Massachusetts co-op members develop GMO policy

By Arianne Pfoutz
Published: August 29, 2015
Issue:
Franklin Community Co-op (FCC), one of the first grocers in Massachusetts to endorse mandatory GMO labeling in the state, is now exploring ways to label GMOs in its two stores and provide more organic, non-GMO options to meet customer preferences.

The Non-GMO Committee formed to address what seemed like a vacuum—and a lack of customer education—on the GMO issue. Green Fields Market in Greenfield and McCusker’s Market in Shelburne Falls together represent 2,400 members.

“A lot of our members weren’t aware that GMOs were on our shelves, and they were concerned when they found out,” said Michael Suter, committee member. “We want to create a new GMO policy that reflects the latest developments on the issue, such as the World Health Organization’s glyphosate study.”

A preliminary survey found that a strong majority of members support phasing out GMOs as soon as “operationally feasible,” and expressed that locating non-GMO food is a “strong” or a “clear” concern.

The committee is considering a color-coded dot system to label products as: organic; non-GMO; conventional (with pesticide information); likely GMO; “traitor brands” (affiliated with companies opposing GM labeling efforts); gluten-free; and local.

“It may not be necessary to ban GMOs entirely from FCC,” Martin Dagoberto said. “Once we provide factual information through labeling, we can let the market decide.”

Dagoberto is a co-op member/owner and is also the campaign coordinator for MA Right to Know GMOs, the state labeling effort. GMO labeling bill H.3242 is currently one of the most popular bipartisan bills in the Massachusetts State House, with over 75% of the legislature signed on as cosponsors.

The co-op also joined the Non-GMO Project, so the prominent butterfly label will be on the door for all to see.

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