Shoppers in Vermont better stock up while they can – they’re about to lose 3,000 products from grocery store shelves due to the mandatory GMO labeling law.
The law, which went into effect on July 1st, requires mandatory labeling for any product that has ingredients made from genetically modified crops. Vermont retailers now have up to one year to sell any current inventory that is not labeled. That’s good news for shoppers though, because the grocery store shelves may start looking a little bare soon.
That’s because some major companies have decided to simply stop shipping some favorite products to the state. Instead of putting a GMO label on the products, the companies have obviously decided just to forego sales in Vermont. The list includes some famous labels and brands, including Rachel Ray’s Chicken Stock, Pepsi Wild Cherry, Mountain Dew, and Lipton Ice Tea. Other general products include bagels, almond milk, tortilla chips, and bread.
You can download the full list of items here.
Taking away 3,000 items is actually a pretty big deal. According to a local news source, Price Chopper, a supermarket chain in the state, currently sells about 35,000 items. That means with the resultant loss, the stores are losing 10% of their inventory! As Robert Letovsky, a professor of business at St. Michael’s College pointed out, that means less competition and, ultimately, higher prices for consumers.
Congratulations, Vermont! That GMO label, which tells you absolutely nothing, will now give you less food choices and higher prices!
Admittedly, I was skeptical that companies would respond to the Vermont law, which is terribly confusing and misleading, by simply pulling products out of the state. After all, this closes a market and cuts into their profit margin. However, I am glad to see this is the route that some national brands, and even some smaller brands, have taken in reaction to the law. I’m not so naive to think these companies are withholding products to stand strong for biotechnology, but it is a sort of vindication. So many proponents of labeling think it is just as simple and easy as printing additional words on the product packaging. They fail to realize that this is complicated, difficult, and costly.
As much as I would love to see the negative effects of Vermont’s labeling law play out, it may not last very long.
A compromise bill was reached in the Senate Agriculture Committee, which would create a national GMO labeling standard and preempt any state labeling laws. However, Vermont’s law will remain in effect until national legislation is signed into law. That means Vermont shoppers might need to cross the border to find some of their favorite products until Congress and the President act.
Or, probably just plan on moving, because you deserve better anyway.