I’ll start at an odd place, a seemingly innocuous place. Bear with me:
We need to understand the distinction between two kinds of labeling.
Voluntary labeling=“I own this health-food store, and I’m doing my best to sell you non-GMO products. All such products will carry a seal that says ‘Non-GMO’.”
Mandatory labeling=“Vermont has decided that all food products sold in the state which contain GMOs must be labeled as such—‘this product contains GMOs’.”
Two very different types of labels. They contain different information.
Also, one type is voluntary, and the other becomes mandatory after passage of a vote, in a legislature or through a ballot measure.
Well, let me put it to you this way. What would happen to Whole Foods’ program of voluntary GMO labeling if there were mandatory labeling across America, or in any state where Whole Foods does business?
Can you guess?
I’ll break it down. Whole Foods has pledged to put “non-GMO” labels on their products by 2018. They’ll do everything they can to sell as many non-GMO products as possible. The products that don’t carry the non-GMO seal will obviously be GMO, and customers can avoid them if they want to.
On the other hand, if suddenly, out of the blue, mandatory labeling became law, the whole voluntary non-GMO label enterprise would be obsolete. Why voluntarily put that label on products when mandatory labeling handles the whole issue?
“We put non-GMO labels on our food. Aren’t we wonderful?”
“Not really. The mandatory labels tell me everything that’s GMO. All the other products are non-GMO. Thanks, but no thanks.”