The tomato is a simple fruit that is eaten by millions of Americans every year. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that you may have no way of knowing what has gone into that tomato you’re eating. Some tomatoes have been genetically modified to improve taste, delay ripening, tolerate pests and extreme climates.
GMO foods have become increasingly common in agriculture, with the rise of companies like Monsanto. According to the Center for Food Safety (CFS), 64 countries require labeling of genetically engineered foods through consumer “right-to-know” laws.
But the United States does not require the labeling of GMO products, though Maine, Vermont and Connecticut, however, have recently passed legislation regarding food labeling in their states.
Meanwhile, a New York Times survey in May found that 93 percent of respondents want genetically modified ingredients identified. A CFS petition urging the FDA to require GMO labeling has gathered more than 1.4 million signatures.
The reason behind this discrepancy between public opinion and legal requirements may lie in the effective lobbying practices of Monsanto. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Monsanto spent nearly $7 million in lobbying in the United States in 2013, and it contributes actively to political campaigns.
Monsanto has also come under criticism for its controversial practices toward small farmers as well as what some call monopoly-like behavior. In a report filed with government regulators in 2010, DuPont, which owns a competitor to Monsanto, wrote, “Monsanto has engaged in numerous practices that improperly seek to expand the scope of intellectual property rights at the expense of competition, innovation and choice.”
It’s clear that Monsanto has deep pockets and is seeking to influence the political landscape. While some may disagree over their specific practices, it seems that public opinion on the labeling of GMO is clear.
When it comes to that tomato, the American people deserve to know what they’re eating.