The GMO food labeling battle is reaching fever pitch

The food industry continues to fight efforts to label foods that have genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) even as people across the country continue to push for such labeling. The battle is moving to Washington, D.C., these days as the industry tries to get Congress to do something to prevent a GMO labeling law from going into effect in Vermont.

Here's what food labels could look like in Vermont-- noting GMOs-- unless Congress moves to stop it.
Here’s what food labels could look like in Vermont– noting GMOs– unless Congress moves to stop it.

The latest is detailed in this Associated Press story I read earlier this week. Basically, food companies have to start saying on product labels whether they include GMOs starting in July under the Vermont law. The industry is lobbying Congress to pre-empt state laws on this issue, knowing that a Republican-controlled Congress would likely side with it, just as Republican generally did in coming out against new school lunch nutrition standards.

The U.S. secretary of agriculture has yet to take a position and has been trying to broker a compromise, so it’s not clear how the president would react to a Congressional move to essentially negate the Vermont law.

Personally I don’t get concerned about GMOs, knowing the industry has been modifying things like seeds for decades to enhance their yield potential and resistance to various threats like pests or bad weather  and soil conditions. I’m more concerned about stricter labeling requirements for salt, a silent killer in this country.

But that said, I know there is a very vocal portion of the public that is concerned and wants the information about whether products contain GMOs on labels and so I say why not include it?

The industry will say people will misinterpret the information and stop buying products they make.  Here’s a news flash for them — people already have stopped buying many of the processed products they make.

Perhaps food processors should be spending money that otherwise would go to lobbying on this issue for research into how to make new products the public today does want to buy.

One major company, Campbell Soup, has apparently gotten the message, it pulled out of industry efforts to oppose GMO labeling and now supports it. Here’s hoping other major food processors follow suit before they find shoppers desserting them in even greater numbers because they don’t know what is in the products they sell.

We are in the age of simple ingredients and clean, i.e. fewer and more basic ingredients, labels. The food companies that get that will prosper; the others will face continued sales declines.

 

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