Following this Election Day, Maui, Hawaii became the latest county in America to place a temporary ban on GMO crop cultivation until officials can better understand GMOs’ impact on the county’s public health and environment. In a similar measure earlier this year, several counties in Oregon also banned the growing of genetically modified crops. This year, attempts to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws in both Colorado and Oregon failed.
"The reality is, campaigns cost money, and I'm really proud to say that groups like Smucker's, like Pepsi, stood shoulder to shoulder with the farmers that are growing their ingredients," Chad Vorthmann, executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau told NPR.
Activists for both GMO labeling and, in more extreme (and localized) cases, GMO-banning, have struggled to gain a popular foothold in America despite the fact that 64 countries around the world (including much of Europe, Russia, China, and Japan) require GMO labeling and 26 countries worldwide have completely banned GMOs. For example, GMO-labeling opponents raised more than $20 million this year, compared with supporters’ $8 million that went toward GMO-labeling in Oregon and Colorado. Right now, GMO-labeling laws have passed in Vermont, Maine and Connecticut, but Maine’s law will not go into effect until five nearby New England states have passed similar laws, and Vermont’s law is not slated to go into effect until 2016.
Here are some common arguments for and against GMO labeling, or even banning:
-We have a right to know what our food is made of, and/or how it has been cultivated
-Critics have spoken up against the possible toxic side effects (on humans, and other plant species) that can come about from tampering with a crop’s genetics
-Concerns about agricultural giants like Monsanto influencing policy changes
-Various studies have shown the potential (and probable) safety of GMOs
-Genetically modified crops can become more resistant to pests and diseases, ultimately driving prices down and quality up
-Foods can be made with better texture, taste, and durability
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi