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Fighting Over GMOs in the Natural Foods Aisle

Fighting Over GMOs in the Natural Foods Aisle

The market for natural and organic foods has exploded. A decade ago the average supermarket shopper would have been hard pressed to find a single piece of organic produce or a box of organic cereal. The landscape has since changed – drastically. Even the most conventional markets now have a sizable collection of organic and “natural” products for sale. Next to Hormel corndogs are Amy’s Organic Burritos. But just slapping “organic” or “natural” on a label is hardly enough for some of the more intrepid consumers out there – nor should it be.

In California, a state that often sets the standard for political change, there is a ballot initiative (Proposition 37) that would require the labeling of all genetically modified foods, in highly processed foods as well as their more natural counterparts. And no surprise, there are numerous biotech giants, like Monsanto and DuPont, that are spending millions of dollars to make sure this bill never passes. However the parent companies of such natural food staples like Kashi, Horizon Organic, and Cascadian Farm are funding efforts to defeat the initiative, as it is not in their best business interest. This is creating some static in the natural foods sector as some smaller companies are putting their limited resources in support of Proposition 37, while their shelf neighbors are ambivalent or even opposed, due to their larger business interests.

This is also creating some friction between consumers and some of their favorite brands. As The New York Times reported yesterday, “Consumers aren’t always aware that their favorite organic brands are in fact owned by big multinationals, and now they’re finding out that the premium they’ve paid to buy these organic products is being spent to fight against something they believe in passionately,” said Mark Kastel, a co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog and farm policy group that has been tracking corporate contributions in the ballot fight. “They feel like they’ve been had.”

Although certified organic products are prohibited by law from containing genetically engineered ingredients, organic companies generally favor the labeling law, contending that consumers have a right to know what is in the products they buy. What is left unsaid is that it may also be a marketing advantage for organic companies, distinguishing them from conventional food producers.

With all the muscle behind, and against, this bill, it will likely be a contentious fight, and the results will likely send a message to consumers and producers alike.

What is your feeling about legislating mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods? Do you think this should be something decided at the state level or the federal level? Should companies that position themselves as “natural” responsibly address the issue of genetically modified foods?

Related:
How to Win a GMO Debate: 10 Facts Why GM Food is Bad
10 Ways to Take Action Against Monsanto
What Do GMOs Have in Common With Agent Orange?

Read more: Blogs, Conscious Consumer, Following Food, Food

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

35 comments

+ add your own
9:05PM PST on Nov 12, 2012

thanks

11:46AM PST on Nov 9, 2012

WE CAN DO THE LABELING FOR FREE! WHY WAIT??
Let’s put together a list of GMO products, which foods they have been incorporated in, keep posting it (in non-preach to the choir places), small ads, etc, and then make your own labels (marker on something that sticks-Hand made) and walk around and paste them on the stuff. This will cause a large reaction and the proper one for no or very little cost.

Everyone can do this so simply. Or wait for the Government to do it (never).
We must have a few research people in the group and we need a central posting place.
Who can make a website? Contact me! This is so simple and we move forward instantly.
I will be glad to direct a campaign to fix this. Easy to get in touch and become a friend if you really want to do something.
All kinds of talents will be useful, write a skill or idea in your friend invite. And contact friends to grow our group.

IW

5:13AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

thank you

2:10AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

It is great that it has so much attention these days, although I haven`t seen it in media... we just have to stop this, and I think we can, if we just keep fighting. Thanks for sharing!

12:20AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

they're still trying to put wool over our eyes. dont fall for their tricks. we dont need GMO in our foods and these days, even kids cereals have it (among other things of course).

4:08PM PST on Nov 7, 2012

Thank you.

2:45PM PDT on Sep 23, 2012

be certain food products are certified non GMO...look for the sign. even what we grow from seed may be infected with GMO...know your source

7:30AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

That's why I grow my own....good exercise, good tanning, great results and thanks to canning and freezing, organic vegetables all year round!!

2:11AM PDT on Sep 19, 2012

I love my own organic garden where nothing gets sprayed with any toxins unless a pigeon flying overhead decides to ready, aim, fire! Thankfully that at least hasn't happened!

7:30PM PDT on Sep 18, 2012

Label it!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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