- Playing a state-by-state game of whack-a-mole with grassroots groups trying to pass laws across the country (as is occurring in Washington state, Vermont, New Mexico, and Connecticut right now) may simply have become too exhausting and costly for these companies.
- Although many Americans don’t know it, many big companies like Walmart, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Unilever, Kellogg’s, Starbucks, even McDonald’s, are GMO-free in Europe, due to strict GMO labeling laws. So they already know how to and actually do source and line produce non-GMO foods.
- With today’s GMOs, the only consumer benefit is that by simplifying commodity agriculture, they keep commodity prices lower. But commodity costs are a small part of the retail price (most of which is actually marketing costs), so not something that needs dollar support from Big Food.
- Despite all the claims made on their behalf, such as significantly boost yields, disease resistance, or nutrition, things consumers may want and need, to date, GMO actually provide very little benefit to them. So far, they have simply allowed farmers to plant vast acreages of commodity crops like corn, soy, and cotton with less labor (but not, despite industry claims, with fewer chemicals). Food companies may then rightly wonder if it’s their fight to defend those products, or biotechnology seed companies’, like Monsanto and Syngenta?
- Big Food may realize that GMO labeling is an inevitability. There are already 61 countries requiring it, and the World Health Organization’s food safety standards group has official, internationally approved guidelines for any country wishing to label GMOs. We’re the laggards on this issue, not the pioneers.
All in all, even if the FDA does not immediately start a process to label GMOs, it’s good news if food companies seem ready to opt out of the political battle. With battles over GMO labeling gearing up in states across the country, we’ll know for sure if they do soon.
And labeling may come even sooner rather than later. With the prospect of final FDA approval for the first genetically modified fish designed for human consumption, AquaBounty’s AquAdvantage salmon, some states are moving quickly. Missouri has introduced a bill that would require labels for any genetically engineered meat or fish. The FDA itself may feel compelled to require a label as the “price” for approving the salmon. And once one kind of GMO food is labeled, how long can it be before others are?
There are no long term studies available to show the effects of years of GMO consumption on human health. But there are clear indications (via animal-based studies) that exposures to GMOs do add up and may create health issues. When it comes to our and our family’s health, what more do we need to convince us to embrace the precautionary principle? We have one health and don’t get to try and see.
If biotechnology seed companies are so sure about the safety of their products, what is the big deal with labeling then?