The battle over GMO labeling passed an important milestone this week when a bill passed the House of Representatives that would compel food manufacturers to disclose if their products contained genetically modified ingredients—but would not require them to put that information directly on their labels.
The fight over whether food makers should label their products that contain GMOs has been raging for years.
On one side are the food corporations, agrochemical biotech companies, and a good number of scientists who say that GMOs are for all intents and purposes just like non-modified ingredients, that science has shown time and time again that they are harmless, and that labeling will give consumers the wrong idea that GMOs can have adverse health effects.
On the other are consumer-advocacy groups, and concerned citizens whose views run the gamut: from basic concepts, like that transparency is always the best policy (an opinion shared by the New York Times); to people who truly believe GMOs pose a health risk—and who believe that companies like Monsanto are involved in a global, greed-driven conspiracy to destroy humanity, the planet, and everything on it.
As of last week, the House—after a protracted debate and lots of old-fashioned wheeling and dealing—managed to actually cobble together and pass a compromise bill. As with every compromise, no one is really happy about it... and like in every American compromise, the major corporations get the better deal.
The new bill will compel food-makers to disclose if their products contain GMOs, a major victory for the pro-labeling camp, but they don't need to include that information on the label. Instead, companies can just include a QR code that links to what GMOs are in the product.
The QR code compromise is apparently sufficient to please food manufacturers, who must surely realize that in the history of QR codes, hardly anybody has actually ever used one.