Food Labeling

Cheerios Maker General Mills Knuckles Under to Vermont's Mandatory GMO Labeling

Just another stupid regulatory cost with no discernible benefits to people

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Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Attempts to pass legislation in Congress that would have set up a kind of voluntary GMO and non-GMO food labeling system nationally failed earlier this week. Democratic presidential hopeful and statist nightmare Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) crowed in a press release:

I am pleased that Congress stood up to the demands of Monsanto and other multi-national food industry corporations and rejected this outrageous bill. Today's vote was a victory for the American people over corporate interests.

"Sen. Roberts' legislation violates the will of the people of Vermont and the United States who overwhelmingly believe that genetically modified food should be labeled. Republicans like to talk about states' rights, but now they are attempting to preempt the laws of Vermont and other states that seek to label GMOs."

As I have explained, Sanders' appeal to federal is thoroughly disingenuous. Sanders and other anti-GMO disinformationists know full well that most staple groceries are sold nationwide, so complying with Vermont's mandatory labeling would most likely force food companies to put labels on all of their products.

Today General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other cereals announced that they would be labeling all of their products as containing GMOs. Recall that in 2014, General Mills announced with great fanfare that it was dropping biotech ingredients in its iconic Cheerios cereal. The move has apparently had no effect on sales. CEO Ken Powell told the Associated Press that the company was "not really seeing anything there that we can detect" in terms of a sales lift. He further opined that genetically modified organisms aren't really a concern for most customers.

As Reuters reports:

"Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines," General Mills said on its company blog.

"We can't label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that," the company added.

Activists intend for such labels to mislead consumers into thinking that perfectly safe food made using ingredients from modern biotech crops are somehow different from or dangerous. My suspicion is that as the GMO labels mandated by one tiny state proliferate, they will drop into the noisy information background and be largely ignored by most consumers. In other words, everybody will be forced to label, but no one will ultimately care. It's just another regulatory cost with no discernible benefits to people.

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  1. You know, although I don’t give a shit about labeling, part of me is tempted to avoid products that attempt to insult my intelligence with bull shit labeling.

    I don’t need Cheerios in my life even though I enjoy the occasional bowl while I read Reader’s Digest.

    1. Readers Digest? I thought Canadans read Harpers?

      1. I don’t know what we read anymore.

      2. Macleans, not Harpers. I murdered that joke. Nevermind.

        Have a good evening, Rufus.

        1. Only Canada would have a major magazine named after a brand of toothpaste.

          1. Yeah? Well, we got a COLLEGE named for a toothpaste!

    2. I see the phrase “enjoy the occasional bowl” and cereal is not the first thing that comes to mind.

      1. It does tend to come to mind after the bowl, though…

    3. You eat cheerios on the shitter?

      1. C’mon, in or out, you’ve got to pick one, as my mother used to say.

    4. I used to enjoy reading Reader’s Digest,but once they adopted an anti-gun position,I let my subscription lapse.

  2. Sanders and other anti-GMO disinformationists know full well that most staple groceries are sold nationwide, so complying with Vermont’s mandatory labeling would most likely force food companies to put labels on all of their products.

    Just as California’s stupid laws regarding the content of school textbooks results in students throughout the country being taught by California’s standards, and California’s stupid laws regarding firearms results in guns having features that are not mandated anywhere else.

    1. its a jobs program for labelmakers?

      1. It ain’t easy making labels. The government approval process is a nightmare. It takes skill to navigate their obstacle course. A good labelmaker knows how to do this.

    2. Smacks of a dormant Commerce Clause violation.

    3. “This box of cereal contains matter known by the State of California to cause cancer.”

      If you eat 5,000 bowls a day for 20 years…

  3. Because gamma radiation never harmed anyone…

    1. HULK SMASH!

  4. I demand the labelling of foods made from F1 Hybrids!

    1. The laugh is, most of the dimwits complaining about GMO probably couldn’t explain what an F1 hyrbrid is. Or just about anything else about the genetics of their food, for that matter. Maybe they could start demanding that their touchy-feely food stores start carrying Gala apples (or whatever variety is currently trendy) that aren’t all exact “clones” of each other.

