Support Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

Target: Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane

Goal: Endorse initiative to label genetically modified foods in Washington State

Trader Joe’s is one of the largest organic retailers in the country. It has eliminated genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from its private-label products in 2001. In November 2013 Washingtonians will vote on an initiative to label GMOs in the state. Trader Joe’s should get behind the effort to make it happen. Urge the store executive to endorse the campaign.

After a similar measure failed in California in 2012, several states have passed GMO labeling laws. Major food retailers, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, PCC Natural Markets, and co-ops in New York, Minnesota, Kansas and California, are rejecting genetically engineered salmon that is currently being considered by the FDA across the nation. Whole Foods pledged to stop selling food that was genetically modified by 2018. But there is another side of the debate, and it is funded by corporate interests. Biotech companies, including Monsanto, will come out with a false claim that such labeling is going to add costs to consumers.

The campaign to label GMOs needs Trader Joe’s behind it. The company can assure consumers that there are no additional costs associated with GMO labeling. Several natural food stores use an affidavit system, where the supplier tests for GMOs in its products, and then guarantees in writing that it did not find any GMOs. As Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets Director of Public Affairs Trudy Bialic put it, “We have used the affidavit system repeatedly, without undue burden or cost.” PCC makes sure that their products are created without child slave labor, milk products do not contain rBGH (synthetic man-made growth hormone), and that all seafood is harvested using sustainable sources and practices. Trader Joe’s follows similar practices regarding GMOs.

Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, cited the opinion of retailers who use the affidavit system: “An affidavit system like what is proposed in I-522 [Washington initiative to label GMOs-ER] is a powerful way to have a significant impact on the food supply with minimal cost.” The reason Monsanto is fighting GMO labeling tooth and nail is because once consumers see one simple label that identifies foods as genetically engineered (often with genes of foreign bacteria and viruses) they will strive to buy sustainable, organic alternatives. In turn, that means lost profits for chemical companies such as Monsanto.

People have the right to know what is in their food. Nationwide, 82 percent of respondents support labeling of genetically engineered organisms, according to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll. The initiative proposed in Washington State is clear and simple: give people the information they need. Urge Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane to endorse the Washington State initiative to label GMOs.


Dear Mr. Bane,

Washingtonians who frequent Trader Joe’s appreciate that the company guarantees its brand name products do not include any genetically modified organisms. This November voters in Washington will consider an initiative to label GMOs. I-522 is a grassroots campaign, supported by the majority of farmers in the state. It proposes to use a sworn affidavit system, much like the one currently applied in your stores. This common-sense approach deserves your endorsement.

Special interest groups, specifically Monsanto, will try to mislead voters about the initiative by saying that GMO labeling will transfer into more expensive products. The example that Trader Joe’s gives should persuade voters that the costs would stay the same. As Megan Westgate, Executive Director of the Non-GMO Project, puts it: “An affidavit system like what is proposed in I-522 is a powerful way to have a significant impact on the food supply with minimal cost.”

The reason chemical companies such as Monsanto are against this simple idea is because it will cut through their profits. Meanwhile, a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll showed that 82 percent of Americans support labeling GMOs. Trader Joe’s is already ahead of the game by requiring that its private label products are GMO-free. The next logical step for the company is to put its name behind I-522, an initiative to label GMOs in Washington State.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Miheco via Flickr

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