Most people are aware that there is a huge movement toward mandated labeling of foods containing GMOs. This push is now occurring at the state level, even though Prop 38 failed in California. Now, in a bizarre twist of fate, there's a proposal from General Mills CEO to do the exact opposite: mandate that everything *not* containing a GMO be labeled. Karma's a bitch, ain't it?
I've never been supportive of labeling mandates. For one thing, the FDA is about as scientific as the Catholic Church. Consider these facts.
1) The FDA allows beta carotene to be listed as Vitamin A under Nutrition Facts labels.
2) Foods labeled as free of trans fats are not actually free of trans fats.
3) Independent studies have found that not all eggs are created equally.
4) The FDA supports labeling of foods as certified gluten-free that are not technically gluten-free.
Those are just four examples where the FDA gets labeling wrong. (I discuss another example at the bottom of this article.) You have no way of knowing the extent of incorrect information on the Nutrition Facts label when you buy a food. More fundamentally, I oppose mandated labels on the basic principle that any action should be legal unless it's fraudulent.
Currently, the FDA allows voluntary labeling of food with regard to whether it has GMOs or not. And with that in mind, here's a thought. Voluntary labeling already exists in the form of USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project verified. And honestly, it's really only an issue if you eat foods that come in a box or a can or contain highly processed ingredients, since whole foods (organic or not) are almost exclusively non-GMO apart from a minority of Hawaiian papaya, squash, and zucchini. In fact, to make it even simpler, here are ten apps to help you eat non-GMO, if you care. Look at that. I just told you how you can tell whether foods are GMO, and I did it without spending a penny.
What about labeling on the other side? To my knowledge, it doesn't exist, because the food industry doesn't want to. And that's what so hilariously bogus about the claims of the food industry. The entire argument of food processing companies revolves around the idea that the American public is, by and large, just too dumb and scientifically illiterate to comprehend how awesome their products are, so they need to be protected by the FDA.
Maybe these companies could re-learn the American capitalist mentality that existed in the good ole days, where they are actually proud of the products they produce and seek to educate the public about them, rather than capturing regulatory agencies to rubber-stamp their activities, all the while spending close to $100 million to be deliberately obscurantist. What a concept. I suggest this label: "This product was proudly produced using biotechnology!" or perhaps this: "We use GMOs and we think they're great!"
If you can't educate consumers about your product and you have to rely on the protection of the FDA to keep the market share you have, you might not deserve that market share. This is why rBST-milk has largely gone the way of the Dodo Bird, despite Monsanto and Eli Lilly spending tens of millions on numerous lawsuits to protect the American public from free speech, until they and the FDA were finally slapped down in court in 2010. This may also be why the market share for organic food has grown at twice the percentage as conventional food each year for the past decade, and is predicted to balloon from its current 6% of the market to 30% of the market in just four more years.
cross-posted from Free Agriculture / Restore Markets