Is a ‘DARK’ cloud looming for brands over GMO labeling?
Bill S.764, or “The DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act” as it’s known to many, which contains an amendment for federally mandated and defined GMO labeling, was recently signed into law by President Obama after a long, impassioned controversy. At issue: the nefarious language/mechanisms of the bill, the Senators that railroaded it through Congress without public debate, its usurping of state’s rights like Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and the food/ag brands in favor of it.
With the vast majority of Americans wanting clear GMO labeling, this law might be a potential time bomb for grocers and the brands that have rallied behind it. Here’s why: Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), said, “The bill is a sham, a slap in the face to the 90 percent of Americans who support labeling.”
Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell noted: “The president refused to listen to his own FDA, a majority of the Democratic members of the Senate, hundreds of thousands of comments from the public and the pleas of civil rights leaders…”
So now, incensed consumers may make grocers’ shelves the next combat zone for this still flourishing and heated issue.
Gary Hirschberg (Stonyfield Farm) and Walter Robb (Whole Foods), who were seemingly supportive of consumers, have been labeled “traitors” by the OCA for their clandestine activism on behalf of this legislation. The group has an app called Buycott to “reject brands owned by corporations that lobbied against GMO labeling.” Plus, there are serious rumblings about organized boycotts against GMO-proponent big brands, including General Mills, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, ConAgra Foods, Mondelez, Kellogg’s, Smuckers, Groupe Danone, Whole Foods, and others.
However, some grocery purveyors are moving in a direction that might win them favor in this clash. The converse of GMO’s are certified organics, which compromise the fastest growing segment of U.S. grocery sales. Both Target and Walmart are expanding their footprint in the $39.7 billion organic market and Costco launched a program to help finance organic farmer’s expansion. Amazon Fresh, Jet, many smaller e-tailers, farm CSA’s, and farmer’s markets make organic produce and other products increasingly more accessible.
It just might be that despite corporate lobbyists winning legislative battles, consumer voices may still win the war affecting the bottom line.
- Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts GMO Labeling Legislation – Just Label It!
- Organic Traitors Team Up with Monsanto and GMA on DARK Act –Organic Consumers Association
- Corporate Money Defeats GMO Labeling – What Would Ghandi Do? –Organic Consumers Association
- Support For Requiring Labels on All GMO Foods Is Overwhelming Across All Segments –The Mellman Group
- Why the GMO Labeling Bill Obama Just Signed Into Law Is a Sham—and a National Embarrassment – Alternet
- President Signs Law That Overturns Vermont GMO Labeling Rules, Replaces Them With Barcodes – Consumerist
- Costco gets creative to meet shoppers’ huge appetite for organics – The Seattle Times (tiered sub.)
- President Obama Signed This GMO Labeling Bill – Fortune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think that there are particular retailers or CPG brands more at risk as a result of the passage of “The DARK Act”? How should retailers and brands respond to the criticism and boycotts they may be facing as a result of their support of the legislation?