An unlabeled, genetically-modified apple might be easy to overlook among the piles of produce at the grocery store. But it was very difficult to miss the Are We Eating Fishy Food? Tour’s caravan of five “GMO art cars” parked outside the French Broad Food Co-op this afternoon. The vehicles are fitted with 300-pound, roof-mounted sculptures of “fishy”-looking produce in an effort to raise awareness surrounding GMO labeling. Asheville is the second-to-last stop on the activists’ 6,083-mile journey from Seattle to New York City.
Activist Ben Harper says that the cartoonish cars are great conversation-starters and that a “playful” approach to raising awareness about GMO labeling has been successful. “We’re trying to come at it from a positive approach … putting giant, goofy-looking structures on top of a car actually encourages people to approach you and to ask you about GMOs and to get people talking. It’s very approachable and it also makes people smile. You’re more likely to raise awareness when people are feeling good about the situation — even when the situation is a scary one.”
Chief organizer Rica Madrid says that throughout their travels — and especially in cities where GMO-labeling has come up on the ballot — the goal is to spark conversations with everyday people. “I think that we will have a more powerful democratic push for labeling if we can get people informed about what GMO labeling is before it hits the ballots,” says Madrid. “Monsanto and the grocery manufacturers may have millions and millions of dollars, but we have people, and we have heart and we are going to win eventually.”
Harper says the public response has been overwhelmingly positive, adding: “The people want to know whether or not they are eating genetically modified food and they have the right to know. All we want is a simple label and we deserve it.”
For more information about the Are We Eating Fishy Food? Tour, visit AreWeEatingFishyFood.com.