    1. Here’s a family member admitting to his crimes yet there are little shits like Meyers who defend the guy.

      1. +1 Pete Seeger

        1. There is – I shit you not – a movement to name the new Tappan Zee bridge after him.

    2. She said “nyet” to a career working for the IRS and decided to start her own business.

      Her grandfather would not be proud, good for her.

      1. She’s okay in my book. Not much of a book I admit but it’s mine.

  5. . Democratic presidential hopeful and statist nightmare Sen. Bernie Sanders

    The libertarian case against Bernie Sanders.

  6. Like the mandatory California warnings about cancer-causing chemicals. Put one up, everyone knows it means absolutely nothing, no one pays the slightest attention.

    Bernie Sanders’ position on this is not surprising. What was disappointing was Whole Foods’ advocacy, a few years back, for mandatory GMO labeling. We had always been misled by a rumor that Whole Foods was a libertarian shop.

    1. Whole Foods was a libertarian shop.

      They carry the magazine, Gluten Free. What could be more libertarian than that?

      1. celiac disease is a real thing, but it’s about a half a percent, so the current popularity of gluten free diets strongly suggests a lot of people are just being idiots.

        1. ^this

    2. For Whole Foods it was a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. Pure rent seeking.

  7. You know who else hails from Vermont?

    1. You know who else hails from Vermont?

      Well I know what the answer isn’t, and that’s black people.

      1. “There are two black people in Minnesota… Prince and Kirby Puckett” -Chris Rock.

        1. What about Morris Day?

          1. No time for him

          2. Take your beef up with Mr. Rock.

            1. Another masturbation metaphor?

            2. I think they’ve imported quite a few more since that joke was made

              1. Yes, about a million Somalis and other African immigrants.

    2. Zombie Calvin Coolidge?

    3. Chester A. Arthur?

  8. He further opined that genetically modified organisms aren’t really a concern for most customers.

    Fact, high-school educated white males are now suffering a rising mortality rate. Cheerios contain GMOs. You do the math.

    1. Our household box of Cheerios already says it has no GMOs on it.

  9. As I have explained, Sanders’ appeal to federal is thoroughly disingenuous. Sanders and other anti-GMO disinformationists know full well that most staple groceries are sold nationwide, so complying with Vermont’s mandatory labeling would most likely force food companies to put labels on all of their products.

    BTW, this is why Cascade dishwasher detergent now sucks everywhere. VOTE FOR TRUMP TO MAKE DISHWASHING GREAT AGAIN!

    1. Finish Quantum Max works or

      You can get commercial dishwasher detergent for hotels, it still has the phosphates in it because they’re exempt from the regs.

      1. Where can a regular civilian by commercial detergent?

        1. Find a restaurant owner that will sell you some out of his supply or try to get an account with Sysco or another supplier like that.

      2. or you can buy a box of TSP from Wal-Mart or Home Depot,and add a spoonful to your dishwasher detergent load,and even your laundry.

  10. Just another stupid regulatory cost with no discernible benefits to people.

    But it makes the prog feel real good and that’s the point.

  11. OT:

    Jury in Hogan v. Gawker awards the Hulkster $115 million in damages. Gawd, please let this hold up on appeal and bankrupt Gawker.

    1. Best news EVAR!

    2. I think they still have to post the reward even if they appeal.

    3. No mention of it on gawkers site. I’m so surprised.

      1. “Uhhh, hey guys…uhhh…we need to increase union dues.”

    4. I’m just reading up on the case. They done fucked up, son.

      1. The douchenozzle former editor they put on the stand buried them. He must have had an axe to grind with Gawker.

        1. I’m still getting caught up, but it sounds like everyone who works there is an asshole.

          Hulk’s lawyers read back a lot of depo transcripts. A lot. They thought it was a big fucking joke, and now they’re fucked.

