Co-authored with Julie Kelly and originally published on Huffington Post.
Big Food companies are folding like a Wal-Mart suit on GMO labeling. After spending gazillions of dollars to stop GMO labeling laws, major brands like General Mills and Kellogg’s have made splashy announcements that they will now print “made with genetic engineering” on products that contain GMOs.
These big, bad companies are capitulating to the demands of one tiny state – Vermont – that will require GMO labels on most foods as of July 1. This lily-white state with a mere 600,000 residents has CEOs all over the country shaking in their Guccis as the deadline looms. A Senate bill to rescue these companies and save Vermonters from living with the consequences of a really stupid fucking law failed to get enough votes, so game on.
But instead of telling Vermonters to buy Pringles and Fruit Loops in New Hampshire and making the grocery stores in Vermont look like Venezuela for a few months, the companies gave in to anti-GMO bullies that pushed the shitty law. Anytime you have a whackjob like flying yoga teacher Jeffery Smith helping write state legislation, you know it’s gonna be a dumpster fire.
Well-known anti-GMO activists who earn fame and fortune by ripping the food industry cheered the news. Vani Hari, the self-described Food Babe who claims Rice Krispies might cause cancer, heaped praise on Kellogg’s and General Mills over social media:
(When you’re the Food Babe, it’s all about you.)
Pleasing self-righteous activists might be just part of the game plan here. Most small food companies simply can’t afford to comply with the law (labeling GMOs isn’t as easy or cheap as you think) and the penalties for mislabeling – up to a $1,000 per day – are way out of their budget. So there’s a good chance they’ll exit Vermont and the Big Food companies will have the state all to themselves (Bernie Sanders would shudder.)
We can only imagine the high-level company meeting where this decision was made *cue dreamy music*
A Very Important Meeting at Kellogg’s Corporate Headquarters
Head of Security: *locks door* I am very scared. A man who flies yoga mats made Vermont pass a law which says we have to label all of the things with GMOs.
Head of Frosted Flakes: *eyes dart* That is very scary. We will never sell another box of Frosted Flakes in Vermont. We must label all of the things.
Tony the Tiger: *chews on cigar*
Head of Froot Loops: *slouches* But, we have spent 1 gazillion dollars because it is stupid to label all things.
Head of Security: *shaky voice* I have not told you the scary part
Head of Cheez Its: What is scarier than a man who flies yoga mats?
Head of Security: *crying in terror* The Food Babe
Entire Room: *ducks under table*
Tony the Tiger: *leans back in chair*
Head of Security: The Food Babe is blackmailing us. We must label all of the things or her army will tweet us and call us…on the phone.
Entire Room: *gasps*
Head of Pop-Tarts: That’s it! I am scared of mean tweets plus we will never sell another Pop Tart in Vermont. We must label all the of the things.
Tony the Tiger: *quiet voice* What is the punishment for the companies who don’t label all of the things?
Head of Security: $1000 per day, per product plus mean Facebook messages and *gulps* class-action lawsuits.
Head of Cocoa Krispies: *sobs* And we will never sell another box of Cocoa Krispies in Vermont!
Entire Room: *screams*
Tony the Tiger: Silence! *lights cigar* We will label all of the things.
Head of Froot Loops: But we have spent 1 gazillion dollars because it is stupid to label all of the things.
Tony the Tiger: *smirks* Of course it is stupid but we can afford to label all of the things and little companies cannot. *rubs paws together*
Head of Kellogg’s: I love Vermont. Vermont is for Big Business. Let’s move to Vermont.
Entire Room: Hooray for Vermont and Flying Yoga Mats!
Tony the Tiger: *licks butt* Yeah, they’re Grrrreat. *rolls eyes*
Excellent work, Vermont. It’s no sweat for the Big Food guys to make the labeling switch, consult with lawyers, and pay enormous fees but not so easy for the little local guys you love so much.
Maybe Vermont should change its nickname from The Green Mountain State to Friend of Big Business. Feel the Bern.