Labeling Laws that Stick

LabelingControversy continues over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), especially seed crops created by industry giants like Monsanto (maker of Roundup) and genetically manipulated to withstand their own herbicides. While research into the long-term effects of GMOs is in its infancy, critics urge caution. Among the fears is that GMOs may introduce new allergens into the food chain, deplete beneficial bacteria in the soil and suppress the natural immune responses of food and feed crops. There is also concern that cross-contamination between natural and GM crops can occur. GMO critics in the U.S. have long called for labeling of food and feed that contain GMOs, efforts resisted vehemently by companies like Monsanto. In the European Union, all food and feed containing more than 0.9 percent of GMOs must be labeled. Such labeling remains voluntary in the U.S and Canada.


Activists in many states are trying to change that by spearheading “Right2Know” initiatives aimed at making consumers aware of the presence of GMOs in the food supply. In 2011, residents of Boulder County Colorado were successful in spurring county officials to phase out GMO crops on county land. A bill requiring labeling of products wholly and partially composed of GMOs was introduced in Vermont on February 1, 2012. A Right2Know labeling initiative is in a signature-gathering stage in California, with 800,000 signatures needed by April 18, 2012 to get it on the ballot for a vote. Similar actions have taken place in Connecticut, Hawaii and Washington.


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—Steve Kilbride

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