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Frankenfoods Labeling Brigade Invades Supermarket in Vermont

Local protesters target FDA food labeling guidelines
March 31, 2001 Page A1.

By Stephen Mills
TIMES ARGUS STAFF (Barre-Montpelier, Vermont)

MONTPELIER - Shaw's Supermarket in the capital city was the target of a
rally, parade and carefully orchestrated "act of civil disobedience" Friday
to protest genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products.

Organized by the Northeast Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, the
participants were also protesting the failure by the Food and Drug
Administration to address concerns about GMOs. The FDA recently reaffirmed
that the labeling of products containing GMOs is still voluntary.

The protest began with a rally at the Statehouse, followed by a parade down
State and Main streets to the former Grand Union supermarket.

About 20 participants, calling themselves the Citizens Voluntary Labeling
Brigade, then filtered through the store, placing labels on most of the
store's food products. They argued that they were simply following FDA
guidelines and voluntarily labeling food products believed to contain GMOs.

"We believe that all citizens have the right to know what's in their food,"
said one protester who would only identify themselves as a Central Vermont
citizen. "We're also hoping Shaw's will remove genetically engineered
products from its store brands, as its parent company, J. Sainsbury, has
done in Europe.

A spokesperson at the Shaw's declined to comment on the protest.

The use of GMO by food companies was the subject of national attention
recently. Taco Bell and Kraft Foods recalled products made with genetically
modified yellow corn meal that is only approved for animal consumption, but
not for human use.

It was followed by a another recall of similar corn that might have already
found its way into taco shells, chips and corn flakes. The fear is that
altered corn may produce adverse reactions in people with allergies.

There is great concern that GMOs will harm organic farming in Vermont, one
of the few bright spots in Vermont agriculture (the number of certified
organic farms has doubled in the last five years).

Environmentalists and farmers are worried that cross-pollination of organic
corn with modified corn from neighboring fields will lead to farmers losing
their certification.

Environmental organizations also used Valentine's Day this year to
highlight the use of GMOs in many sweet products that contain milk with the
bovine growth hormone rBGH, and soy lecithin, corn syrup, vegetable oil and
cottonseed oil.

Brian Tokar, a faculty member at the Institute for Social Ecology in
Plainfield noted that the FDA has postponed the deadline for public
comments on GMOs from April 3 to May 3.

"That's a sign that they're getting a lot of responses," he said.
"Extending the deadline like this is not something they do routinely."

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Available April 4th from Zed Books:

Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering

Featuring the writing of 26 leading critics of biotechnology from
around the world, edited by Brian Tokar. http://www.zedbooks.demon.co.uk

Institute for Social Ecology, http://www.social-ecology.org
Northeast RAGE (online soon), http://www.nerage.org

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