Friday, February 1, 2013

Junk Food Companies Reconsider GE Food Labeling Stance

I was up way too late last night, but I received a huge boost of energy just before midnight. Why?

While last November's battle over Prop 37 in California may have been lost by those demanding transparency in our food supply, the war calling for the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients may have been won in the ballot initiative's demise.

In a story first reported by the Organic Consumers Association earlier this month and just covered in today's New York Times ("Companies Weigh Federal Labels for Gene-Engineered Ingredients"), it seems as if the multinational foodstuff/junk food companies are rethinking their strategy of opposing labeling at all costs (financial and moral).

Here are, in my opinion, the most important opening four paragraphs of any article in today's Times:

"With Washington State on the verge of a ballot initiative that would require labeling of some foods containing genetically engineered ingredients and other states considering similar measures, some of the major food companies and Wal-Mart, the country’s largest grocery store operator, have been discussing lobbying for a national labeling program.
"Executives from PepsiCo, ConAgra and about 20 other major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart and advocacy groups that favor labeling, attended a meeting in January in Washington convened by the Meridian Institute, which organizes discussions of major issues. The inclusion of Wal-Mart has buoyed hopes among labeling advocates that the big food companies will shift away from tactics like those used to defeat Proposition 37 in California last fall, when corporations spent more than $40 million to oppose the labeling of genetically modified foods.

“'They spent an awful lot of money in California — talk about a lack of return on investment,' said Gary Hirshberg, co-chairman of the Just Label It campaign, which advocates national labeling, and chairman of Stonyfield, an organic dairy company. 
"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."
This would be a tremendous concession by these corporations and a monumental victory for consumers. However, let's hope that if something does come of this, the multinationals' financial might does not allow them to buy and mold a feckless labeling program that falls short of what is necessary and demanded.

Click here to read the entire New York Times article.
Click here to read the coverage on the Organic Consumers Association website.

Click here to visit the Just Label It! website, which has been at the forefront of the labeling war.


Anonymous said...

Rob, what's your take on the NuVal labeling system that some large grocers have instituted (especially here in Colorado, maybe elsewhere too)?

Chef Rob said...


I haven't heard of this but will take a look.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it's independent at all (grocery stores must pay something for it and so many stores have their own brands lined up against the national brands on the shelves that there's a potential conflict of interest) but I certainly find it useful.