Trader Joe's shoppers will get more than prepared foods and produce this Sunday. They'll be greeted by protesters wearing hazmat suits.
On Sunday, Occupy Monsanto -- taking its name from the controversial agriculture and biotech company Monsanto -- will be protesting outside the Trader Joe's in D.C.'s West End, demanding the grocery chain "provide proof that the foods sold in their stores under their own brands are free of Monsanto's patented genes," according to a media statement put out on Friday.
Here's the group's statement about the protest:
On Sunday, July 29, 2012, Occupy Monsanto's agents of change with the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU), a group designed to protect America from genetically modified foods, will 'Shop for Truth' at Trader Joe's during a nationwide weekend of activism targeting the chain grocer. The DC-area GCU will gather in hazmat suits at noon outside the Trader Joe's location at 1101 25th St. NW,Washington, DC to demand that the Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe's provide proof that the foods sold in their stores under their own brands are free of Monsanto's patented genes.
According to the Trader Joe's website, the grocer sources all ingredients for its private label brands from non-genetically engineered crops, but provides no proof of this claim, nor does the grocer work with any known 3rd party verification services. The GCU believes that Trader Joe's may be genetically contaminated by Monsanto's gastronomical experiments and will be joining other GCUs from San Francisco, California to Portland, Maine over the weekend to demand that Trader Joe's go beyond mere assurances and provide its customers with proof of their claims.
"If Trader Joe's takes pride in the food they sell, why do they hide the truth from their customers?" asks GCU Agent Stacey Sanchez, "We don't trust corporations like Trader Joe's that have a profit motive, so the burden of proof lies in the corporate offices of Trader Joe's." The DC-area GCU has reason to believe that Trader Joe's non-private label foods, which are not certified USDA Organic and contain corn, soy, canola, or sugar beets, are likely to be contaminated with genetically engineered ingredients.
"We will not spend thousands of dollars to send Trader Joe's foods to laboratories for testing, instead we want Trader Joe's to come clean," says GCU Agent Richard Smith, "Trader Joe's could easily become America's first certified GMO-free grocery chain, but they won't as long as they're selling so called non-GMO foods without proof."
The Trader Joe's website says that "all products in Trader Joe's private label are sourced from non-genetically modified ingredients."
According to its website, Occupy Monsanto has demonstrations planned at at least six Trader Joe's around the country this weekend. The D.C. protest is scheduled for Sunday at noon.