Three Reasons Why Recent GMO Product Labeling Initiatives Failed

In recent years, more and more people have become interested in knowing exactly what it is they’re eating, and for many, designating something as “food” just because we can digest it simply doesn’t cut the high-fructose corn syrup-infused cake anymore. The general public is increasingly aware of where their food comes from, how it’s made, and whether or not it includes ingredients such as genetically modified organisms, better known as GMOs. While a number of states throughout the US have attempted to pass initiatives that would require foods using GMO ingredients be labeled, this popular movement has met strong resistance. Let’s take a look at why these initiatives are failing.

1. The pro-GMO opposition has big money backing.

In the recent battle in Washington State over I-522, the opposition (comprised of heavy-hitters such as DuPont, Pepsi, and of course Monsanto) leveraged approximately $22 million on an extensive attack campaign, which was nearly three times that spent by initiative supporters. In 2012, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization spent more than twice that amount to defeat California’s Proposition 37.

Essentially, grassroots GMO labeling advocates don’t have the capital or influence to compete with such overwhelming forces. And now that opposition groups are pushing for federal legislation that would effectively ban such labels, we could soon see this influence exercised on a national level, which the smaller and less organized anti-GMO groups would find even more difficult to combat.

If GMO labeling advocates are going to compete effectively, they need a stronger organizational structure that is capable of collecting more funds that can be used to spread their message. This brings us to our next point…

2. Many people are still convinced that GMOs are safe.

The honest truth is that the facts aren’t 100% in as to whether or not GMOs are safe. Different studies come up with widely varying results, but in the end the pro-GMO crowd has done an excellent job of leveraging the approvals by major regulators such as the FDA and the USDA.

If they’re going to effect change, the pro-GMO labeling group needs a better organizational structure that is better equipped to educate the public. Both the FDA and the USDA are notorious for making shaky judgment calls (they’re still a little unsure as to whether ketchup can be constituted as a vegetable in school lunches), and there are a whole lot of governments throughout Europe that have firmly said “No” to GMOs. What do they know that we don’t?

3. The opposition is gaining the support of farmers.

This became especially apparent during the recent battle in Washington, when the pro-GMO lobby was able to convince farmers that the labeling initiative would put them at a competitive disadvantage and limit their ability to grow crops that are more resistant to attacks from threats such as pests and disease.

The fact that farmers would align themselves with anything remotely close to Monsanto is rather surprising considering how terribly the GMO company’s practices have damaged the farm industry. From creating herbicides that led to the adaptation of crop destroying super-weeds, to suing farmers for millions of dollars when Monsanto plants pop up in their fields, the company has proven time and time again that it is not interested in the livelihood of farmers.

So where can does this leave the anti-GMO crowd?

While attempts to create various laws to control GMO products have failed as of late, the margins have been narrow. The tide can be turned rather suddenly if the people who say no to GMO can organize themselves in a way that will allow them to collect more funding, spread more information about the dangers of genetically modified food, and gain more influence.
It only takes a single vote for things to change overnight.

What are your opinions on GMOs? Join the discussion by commenting below, or take it to Twitter and @BerryBreeze with your thoughts. We’ll tweet you back!