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February 22nd, 2013

Field Notes From the Campaign to Label GE Foods: Ohio

FWW’s Alison Auciello, left, and Ariel Miller speak about the importance of GE food labels at the annual Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) conference.

By Alison Auciello

There’s been a flurry of activity in the Ohio “Let Me Decide” campaign. From Cleveland to Granville to Cincinnati, Ohioans are pushing for nationwide labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. 

On Feb. 15, we met with Cleveland Councilmembers Joseph Cimperman and Matt Zone, asking them to sponsor a resolution to pressure the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and federal legislators to mandate labeling of GE foods. The council members are excited to be working with us and are committed to bringing the resolution before the Cleveland City Council. Should Cleveland pass the resolution, they will become the second city in Ohio to call for GE labeling, following the lead of Cincinnati, which unanimously passed the resolution last November. We will continue our efforts to pass similar resolutions in Ohio and call on Senator Sherrod Brown to work toward national legislation for GE labeling.

On Feb. 16 and 17, we attended the 34th annual Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) conference; Ohio’s largest on sustainable food and farming. We were invited to present a workshop on the campaign to label genetically engineered foods in collaboration with Ariel Miller, an activist working with OEFFA to organize support for a national mandate to label GE food. Our presentation included an overview of genetically engineered foods – the health and environmental impacts of GE foods, myths perpetuated by biotech companies like Monsanto – and the campaign to label GE food.

Judging from the questions Ariel and I got, the farmers and good food advocates are not only supportive of GE labeling, they want to make sure their farms aren’t contaminated with genetic material from neighboring farms. Contamination is a big concern for farmers here in Ohio and across the country, who fear Monsanto could potentially bring lawsuits against them for the possession of their patented genetic material. OEFFA has joined in the lawsuit to protect farmers against this type of intimidation from Big Agribusiness.

Throughout the conference, workshop speakers tied in their own issues to the problems presented by GE foods to the work they are doing, from sustainable farming practices to bringing whole, healthy foods from farm to plate. Farmers, advocates, and consumers alike vowed to keep GE foods off their farms, out of their businesses, and off their plates. A Food & Water Watch partner on food issues and fracking, Mo Tressler from All Things Food in Bryan, OH, stressed in her workshop how important the connection is between the farmer and the consumer. From her perspective, not only should we know what’s in our food, we should know and support our local farmers.

Warren Taylor, of Snowville Creamery, calls for nothing short of a revolution to take on the corporate control of our food system and democracy. He says that if we want to change the policies that perpetuate corporate subversion of our democracy, we’ve all got to throw our hat in the ring! How will you get involved? Follow Food & Water Watch’s Ohio on Facebook and join us in our campaign to make GE labeling the law.

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