The Morning Report
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You might remember the fight over California’s failed Proposition 37, which would have required labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.
The measure started with wide public approval, but an influx of more than $46 million from corporate giants like Kellogg’s, General Mills, PepsiCo, Monsanto and others, to fight the proposal successfully reversed the tide of support. Prop. 37 was rejected by voters in November.
The movement to label genetically modified ingredients, however, is alive and well.
The JustLabelIt campaign says there are currently 14 states with similar bills being considered, including Washington, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Vermont, New York and Maryland. Federal legislation was also introduced by Colorado Rep. Jared Polis. And in California, expect to see a new ballot initiative in 2014.
If that’s not enough to convince the food industry that GMO labeling is inevitable, on Friday, national grocer Whole Foods announced it had set a deadline for its suppliers to label genetically modified foods. By 2018, any products sold in their U.S. and Canadian stories that contain GMO ingredients such as corn, soybean, beet sugar or canola must be labeled. That includes the San Diego area stores in Hillcrest, La Jolla, Del Mar and Encinitas.
“We’re responding to our customers, who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” said co-CEO Walter Robb in a statement.
Genetically modified ingredients have become a lightning rod in the food industry. Kashi cereal company, which just announced it would be moving from La Jolla to parent-company Kellogg’s corporate headquarters in Michigan, felt the backlash last April after consumers became irate that cereal marketed as wholesome and natural contained GMOs. Within a few weeks, the company pledged to stop using GMO ingredients in its GoLean cereals and its chewy granola bars, but its Facebook page continues to be peppered with comments criticizing the company’s stance on the issue.
Wherever you stand on the issue of GMOs in the food supply, one thing seems certain – consumers’ right to know what’s in their food is powerful. With new laws being considered across the country, and ripple effects from the Whole Foods announcement, momentum is clearly in the favor of those vying for more transparency in our food chain.
Clare Leschin-Hoar is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @c_leschin or email firstname.lastname@example.org.