        2. Yes. Gawker Editor’s Testimony Stuns Courtroom in Hulk Hogan Trial

          The former editor, Albert J. Daulerio, a defendant in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by the retired wrestler Hulk Hogan, was asked by the plaintiff’s lawyer where he drew the line when it came to posting videos of people having sex.

          “Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” asked the lawyer, Douglas E. Mirell.

          “If they were a child,” Mr. Daulerio replied.

          “Under what age?” the lawyer pressed.

          “Four.”

          Gawker said later in a statement that Mr. Daulerio was being flippant.

          1. He’s an idiot even under oath.

  12. I know they won’t because of money, but it would have been great for General Mills to say ” Since it’s only 1 out of 49 states, we just won’t sell in Vermont”

    I bet Vermont’s tune would change than.

    1. Hmm, enterprising people outside the stateline with cars and label makers will make cereal runs, make a killing doing so.

  13. It’s been 21 years, but this never gets old:

    “We are paying caviar prices for cornflakes quality,” proclaims Schumer, reportedly an “avid muncher” of Cookie Crisp and Frosted Flakes. In a report titled Consumers in a Box, Gejdenson and Schumer say, “The four largest cereal companies?Kellogg, General Mills, Post, and Quaker Oats?control nearly 85 percent of the market” and, “as a percentage of the retail price, the cereal industry devotes more money from sales to marketing and profit than any other food surveyed.” The congressmen also charge that since 1983 the average price of cold cereals has risen 90 percent, twice the rate of increase for other foods, and that cereal has the highest profit margin of any food product.

    “As you know,…high profit margins may be the result of collusive behavior….This industry has ceased to be responsive to consumers and market forces,” wrote Gejdenson and Schumer in a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno. “Consumers don’t have a real choice in this market.”

    The congressmen’s professed concern for the three-fifths of children who have cereal for breakfast every day led them to ask Reno to “inform [them] of the actions that can be taken to change the pricing structure of the industry.”

    “The…cereal companies can easily reduce their prices and still realize a reasonable profit,” concludes Consumers in a Box. In other words, it may be time to nationalize the cereal business.

    https://reason.com/archives/199…..al-killers

    1. “The…cereal companies can easily reduce their prices and still realize a reasonable profit,” concludes Consumers in a Box. In other words, it may be time to nationalize the cereal business.

      *facepalm*

    2. Four companies controlled 85% of the market? Oh god no! How did we survive the 90s?

      1. that’s fucking chaos compared to one company controlling 100% of the market

    3. I thought cereal was bad for you anyways. When Schumer wants to hit the cereal companies with a sugar or empty calorie tax he won’t care about how muxh that is costing consumers.

  14. Party of Science!

    1. More like party of alchemy and cults.

  15. Georgia legislature waters down religious freedom bill, likely making it useless.

    Meanwhile, here’s some uncritical media coverage of a guy making No Gays Allowed signs modelled after the Jim Crow era.

    (AUTOPLAY)

  16. Since almost every food is ‘genetically modified’ in some way, it would be a fun project to go into every ‘natural food’ store in Vermont, check what they are selling, then file lawsuits against every one of them for failing to label their food properly.

    1. Whether or not it’s relevant to anything that people should be concerned about, it’s not hard to draw a line distinguishing genetically engineered crops from artificially selected, conventionally bred crops.

      The thing that I find funny is that the anti-GMO people don’t seem to mind (or perhaps know about) all of the varieties of crops that were created by irradiating seeds and looking for interesting mutations in the few that still grew. For some reason deliberately modifying organisms with well understood genes for specific purposes is scarier than random mutations, either natural or induced by people.

    2. No doubt. That would be fun. This is what a tomato looked like before domestication . This is what it looks like now after centuries of genetic modification.

  17. “As I have explained, Sanders’ appeal to federal is thoroughly disingenuous. ”

    Unfortunately for you, that’s not an argument against Vermont having this power under federalism.

    But I’ll give you one. The constitution gives the Feds the power to regulate interstate commerce, and this is one of the clearest instances of the application of that power under the intent of the grant of that power – to let the feds “regulate commerce” in the sense of standardized rules for packaging and labeling requirements to prevent states from *disregulating* commerce with varying incompatible regulatory regimes.

