In my recent story for Al Jazeera America, on the Monsanto executive who won the World Food Prize, I took a look at the more than $5 million Monsanto has given the prize's foundation since 1999. But unfortunately, I didn't manage to find enough room to delve into the debate over efforts to mandate labeling genetically modified (GM) foods—so I didn't mention the ballot initiative to label GM foods in Washington state, which Monsanto helped defeat on Tuesday by spending nearly $5.4 million campaigning against it.
As I did mention, a majority of Americans support labeling GM foods, at least according to polling data. In short, they believe that labeling foods would increase consumer choice by allowing them to avoid GM foods, which some believe haven't been on the market long enough to be considered safe.
Opponents claim that labeling foods would reduce consumer choice. They argue it would create the misconception that GM foods are dangerous, despite the fact that the scientific community has yet to find any evidence of that, and reduce the variety of foods available because companies would be pressured to remove GM ingredients from their products.
Currently, only Connecticut and Maine have GM food labeling laws, but neither will go into effect until more states pass similar laws.