I think the produce industry has proved its commitment to food safety and is glad for federal standards.
The cost, though, remains an issue. Paying for it with user fees doesn’t seem fair, but that is an issue for another column.
With genetically modified food, the FDA ruled in 1992 that it found no material difference between GM and non-GM foods, so labeling was not warranted. Would that change now? I doubt it, so the Grocery Manufacturers Association basically says let’s have FDA rule GM labeling is not warranted.
In 2012, when California voters chose against GM labeling, I would have bet my favorite petunia that packaging in the Golden State would have to have GM labels. Same thing in 2013, when Washington voters voted against the issue. Biotech and food companies spent a lot of money to convince voters labeling was costly and not necessary.
With their success in Vermont, perhaps the anti-GMO maniacs will mount new petitions to put the issue on the ballot in California and Washington.
In 2013, Maine and Connecticut passed laws requiring GM labeling but neither goes into effect until nearby states follow suit.
Still, The New York Times conducted a poll in 2013 that showed 93% of respondents saying that foods containing such ingredients should be identified. It has been artful of GM labeling activists to turn the question away from the benefits or dangers of genetically modified food to “everyone should have a choice.”
The bill passed is supposed to go into effect in 2016, though there may be legal challenges that delay it.
It is a cinch that GM crops, with the potential to use less water and pesticides, will produce cheaper crops. I think once people are given the choice, they will still go with the $2 bag of corn chips and be glad for the bargain.
After all, no ill effects have surfaced in the 20 years U.S. consumers have been eating GM foods. Up to four-fifths of processed food sold in the U.S. has GM ingredients.
As a postscript, in January I clipped an article from The Financial Times online about United Kingdom scientists at the John Innes Centre developing purple tomatoes using genetic modification.
The tomatoes have greatly increased anthocyanin pigments that have been shown to fight cancer, ward off type 2 diabetes and have other health benefits. Also, the anthocyanins slow down rot and mold so the tomatoes have longer shelf life.