right to know what is in the food they are eating. Anything less is misleading,” said Diane Campion, leader of Slow Food Glades to Coast.
Organizations working with Food & Water Watch in Florida include Sierra Club (Florida Chapter and the Loxahatchee Group), Localecopia, Slow Foods Glades to Coast, AGvocacy, Annie Appleseed Project, Hippocrates Health Institute, Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Gray Mockingbird Community Garden, and Unity Church in the Gardens.
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control. www.foodandwaterwatch.org