Tom Colicchio will be the head judge on Bravo’s Top Chef this season. The New York City restaurateur launched three successful eateries; Craft, Gramercy Tavern and Colicchio & Sons. Colicchio is not only in the business of food, he cares intimately about it. That’s why he and over 700 other chefs met last fall, at the office of Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). They were there to sign a petition supporting the Congressman’s bill to have manufacturers label GMO ingredients on foodstuffs. The chefs all believed that it is critical to know all of the ingredients in the food they and we use, including GMOs. For the uninitiated, GMO stands for genetically modified organism. These are foods that have undergone genetic engineering to allow for the expression of certain desirable traits, disease resistance for instance. Currently the FDA does not require GMO ingredients to be labeled as such. The petition read, “…when it comes to whether our ingredients contain genetically modified organisms, we’re completely in the dark.”
The industry is dead set against GMO labeling. The state of Vermont is currently being sued by food giant Monsanto for instituting such a labeling law. Many activist groups were also present at the signing. These have been pushing state and federal legislators to include GMO labeling for the last few years. This event included: Just Label It, Food Policy Action, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group. The last has become a force in Washington. It contributes to national elections, giving $36 million last cycle. Colicchio says we as consumers have a right to know what is in our processed food. What’s more, he isn’t asking for the moon, just a line that says, “GMO corn.” Though most dangerous items are removed from the food supply chain, Colicchio believes the increased use of pesticides makes GMOs an environmental issue. There’s also a lack of transparency which can be a slippery slope if allowed. Sometimes people buy organic and don’t know it contains GMO food. But if Colicchio, his chef brethren, Rep. DeFazio and these activist organizations are successful, we may someday know exactly what is in our food, GMOs or not.