Ever since October 2011, when the "Right to Know March" came through Philadelphia, I have been proud to be a part of the fight to label Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs). I was one of the record one million USDA comments in support of a national GMO labeling policy. And I enthusiastically supported Proposition 37 in California.
But I'm not just about labeling GMOs. I'm also about local. That's why I'm so excited there is now a locally grown initiative to label GMOs in Pennsylvania, with groups like GMO-Free PA at the forefront. This locally produced effort will have a smaller carbon footprint than one imported from across the country, and will be more attuned to our "local sensibilities" than a national effort.
Last month, Tom Laskawy wrote on Grist.org about how Walmart has been quietly advocating for a federal GMO labeling standard. Michele Simon now writes on Huffington Post that a national law could have some unanticipated downsides. Similarly, statewide initiatives could have some unintended upsides , as well. Local economies would benefit from sales of materials for picket signs and paper mache frankenfoods, and the multiplier effect is much higher when you buy local, meaning dollars spent on a local GMO labeling initiative have more benefit to the local economy than dollars spent on national initiatives. But if California's Prop 37 is any indication, there could be a much bigger local impact. Opponents of that measure poured tens of millions of dollars into the state to defeat the measure. That kind of cash infusion could be the biggest economic boon to Pennsylvania since fracking.
There could be other benefits as well: Monsanto earns a couple billion dollars in profits each year, or more, so $50 million dollars in California or Pennsylvania is just a drop in the bucket. But if all 50 states started initiatives, at $50 million each, that's $2.5 billion. Even Monsanto might notice that.