GMO Labeling Opposition Rooted in Protecting Profits, Not Consumers
By: Robyn O’Brien (Prevention)
Breaking news happened in Colorado today:
Chipotle Grill joins farmers and food companies around the country in urging voters to vote “yes” on Colorado’s labeling initiative, Proposition 105, the ballot initiative that would require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food across the state, subject to some exceptions. Chipotle is already voluntarily labeling GMO ingredients in its food, and is actively working to eliminate GMOs from the ingredients it uses to make its food.
Consumer support for labeling genetically engineered foods is consistently strong. In a recent survey conducted forABCNEWS.com, 93 percent of respondents said the federal government should require labels on food that has been genetically modified or “bio-engineered.” Across polls, consumers overwhelmingly favor GMO labeling with support consistently tracking above 80 percent. In spite of such strong preference, the federal government has yet to act on GMO labeling, similar efforts failed to pass in California and Washington, and a lawsuit has been filed in Vermont to block a labeling law that was enacted earlier this year. The challenge comes from strong opposition efforts with significant funding from large food companies, chemical companies, agribusiness companies, and biotech seed companies.
“Fundamentally, we believe that people have a right to know what’s in the food they eat,” said Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO at Chipotle. “Consumers want this information, and we are already giving it to them. But well-funded opposition groups continue to fight labeling efforts, with opponents putting their own profits ahead of consumer preferences.”
Opponents argue that requiring GMO labeling would put Colorado food producers at a disadvantage and raise food prices for consumers around the state. In a study of the economic impacts of GMO labeling in Oregon, where voters will decide a similar measure, Consumers Union (the public policy arm of Consumer Reports) found the median cost per person of GMO labeling would only be $2.30 per person per year, calling into question some key elements of opponents’ arguments. Consumers Union and Consumer Reports are supporting labeling initiatives in Colorado and Oregon.
The prevalence of GMO foods in the United States has gotten alarmingly high since their introduction into the food supply in the mid-1990s. According to the USDA, more than 90 percent of all corn, soybeans, sugar beets and canola grown in the U.S. contain patented genetically modified genes, and an estimated 75 percent of processed food contains genetically engineered ingredients. Much of this transition has occurred without consumer knowledge, but consumers are asking for greater transparency in the food system.
Consider America’s growing demand for organic foods, as follows;
- In 1990, Americans spent $1 billion on organic food
- In 2003, they spent $13 billion
- In 2009, they spent $24.8 billion
- In 2013, they spent $35.1 billion
- A recent report showed that 65% of American consumers prefer foods with organic ingredients
In order to accurately access data and trends, labeling of both organic and genetically engineered food is critical. (Full story here)…
This article was originally published on Prevention.com
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