Vilsack: Smartphones Could Tell Consumers What's in Food

Vilsack: Smartphones Could Tell Consumers What's in Food

Consumers using smart phones to scan special codes or symbols on food packages could head off the debate between the food industry and those pushing for labels identifying genetically modified organisms, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

The Food and Drug Administration handles most food-package labeling, so Vilsack's idea isn't an official proposal. But the agriculture secretary suggested it could be viable solution in testimony before Congress Wednesday.

"Industry could solve that issue in a heartbeat," Vilsack said.

Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It campaign, however, disagreed. "Consumers shouldn't have to have a high-tech smart phone and a 10-gigabyte data plan to know what's in their food," Faber said.

Vilsack has mentioned the idea before, but he said it could have new life as Congress becomes more involved in the issue. A Republican House bill would block any further state efforts to require GMO package labels. Last year Vermont became the first state to pass a law to requiring the labeling.

Vilsack said some food companies have been receptive to his idea, though he didn't name any. A spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the food industry, said the group is "actively discussing ways to further provide consumers with this important information."

Genetically modified seeds are engineered to have certain traits, like resistance to herbicides or certain plant diseases. The majority of the country's corn and soybean crop is now genetically modified, with much of that going to animal feed. Modified corn and soybeans are also made into popular processed food ingredients like corn oil, corn starch, high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.


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Spell Check

Kinzers, PA
2/28/2015 08:19 AM

  "Consumers shouldn't have to have a high tech smart phone... to know what's in their food," Faber said. How many consumers who care about, or can afford, non-gmo food, don't have a smart phone? This is 2015! And why do people want food from "non gmo" crops that've been sprayed with more potent residual herbicides than their gmo counterparts? We already have labeled non-gmo food. It's called organic. And lastly, minimal research would tell these label-hungry consumers that virtually all products with corn or soybean ingredients could safely be considered to contain gmo crops. No label needed. Call it what it is: gmo labeling is a thinly veiled step toward gmo eradication. Good idea, Vilsack.

Dave Burke
Smithfield, PA
2/27/2015 09:18 AM

  What about the independent studies finding? The "non GMO " movement is gaining speed. Farmers are being used to spread the use of this tech and it will be used against the farmer also when the truth finally comes out. We use more and more spray because of super weeds. This technology increased yields and now we have $3.75 corn and seed still what $ 300+ a unit? We are not gaining in the long run. Big Ag is using farmers as their slave labor. They make money, farmers take the risk. Yes, Big Ag did R&D but did they tell you time would come that "farmers " are in no better shape than thirty years ago? I believe in COOl and labeling Food as GMO or not. What is Big Ag afraid of? The truth!


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