retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that a a House of Representatives subcommittee today will begin reviewing legislation that would make it entirely voluntary for companies to label their products as containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a law that would supersede any state laws mandating such labels.

The story says that "the bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., is supported by the food industry, which has said labels would mislead consumers into thinking that engineered ingredients are unsafe." While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has maintained that foods with GMOs are essentially the same as those without, and stayed out of the labeling debate, the Congress is stepping in because of the "potential patchwork of state laws requiring the labeling."

Vermont has mandated GMO labeling, as has Connecticut, though the Connecticut law is contingent on enough other states passing similar legislation so that it is not out on the proverbial limb. California and Washington State voters have rejected GMO labeling mandates, and Oregon currently is going through a recount after an initial vote showed a similar if extremely narrow defeat.
KC's View:
So the food industry has maintained that we need a national approach to GMO labeling, not a state-by-state approach. But what the food industry really has wanted is a national approach that doesn't mandate them at all.

Listen, the Congress is going to do what it wants to do. Or what highly paid lobbyists tell them they want them to do. I'm too old to believe that Mr. Smith is ever going to go to Washington.

But I continue to believe that in the long run, the food industry is making a mistake here … that they are working against the tide of transparency that is sweeping through every industry. I think it will hurt the food industry in the long run, and erode trust. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. But I don't think so.