You might have heard about that Vermont bill mandating all foods containing GMO's be clearly labeled. The subject is the current hot button for the OMG! foodies. Actually, Politico reported it fell strangely short of being absolute. The bill (H. 112) says almost all genetically engineered edibles sold must be highlighted with the exceptions of 'animal feed and some food-processing aids, such as enzymes for making yogurt.'
Odd that animal feed and yogurt get free passes but Little Debbie Cakes have to wear the scarlet letters "Contains GMO's." forcing those kiddie lunch faves to slink to the bottom of the supermarket shelves in abject shame.
There is some federal kickback, though, on bills that step on Washington's delicate legislative toes. Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo (r) is sponsoring the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014. It permits voluntary GMO labeling and prohibits states from passing mandatory GMO labeling laws. It perversely allows food manufacturers to use the word “natural” on products that contain GMO’s, an odd permission slip from the House's hall monitor that won't go down well with a lot of people.
Food&Water Europe is worried about that feed thing overlooked by the Green Mountain State. Last week, the Euro-based frantic food publication wrote, "The Spanish organic cattle industry is also seriously affected by GM contamination. Forced to import maize from other countries that do not grow GM crops, farmers need to pay extra costs to guarantee GM-free feed." And if the fear started there, you can bet it will soon spread to the U.S.
It's the frank, science-based discussion of GMO's and their impact on world food supplies that many in agriculture think is lacking. Steve Holt, who writes about food for 'Edible Boston,' 'Boston Magazine,' 'The Boston Globe,' and other publications, talked with Kimberly Hagen after she previewed Farmland. Hagen, who has raised sheep for 28 years in Vermont, was disappointed that just a line or two was spent discussing GMO's.
Holt wrote, "To her, the brushoff is another example of the industry and its farmers justifying the large-scale, industrial farming that's come to dominate the industry over the last several decades—an approach they see as 'under attack.' Hagen disagrees—alternative approaches to food production are more about the realities of a changing climate than about some ideological disagreement."
But the whole GMO debate goes much deeper than Hagen's realities. None of the laws - proposed or passed, local, state or federal - are completely honest. Special case exemptions abound. Free passes have been handed to restaurants, alcohol, and deli foods. If cows are given feed containing GMO's and their milk goes into cheese or yogurt, those products can still be labeled organic.