There are some amazing things going on in the States about mandatory labeling, with 25 proposals in US State legislatures, and a ballot initiative in Washington State coming up this November.
Industry is running scared and according to a recent news report may have accepted that labeling is going to take place.
But labeling can only be one part of the solution to the problem of GE crops and animals. Take the case of cigarette labeling. According to Wikepedia, smoking rates in the United States have dropped by half from 1965 to 2006 falling from 42% to 21% of adults. So even though many people know that there is a direct connection between smoking and cancer, and this is spelt out on cigarette packets, and despite at least 15 years of labeling, there were still 21% of Americans smoking.
So if we get mandatory labeling of GE foods, it might take a similar 15 years for people to stop eating GE foods. In the meantime industry might say: “It’s labelled so people have a choice, and in any case regulatory authorities have approved GE food as safe, so now we can introduce GE wheat and rice.”
And, as we’ve seen with smoking, it tends to be people from lower income groups who smoke more. A low income single mom with three kids doesn’t have the same food choices as a higher income family who can afford to shop at Whole Foods – and we know who reads labels more. So if we just focus on labeling then we are discriminating against people who tend to read labels less – new immigrants, poorer groups and single moms.
This is why GE Free BC totally supports mandatory labeling (and supported Greenpeace’s campaign over two years for mandatory labeling in BC from 2007-2009), but also wants a ban on all GE crops and animals. We don’t only want GE foods labelled, we want them gone altogether, so no-one is eating them. That is why we are focusing on GE Free zone resolutions, because these are communities saying no to GE crops and animals altogether. And also why we are focusing on single crops like the GE apple – we don’t just want these crops labeled, we want them stopped.