Friday, September 7, 2012


The mandatory "front of the pack labeling" is intended to respect the right of every citizen to know what is inside a food pack and compare the same with what is offered by others in the market. Almost all countries have labeling regulations with little variations but basically the objectives remain the same. While consumers whole heartedly welcomed such initiatives for the benefit of the community at large, it is the industry which consistently and aggressively resists such regulations, fearing an adverse impact on its financial health. If food industry appears on the wrong side of the consumer family it is because of such gross insensitivity to the well being and sufferings of the very consumers who after all provide its "bread and butter". The on-going war on mandatory GM labeling policy being put on the ballot initiative in California, USA for eliciting majority opinion is being furiously resisted by the industry and millions of dollars are being invested to defeat the proposal. It is very difficult to imagine the reason for such a negative attitude of the industry, considering that what is being asked from them is to declare if their products contain genetically altered ingredients. After all there are many processors who do not use GM ingredients in their products and an opportunity "window" opens up for the consumer to buy those products if labeling is insisted upon. Here is an interesting critique on the subject and consumers all over the will be looking for a massive endorsement of the policy initiative in California.

"This November, Californians will vote for or against Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. The outcome of that vote will likely determine whether the U.S. will one day join the nearly 50 other countries that allow their citizens to choose between genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered food through the enactment of laws requiring mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms(GMOs). The election is three months away, but the battle lines were drawn months ago. Lining up against the consumer's right to know — and throwing plenty of money into the fight — is a long list of industry front groups, food conglomerates and biotech companies. Near the top of that list is the powerful Washington, DC-based Grocery Manufacturer's Association (GMA), a multi-billion-dollar trade association. The GMA represents America's $1.2 trillion "Big Food" industry, led by supermarket chains, Monsanto and other biotech companies, animal drug companies, multinational food manufacturers, and junk food restaurants — all of whom rely on the use of dangerous chemicals, pesticides, animal drugs, and GMOs to produce cheap, contaminated food".

One natural question that arises out of the above situation is why the industry is opposing the transparency sought to be achieved through the new labeling policy when there are divergent views regarding the safety and environment dangers posed by GM foods. If irradiated foods, with tons of safety studies concluding that they are safe, needs to be labeled under American law, why not GM foods? A logical question that must replied by those opposing GM labeling proposal. It is amusing to note the stand taken by the antagonists of the proposed policy of compulsory labeling regarding the impact of such a move on the future of Biotechnology as if this modern wonder science is restricted to only developing GM foods! One important consideration about this issue is regarding the logistical difficulties that may arise once California voters approve the proposal because California is one of the 50 states in the US and food industry will have to either declare GM foods for entire country or separate labels need to be printed on products made and marketed in that state. Probably Food and Drug Administration deserves blame for this dilemma as this agency has shirked its responsibility by not passing such a law with national foot print, applicable to the entire country, probably bowing to the lobbying power of the GM food industry giants..


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