label GMOs

With news that Oregon will get a second chance to vote on a GMO labeling initiative this coming November, there’s big news from major GMO companies including Monsanto and Dow: they’ve committed to spending millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling campaigns.

The GMO companies launched a website last year, GMO Answers, in hopes to assuage the growing concerns about the safety of genetically modified foods. It employs social media efforts, speaking engagements and other marketing tools.

And, reports Reuters, “The group has committed to spending millions more annually for several more years on this campaign.”

“We are not going to sit down for that (labeling),” Cathleen Enright, spokeswoman for the GMO Answers effort, said. “We want people to know how their food is grown … we support a right to know. It is the mechanism that we can’t abide.”

According to a recently released report from the Environmental Working Group, GMO companies have spent more than $80 million in the last two years aimed at defeating GMO labeling efforts. And for the most part, it has worked. California and Washington State both lost GMO labeling ballot initiatives by thin margins. The tactics employed by GMO companies relied largely on speculative claims that labeling genetically modified ingredients would raise food prices, hurt farmers and put pressure on the states’ taxpayers. While GMO labeling efforts have been successful in raising public awareness about the concerns over GMOs, and with a big victory recently in Vermont, which just passed a mandatory labeling law, the anti-labeling campaign is far more capable of outspending the smaller pro-labeling groups.

“One point the [GMO] companies are pushing is what they say is a consensus in the scientific community on the safety of their products,” Enright told Reuters. “Many international scientists dispute that such a consensus exists, but the industry says studies showing concerns are not valid.”

Only time will tell if the GMO companies can continue to prevent labeling efforts.

“They are losing,” said Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, which supports mandatory GMO food labeling, “After this explosion of anti-GMO labeling lobbying.. (they) have so little to show for their efforts.”

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: CT Senate Democrats