Consumer Choice and Transparency on GMO Foods

By Sandy K. Johnson

Genetically modified food has been produced in the United States since 1994. Ninety percent of corn and soybeans are GMOs and most processed foods contain GMO ingredients.

Almost none of it was labeled GMO – until now.

In recent years, proponents of GMO labeling created a political groundswell. State ballot initiatives and legislation ensued, opposed by big agriculture and food companies. Then Vermont passed a labeling law that was due to take effect in July 2016.

“The last thing these companies want is a patchwork of laws” in every state, said Carmen Bain, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University.

Congress finally stepped in. Compromise legislation on labeling passed in July 2016. It will nullify any state actions in favor of one federal umbrella, and require companies to disclose GMO ingredients on food labels by text, symbol or digital link. 

The United States will join more than 60 countries that require GMO labeling.

Meanwhile, many food companies got the message anyway. Big companies like Campbell’s, Mars, General Mills and Kellogg’s all said they’d go ahead and identify GMOs in their labels.

What about all those farmers who plant GMO crops? Bain said she doesn’t think farmers who currently grow GMO will change – but the labeling requirement does offer a business opportunity for farmers who want to satisfy this growing market.

This program is funded by Monsanto, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Board, and the Organic Trade Association. NPF is solely responsible for the content.

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