Wal-Mart Rumored to Push for GMO Labeling; What Does it Mean?

The debate over whether to label GMO-products is continuing to rage on all fronts, from growing statewide movements in Washington, Oregon, Vermont and others, and the defeat of Proposition 37 in California, which would have required GMO labeling. However, reports are rumoring that Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, let alone the U.S., is planning on voluntarily labeling its products in the near future.

Walmart took a lot of heat this past August when it announced that it would begin selling genetically modified corn, but according to several sources, in a meeting between some of the largest corporations in America, including WalMart, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Nestle, some of these Fortune 500 giants seem to be backing off their anti-GMO labeling stance, citing it as being far too expensive, both in money and goodwill, in the face of mounting pressure all across the country for labeling.

A smattering of corporations that use GMO crops in their products
A smattering of corporations that use GMO crops in their products

This is not to say that any decision has been made on whether they will label, but support for Monsanto among these other giants of industry appears to be waning, and fast. And this is not a good thing, according to Connie Tipton, CEO of the International Dairy Food Administration, an organization with an adamant anti-labeling stance. “A lot of us were scratching our heads when Wal-Mart added that it would label the product as containing GMO ingredients”, Tipton said, although ASAP couldn’t find a supporting statement that showed that WalMart had announced any such plans. Still, WalMart’s actions are cause for concern for Tipton, as “given Wal-Mart’s size and market share, there are legitimate concerns that its decision on GMO labeling will force other retailers to march in lockstep behind the industry giant.”

Which is completely true. Should WalMart capitulate and not just pull its support from anti-labeling advocates but start labeling themselves, other retailers, large and small, are sure to follow. The question is, then, what is the labeling for those against labeling? Simply put, anti-labelers think that labeling will amount to nothing but fear and paranoia against GMO’s, which, in their eyes, have been proven safe, time after time. Labeling GMO’s would do little but scare people who assume that if a label needs to be on it, then it can’t be safe. They have a point there, as well, but there are also serious questions as to the extent of GMO testing and whether it goes far enough. Any way you look, it’s a land of confusion.

Whether WalMart will actively label their GMO products is still, to the best of our knowledge, unknown, but the rumbling are there. Make no mistake about it, this is a crucial decision for WalMart, and is likely to tip the balance in favor of pro-labeling, should they do it. We shall see.



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