Slow Food Meeting on Sunday To Focus on GMO Ingredients and Labeling Issues

GMO PosterAt their annual meeting and food tasting this Sunday, March 3, Slow Food Northern New Jersey, will focus attention on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply. The event, called Farms, Food and Community, will be held in Maplewood, at the DeHart Community Center, and feature keynote speaker Michael Hansen, a noted expert on the issue.

According to Slow Food, GMOs have become common in our food supply — and even the most meticulous shoppers can’t avoid them simply by shopping at organic grocery stores.

“Everyone should be aware of this problem in our food supply,” Slow Foods NNJ Steering Committee member Marie DeLuca advises, and adds, “There are steps that we all can take to protect ourselves and our families from the potential health problems they cause.”

A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been changed via genetic engineering; these could include anything from micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeast and plants, up to fish and mammals for human consumption. There is controversy currently surrounding both the ethics of GMO use in human foods, as well as whether growers and manufacturers should be made to clearly and fully label foods that contain GMOs.

Tickets for Sunday’s event can be purchased in advance online or at the door (though the organization would appreciate pre-registration so enough food can be prepared for all).

Activities get under way at 1:00 with a Local Foods Tasting & Social Hour, opening remarks, and information about Slow Food NNJ’s school garden program and the 2013 School Garden Grants Announcement. The organization has been working with 14 School Garden Partnerships since 2008. Teacher Lisa Schustak from Redwood Elementary in West Orange will discuss the impact of their schools’ organic vegetable gardens on students and communities.

Non GMO ingredient label

Michael Hansen, a GMO expert from Consumer Union, will describe what genetic engineering is, the lack of required safety testing and why food consumers should be concerned. He will review studies linking GE foods to potential adverse health reactions (allergies, immune system effects, damage to various organs, etc.) and environmental impacts (e.g. increased pesticide use). He’ll also discuss what GE foods are currently on the market, or soon will be, why GE foods should be labeled, and how you could avoid them.

To round out the day, Matthew Smith, of Food & Water Watch, will highlight the proposed legislation to require labeling of GE foods that is currently before the New Jersey Senate and Assembly Health Committees for review.

Labeling is a major concern for many consumer advocacy groups nationwide, as states are individually empowered to enact labeling legislation — or not. And major food suppliers are often lined up against such measures, including a New Jersey consortium which last week said it would “vigorously oppose” any state ordered labeling law. Globally, more than 50 countries require that foods imported from the U.S. which contain genetically engineered ingredients must be labeled.

Pam Tonucci, of Maplewood, Slow Food NNJ Treasurer, emphasized that GMOs are notoriously well-integrated into the food chain. Corn, for example, is usually a genetically modified crop, which works its way into the ingredients for thousands of prepared food products.

Naturally, at their Sunday tasting, Slow Food NNJ will present a non-GMO menu, prepared by members and including deviled eggs using eggs from a Branchville farm, locally baked bread, grain salads, and other tasty bites that contain no known GMO ingredients.

“We want to educate people because the problem is we don’t really know the cumulative long terms effects yet of what GMOs may cause,” Tonucci notes, and adds that the film Genetic Roulette, which her group recently screened, is a good way for people to learn more about the issue. You can also visit Slow Food USA.

Photo: Logo – Flickr; Sign – Flickr

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  1. In an ideal world, there would be no GMOs (they are actually banned in parts of Europe). Since the U.S. doesn’t seem to want to follow that route, then the next best thing would be labeling the GMO foods so that consumers can make a choice to buy or not. If they’re harming the birds and the bees, what are they doing to us?

  2. Got to laugh at these righty creationists. “Don’t mess with God’s creations but give me my gentically modified foods!”

  3. Obama’s no better on this issue than those on the right. After all, he appointed Michael R Taylor to head the FDA, who formerly ran Monsanto. So the guy supposedly protecting us from giant corporations poising our food is the guy who’s been poisoning our food.

  4. That’s right, Banner. Both parties are in bed with Monsanto. No one gets a pass here. No one has the intestinal fortitude to send them packing.

  5. Humans, especially professional athletes, are already themselves “genetically modified” in a sense. So why get upset about corn? Does anyone posting above in fact grow their own? Do they at least only patronize farms which don’t use GMO farming techniques?

    Don’t throw the baby vegggies out with the pickling liquid, either. Science has allowed, for example, for the Third World, both people and livestock, to be much better fed than, say, 20 years ago. Or is that too much reality for folks?

    The entire “slow food” movement, at least as I’ve read about it, sounds a bit impractical for working couples. (At least unless they’ve taught their children how to start dinner early before mom and dad get home.) But this sure does sound like a swell opportunity for some to feel morally superior to others, to invoke and bow their heads at the holy name of Alice Waters as others do for Jesus..

  6. “Do they at least only patronize farms which don’t use GMO farming techniques?” We try to buy from such farms or stores, yes.
    And I’ve cut way back on corn on the cob, which I used to love but much of it doesn’t taste the same way as I remember from years ago.

    Watch “Food, Inc.” or other similar documentaries to see how farmers who want to grow things the old-fashioned way are being bullied.

    It’s not out of self-righteousness that I choose to be vigilant about what I eat, it’s out of fear.

  7. With cross pollination, it’s very hard to stay away from GMO fields, the insects travel and thus the insects are also in jeopardy along with other fauna.

  8. Really?? Would it really be that heinous to just label products that contain GMOs so the people can vote with their pockets? I think that’s how it’s supposed to work here, since we’re not “filthy socialists” like in Western Europe! Or is “pro-choice” too difficult to swallow?

  9. Sez….GMO’s need to be banned outright before they totally contaminate our food sources. But it might be too late.

  10. The actual preference of GMO or Non-GMO cuisine aside, I would love to see a logical explanation for refusing to label GMO products.

  11. Paz… I agree, but since that’s not immediately likely how about at least getting the public involved at the check-out? And Zeph, the explanation for labeling being such a bugaboo is that the truth is…we don’t get to vote at the check-out because corporations already voted with their billions! So yes, I was being facetious. This is, after all, the Corporate States of America, so bend over and eat your GMOs. Love it or leave it!

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