We first wrote about U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s Big Idea for GMO labeling back in February. The idea is this: Allow companies, voluntarily, to use QR barcodes to tell consumers if their products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The scheme would require you to scan the product, then be directed to the company’s website where you’d have wade through the advertising and search the fine print.
It was back in February that Vilsack once again floated the idea of consumers using barcodes to identify foods that contain GMOs, as an alternative to requiring food manufacturers to put a label on those products.
At the time, the paywalled site PoliticoPro reported:The barcode idea is a way of finding that balance, because it creates a process by which a great deal of info can be supplied to a consumer who is interested but it doesn’t indicate that there is anything wrong with a product like a label does, (Agriculture Secretary Tom) Vilsack said.
Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, supports the idea too. Peterson told POLITICO in May that such a system would mean that: ‘[I]f someone wants to know what’s in these products they can read it on their smartphone and that solves the problem” without “cluttering up the label.’”
One of the biotech and Big Food's most popular arguments against mandatory labeling is that it will cost manufacturers money, a cost they will have to pass on to consumers. They base that claim on one study, by Cornell University, which was funded by, and remains the intellectual property of, the biotech industry. (Labeling opponents ignore all the other, independently funded studies, that show labeling would result in no increased cost to consumers).
In anticipation of a "win" in Congress, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the multi-billion dollar lobbying group representing Big Food and also the architects of H.R. 1599, is already working with companies like Hershey's on just such a scheme.
Secretary Vilsack continues to insist that GMO’s are perfectly safe, despite growing evidence, based on sound science, to the contrary. He points to a 1992 decision by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)—a decision made only after an ex-Monsanto lawyer was appointed to the FDA—as conclusive proof that GMOs are safe.
Please tell Secretary Vilsack and your Senators you don’t want no stinkin’ barcodes—you want mandatory labeling of GMOs!