Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Nancy Neiman Auerbach

Reader 2

Donald McFarlane

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© 2016 Maithili Joshi


The sale and consumption of genetically modified foods are highly politicized, and one of the predominant discourses today. Since 2012, several states attempted legislation to label genetically modified foods, losing at very close margins. It wasn’t until a huge senate victory in Vermont that the labeling fight seemed to hold. Unfortunately, at the federal level there was a sound defeat by the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which said that the FDA would monitor what foods should be labeled. This legislation, although appearing to keep the interests of food lobbying groups, was more for the interests of corporate power. This, however, did not deter states from continuing to legislate today, and the fight to does not appear to stop any time soon. The purpose of this paper is to see why anti-GMO lobbying organizations continue to campaign for this issue when efforts have not only failed in every state, and efforts have been slowed down at a federal level. The paper aims to make sense of labeling legislation as a political tactic. Through Gaventa’s analysis of power that he outlines in the book Power and Powerlessness, labeling legislation is understood as a political strategy, and how this movement has created a hegemonic common sense of consumer sovereignty and maintained this hegemonic common sense for years.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.