Salem couple plans program on threat of GMO foods Saturday

SALEM – A Salem couple is trying to raise awareness with a free program Saturday about what they say is a growing health threat from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

Geoff and Ashley Johnson announced the free food safety awareness event will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at Pavilion 1 at Centennial Park in Salem, just off of Pershing Street.

Geoff serves as the Columbiana County leader for Label the Truth, a nonprofit organization which wants to mandate labeling foods in Ohio for GMOs and is planning to seek placement of a constitutional amendment question on the 2016 ballot.

“We’re trying to build our team up for the area,” Geoff said.

He held a similar event at Centennial Park last year to bring attention to GMOs, but with his own local group. He said they want people to know that something’s happening in Ohio and efforts are being made to bring more attention to the problem.

According to the Label the Truth website at, “a GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.”

Geoff explained that this process started being used 20 years ago as a way to get better yield and bigger plants, but “now we’re starting to see what it’s doing to the environment.”

He said that the additives and food dyes and GMOs found in many foods are affecting children by causing allergies and other health-related problems. As part of the program, brochures with details about GMOs and how they’re in the food supply will be available.

Besides speakers about the topic of GMOs and the future petition the group is planning to seek, the owner of Garden Gnome Produce will demonstrate organic growing methods. Geoff said he’ll cover how to grow organic food on a small budget and in a small yard.

Plans also call for possibly screening the film “Farmageddon.”

To learn more about Label the Truth, visit the group’s website at or visit the group’s Facebook page.