GMO Labeling, Pesticide Poisoning, Soda Taxes, and More in Food Policy

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.


Photograph: Flickr

GMO Labeling Up for Vote in Washington State

On November 5th, residents of Washington will be able to vote on whether that state should mandate labeling of foods containing genetically-modified organisms. The possible mandate has been a source of much controversy and political campaigning, as has been the case with other states' GMO labeling proposals. Last week, news broke that the Grocery Manufacturer's Association, a lobbying arm of the food manufacturing industry, had received and spent over $7 million on an anti-labeling campaign in the state without revealing the identities of its contributors. This is a violation of campaign finance laws. So far, the 'yes' vote on the labeling bill has spent about $7.3 million and the 'no' vote has spent about $17 million.

Argentinian Communities Suffering from Pesticide Poisoning

In a long story, the AP reports on the health impacts being felt by Argentine agricultural families in the wake of extensive pesticide use in their communities. The report, which contains piercing images of residents affected by pesticide poisoning, includes voices from the communities as well as from researchers investigating the impacts of pesticide exposure. Individuals quoted in the report are frequently doused with pesticides in the course of their work, use discarded pesticide containers to carry water or feed animals, and eat pesticide-laden food. As a result, they are suffering from increased cancer rates, birth defects, and higher rates of disability.

Mexican Government Attempts to Fight Rising Obesity With Soda Taxes

A third of all Mexicans are obese, which puts Mexico ahead of the United States as the most overweight country. Some Mexican legislators are blaming this weight spike on processed foods and sodas. So they're proposing a 10% tax on sodas (about one peso per liter) and a 5% tax on unhealthy snack foods. This approach echoes legislative solutions to obesity that have been proposed or taken route in the U.S. and in some European countries. Some groups are on board with the tax, while others blame the obesity rate on the culture's longer history of poor eating habits.

The NYC Food Forum Has Some Suggestions for NYC's New Mayor

Whoever is eventually elected to be New York City's new mayor will be soon handed a list of recommended policy projects from the NYC Food Forum. The Food Forum is a collective of food organizations working on increasing access to healthy food and facilitating the growth of NYC's food economy. Among the Forum's members are environmental, faith, and philanthropic organizations. Their list of key issues includes improving the quality of school food, maximizing access to welfare and food assistance programs, and supporting regional food hubs.

About the Author: Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter @leahjdouglas.