QI have a copy of an advertisment Monsanto placed in newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom during the later part of the 1990s. Its title reads as follows: "Food Labeling. It has Monsanto's full backing" The ad starts with this sentence : "Befor

I have a copy of an advertisment Monsanto placed in newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom during the later part of the 1990s. Its title reads as follows: "Food Labeling. It has Monsanto's full backing" The ad starts with this sentence : "Before you buy a potato, or any other food, you may want to know whether it's the product of food biotechnology". Further down in the ad: "Recently you have noticed a label appearing on some of your food in your supermarket. This is to inform you about the use of biotechnology in food...Monsanto fully supports UK food manufacturers and retailers in their introduction of these labels. We believe you should be aware of all the facts before making a purchase." How is it that Monsanto widely distributed this statement in the 1990s but now devotes millions to defeating citizen referendum initiatives aimed at labeling GMO food and food ingredients? What changed and why?

AExpert Answer

Monsanto has always supported voluntary labeling.  We believe food companies and retailers should be able to provide the information they believe interests their customers – as long as it is truthful and not misleading.

 

  • Consistent with our support for voluntary labeling, we ran an ad in the United Kingdom in the 1990s to support the voluntary effort of retailers to provide information they believed would be of interest to their customers.
  • In the United States today, we continue to be 100% supportive of food companies’ choices to voluntarily label food to meet the needs and desires of their customers. Today, hundreds of products labeled organic or certified non-GM are available for consumers who prefer these products. This approach provides choices for every consumer, making it easy to find specific products like organic and non-GM, and does so without risking consumer confusion.    

So what has changed?  Proponents of labeling initiatives in the United States today are misleading consumers about the safety of GM foods, and have admitted that their goal is not just to require a label on such foods, but to ultimately ban these foods altogether. These proponents are waging a campaign of fear tactics and misinformation about the safety and benefits of these crops. While we respect that some people may choose to avoid GM ingredients, it is wrong to mislead and scare people about the safety of their food choices.

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I think the answer for this question is – it depends…. In the developed world where we have access to a wide variety of foods, I think that eating a food derived from a genetically engineered crop it unlikely to expand one’s life expectancy in and of itself.  However, certain components of those crops can certainly contribute to improved health. High oleic soybeans produce a monounsaturated fat that is trans-fat free. Trans-fats can contribute to an increased LDL... Read More
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The UPC (Universal Product Code) is a barcode (which has numbers beneath it) which identifies the product and the manufacturer. I think you may be thinking of the PLU (Price Look Up) code which is the 4 or 5 digit number on produce used to link a price with an item. The PLU code is a voluntary program that assigns numbers to produce items, this helps cashiers identify the correct price for a produce item. Growers/Packers can use the number "9" prefix to this 4-digit numeric code to... Read More
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