One of the biggest and bitterest political fights on the environmental beat in recent years has been the fight over whether consumers and the public have a right to know if their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Journalists have been caught up in this fight.
Tens of millions have been spent on lobbying and advertising by the mainstream food industry to defeat a series of state-by-state measures requiring food labels to disclose GMO content. Currently, only one state, Vermont, is poised to implement a GMO-labelling law.
The U.S. House passed a bill in July 2015 that would block any mandatory GMO labelling laws in states such as Vermont. But when the Senate Agriculture Committee tried to bring up a similar bill on the Senate floor March 16, 2016, proponents could not muster enough votes to cut off debate and advance the bill. Some backers of the bill still hope to find some compromise that will enable Senate passage. But as the election year grinds on, that may get harder.
Meanwhile, a number of major food companies seem to be giving up on passing an anti-labelling bill — and voluntarily starting to label their own products so they can be sold in Vermont. So far, they include Campbell, General Mills, ConAgra, Kellog, and Mars.
- "GMO Labels Spread As U.S. Congressional Effort To Halt Them Fades," Reuters, March 29, 2016, by Lisa Baertlein.
- "Vermont Brings Food Industry to Its Knees with GMO Labelling Laws," Associated Press, March 19, 2016, by Lisa Rathke.
- "Bill Blocking GMO Labels Stalls in Senate, But Battle Is Far from Over," NPR, March 16, 2016, by Maria Godoy.
- "House Passes Anti-GMO Labeling Law," Reuters, July 23, 2016, by Carey Gillam.