Wait, Did Big Agriculture Just Win Again?

 courtesy of GIZMODO

courtesy of GIZMODO

While the general public was waging war on each other this pass week over whose lives matter more, the Senate approved a measure that would require food companies to disclose GMOs without “actually” disclosing GMOs. I know. Keep reading.

For those who may not be as abreast, this bill has been in the making for months and involved a lot of “bargaining and backroom arguments.” Basically, a company will be required to disclose their GMO ingredients, but they don’t have to disclose it on the label right where you can see it.

If this bill becomes law, companies will be allowed instead to disclose their GMO ingredients through a QR code on the package. That’s the kind of square bar code that you’ve seen on airline boarding passes. Consumers could scan that code with their smartphones to retrieve the information. Small companies could just print a phone number or a Web address where consumers could find out whether a particular product contains GMOs.
— Dan Charles for NPR
 courtesy of Huffington Post

courtesy of Huffington Post

While GMO activists see this as a step backward, what actually gave this bill the push it needed was support from the Organic Trade Association (OTA). In a preemptive measure, the OTA approved the bill because it would give “key advantages” to the organic industry. One key advantage: any organic product would be able to label their product non-GMO.

Currently, some organic manufacturers pay substantial fees to organizations such as The Non-GMO Project in order to get their products certified as non-GMO.
— Dan Charles of NPR

While this could totally be seen as good news to small farmers and food companies who have to pay horrid fees to be certified organic, let alone non-GMO, it gives larger companies leeway to tell the truth without actually having to tell it to anyone. So as a consumer, I now have to make sure I carry my phone or tablet with me whenever I do my grocery shopping. Let’s hope that I even (a) have a phone or tablet, (b) that the store has WiFi, and (c) that my phone doesn’t die. And let’s be real, we all know that large food companies totally cater to the single working parent who doesn’t have time to loiter in a store aisle scanning QR codes.

 

This bill could also strike down the state of Vermont’s law that requires GMO-labelling right on the package.  So did Big Agriculture just win or did the organic and small food companies really come out on top? I guess that’s still to be determined because the Senate bill has yet to make it’s way to the House.

 

Want to know more about GMOs and GMO-labelling? Check out these links.

GMO Facts

GMO Supporting Food Companies to Avoid

March Against Monsanto