retail news in context, analysis with attitude

FoodDive has a story about a study released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) into likely issues related to a system in which the food industry would be transparent about GMO disclosures though the use of smartphones scanning QR codes.

According to the story, the report says that while 88 percent of consumers have at least some access to a smartphone, there was a broad lack of awareness that they could use the technology to access information, or even which applications on their smartphones they could use. In addition, few supermarkets seem to have the technology available to allow people without smartphones to get GMO information they may want, and may don’t even have WiFi technology.

According to the story, “This study was mandated as part of the GMO labeling law, which was signed by President Obama last year. One of the more controversial aspects of the law, which requires manufacturers to specifically label genetically modified ingredients, allows this label to be just an electronic or digital link on the package. Many opponents argued this electronic disclosure, which could be a smartphone-scannable QR code, was not sufficient. A provision was added that required this study to look into the label's challenges and issues.”
KC's View:
I’m not sure that the rules are sufficient for now, but certainly the growth in smartphone usage means that they will be soon. But, I do think that responsible retailers and suppliers should be willing to invest in the educational effort necessary to make sure that people know where the info is and how to access it. That would be the responsible thing to do … it would be a hollow effort to make the information available but not do anything to publicize it.