A lot of events are converging to create a tipping point to finally allow the labeling of genetically modified (GM) foods.
The FDA is likely to approve GM salmon and apples against the people’s will. Many big food companies have received massive social media backlash from consumers, particularly parent companies to organic ones that heavily funded campaigns against GMO labeling. For instance, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream got shrapnel from some of these “Traitor’s Boycotts” because its parent company Unilever funded to prevent labeling. Ben & Jerry’s will remove its GM ingredients by the end of 2013.
The funded and questionable failure of California’s Proposition 37 has stoked the flames since last September. Consumers have even themselves begun labeling grocery products with a passionate drive to bring awareness to others. Wal-mart got flak last summer for selling unlabeled and possibly dangerous GM sweet corn.
Most recently, Washington state introduced a labeling initiative for the 2013 ballot. Their concern is not only about “right to know” but surrounds fears that unlabeled genetic salmon and apples could seriously damage the economy by getting their exports blocked - especially from countries that require labeled GM food. It is estimated that at least 20 other states are considering labeling initiatives.
This amalgam is perhaps why there is talk of Wal-mart, PepsiCo, ConAgra and at least 20 major food companies possibly switching sides and lobbying for national labeling. It’s probably the very least all those companies could do after spending more than $45 million to keep food unlabeled. Gary Hirshberg of Just-Label-It and chairman of Stonyfield organic called it a poor return on their investment, referring to their actions provoking demand instead of squashing it. Too late – money talks both ways, but now they are starting to get it.