    1. I still lean in favor of federalism in this case, but this is close to exactly the kind of thing the Commerce Clause rightfully tried to avoid.

      Every state shouldn’t have it’s own system of weights and measures, and associated labeling requirements. The feds get to regulate such conventions of commerce.

  18. So here is your problem, Ronald. Reason constantly trots out polls to tell us us what Americans think, and what they want. Because that is the marketplace. It’s the method you choose to prove we are in a “libertarian moment.” Americans want this, Americans want that. Particularly when it coincides with libertarian ideals.

    Two thirds of all Americans want foods labeled as GMO or not.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ru…..-labeling/

    So Vermonters want their food labeled (and here I thought you support states deciding for themselves a whole host of issues), and they should be concerned about the impact it has elsewhere?

    It’s not one tiny state who wants this, as you claim, it’s two thirds of all Americans. Maybe more.

    Food labeling is part of our lives now. Most people I know check food labels for one reason or another…sodium, saturated fats, sugar, whatever. Because their doctor told them they had to. And almost everyone I know won’t buy it if it says trans fats. I hope you don’t.

    Suddenly you’re afraid Americans won’t make the right decision if they know all the facts. Vermonters decided they want those facts. Get over it.

    1. By the way, I might add that all Americans know that every label isn’t necessarily bad. Protein is good for you, and it’s right there with trans fats. You must have a low opinion of Americans having even an ounce of intelligence about what is harmful, what is benign, and what is beneficial.

      So much for believing the marketplace will always make the right decision if they have the facts. Some foods are GMO, some are not. Those are the facts.

      1. So much for believing the marketplace will always make the right decision if they have the facts

        That strawman never had a chance.

    2. I’ve got a question for you Ronald. You ever check food labels in the grocery store? Or do you just buy anything. I bet you at least occasionally check them.

    3. Now for your next trick, please explain how anti-GMO groups are NOT causing millions of children to go blind in Asia because golden rice = GMO = EVIL.

      I’m sure your twisted rationalizations can easily manage that.

      1. Say wha’?

        1. Ignorance is … ? Golden Rice — Norman Borlaug.

          1. And that has exactly what to do with anything I said about what most Americans want and labels on food? Are all labels warnings? Or are they informational. Don’t let your paranoia show.

          2. By the way, do you ever check the labels on food?

            1. If you want GMO labels on your food, JackAss, start a cereal-making company and label the packaging as you wish.
              Statist cunt.

    4. Suddenly you’re afraid Americans won’t make the right decision if they know all the facts. Vermonters decided they want those facts. Get over it.

      Reading comprehension fail:

      Activists intend for such labels to mislead consumers into thinking that perfectly safe food made using ingredients from modern biotech crops are somehow different from or dangerous. My suspicion is that as the GMO labels mandated by one tiny state proliferate, they will drop into the noisy information background and be largely ignored by most consumers.

      If General Mills wants to placate whiny luddites, then that’s perfectly fine. The problem here is the use of coercion.

      1. Some foods already have those labels. And they are pretty much ignored now. But that isn’t the point. Vermonters decided they want those foods labeled. GM does have a choice here. Don’t sell in Vermont.

        1. I honestly think that is what they ought to do. Food producers should just boycott Vermont. It’s a small place, they aren’t losing much.

      2. By the way, I don’t care. I ignore the labels. But I’ll make 2 points.

        Proponents are right that nearly every study shows GMOs are not harmful. But the one area that is open for debate is whether or not GMOs are increasing the use of pesticides and herbicides. And studies go in each direction. And some are concerned about that. I guess Vermonters are. Whatever. But GM still can make a stand if they so chose.

        Second, some like to compare this to the science on climate change. Proponents of the theory of AGW have had to fight for decades to educate the American public on the dangers, with minimal results only occurring now. And Reason hasn’t been one to assist in that scientific education.

