Monsanto Launches Massive Campaign to Stop GMO Labelling
By Lisa Garber
The People Versus GMO
In February of this year, Vermont contemplated the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. The proposed bill prohibits GMO food producers from using keywords like "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown," and "all natural" to describe GMO ingredients and products. In the same month, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that nearly 20 states were considering similar programs. Public surveys and studies also show a whopping 90 percent of the U.S. in favor of such practices.
In theory, this should make California's GMO labeling initiative, which would require all foods within the state made with GM ingredients to carry a label stating so, a shoo-in. But let's not get so hasty.
Leaders in the disinformation campaign launched against the labeling initiative cry out that it would be - like the infamous Proposition 65, "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986" - a way for bounty-hunting trial lawyers to file suits against even natural food companies for supposedly selling products containing undisclosed GMOs. Of course, GMO's ally StopCostlyFoodLabeling.com receives funding from the Council for Biotechnology Information. It should be no surprise that the likes of Monsanto and Dow count themselves members of the said organization.
More Efficient than Prop 65
James C. Cooper, PhD in economics from Emory University, dismisses the comparison between California's initiative and Proposition 65. In his report, he delineates the key differences between the two programs:
- The Label GMO initiative allows producers 7 years to reduce GMO exposure of products from under 5 percent to zero.
- Producers are immune from suit if they can provide a statement from their supplier or an independent organization that the food is certified organic and/or GMO-free.
- Producers have 30 days to rectify violations with no liability.
- Whereas plaintiffs keep "bounties" of 25 percent of civil penalties in Prop 65, the labelling initiative provides none.
It hasn't been long since the Food and Drug Administration deleted 1 million signatures and comments from the "Just Label It" campaign calling for the labelling of GM foods, even after 55 politicians offered support for the initiative. It only shows that the fight against GMOs won't be easy (or cheap).
Still, it's worth fighting.