Don’t get me wrong. I was fairly strident in support of country-of-origin labeling for fruits and vegetables. But for some reason, the utopian idea that consumers should know everything about the food they eat is beginning to seem like piling on.
How many more mandates must the food industry absorb?
Think of all the permutations of a particular product sold at retail. First of all, obviously, is the cucumber local or brought in from Mexico? Is the packaging biodegradable and recyclable? Did the grower use sustainable irrigation practices in growing his potatoes? How were the workers treated down on the farm? What pesticides were used by the grower?
The “Just Label It” group insists it is not anti-GMO food but in favor of consumers’ right to know.
My hunch is that labeling of GM food among many proponents is more about stopping the technology than giving consumers the “right to know.”
For example, the group advises consumers on “How to avoid GM foods” by staying away from the “top eight” — corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini and yellow squash.
To get the insight of the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, I recently put out a poll of members.
The question: Should the FDA require retail labeling of genetically modified fruits and vegetables?
It should be pointed out that there is just a handful of GM fruits and vegetables on the market now representing a very tiny fraction of a percent of total produce marketed.
Even for this industry group, the vote is surprisingly in favor of labeling for GM fruits and vegetables, with a March 22 tally of 13 in favor of mandatory labeling and 10 opposed.
The reasons members gave in favor of labeling follow the simple logic: Consumers should know how their food is grown and produced.
As one supporter of the idea said, “Surveys show consumers want GMO labeling, what is the food industry so afraid of if there are no risks? How does labeling ‘raise the price of food’ exactly?”
Another member said that suppliers should at least inform buyers whether commodities are GMO or not, and let them decide if any type of labeling is necessary or appropriate.