This year’s mid-term elections have been filled with anticipation as we awaited the results of GMO labeling laws up for vote in both Oregon and Colorado. Though Oregon’s legislation will likely not pass; it is still a major sign that even when millions of dollars are spent to confuse voters they still show strong conviction for wanting to know what's in the food they eat and feed their families. The vote is incredibly close.
Colorado was unable to pass its referendum, although over half a million people voted in favor of the legislation. Oregon and Colorado weren’t the only labeling measures up for a vote. Maui County, HI and Humboldt County, CA won big success as they passed local level bans on the growth of genetically engineered crops. Local level successes are an excellent first step to passing statewide legislation, which often leads to federal legislation.
What does this mean for all of us moving forward? For one thing, this is just the beginning. The movement doesn’t end with Colorado and Oregon. Momentum is growing; more and more states (and counties) are in the process of establishing right to know legislation. This year alone there are over 90 bills in 29 states addressing labeling. After the defeat of California’s Prop 37 two years ago it seemed that this was a David and Goliath battle, one in which we would never be able to defeat the sheer financial power behind the anti-labeling army. But the tides are changing.
Combined, the No on 92 and No on 105 coalitions spent over $30 million to knock down labeling that is in the best interest of the public in order to protect their private interests. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents many major household brands, has spent $27 million fighting the right to know. What these companies fail to recognize is that they are adding fuel to our fire; they are simply giving more people more reasons to stand up for the right to know what is in their food and make informed decisions about what they are feeding their families. Americans increasingly want to regain control of our food system and our democratic voice.
It has been said time and again that the US is behind the times on this issue; over 60 countries throughout the world already label GE products. In fact many of the companies that are fighting the right to know already produce non-GMO products for international markets. Companies are spending more money opposing these initiatives then it would likely cost them to change the way they do things.
We are not going to win this battle overnight, but there are daily actions you can take to propel our progress. Take a stand at the store and show those big brands that you mean business and that you will hold them accountable for their actions. All of us joining together to avoid GE foods will make an economic dent and will remind these companies that there are repercussions; consumers do care how they spend their money. Then, take this opportunity to reward good companies like Nutiva, Cooconut Bliss, and Dr. Bronner’s who not only produce non-GMO products but also support consumers’ right to know.
GMO Inside will continue to put pressure on companies like Dean Foods, General Mills, PepsiCo, and the many others who are refusing to change with the times and who continue to fund anti-labeling front groups.
So, win, lose, or lawsuit we want to say thank you to Colorado and Oregon for educating millions of voters on the fact that GMOs are present in their food supply. This is just the start and we appreciate all that you have done and we are glad to have such dedicated people fighting by our side.