GMO Labeling: Darkness and Light
By Ken Roseboro
Published: May 23, 2014
Category: The Non-GMO Blog
Fifteen years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration conducted consumer focus groups on labeling genetically modified foods. The FDA found, as most other surveys do, that “virtually all participants said that bioengineered foods should be labeled as such.” Many focus group participants expressed outrage that GM foods had been “snuck in” to the food supply without their knowledge and were disturbed by the lack of public information to a major change in their foods.
That was true 15 years ago, and it is even more so today.
Commonsense would seem to dictate that food companies would make this information available to their customers as a commitment to transparency. Instead, major food companies, along with biotech and agriculture industries, are trying harder to keep Americans in the dark about GMOs in foods.
Take the latest industry attempt to squash consumers’ right to know: the so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.” The bill would preempt state GMO labeling laws. It would establish a national voluntary standard for labeling foods as GMO or non-GMO. Voluntary GMO labeling? Food companies have been able to do this for many years. How many have? Zero.
Labeling supporters have dubbed Pompeo’s bill as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know).
Contrast the DARK Act with the Vermont legislature’s overwhelming vote in favor of GMO labeling. In a victory for democracy, Vermont citizens have called for GMO labeling, and the state’s legislators have responded—despite threats of a lawsuit by Big Food/Biotech.
One bill is a top-down attempt to crush state labeling efforts and keep consumers in the dark, the other is a grassroots-led initiative to bring light to what is in our food.
The trend is toward more food transparency; people want to know what ingredients are in their food. For example, Chipotle’s customers supported their move to reveal the GMO ingredients they use in the foods served in their restaurants.
But Big Food and Biotech’s response is to hide and deny, and that’s why Americans in 1999, who participated in the FDA’s focus groups, and even more today are outraged when they learn that GMOs have been “snuck in” to their foods. And that’s why more and more states, such as Vermont, want to bring light to this deception.