Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America and advocate for sustainable agriculture, has created a special agitprop label for its quart-size liquid soaps in support of GMO labeling and the Washington State voter initiative to label GMOs, Yes on I-522 — “The Washington Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.” Last week, natural product stores nationwide and Dr. Bronner’s webstore began stocking products featuring the limited edition soap label, which will be available through November.
“Genetic engineering of food crops is a pesticide industry boondoggle. Rather than help farmers move to more sustainable, less chemical intensive agriculture, genetic engineering has resulted in huge increases in pesticide use and residues in our food. Americans need to wake up to the secret changes chemical companies are making to our food and demand transparency in food labeling,” says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “The goal of our special ‘GMO Info’ label is to educate the public on the importance of mandatory GMO labeling, and encourage everyone to educate, donate, volunteer, and become involved at both the state and national levels in the growing movement to label genetically engineered foods. We should also know if food is genetically engineered to make informed decisions about what we eat and feed our families.”
Last year, Dr. Bronner’s joined a diverse, grassroots coalition of consumer groups, health advocates and environmentalists in California in support of Proposition 37, donating over $560,000 to the Vote Yes on Prop 37 campaign. Agricultural biotech giants such as Monsanto spent over $44 million to narrowly defeat the initiative with deceptive advertising. Despite its defeat, Proposition 37 sparked a national movement for the right to know whether foods contain GMOs, with states around the country considering or enacting legislation to do so. Connecticut and Maine have already passed GMO labeling laws, which, as stipulated in the legislation, will go into effect once at least five more New England states also pass such laws. Washington State is the next battleground, with major agricultural sectors concerned that unlabeled genetically engineered wheat, apples and salmon will compromise consumer trust in these foods. Genetically engineered wheat recently found in Oregon has reportedly disrupted U.S. wheat exports to Korea and Japan, which are among the 64 countries that already require GMO labeling.
The battle continues to rage between purveyors of genetically modified organisms — particularly in food — and consumers and activists concerned about the long-term effects of GMOs on the health of people and ecosystems, who insist on transparency around their use. Research released after the defeat of Prop 37 last November showed that concerns about GMOs in the food supply, and interest in GMO-free labeling, are at all-time highs among US grocery shoppers. In 2011, 47% of shoppers were extremely or very concerned about the health and safety of genetically modified foods, up significantly from 42% just one year prior. Several of the largest U.S. retailers have responded: Whole Foods Market announced in March that within the next five years, all products sold in its North American stores will be labeled to indicate the presence of GMOs, and later that month the retailer joined Trader Joe’s in committing to not sell GE seafood if it is allowed onto the market, as part of the Campaign for Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood. Meanwhile, in an attempt to combat the growing anti-GMO movement, a group of biotech seed companies including Monsanto, Dow and DuPont in August launched GMOAnswers.com, an online informational resource on genetically modified organisms and their use in agriculture and food production.