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(UPDATE: After I posted this, a reader tweeted that he had seen table salt labeled as “non-GMO”. Table salt! You have to admire such thinking outside the box.)

AP reports that General Mills has backed down from tussling with the Green Mountain State over GMO labeling, although the battle is far from over:

General Mills’ announcement on Friday that it will start labeling products that contain genetically modified ingredients to comply with a Vermont law shows food companies might be throwing in the towel, even as they hold out hope Congress will find a national solution.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has called for a national solution instead of what it says is a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling laws. It has also challenged Vermont’s law in federal court, asking that the law be blocked until the case is resolved. That request was denied and is on appeal.

Vermont is the first state to require such labeling, effective July 1. Maine and Connecticut have passed laws that require such labeling if other nearby states put one into effect – although New Hampshire’s decision not to require labeling gave Maine a pass.

Campbell’s has already said it will label its GMO foods.

I’m of two minds about GMO labeling. Part of me thinks that if giant food companies can convince us that Cap’n Crunch and Hot Pockets are actual food, they shouldn’t have too much trouble overcoming GMO resistance. Just stop whining and get to work, guys. If GMO helps – e.g., makes food more nutritious – then advertise it: I’m waiting for the first company with the balls to trumpet GMO as a selling point.

But part of me realizes that the whole idea of labeling GMO is misplaced, because being “genetically modified” isn’t a thing, the way milk produced from cows given growth hormone is a thing. Equating Golden Rice and BT corn is meaningless and misleading. It’s like giving the same label to all food that has been grown with no-till farming, regardless of whether it’s a sugar-snap pea or a marigold.

When I attended a legislative hearing about GMO labeling, virtually all the concerns about GMOs involved the way they were used – as a method to allow more herbicide spraying without affecting crops, for example – rather than the actual process of genetic modification.


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