        Have fun, proponents of GMOs, in the struggle ahead to educate the American people about the safety of GMOs.

        1. You are confused. GMOs increase the use of ONE SPECIFIC herbicide, mainly by causing farmers to switch from more toxic herbicides, and to increase the practice of no-till farming (which require herbicides to be effective). So merely the fact that herbicide use increases shouldn’t be taken as more harmful. That is actually a net benefit to the environment. Insecticide use also has decreased as a result of the introduction of Bt crops.

          The whole point of GMO crops is to make the crops themselves resistant to diseases and insect damage (and drought, and heat, etc.). There would be literally no point in creating a crop that required MORE insecticide to protect it. The anti-GMO people are just liars who are knowingly mixing apples and oranges in order to confuse people.

    5. The intention is to then use those labels as a pretext to protest outside grocery stores that carry GMO products, to try to force grocery chains to stop carrying them.

      1. I know.

      2. I have to admit, this whole thing is strange.

        I have family members who are absolutely convinced climate change is a hoax. And those very same people believer GMOs are killing us.

        As Ray Davies once said, it’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.

  19. Yep, and when …… well wait, scratch this comment. What the fuck was that!!!?? A god damned pop up video. Shit Reason. What’s next 10 ways, 15 things, X what the fucks slide shows!!?

  20. My suspicion is that as the GMO labels mandated by one tiny state proliferate, they will drop into the noisy information background and be largely ignored by most consumers.

    I’ll see your suspicion and raise you an “I’ve been down this road before.” These guys don’t take their pound of flesh and go away. Now that they have a win, they’ll be back in force.

    Here’s how this game works. A bunch of states might pass something that uses the Vermont statute as a template. But the anti-GMO crowd doesn’t give two craps about labels. They want GMO as a technology erased from the face of the earth. So they get a few labels, and then they push for something more. The next batch of states ends up with incompatible labeling requirements. One says they have to have a 2 inch box with 16 point font, and another says they have to have some specific text, and yet another says they must have a 3 inch box with 18 point helvetica font… The point being, it will be impossible to simultaneously comply with all the laws at some point. This will be intentional as a stopgap measure on the way to a federal ban.

    I’ve seen this play out in financial industry regulations. We had to build an extremely sophisticated document creation engine to comply with 52 different state/territory regulations – many of which were completely incompatible. Since our transactions often involved 3 states, this was really complex.

    1. Of course the end game is either the regulations become so onerous that a national push to “regulate” a voluntary system is successful, or the anti-GMO folks win enough support through scare-mongering that a national law outlawing them wins out.

      With Europe using anti-GMO legislation as cover for protectionist farm policies, this whole thing is very complex. Still, with the price advantages of the GMO foods, I can’t see how they don’t win out in the end.

      1. Two good examples in Canada: anti-smoking bylaws and DUI laws.
        Once one municipality figured out how to ban smoking and not have the law overturned, it was all over for smoking in restaurants and pubs all over the country. It happened very quickly.
        MADD cunts pushed for fines and seizures for drivers at .05 – even though Criminal Code of CAnada is .08 – and once the first province fell in line (BC or AB, I think) it moved elsewhere, though I’m not sure that fascists hags have yet succeeded in every province.

        1. Can we use such tactics too?

  21. Hardly anyone lives in VT. I think refusing to sell non-GMO food there would have been the better option.

    I have a feeling grocery stores on the NH and MA border would have seen a little more business.

    1. Exactly.

  22. We are increasingly lorded over by the ignorant.

  23. More important than Bernie’s food phobia is antiabortion Republican willingness to actually these kinds of laws pass, offerong only Creation Science objections or parroting industry lobbyists. To the prohibitionists running the GOP, legislative fascism is simply another thing they themselves advocate, albeit less shrilly than the coercion of pregnant women.

  24. My GMO label

    “This product contains ingredients that won’t harm anyone, and help feed millions while protecting the environment. Buy two!”

    1. That’s pretty good. You should send that in.

  25. But that’s okay, they will make up for it by airing more inter-racial marriage advertisements. See how cool they are?

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