Occupy Austin’s General Assembly asks that the Austin City Council immediately pass a resolution requiring labeling of all products sold within the city limits that contain more than 1% Genetically Modified Organisms. On January 28th, 2012, the Occupy Austin General Assembly passed a proposal to deliver a letter to the Austin City Council expressing their concerns about a disconnect between popular opinion in Austin and the current laws regarding the labeling of GMO’s.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that GMO crops were “substantially equivalent” to non-GM crops, allowing them to be introduced into the food chain without labeling and leaving consumers in the dark about what they’re eating. By last year, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, approximately 80% of conventional processed foods in the United States contained GMOs, making them hard to avoid. In 2002, the Texas Task Force on Genetically Modified Foods recommended GMO Labeling for all food sold in Texas. In the 10 years since this taskforce reported back, nothing has been done. No legislation on this issue has been passed, or even voted on, at the state or local level.

Despite its broad support across the community, the labeling of these ingredients has not received much attention in either the national media, or in Washington DC. Occupy Austin points to the direct collusion between Monsanto and the US Department of Agriculture, from the Reagan administration through the Obama administration. “Monsanto enjoys the same protections in the agriculture industry as Goldman Sachs enjoys in the Fed,” said David Cortez, Occupy Austin’s Bank Action organizer. Austin, Texas is home to Whole Foods Corporation, which has been very active in fighting federal resistance to programs that educate people about what they are eating.Over 100 local businesses are in favor of the labeling of GMO’s, including grocers such as Whole Foods, Wheatsville Coop, and the downtown Farmers’ Market, as well as non-profit and political organizations, food producers like Earth Balance and Zico Coconut Water, and health and parenting organizations like the Central Texas ‘Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ Coalition.

National surveys show that 93-96% of Americans agree on this issue. A national campaign for labeling, headed up by JustLabelIt.org, secured a place on the California ballot for the 2012 election and is focusing on similar initiatives in other communities across the nation. Many countries, including Japan, Mexico, Russia, China and nearly every country in Europe currently require foods containing GMO’s to be labeled.

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