Big Food got served yesterday when the Green Mountain state passed a law requiring food labels to call out their genetically modified ingredients. The law, which still needs to be signed by Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, also bans manufacturers from describing products containing GMOs as “natural” or “all natural.”
What exactly are GMOs? Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals that have had their DNA tinkered with, so that they develop characteristics they wouldn’t naturally have. Sort of like Peter Parker after his spider bite, crops can be genetically engineered to resist insects, drought or herbicides
According to the New York Times, more than 90% of American-grown corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets are genetically engineered—and ingredients that are derived from them, like canola oil and soy lecithin, can be found in 80% of grocery store foods. Which basically means almost everything you eat has some mutant molecules in it.
Of course, manufacturers and crop developers are fighting hard to block the measure. They claim that GMOs are safe for consumption, but proponents of the new bill aren’t convinced; critics say that much of the research supporting GMOs has been—surprise!—funded by the industries behind it.
If it’s not blocked, Vermont’s new measure will come into effect on July 1, 2016. And according to Reuters, more than two dozen states are considering similar legislation, which is why Big Food is doubtless going to sick it’s lawyers and lobbyists on the cause in an ironic rehash of Thank You For Smoking.