Sunday, March 10, 2013


By now world over it has become a common belief that the fight between the consumer and the Biotech Industry turning out monstrous GM foods is an unequal one and the latter can never win this "war" for justice. It was only recently that Californian voters were "bribed" through a 45 million dollar brain washing blitzkrieg to defeat narrowly an innocuous proposition calling for mandatory declaration of use of GM ingredients in food products like all other countries in this planet do! Massive march of common men and women from New York to Washington D C last year to appeal/beg/beseech their President to ask the food industry to come clean on use of controversial GM food ingredients in American foods seems to have no effect on the politicians in that country who are under the mesmerizing influence of the Biotech industry! Against such a background the bold decision taken by a large food retailer in that country to break ranks with the apologists of GM foods is music to the ears of millions of American citizens who are overly concerned about the health of the future generations fed on a wide spectrum of GM foods. Here is a take on this important development.

"A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. "We've seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled," Mr. Gallo said. "Some of our manufacturers say they've seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled." Genetically modified ingredients are deeply embedded in the global food supply, having proliferated since the 1990s. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified. The alterations make soybeans resistant to a herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide. Efforts are under way to produce a genetically altered apple that will spoil less quickly, as well as genetically altered salmon that will grow faster. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. "Fantastic," said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. "These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk," Louis Finkel, the organization's executive director of government affairs, said in the statement. Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe. The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients".

It takes courage and conviction to swim against the tide and the action of this retail chain is all the more praise worthy considering the stakes involved. Of course they are truthful in stating that their action is guided by the desire of most of their customers who wanted such labeling and their business is expected to expand by 15% within a short span of time. One point that may disappoint some is the time frame given viz 5 years to bring about this changed policy. It has to be admitted that unilateral action in putting GM label on products made by hundreds of suppliers is not an easy task and the 5 year time frame appears to be reasonable if this aspect is considered. The unfortunate American consumer must be happy that such a trend is visible during their life time, after giving up any hope that the GM food industry would ever oblige them by making the labeling truly transparent as the law has intended.


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