Tuesday, February 5, 2013

GMO Labeling Discussion Revisited

Sweet corn/Fairfax County
Only a few months ago,  Proposition 37 requiring labeling of  GMOs  was defeated in a Californian referendum in no small measure due to a concerted effort by corporations spending over $ 40 million, but the issue is back on the table in Washington State. And now corporations seem to be changing their tune: "...major food companies and Wal-Mart are discussing lobbying for a national labeling program...." as reported in the New York Times on January 31.

"..Instead of quelling the demand for labeling, the defeat of the California measure has spawned a ballot initiative in Washington State and legislative proposals in Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico and Missouri, and a swelling consumer boycott of some organic or “natural” brands owned by major food companies."  Another interesting difference between the Californian referendum and the Washington ballot initiative is:

that a failure to label is not only presented as a U.S. consumer issue, but as something that could hurt international trade and the Washington economy. The New York Times continues:

"...A third of the apples grown in Washington State are exported, many of them to markets for high-value products around the Pacific Rim, where many countries require labeling. Apple, fish and wheat farmers in Washington State worry that those countries and others among the 62 nations that require some labeling of genetically modified foods will be much more wary of whole foods than of processed goods..."

According to Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University,

“...If there is a documented issue with this overseas, it could have a devastating impact on the U.S. food system and agriculture...The F.D.A. isn’t going to get very far with international governments by saying Monsanto and Syngenta told us these foods are safe and we believed them.'

Although in the end the GMO discussion, should be about the safety of our food supply and the health of consumers, but at this stage if economic issues will force the implementation of GMO labeling then that's fine with me and a development in the right direction.

For more information on GMOs, see my previous blog posts:At the eleventh hour: the case for proposition 37  and GMO, health and elections.


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