Ask and you shall receive!
While Washington drags its feet on the issue of GMO labeling (and no wonder given the bipartisan incest between Monsanto and the government), Americans are nearly unanimous in support of labeling genetically engineered food. Hardly any difference exists across political or informational lines; But far from passing any labeling measures, on May 29, the Senate overwhelmingly voted down legislation that would have given individual states the option to pass such laws locally.
It’s well understood that identifying foods that have been genetically engineered, often using the genes of foreign viruses, bacteria, and animals, would allow consumers to choose more sustainable, organic, non-GMO alternatives, and this is why biotech companies like Monsanto fight the implementation of labeling laws through media and lobbying initiatives.
What’s a food slacktivist to do?
So, with powerful government protecting powerful biotech companies at the expense of an informed public, what can we do besides wait for Washington to grow a conscience?
Answer: A buy-cott!
Market savvy private companies have heard the American public loud and clear. Grocery chains like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods as well as manufacturers such as Clif Bar & Co are turning to a stringent affidavit system to ensure the integrity of their food.
Affidavit and verification systems such as Trader Joe’s are rather similar to that of the USDA. Companies selling non-GMO products provide a sworn statement to the vendor that ingredients are sourced from crops that aren’t intentionally genetically engineered, then various means of verification are used. Random audits and testing conducted by third party labs ensure compliance.
This legally binding affidavit labeling system empowers consumers to make more informed choices about what we eat while keeping prices low and reducing the burden for vendors and manufacturers. As a result, more retailers are starting to label their non-GMO products because they understand that this is what the market wants.
Whole Foods recently announced it would require its suppliers to label all GMO foods, and just this week, national burrito chain Chipotle, also decided that it can act to meet consumer needs with or without the government. Truth in labeling is quickly becoming a huge trend.
So how can you help the growing labeling movement?
Vote with your dollars. The nonprofit NonGMO Project offers private and independent certification and labeling that avoids the lobbying and lawyer speak that inevitably waters down the integrity of labeling under the FDA… And it provides a searchable list of certified producers, retailers and restaurants that enables the consumer to easily locate non-GMO options in their area.
The best way to promote the spread of GMO labeling is to buy the brands that have made the effort to remove genetically engineered ingredients. Support the stores and restaurants that are taking steps to inform and protect their consumers. Write letters thanking them for their efforts and make it clear that you are choosing to spend your money with them because of what they have done.
Then…tell your neighbor.
That is the surest way to speed the progress of the vendors who have committed themselves to this undertaking and to get the attention of those that have not. You’ll not only provide a healthier and more sustainable choice for your own family, but you’ll be helping to ensure that cleaner healthier choices become more widely available for everyone!