On Wednesday last week (February 25, 2015), the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, once again floated the idea of consumers using barcodes to identify foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as an alternative to requiring food manufacturers to put a label on products that contain GMOs.
Referring to the ongoing debate over GMO labeling laws, Vilsack (according to the Associated Press) told the House during a hearing on agriculture spending: “We could solve that issue in a heartbeat.”
Solve the issue for whom? Tot-Toting Moms with busy schedules who would need to take the added step of scanning every item in the grocery store, instead of just glancing at the label? Older people who struggle as it is to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies?
Or how about for those people who can’t afford–or don’t want to own–expensive smartphones? (Vilsack suggested retailers could provide a scanner for consumers who don’t have smartphones–again, not exactly convenient for busy shoppers, or older people who already feel overwhelmed by the latest techno gadgets).
This isn’t the first time Vilsack has pushed the barcode scheme. Earlier this year, Vilsack’s comments in Europe on how “barcodes” might be a trade-friendly alternative to the European Union’s mandatory labeling of GMOs helped inspire 50,000 protestors to take to the streets in Berlin on January 19, chanting, “We are fed up.”