As the prevalence of genetically modified foods (GMOs) continues to expand, we are seeing an ever-increasing demand for Non-GMO Verified products. There is a fierce debate over the safety, efficacy, and morality of the genetic engineering of food. Proponents claim that it achieves higher yields and is therefore useful in the fight against hunger. Opponents cite the higher reliance on toxic herbicides due to GMO farming. Proponents claim that industry studies show GMOs are both healthy for us and safe for the environment. Opponents rebut this with third-party studies that link GMO consumption to Celiac disease, cancer, and a host of adverse health effects.
According to the Just Label It campaign, “90% of mothers and 88% of fathers favor requiring labels for foods that have been genetically engineered or contain genetically engineered ingredients.”
Approximately 150,000 Americans have taken action on the Right to Know GMO campaign’s official website calling for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. And although an intensive analysis commissioned by Consumers Union, a branch of Consumer Reports, has confirmed that national mandatory GMO labeling efforts would cost consumers less than a penny a day ($2.30 annually), no such laws have been put into place except in Maine and Connecticut.
The ‘Food Fight’
Simply said, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It typically goes by a more common name: the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know). Why? The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act ensures corporations do not have to disclose their GMO ingredients to the public. The food and agriculture industries’ biggest players have lobbied Congress and spent tens of millions to block your right to know whether or not GMOs are in your food.
According to JustLabelIt.org, “Since 2012, Monsanto has spent more than $22 million to fight state ballot initiatives to label GMOs and millions more to lobby Congress against mandatory labeling.” That’s right. Twenty two million dollars to hide their ingredients from consumers.
Can you see now why people are concerned about GMOs? If these companies outright refuse to stand behind GMOs, why should we believe them when they say they are healthy for us? The phrase “conspiracy theory” should be thrown out when certain individuals try to shame cautious citizens who insist on avoiding GMOs.
The bottom line is this: whether of not multinational food companies manage to pass legislature blocking the public’s right to know if their products contain GMOs or not, the fight will continue. Big deal – so they manage to temporarily get it in writing? This is only fueling more public suspicion and will inevitably backfire.
Perhaps you do not shop at a health food store where Non-GMO Verified Project labels are not adorned on most products. Here is a list of the contributing companies that shelled out massive bucks to block your right to know.
‘Non-GMO’ Label Growing Faster than ‘Organic’ for 5 Consecutive Years
The Organic & Non-GMO Report posted data in 2011 showing that non-GMO labeling became the fastest growing label in the natural foods industry in 2010. Since then, it has maintained and increased its lead on all other product claims including organic, gluten-free, whole grain, soy food, hormone-free, and pre/probiotic. Additionally, Specialty Food, a website that publishes data on all specialty food trends, says, “Distributors say non-GMO has the highest potential for growth of all product claims over the next three years.” In essence, non-GMO shows no signs of slowing down.
According to the Non-GMO Report 2015 Media Kit which has posted the most up-to-date numbers,
Non-GMO is the fastest-growing food labeling claim in the United States with annual growth of 145% per year, which is faster than gluten-free, fair trade, and other categories. Sales of non-GMO verified products more than doubled from $3 billion in 2013 to $8.5 billion in 2014, making non-GMO the fastest growing food labeling claim in the US. There are more than 24,000 non-GMO verified products.
These are not isolated statistics limited only to non-GMO; it is part of a much larger picture. The organic industry has also experienced an unprecedented boom in the last 24 years.
According to Food Safety News, a website that is actually anti-organic, they report that:
A 3,400-percent increase in sales in 24 years makes organic the fastest-growing consumer food and lifestyle trend in modern history, say independent researchers looking into the industry’s strategies and marketing practices… With sales of $35 billion in the U.S. and $63 billion worldwide, the organic marketing industry has become very sophisticated… When expanded to the so-called “natural products,” the organic industry’s sales reached $290 billion last year in the U.S. alone.
Consumers are demanding healthier food and more transparency from corporations and they are willing to pay the higher prices for it.
‘Non-GMO’ Sales are Now More than Half of Total GMO Crop Sales in US
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), the world’s foremost authority on GMO and biotech market value, GMO sales totaled $15.7 billion in the US for the year 2014. As we just saw, non-GMO sales totaled $8.5 billion in the US the same year. This number provided by ISAAA only pertains to GMO crops but currently is the only available statistic on the matter.
In 2014, the global market value of biotech crops was US$15.7 billion representing 22% of the US$72.3 billion global crop protection market in 2013, and 35% of the ~US$45 billion global commercial seed market. Of the US$15.7 billion biotech crop market, US$11.3 billion (72%) was in the industrial countries and US$4.4 billion (28%) was in the developing countries. The market value of the global biotech crop market is based on the sale price of biotech seeds plus any technology fees that apply. The accumulated global value of biotech crops since 1996 is estimated at US$133,541 billion.
Forget Mandates! Just Boycott Companies Opposing GMO Labeling
Ultimately, it is entirely irrelevant if there is mandatory labeling or not. Why do we want – or care – if the companies that are clearly using GMOs tell us “we’re using GMOs” when we don’t want to support them anyway? These corporations are chiseling their own tombstones by their obstinate refusal to disclose their real ingredients. Will forcing a company to label products that obviously contain GMOs turn more consumers away or dramatically solve the ignorance issue? The truth is, those who support companies like Coca-Cola or Kraft do not care whether or not they are eating GMOs.
Consumers are ultimately responsible for knowing what’s in their food and where it comes from. The path of tyranny is paved by convenience. Also, who is to say that mandating companies to label GMOs will even be successful? History has proven that these companies and corporations were deceitful with every chance they have had, so why would this time be any different? With deep pockets lined with blood money, you can pay off just about anyone at any step in the regulatory process.
It is 5 minutes to midnight on the Food War’s Doomsday Clock and we are frittering away the seconds trying to change the packaging on food products we shouldn’t consume and don’t want anyway, rather than purchasing from farmers and companies demonstrating heroic integrity and transparency.
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