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Consumer-owned retail grocer PCC Natural Markets (PCC) has announced a $100,000 pledge in support of Initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act."
A statewide campaign to put I-522 on the November 2013 ballot has been underway for several weeks. The goal is to collect 320,000 signatures, recommended by the Secretary of State's office, to ensure 241,153 valid ones by the deadline at year's end.
"There are few issues that threaten so fundamentally our core values as the hidden presence of genetically engineered ingredients in our food supply," said Tracy Wolpert, PCC's CEO. "We believe consumers have a right to an informed choice. PCC has been involved in advocating the right to know about GMOs since the advent of rBGH in milk in 1993. We are compelled to do all we can to put I-522 before voters next year."
PCC is committed to supporting the statewide campaign — called “Label It WA” — with a cash donation, and by involving business partners and shoppers with a campaign in its nine stores. PCC's goal is to increase awareness of I-522 and to encourage signature gathering and financial contributions to the state-wide campaign. PCC has a representative on the Label It WA campaign committee.
More than 140 suppliers and business partners of PCC have joined the effort by endorsing I-522. Many are involved in signature gathering among their own organizations and contacts. PCC's in-store campaign aims to collect 50,000 signatures from its own shoppers by the end of October, which is National Non-GMO Month.
Forty-nine countries already have mandatory GMO labeling laws. More have bans or other restrictions. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not require safety assessments of GMO foods and does not review all GMO products entering the food market.
GMOs are created when DNA is taken from one species and forced into other unrelated species, mixing plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes in combinations that cannot occur in nature. GMO corn, soy, canola and sugar beets are planted widely across the United States and derivative ingredients, such as corn syrup, soy lecithin, and protein isolates, are common in processed foods.
National polls consistently show more than 90 percent of American consumers believe genetically engineered food should be labeled.
A very similar initiative — Proposition 37 — is on the California ballot, up for a vote Nov. 6.
Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retail cooperative with annual sales of more than $160 million and an active membership of more than 46,000 households. It operates nine stores in the Seward Park, View Ridge, Greenlake, West Seattle, Fremont, Kirkland, Redmond, Edmonds and Issaquah neighborhoods.