If the only thing you can remember happening in food-policy news in 2015 is Chipotle running out of carnitas, this one’s for you.
This year, conscious consumers took home some big victories in the food justice department, and saw the case for a transparent, sustainable food system get even more clear. Read on for all the important policy news and developments you might have missed during the year—both the good and the bad.
Consumers demanded better food—and big companies actually listened
Something wonderful happened in 2015. Consumers made it clear that they care deeply about the quality of their food, and even multimillion dollar companies started to change their policies.
We saw a pattern repeat form. First, Chipotle ditched genetically modified ingredients for good. Then, Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, and Panera all said they would go cruelty-free. Cereal giant General Mills even pledged to remove artificial ingredients from its breakfast offerings. Though we can’t condone rushing out for a meal of donuts, Doritos Locos tacos, and Lucky Charms, each of these changes is a big step in the right direction.
Europe led the fight against GMOs
Our neighbors across the pond made big strides against GMOs this year when 19 countries said “no thanks” to growing genetically modified crops. That represents more than 65 percent of the continent’s arable land.
Factory-farmed meat proved itself to be even more dangerous
Large, industrial farms had a bad year—which is good news for food transparency activists. One Nebraska meat packer had to recall 167,000 pounds of ground beef because of e. coli contamination, a widespread avian flu outbreak caused the prices of eggs to spike, and scientists released horrifying evidence that antibiotic use in livestock is creating “superbugs.” This Big Food backlash has inspired more people than ever to start buying organic.
The DARK Act passed the House of Representatives
The federal bill that would make it illegal for states to require labeling of genetically modified foods made it through the House of Representatives in July. Though the so-called DARK Act would create a voluntary GMO labeling program at the federal level, advocates for transparency in the food system fear it would limit the consumer’s right to know what’s in their food.
The World Health Organization linked meat with cancer
The organization terrified everyone—and left vegetarians and vegans saying “told ya so”—when it declared that processed red meat causes cancer. Though more research is needed to understand the exact relationship, it’s probably safest to steer clear of highly processed meats such as jerky, hot dogs, and canned meat for the time being.
The FDA approved the first-ever genetically modified fish
In an contentious move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationdeemed a genetically modified salmon fit for human consumption. Unlike its wild cousin, the AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon reaches maturity in just two years—and is part eel.