By Jessica Domel
One of our nation’s smallest states is making big waves across the nation. And it could soon affect every food product we buy.
Months ago, Vermont announced it would require all food suppliers to label their products if they contained any genetically modified ingredients, beginning July 1.
As we near that deadline, major food retailers like Campbell’s, Lay’s, General Mills, Kellogg and others are already complying.
So what’s the big deal? Why do people care whether there’s a label or not?
Well, some people don’t want to eat genetically modified foods. They think they’re unsafe, which science has shown time and time again to be untrue.
But this isn’t about that.
It’s about a label, or rather, a patchwork of labels. What happens if California voters decide they too want a GMO label on foods sold in their state? And North Carolina or Virginia want the same thing?
No big deal, right?
The problem is, each one of the laws could have different standards included. Some could require a big label on the front while others specify a square label on the back.
Each one could carry its own set of requirements that food retailers would have to navigate in order to sell products in that state.
Some of our cereal boxes and other products would end up looking like one of my old school spirals from when I was a kid–covered in stickers.
That’s not the only issue.
The Food and Drug Administration only requires food labels on foods that are a health, safety or nutrition risk.
GMOs are none of those.
Labeling GMO products like they are could confuse consumers.
There are other issues. It will cost retailers money to reformulate their labels and get those into the marketplace. Those costs will likely be passed down to us, the consumers.
Two years ago, a Cornell study estimated the cost of a patchwork of GMO labeling laws would cost an additional $500 for a family of four. Another study, this one from the Corn Refiners Association, estimates that cost at closer to $1,000 a year.
I don’t know about you, but that’s too much for me.
I’m not opposed to voluntary labeling. I buy foods frequently that have the non-GMO project label on them–not because they’re non-GMO, but because they taste good.
I’m opposed to a crazy patchwork of GMO labels that force our food companies to jump through hoops, confuse consumers and will end up costing us more in the long run.
It just seems unnecessary.
So, I’m waiting for our Congressmen and women to come up with a compromise on a voluntary, national labeling law that would line out some rules for labeling and would prevent a crazy mishmash of laws and the subsequent price increases.
We have just a matter of days left before Vermont’s law takes effect. Let’s see some action, Congress.