Leading US food writer and campaigner Michael Pollan has predicted that a growing weight of consumer support for GMO labelling will break the alliance between biotech giant Monsanto and leading food firms in America.
In an interview with The Daily Ticker, Pollan told presenter Aaron Task that the campaign to secure mandatory labelling for products containing GMOs was rapidly gaining momentum – and would eventually succeed. “Consumer consciousness has risen to a high on this issue, to the point in act that the fastest growing category in US supermarkets are products labelled GMO-free.”
Despite the defeat last year of a California ballot to require state-wide mandatory GMO labelling Pollan believes a breakthrough will come soon. “I think there’s a very good chance that labelling will start in Washington State where it has support from agriculture as well as consumers,” he said
Commenting on what was at stake, Pollan explained: “This is about the fundamental right to know where your food comes from. We’re fighting transparency on so many fronts. We have laws to criminalise whistle blowers in the food industry – the so-called ‘ag gag’ laws they’re trying to pass. You know, they really don’t want you to know how your food is produced.”
He said Whole Foods Market’s commitment to label all foods containing GMOs by 2018 was “a really interesting bet that there are a lot of consumers who will pay for transparency”.
And Pollan argued that Big Food’s rejection of consumer demands for labelling was directly at odds with American free-market thinking. “This is our ideology, the free market. Which is that personal responsibility should rule – but that personal responsibility depends on information.
“What’s interesting is that so many food and grocery manufacturers in America have joined arm in arm with Monsanto to defeat this (labelling). And it puts them in a really awkward position with their customers – because at least half of them say they want it! I think we will see that alliance crumble and Monsanto will end up on their own and at that point we will get these laws on the statute books.”