On contrary to the belief, people like to believe that large corporations like Monsanto, Dupont, and Dow AgroSciences control the food market but that is not the case. You and me are both consumers and we both choose what food we want to buy. Our decisions have led food companies to create gluten free options, all-natural foods, and organic selections. We, as consumers, control the market… not these big companies … but now are wanting to know more about where our food comes from.
A new bill in the United State Congress is the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This bill creates a mandatory Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling law as well as describes what it means to be all natural. As a consumer, I am a little nervous about this bill. It is really great to know what my food contains but to be completely honest, there are already too many labels on a food package as it is. I become overwhelmed when there is too much information on a package. On the package now, there is the mandatory calorie content label, maybe a label that talks about it being organic or gluten free, as well as the marketing labels that the company uses sell their product.
I understand why this labeling law is wanted. People are wanting to know what is in their food but I don’t believe that is the actual driving factor of this bill. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act will prevent a patchwork of state labeling laws from increasing consumer confusion and food prices. There are activists that are pushing labeling in more than 20 states. The details of these mandates vary from state to state, meaning that farmers, food manufactures, and consumers would have to navigate a very complex system. As consumers, we should be able to have the same packing of a product no matter if I buy it in New York City or Los Angeles.
A confusing bill is the Vermont labeling bill. Vermont’s labeling law would exempt up to 2/3 of food sold in the state. A can of vegetable soup would have to be labeled but a can of vegetable beef soup would be exempt. State labeling does nothing to decrease consumer uncertainty, in fact it increases confusion. An interesting study from Cornell University found that state labeling would result in a $500 increase per year for an average family of four.
In my opinion, I think it would be easier for food that doesn’t contain GMOs to be labeled. It would be more affordable for consumers to buy food and it still requires GMO labels on products. The consumers who are looking for GMO free food is a niche market and they are willing to pay higher for their food. Labeling are confusing to consumers and we need to limit labels to minimum.