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The Struggle is Real: Scene from an American Food Prison

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Co-authored by Julie Kelly, food and agricultural policy writer
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"Just Label It", an anti-GMO organization funded by the organic industry and founded by the chairman of an organic yogurt company, has put out a cute little video demonstrating how difficult it would be for mothers to use their smart phones to identify products with GMOs in them using a QR code. (Just Label It wants big, obvious signage so that consumers will know to avoid those products.) Starring anti-GMO celebrity darling, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the yogurt executive who has made millions off the American food system he refers to as a "food prison, food apartheid, and food slavery", the video perfectly encapsulates the privileged world of the anti-GMO movement.

The best part of this video is imagining the planning that went into it. Probably something like this:

A Very Important Meeting at Just Label It Headquarters

Just Label It Executive: We need to sell more organic yogurt. Let's make a video.

Just Label It Lackey: I thought you wanted to label GMOs.

Executive: That's what I meant.

Lackey: What is our video about?

Executive: It is about how women are too stupid and frazzled to understand how a QR code works.

Lackey: That is brilliant. Women like being called stupid and frazzled. Who should be in our video?

Executive: Me.

Lackey: Of course. Who else?

Executive: A wealthy blonde woman.

Lackey: Naturally. You must mean Gwyneth Paltrow.

Executive: Yes. She is the blondest.

Lackey: And the wealthiest. Who else?

Executive: Another wealthy woman, except frazzled and with spoiled children.

Lackey: Good idea. Frazzled, wealthy mothers with spoiled children love Gwyneth.

Executive: We should film the video in a scary American Food Prison.

Lackey: Walmart?

Executive: Gross, no. Gwyneth Paltrow does not shop at Walmart. It has to be an upscale American Food Prison.

Lackey: What should the stupid, frazzled woman with terrible children be doing?

Executive: She will walk through the American Food Prison aisles with her ungrateful children and be overwhelmed by the literally thousands of food choices all around her.

Lackey: Having so many food choices in American Food Prisons can be very stressful. Is this where she should show how she is too stupid and frazzled to understand a QR code?

Executive: Exactly. She will pull out her $600 smart phone to demonstrate how stupid and frazzled she is and then her psychotic children will deliberately smash food in the aisles of the food prison.

Lackey: This is so relatable. All women understand the struggle of being stupid, frazzled, and having awful children who throw watermelons when they are bored.

Executive: That's when Gwyneth Paltrow will appear from the giant dairy section and pretend to know what a can of food is. She will ask to borrow the $600 phone since she left hers in her Range Rover.

Lackey: All women will love this video because they are stupid and frazzled and want Gwyneth to borrow their $600 smart phone in the aisles of an upscale American Food Prison.

Executive: We really understand the hardship of frazzled, wealthy women who have to shop in upscale American food prisons.

The End

On the surface, this video seems rather harmless. An exhausted looking woman with bratty kids is grocery shopping and all she wants to know is whether or not the can of soup she plans to feed her little darlings has GMOs in it. She doesn't know what GMOs are but she knows that they will give her kids cancer, autism, allergies, and ADHD because Gwyneth Paltrow and organic executives said so. To find out about the GMOs, she's forced to fumble through her purse for her phone in order to take a picture of a QR code. The wifi in the grocery store is bad and it's taking too long and the kids are losing it and she JUST WANTS TO KNOW WHAT IS IN THE DAMNED CAN.

You really do feel for her and many of us can relate to the nightmare of grocery shopping with obnoxious kids but here is where it gets stupid: If you've been in an upscale, suburban American grocery store recently, you've probably noticed that you can't throw a watermelon (like the brat in the video does) without hitting something that says non-GMO or GMO-free. It's everywhere and it's on everything. Most of the stuff it's on doesn't even have a GMO counterpart available. It's even on water which is hilarious. And by USDA definition, anything certified as organic is non-GMO. It's really not that difficult to find non-GMO food.

It says a lot about the anti-GMO movement though that their idea of a genuine struggle is shopping in an upscale grocery store, surrounded by thousands of food choices, and not being able to read a barcode label with a $600 phone because the wifi is weak. We should all be so lucky to have these problems because there are many in this world who don't have choices about what to feed their kids. They don't get to shop in an air-conditioned "Food Prison" with huge dairy cases and aisles of fresh food, prepared food, boxed food, and canned food. They might have one staple crop like bananas or rice and they might be looking to genetic engineering to help save their crops from disease or fortify them with life-saving nutrition.

Yes, it's just a video and it was meant to be funny and to make a point about how silly the idea of a QR code label is (which it is). It just stops being funny when you realize that it's this same wealthy actress and the same wealthy organic yogurt executive who are using their money and influence to spread fear, especially among loving (and sometimes exhausted) mothers, about a technology that could potentially save millions of lives.