Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Walmart Moving Toward GMO Food Labeling?

Food at Walmart.  Click for photo credit.
I've covered quite a number of food stories this year, particularly in the area of genetically modified organism (GMO) food sources.  Some nations have banned the import of GMO crops and planting of GMO seeds over the last year.  In the US, California defeated a measure to require labeling of GMO foods.  It looks as if some other states are striving to get labeling measures on the ballot in places that might be more favorable to the requirement.

According to this article on Grist, one of the biggest funders of the anti-labeling efforts was Walmart.  Now it appears as if Walmart is pulling its funding for anti-labeling efforts and may support GMO labeling. And others in the food industry may join them.

For those of us who respect Walmart’s sustainability efforts (I am one of them), this makes sense given the impact they have on improving retail sustainability (take a look at their sustainability site here).  This GMO initiative fits within their broader environmental mission.  I know that Walmart gets criticized by lots of people for some of their other activities, particularly on social justice issues.  But, there is no doubt that Walmart has one of the largest impacts on improving retail sustainability in the world.

Genetically modified food is certainly a controversial topic and I have had a friendly debate with one of my former colleagues over GMO food in the comments sections and on my Facebook site over the last year or two.  Regardless of what you think about GMO food, I think it makes sense to let people know whether or not they are consuming such products.  So, I think it is a reasonable move for Walmart, and the broader food industry, to move voluntarily to label their products.  Indeed, I would rather see the food industry do this on a voluntary basis than have it enforced by law.

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