In the aftermath of an historic vote in the United States Senate, the food industry has an opportunity to join their customers in calling for mandatory, on package GMO labeling.  In an enormous victory for the people of this country, the Senate blocked the “DARK Act” from moving forward.  The “DARK Act” would have preempted the existing state GMO labeling laws and codified a voluntary labeling scheme which amounted to nothing more than a sham.  What happens next is yet to be seen, but food companies are now presented with an unprecedented opportunity to get on the right side of history by standing with their customers in calling for mandatory on package GMO labeling.

There was a time where businesses proudly proclaimed “the customer is always right!”  However, when it comes to GMO labeling the saying seems to have been “we don’t care what the customer thinks.”  It has been profoundly painful that the companies feeding our families have been pit against us in the food fight of our lives.   Cambell’s recently announced their plans to stop fighting mandatory labeling and label all GMOs in their food products.  What followed was praise and appreciation from consumers everywhere.  Campbell’s will now go down in history as a company who did the right thing and consumers will always be grateful to Campbell’s.  Please follow Campbell’s lead!

The Senate now goes on recess for two weeks, but there is no doubt when they return in April the Grocery Manufacturers Association will be right back at it again trying to keep Americans in the DARK about the food we are eating.  There are individuals and groups in our movement, like Robyn O’Brien, who are committed to helping companies understand the benefits of standing with the people rather than against us.  These food companies would do themselves a huge favor by listening to Robyn and others.  This two week recess is a window of opportunity for food companies to get on the right side of history and join their customers.  However, once this two week recess ends and the Senate once again tries to take action on the “DARK Act”, that window closes.

The food industry has made it clear they do not want to label GMOs out of fear that consumers would no longer buy those products.  There is no proof that would happen.  Consumers in America purchase plenty of junk food they know with certainty are harmful to their health.  And, while there are concerns about GMOs, there is no reason to believe Americans would outright reject products containing GMOs.  There are a myriad of reasons people want GMOs labeled, many of those reasons have nothing to do with safety or health, but rather Americans want transparency.  We want to be able to make our own choices and resent any company who thinks they can make that choice for us.  Afterall, isn’t that what the free market is all about it?  In the end if consumers decide they don’t want GMOs, then companies will need to adjust and will be able to adjust.

No one has a crystal ball to know exactly how consumers will react once GMOs are labeled, but I am certain labeling will happen.  So, these companies can either label willingly now and be considered heroes by the citizens of this country, or they can continue fighting us and be vilified into the foreseeable future.  The choice is theirs to make.  We can only welcome them with open arms and promise to forgive past mistakes.  Let the chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, Sygenta and others fight their own fight. This fight never should have belonged to the food industry.  Stand with your customers, get on the right side of history and allow the free market to work.

About the Author
Tara Cook-Littman