Nationwide GMO labeling is finally happening! Um, now what?
Someday we'll look back and say, "It all started with Vermont." The GMO food labeling movement has been going strong for several years, but the turning point was when the state of Vermont finally passed a law making GMO labeling mandatory. General Mills was the first to say it would label everything, everywhere (it's too hard to create boxes for just one state), followed by Kellogg, ConAgra, Campbell Soup and Mars. We are finally getting the transparency we've been asking for — at least as far as GMOs go.
The question now is, will this change the way we shop?
How much do we actually, well... GAF. I mean, when you're there in the grocery store, checking off your long shopping list, keeping your tight budget in line, keeping your kids from tearing up the place, with not a lot of time to peer at labels, not a lot of dough, are you going to read those labels and make decisions based on the information there?
Yesterday NPR Food held a Twitter conversation about GMO labeling to see what people really think. They started by asking, "Do you look for GMO labels now?"
I wonder if a lot of us want access to that information so we can decide whether or not we actually want to use it. So it's not even so much about strong feelings for GMOs. It's about feeling galled that we're denied that information. What are they hiding from us?
Or maybe it really is about the GMOs. In a Facebook conversation I had yesterday, my food activist friend Susan said, "As someone who has been deeply involved in the food fight for longer than most, I'd like to remind everyone that the original campaign was to ELIMINATE GMO in the food supply. Labeling it was what we settled for once it was obvious how much money we were up against."
And when you settle for just labeling, the GMOs are likely to stick around — at least that's what happened in Brazil.
Still, for a lot of people, it really is more about transparency than getting rid of GMOs altogether. We Americans practically make a religion out of choice, after all. Here are a few more thoughts on labeling:
"I already look for the "Non-GMO Verified" seal, so I'm already steering clear of a lot of these foods that are likely going to own up to including GMOs... But more knowledge is always more power." — Maressa, New Jersey
"It will change how we shop but also where we shop. For instance I would be tempted to shop for more stuff at a store that has more GMO-free products at a reasonable price versus buying only 2 premium priced items at a store that is more convenient in terms of my shopping habits. Everyone is looking to stretch the dollar. Why shouldn't health conscious consumers also be smart consumers?" — Nandita Godbole, Curry Cravings
"Sigh. I don't know ... I think stuff has all sorts of labels on it already. Companies make up labels for their own food and the government has their own set of labels, whether it means anything or not... If something had a label that said it was genetically modified, I wouldn't buy it. That is, if I read and understood said label." — Kate, Oregon
"Not a lot - I'm cognizant. But, the labels will hopefully really alter my kids' eating habits when they are away from me!" — Davida, Brooklyn
So how about you? Will you read that GMO label, and will that change what you buy?