retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg has a piece about how "packaged-food giants are facing a prospect they’ve dreaded for years: a state law requiring them to label products containing genetically modified organisms."

Suddenly, the prospect is a real one: Vermont is expected to shortly become the first state in the nation to require the labeling of products containing GMOs. California and Washington residents both have defeated referendums calling for such labeling, while Connecticut and Maine have passed laws calling for GMO labeling contingent on enough other states passing similar laws. The Vermont law would take effect in 2016.

According to the story, "Kraft, Monsanto Co. and DuPont Co. are among the food makers that have lobbied against stalled GMO labeling legislation in California, the most populous state. They argue that labeling laws could increase food manufacturing and retail costs for processors and grocers. The Washington Research Council, a Seattle-based group that opposed the labeling bill in that state, estimated it would add as much as $520 to the annual food bill for a family of four … Kraft, General Mills and Mondelez International referred questions on GMO labeling to the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Washington. The organization calls the Vermont bill 'critically flawed' because GMO crops are safe, according to a statement on its website. Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the association, declined to say whether GMA would sue if Vermont’s governor follows through."
KC's View:
A few thoughts here.

I agree completely that dealing with this issue on a state-by-state basis is a mistake. It requires a federal policy … but, because the feds are (IMHO) doing the bidding of big biotech companies, states are being forced to make their own regulations.

I'd bet a beer that GMA will sue. It has done a ton of fund raising on this issue, and it cannot afford to let the GMO labeling movement get any traction. (Betting a beer doesn't mean that I doubt my position. I'm just not a bettor .. and a beer, for me, is high stakes.)

The continued focus on this subject makes me very happy that next Tuesday I will be moderating a panel discussion on the subject of GMOs at the Portland State University (PSU) Center for Retailing Excellence annual Executive Forum. Should be entertaining. (Come say hi.)

I would argue that the GMA position is itself "fatally flawed" because labeling does not equate condemnation. it is just information. And I have a problem with organizations of any kind that are anti-information sharing.

BTW … on a different but related subject, check out the TED speech by General Stanley McChrystal on the importance of sharing knowledge, vs. silo-style thinking. You can see it here.