The GMO labeling initiatives
and legislation being pushed in California and elsewhere will attempt to use the weapon of consumer choice, normally such a bedrock principle of the system, against the system itself.
Everywhere on Earth the people have rejected GMOs. No vote has ever affirmed them. Everywhere the people have, by overwhelming majorities, demanded labeling of GMO “foods”, foods with GMO ingredients, foods derived from GMOs (for example meat or dairy from animals who were given GMO feed; that’s almost all animals whose products aren’t certified organic). If there was a wider understanding of the “natural food” scam (that term has no meaning, and in practice usually means it’s GM and has lots of other nasty features), eaters would reject it as well. The labeling initiatives seek to purge this bogus term.
GMO processed “foods” are scarce in Europe because the EU requires such labeling, and with the labeling, buyers reject them. (This policy is not in place because EU technocrats support labeling – quite the contrary
– but because bottom-up pressure forced them.)
As a Monsanto scumbag put it:
“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” — Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
The goal of the labeling campaign in America is to use the same principle to drive GMOs out of our stores. If California requires labeling, processors and retailers will drop GMOs from their roster in that state. Since California’s economy is so massive, it won’t be cost-effective for them to have one policy for that state and another for elsewhere where labeling isn’t required. That would also look bad politically. Instead, they’ll just drop GMOs completely. It would be a devastating blow, using the system’s own consumerism ideology and practice against it.
That’s the ambitious goal of this reform campaign.
I support it but have three questions about it:
1. If enacted as intended, will it really accomplish what we hope for it? The best answer I can come up with so far is “Maybe.” We won’t know until it’s tried.
2. If passed, will it be enacted as intended. In practice there’s lots of ways it can be hijacked or subverted. The wording might be distorted, or the government might interfere to obscure or obfuscate the label, or force its own counter-labels (in violation of the 1st Amendment, by the way). Then there will be the inevitable litigation which is likely to tie up enactment indefinitely. One of the intended functions of the courts is to put pro-democracy policy on ice.
Or it’ll be thrown out in federal court as unconstitutional. I wonder how many “progressives” are hoping this labeling initiative will be a stake in the heart of Monsanto, but are at the same time insisting that Obama’s Stamp mandate is constitutional? But the exact same totalitarian commerce clause logic
which would find Obama’s poll tax “constitutional”
could also find that a state-level labeling requirement is “unconstitutional” if it harms the general commerce in GMOs. This harm is a stated goal of labeling supporters.
3. If the initiatives and proposed legislation are defeated by a combination of threats
, fraud, and weaponized money; or if the California initiative is voted up but thrown out, or smothered in the courts or by subverted enforcement; if these happen, will labeling supporters then say, “We tried the reform route, we tried to work within the system, we tried to play by the rules, and we see how none of that works. Now we know that nothing short of a full-scale democracy and direct action movement will suffice.” ?
Or will they say, “we have to keep trying what’s already been proven not to work”?
The measure of a sincere democracy activist vs. a con artist and astroturfer is the answer to this question.
I do think that this, like some other attempts at throughgoing reform, will have to be tried before a significant number of people will realize that reformism does not and cannot work. (And who knows, maybe this thing will surprise those of us already convinced against reformism.) For that and other reasons the democracy movement will have to support and engage in some kinds of reform activism.
But our goal at all times, in addition to doing our best to see if the reform can accomplish anything, is to consistently argue that “if this doesn’t work, it proves that the whole reformist project can’t work”, and teach about why and how this is.
This is true in general of initiatives, lawsuits, constitutional amendment movements, and anything which attempts significant reform from the bottom up, but playing by the system rules. Probing the limits of what’s possible within those rules, we’ll see if anything’s possible, or if on the contrary nothing is possible. In the latter case, reformism will be a proven failure, once and for all, and no one will still be able to argue for it with any integrity or credibility.