by Heather Callaghan
A lot of events are converging to create a tipping point to finally allow the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods.
The FDA is likely to approve GM salmon and apples against the people’s will. Many big food companies have received massive social media backlash from consumers, particularly parent companies to organic ones that heavily funded campaigns against GMO labeling. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream got shrapnel from some of these “Traitor’s Boycotts” because its parent company Unilever funded to prevent labeling. Ben & Jerry’s will remove its GM ingredients by the end of 2013.
The funded and questionable failure of California’s Proposition 37 has stoked the flames since last September. Consumers have even themselves begun labeling grocery products with a passionate drive to bring awareness to others. Wal-mart got flak last summer for selling unlabeled and possibly dangerous GM sweet corn.
Most recently, Washington state introduced a labeling initiative for the 2013 ballot. Their concern is not only about “right to know” but surrounds fears that unlabeled genetic salmon and apples could seriously damage the economy by getting their exports blocked – especially from countries that require labeled GM food. It is estimated that at least 20 other states are considering labeling initiatives.
This amalgam is perhaps why there is talk of Wal-mart, PepsiCo, ConAgra and at least 20 major food companies possibly switching sides and lobbying for national labeling. It’s probably the very least all those companies could do after spending more than $45 million to keep food unlabeled. Gary Hirshberg of Just-Label-It and chairman of Stonyfield Organic called it a poor return on their investment, referring to their actions provoking demand instead of squashing it. Too late – money talks both ways, but now they are starting to get it.
Organic Consumers Association (OCA) reported earlier that those companies, the FDA and some advocacy groups met in January behind closed doors at the Meridian Institute, a major discussion hub. It appears that some Fortune 500 companies have now shied away from Monsanto. Consumer activism works.
Ronnie Cummins of OCA warned to keep watch:
We should be wary of any compromise deal at the federal level, one that would preempt the passage of meaningful state GMO labeling laws that have real teeth.
How many of you saw a red flag for a case of Problem-Reaction-Solution or Controlled Opposition? Are they discussing a watered-down solution – a strategic attack? At the very least, they know that they have a problem.
While so many consumers are adamantly opposed to GMOs existing anywhere close to planet Earth, some law makers like Senator Jamilah Nasheed of St. Louis simply feel:
I don’t want to hinder any producer of genetically modified goods — However, I strongly feel that people have the right to know what they are putting into their bodies.
Fighting the presence of GMOs and trying to raise awareness has been an uphill and often unseen battle for over 20 years. Not only have the FDA and USDA failed to help, but they have systematically ushered them in with no safety testing and have covered up studies proving hazards.
At least with consumer awareness reaching critical mass (we vote with our forks and dollars), big companies like Wal-Mart and food giants finally voicing labeling desires is a step in a good direction if they stop selling us out for profits.
Let’s continue giving them an uphill battle to win back our patronage – if ever. They don’t want to keep shelling out millions to further provoke us if they have to keep doing it repeatedly to their own demise. If they want people’s money, they had better listen.
The definitive movie on genetically modified foods – watch Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives for free, limited time only.
Read other articles by Heather Callaghan Here
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