March 8, consumers and health advocates launched a campaign calling on Jewel-Osco to label its store-brand products for ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the one year anniversary of Whole Foods’ announcement that it will adopt labeling for all products in its stores.
“Whole Foods took a big step, and it’s time for Jewel-Osco to deliver for its customers,” said Dev Gowda, advocate with Illinois PIRG Education Fund. “Consumers have real concerns about GMOs, including the way they lead to increased pesticide use, and they have a right to know what’s in their food.”
As part of the event, Illinois PIRG Education Fund also released a report documenting other recent actions companies have taken in response to consumers’ desire for better information about GMO ingredients in their food. In addition to Whole Foods’ commitment to labeling, other recent actions include:
• Chipotle and Ben & Jerry’s announced they will label the food they sell for GMO ingredients, and eventually move toward phasing out those ingredients.
• Both Cheerios and Grape-Nuts are going GMO-free.
• The Non-GMO Project, which offers voluntary GMO labeling, in 2013 saw a 300 percent year-over-year increase in producer interest.
• And just recently, Kroger and Safeway joined other grocery chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Target by announcing they would not sell genetically engineered salmon, even if it’s approved for sale.
“Polls consistently show more than 90 percent of the public supports labeling,” Gowda said. “It’s just smart business sense for companies to give their customers what they want.”
As part of its campaign to persuade Jewel-Osco to label its store-brand products for GMOs, Illinois PIRG Education Fund has gathered more than 1,000 petitions from consumers, and its campaign has been endorsed by 40 consumer, health and other groups including schools, restaurants and grocery stores. Visit http://www.illinoispirgedfund.org/news/ilp/open-letter-calling-jewel-osco-label-gmos to view the complete list of organizations and groups that have signed on to Illinois PIRG Education Fund’s Jewel-Osco GMO labeling campaign.
“Consumers expect transparency from the brands they trust to feed their families,” said Lucia von Reusner, shareholder advocate at Green Century Capital Management. “Labeling GMOs is the logical step for any company hoping to win today’s increasingly informed and sophisticated consumer.”
Gowda concluded: “GMO labeling is a common-sense solution that will help Jewel’s customers know what’s on their plates. On the anniversary of Whole Foods’ commitment, it’s time for Jewel-Osco to do the same.”
From the March 19-25, 2014, issue