The Mouse that Roared / How a Tiny State Took On the GMO Print
Written by Michael McCaffrey   
Thursday, March 31, 2016

the-mouse-that-roared

 

If you’ve heard of the movie The Mouse that Roared, either you are on the older side of life or you are a Peter Sellers buff. It was a silly movie about a tiny country, called Grand Fenwick, that had only one export, a very special wine. But with the advent of California wines, their economy collapses. So the Prime Minister (Peter Sellers as Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy) decided that no country that declared war on the United States ever went hungry. They planned to surrender as soon as they started fighting, but then their plan to surrender unravels and comedy ensues.

It’s similar to the State of Vermont and the GMO movement. Back in 2014 Vermont passed a bill that would require GMO labeling. Very nice thought for all of us that support GMO labeling, but certainly not solving the GMO labeling issue across the U.S., but little did we know.

Little did we know, because big corporate food giants like Kellogg’s, Con Agra and General Mills tried their best to stop all GMO labeling laws in any state in the U.S. Congress called the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act which would have made the Vermont GMO labeling requirement illegal.

Thankfully, that bill failed, so now those same companies are singing a different tune: voluntary labeling. Their hearts are now filled with the need for transparency (yeah, right) as if they always thought voluntary labeling was necessary.

What my wife Dee McCaffrey and I know, from having a food business (called Dee’s Naturals, now defunct), it is very expensive, and frankly impractical to have one state with one set of packaging, while using a different type of packaging for all other states. If you’re lucky you can have several manufacturing facilities throughout the country, but distribution is not by state, it’s really by region. It is virtually impossible to have a packaging for just one state. By the way, their argument that it would cost $1000 per year per family because of this labeling requirement is a bunch of bunk. Companies update their packaging all the time, it’s the cost of doing business. Over time, it would cost nothing more than it does to update their packaging as they normally do.

mars

Notice it says "PARTIALLY PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING", image from ecowatch.com

General Mills, Kellogg’s , Mars, and Con Agra are all really upset about the Vermont law and specifically say so. All four of them will now provide “voluntary GMO labeling”, but still will fight for a “national solution”.

How dare such a small state declares such a thing as mandatory labeling for itself. How dare a tiny country like Grand Fenwick to declare war on the United States.

So, for now, the GMO labeling story is the Mouse That Roared story.

For now, I say, because we can’t turn our attention away from this issue for a second. Huge food corporate giants have huge lobbying budgets that they are very inclined to use if another opportunity surfaces to try a version of the Dark Act. This story is not over yet, stay in touch with us and other great organizations like http://ecowatch.com, and hope that GMO labeling continues to be the law of the land.