Thursday, January 16, 2014


Who ever has not heard about the failure of ballot initiative last year in California, USA to mandate food industry to declare on label of every product whether it contains ingredients derived from a genetically modified raw material? Massive funds infused by a few industry giants monopolizing on GMO food and seed production were found to be responsible for the defeat of the initiative at that time through misleading campaign to convince the gullible consumers that GM foods are safe. Fortunately a plethora of consumer activist organizations did not give up their efforts and in more than 100 cities demos were held against GM foods. Many countries banned GMO foods from the market and at least two states in the US also set up laws mandating compulsory labeling. Now that the anti-GMO movement has become a whirlwind threatening to annihilate the food industry in the country, an attempt is being made to bring about a national law applicable in all states to put on the label some sort of declaration about GM ingredients. Whether this is due to real feeling by the industry about the welfare of consumers or just a strategy to preempt more states from compulsory labeling regulations is a matter of speculation right now. Here is a take on this new developments in the GM food front in the US. 

"The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 food companies, is preparing a petition to the chief U.S. food safety regulator and a push in Congress to require changes in oversight and labeling of new genetically modified foods, an association leader said Monday. The double-pronged strategy, which the group expects roll out early this year, is aimed at squelching state-by-state efforts to mandate labeling of foods containing biotech crops, and at the same time setting a standard that among other things would authorize GMO foods to be touted as "natural." GMO and natural labeling issues have prompted scores of lawsuits around the country and a mix of practices by different food companies. More than two dozen states are examining GMO labeling laws, and state ballot measures in California and Washington have cost the food industry more than $70 million in campaign spending to defeat. "We should not be making food safety labeling decisions through a patchwork of state laws," Louis Finkel, executive vice president of government affairs for the GMA, said in an interview. Finkel said his group has been working with a broad coalition, including biotech crop developers, to put together its legislative and labeling proposals. He would not say which lawmakers the group was working with on the legislation but that it should be introduced soon. The legislation would mandate consistent labeling of non-GMO and GMO foods, while nullifying state laws not identical to the federal law. Another provision would make it mandatory for biotech crop developers to notify the Food and Drug Administration before they introduce a new genetically modified crop to the marketplace - currently that notification is voluntary".

Most probably the industry is terribly worried about facing 50 different regulations in various states which can create lot of chaos for the manufacturers and interstate movement of packed foods may be seriously affected. Imagine the nightmare of a company to design 50 different labels for selling their products in all the states! This must have forced them to climb down from their rigid stand of opposing compulsory labeling till recently. Consumers must be alert to prevent any "wishy washy" arrangement in collusion with the FDA to dilute the declaration and get away with it.  


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