Vermont-Companies that use genetic engineering to produce food, and then sell that food to consumers in the Green Mountain State have less than two months to start labeling those products. Carolyn Partridge, who is the chair for the state's Agriculture Committee, says this will allow consumers to make knowledge-based decisions.
¨I think people will just have the option to know what's in their food and make a decision as towards if they want to consume those products or not, Partridge said.
Knowledge based decisions are a good thing, but only if that knowledge is accurate, and according to Dr. Joe Schwarcz, a chemistry professor at McGill university, consumers have only listened to one side of the argument. He argues that there is a lack of discrepancy between what is GMO and what isn´t.
¨Suppose you take canola oil, and that canola plant may be genetically modified to resist insects and to be resistant to the herbicides. Those genes are in the seed and once the oil is extracted from the seed it doesn't contain any of the genetic material, It´s just pure oil, and if you do a chemical analysis of that oil it is in no way different than any other oil. So if you're now going to take canola oil and put on the label that it is genetically modified that suggest it is different than conventional oil where is the fact is it is no different. So what information are we really giving the consumer?¨ he said,
Local farms in the Northeast Kingdom say if consumers start demanding more organic food, it´s going to be tough to keep in business.
¨Eventually when it comes to going non GMO we'll have to find a non GMO feed company to supply us, and right now its kind of slim pickens as far as feed companies go up here. So financially it doesn't make sense,¨ said Evan Bendickson, who works on Jasper hill farm in Greensboro, and Pete's Greens in Craftsbury.
Genetic Engineering has been used for around 30 years, and Schwarcz says so far there is zero evidence that suggest GMO's are bad for human health, and there is a lot of evidence to prove that GMO's help farmers yield higher crops, which keeps them in business and keeps the price of food down for consumers.
¨We will see crops that have increased nutritional value, we will see crops that can grow in soil that has low moisture content, and we’ll see the proliferation of rice, ¨ he said.
The other developing issue is that corporate lobbyist for big food companies are trying to change the way food is labeled from a print consumers can read, to a ¨QR code,¨ which can only be read with I-Phones.
¨i don't know about you but frequently when I go into these larger stores where I do my shopping, you don't even have reception. To label a product that way is really not making the information accessible to everyone, ¨ Partridge said.
Another problem that consumers have brought to their representatives attention is environmental concerns.
¨People are concerned with pollen drift from Genetically Engineered crops to non-Genetically engineered crops. There are concerns with weeds and super weeds,¨ said representative Teo Zagar
Although it may be harder for farmers, consumers have made it clear that they're willing to pay more out of pocket if it means they can be sure they're food is safe.
¨For me it´s very important, I think their is not enough conclusive evidence to prove that GMOs are safe, and I would rather feed my family whole foods in as natural state as possible, ¨ said Tara Samora, a shopper who prefers organic food.
¨I prefer fresh vegetables with no additives, I think it's good, they should be labeling foods, so you know what you're getting; ¨ said Donna Ste Marie, who prefers to shop at Whites Market.
The law goes into effect the 1st of July, and smaller grocers, such as Whites Market, have a six-month grace period to sell as their non-labeled items.