business news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of mandated GMO labeling passed by both houses of Congress, with expectations that it will be signed into law by President Obama, one MNB user wrote:

I see that the proponents of GMO labeling are upset that they were not successful in getting a plain text disclosure, what I have often dubbed a "scarlet letter", that would be misleading because it surely would be interpreted as a warning by many consumers.   This would likely cause food companies to do many reformulations to avoid that scarlet letter at a cost that will be borne by us non-believers in their GMO hysteria.  As for who has cell phones, it seems these days that is among one of the top priorities of everyone including the poor.

Also got an email from reader George Salmas:

Regarding new GMO labeling law: The Devil is in the details.  These are the key parts of the new law that affect industry:

• State GMO labeling laws are void. States can normally have tougher consumer protection laws than federal standards.  But not in this case.

• The Federal Department of Agriculture has two years to figure out how the law will work.  A law is passed without knowing its contents.  But we do know one thing: Since state GMO laws are illegal, and the new rules are not yet written, there will be no GMO labeling laws in the U.S. for at least 2 years.

• When the new GMO labeling rules go into effect in 2 years, manufacturers can identify GMO foods with a QR symbol identical to ones already on many foods. No need to write “GMO” anywhere on label.  That makes GMO labeling invisible to many consumers.

• There’s been talk Whole Foods and others may impose their own GMO labeling rules.   The new law provides:  “A food may bear a disclosure that [it] is bioengineered only in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary [of Agriculture] …”  That precludes retailers from imposing their own GMO labeling rules.  We’ll know if there are any loopholes in 2 years when the regulations are published.  We’ll see if Whole Foods and others try to push back.

The new law suppresses GMO labeling in the United States at least for 2 years and possibly forever.  Whether one thinks that’s good or bad, it’s the fact.

And, regarding the various companies that are acquiring stores from Ahold and Delhaize, one MNB user wrote:

Glad to see the FTC got this one right and didn't make one buyer take all the locations, as they did with Haggen.
KC's View: