Monday, November 30 2015
Should GMOs be disclosed on food packaging by law?
Earlier this year I attended the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. This is the world’s largest natural and organic products event. Attendance this year was over 71,000. This was my third consecutive year and my seventh time attending this event. Each year the number of seminars on GMOs as well as companies offering non-GMO products has increased dramatically.
Poster sized signs all over the expo hall called for a national law that would force GMOs to be labeled on products made with them. The small but noisy group of food activists wanting such legislation will accomplish two things: 1. They will make all food more expensive for everyone unnecessarily and 2. They will use fear and misinformation instead of hard-science to influence consumers and legislatures.
Fact is that the general populace has very little idea of what a GMO is, how modified crops are made and what a whole lot of good for the environment they play. Terms such as ABF, organic, never ever, natural, pasture raised, grass fed or the other label claims currently easily confuse a multitude of consumers. Add a much more scientific term like “genetically modified” and it’s a recipe for disaster as far as misinformation and fear mongering goes. I heard the term “Franken-food” more than a few times at seminars and in conversations. Do you want to feed your kids “Franken-food”? Heck no. I think we need a more user-friendly word for GMOs. Do you have any suggestions?
No shortage of non-GMO products in the marketplace thanks to the organic industry
Spend three days with me walking through 2700 booths and you will find that there is no shortage of non-GMO products available today. In fact there are more available than will ever survive in commerce. If you are someone that wants non-GMO food products for your family, you are in luck! The marketplace has taken care of your concern about GMOs and there is no need to try to mandate by law that all food products have to be labeled. Soon you will be able to take your smart phone, scan the barcode on the package and get all the non-GMO certification information for the item in your hand. The organic industry benefits the most from the non-GMO trend as organic foods are always non-GMO.
Use the marketplace instead laws
Making it a state or federal law to require GMO labeling will make all food more expensive for everyone. It costs money to have third-party audits, certifications and DNA lab tests to confirm GMOs. One vendor of a dozen non-GMO products told me it adds 6% to the costs of comparable food products made with GMOs to certify, test and pay for non-GMO crops. For those that want non-GMOs certified products and are willing to pay more for it, great. The market offers what you want currently. For the rest of us that believe GMOs to be safe, sound, sustainable and healthy, we should not be forced to pay more for food. Same could be said for those that want to buy ABF, Never Ever and Organic. If you want to pay more for these types of food, great. The marketplace makes them for you.
In my next blog, I will look at the science behind GMO foods. Are they safe? Who can you trust to know?