Obfuscation is a great term. It literally sounds like its meaning– to render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible. Say it with me. OB-FUS-CA-TION. And this is what is happening today in DC regarding the GMO labeling debate. Vermont’s GMO labeling law went into effect on July 1, and now the industry and some of its allies on the hill are trying to push through alternative national standards that would 1) reverse Vermont’s ruling and 2) put in its place some voluntary methods by which manufacturers could choose to inform the public of its food contents, the favorite of which seems to be the ever-so-complicated QR code.

Now, let’s say I’m totally non-biased on this subject ( which is completely ridiculous) and we discuss the idea of legislating the use of QR codes as a national standard. This is deeply problematic on so many levels. But the main problem with QR codes is that they’re not effective as a form of communication.

If you’re in the marketing or communications industry, you’ve probably already realized that the QR code is a bit of a dead horse if you’re trying to reach the general public in a fast and informing way. It’s virtually been abandoned because it’s proven to be so ineffective in its usage. The technology requires you to download an app, launch the app, which then connects you to a website, which then could or could not be telling you what you need to know. It’s literally a technology wild goose chase. Even if someone had all the time in the world, which they don’t, the annoyance of the QR code is enough to make someone never use it. And that’s what happened. People stopped using them.

But I’m not so sure anyone on the hill understands this. But I WOULD bet that the industry does. I’d be curious to know two things. Who in the Senate or Congress has a smart phone that has a working QR code reader on it and if they do, which is doubtful, has it ever been used? I’ve put QR codes on campaigns years back and have only used mine maybe twice.

The other thing I’d be curious about is the shopping habits of our illustrious representatives– Who on the hill actually shops for their own food to understand how complicated this is as a solution? And then I’d also be curious for my personal enjoyment to know how many out of those hands-on shoppers opt for organic when being presented a choice?

But let me finish this by pointing out the most glaringly egregious issue with all of this– it demonstrates the lack of consideration for disadvantaged populations without smart phones and physically challenged populations who won’t be able to navigate the technology in an easy and usable way.

What it all really comes down to is, if you really want to tell people something, the best way to do it, is to actually tell them. The best way to inform people would probably be on a label that does just that.

So regardless of how the industry feels, and what a burden it might seem today, the people in Vermont, and other places, want to know the source of the food they're buying and feeding their families. A vote in favor of a QR code and the other proposed voluntary measures is NOT a solution in this matter. It's a vote for obfuscation. 

Originally Published : Linked In