A Chef Goes to Washington...and Stirs It Up


Towards the end of last year, after the nail-biter recount of Oregon’s Measure 92 to label GMO’s, we learned that a group of chefs across America, 700 strong, signed a petition demanding the passage of Rep. Peter Defazio’s (D-OR)., and Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. The Act requires national labeling standards for GMOs.

This week, celebrity chef, food activist, and Food Policy Action spokesperson Tom Colicchio, along with celebrity chef and food activist José Andrés, graced the halls of congress to meet with Rep. Defazio and push the message even further. Jenna McLaughlin of Mother Jones sat in on the meeting.  

Some of the major actors in the opposition to GMO labeling are large food companies. They worry about consumer “confusion.” Of course, we know that a bigger concern are profits, so much so that they have spent over $20 million (some figures put it a lot higher) in campaigns against state ballots requiring GMO labeling. The food industry is also currently backing Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-KS) Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014, known to the opposition as the DARK Act, which would put the authority of GMO labeling solely on the FDA. The irony is thick here, as big business and the Republican ethos has always been about state’s rights. Collichio comments:

Typically consumers who care about food, they're not thinking about policy. Like when they go to a farmers market, they're probably paying more—there are policies that are keeping those foods more expensive than processed ones. I don't quite understand how people who care about states' rights all of the sudden don't believe states have a right to label. Those same people will say the states have a right to raise animals a certain way. Where did all the states' rights people go? I want them! They're somewhere in this building!"

IMAGE: courtesy of naturalsociety.com


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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