Package labeling of GMOs should be a consumer right, not a luxury

Opponents of greater food transparency claim that the makers of “luxury foods” are seeking mandatory GMO labeling (“Business leaders push Obama to issue mandatory GMO labeling laws,” July 2).

As the founder and chairman of Stonyfield Farm, I am hard-pressed to understand why anyone would consider yogurt a “luxury” food. The same goes for a burrito from Chipotle, a sandwich from Panera or soup from Au Bon Pain. 

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As food company leaders, many of us simply want to give consumers more information about their food and trust them to make the best decisions for their families. And we know that adding a few words to the back of the package will not increase the price of the food we sell.

Let’s be clear: We are not asking for a warning. We’re simply advocating for a nonjudgmental disclosure on the back of the package. We already tell our consumers all sorts of things about their food. There’s no good reason to hide the use of genetically modified food ingredients.

Unfortunately, some food companies are trotting out the same arguments they made to fight the Nutrition Facts panel more than 20 years ago. It’s wrong, and it’s time for thoughtful CEOs like Ken Powell of General Mills, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Denise Morrison of Campbell to join 125 other food company CEOs in support of mandatory labeling. 

Many of the same companies fighting GMO labeling are already selling foods in the 64 countries that give consumers the right to know what’s in their food and how it’s grown. Nine out of 10 consumers in the United States tell pollsters they want the same rights. And, according to a recent poll by the Mellman Group, low-income consumers are more likely to want the right to know than middle- and upper-income consumers.

Knowing what’s in our food is a right. It should not be a luxury. 

From Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It, Concord, N.H.


Iran nuclear deal a benchmark

This Iranian nuclear weapons control deal is singularly an arms limitation agreement in its implementation. This accord parallels the actions of the United States and Soviet Union 45 years ago in limiting the growth and expansion of both superpowers’ strategic nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems.

Those nuclear agreements did not change the actions of Soviet Union. Likewise, this agreement will not change Iran’s behavior. 

But this agreement does provide a benchmark beginning to the possibility of future additional nuclear program concordats as well as full rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran. For now, this entente merely monitors Iran’s program with various verification measures: for the reduction of centrifuges leading to uranium enrichment, control over the manufacturing of weapons grade plutonium, inspection of heavy water reactors usage, uranium ore storage and supply lines and third-party transfers of processed uranium hexafluoride compound inventories, along with Iranian nuclear research and development protocols. 

Congressional critics and various Middle East allies should at least read the agreement before excoriating President Obama and the negotiated provisions of this accord. For those who care to remember, Republicans eviscerated their now beloved Ronald Reagan with his positions regarding Soviet armament control mechanisms of the 1980s.

Congratulations and thanks must be extended to John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocrats can show Trump the way to avoid war with Iran Mellman: Are primary debates different? MSNBC's Hayes fears Trump military move during Democratic debates MORE and his staff for achieving on behalf of the United States this historic agreement. In the 239-year history of the United States, Kerry stands as this nation’s greatest secretary of State. 

From Earl Beal, Terre Haute, Ind.