Five Ways that the Next Supreme Court Justice Could Affect the Food on your Plate

Judge's Gavel

Everyone knows that the Supreme Court vacancy is an important political issue – but how critical are SCOTUS decisions to food policy?

Here are five major ways that the next Supreme Court pick could affect the food on your plate:

  1. GMOs: The fight to get clear GMO labels on all foods continues to be muddled by new, poorly written regulations from the USDA. We need better labeling requirements and a court that is sympathetic towards the victims of big ag firms like Monsanto, who peddle GMOs. Several GMO cases have made it all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in some successes and some failures for anti-GMO advocates. If the next Supreme Court Justice is pro-big business and pro-big ag, they could swing the balance against consumer protections.
  1. Honest Labels: Major food corporations get away with lies on packaging every day. The Supreme Court has been a strong ally of transparency advocates, famously finding in 2014 that Coca-Cola’s Pomegranate Juice labels were misleading. If the court continues to prioritize big-business profits over clear information to consumers, everyone loses.
  1. Worker Rights: Farm and foodservice workers face some of the harshest labor conditions in the United States. The Supreme Court recently upheld the ability of corporations to require individual arbitration, restricting the right of workers to effectively stop violations from wage theft to sexual harassment. Future cases could include agricultural workers rights to collectively bargain and the so-called “No-Poach” agreements that suppress foodservice worker wages.
  1. Targeted Advertising: Supreme Court litigation has been crucial in protecting consumers not only from misleading claims on labels, but from advertising that contributes to diet-related diseases. Now, as more information comes out about how companies intentionally target minority communities and SNAP (food stamp) users with dishonest and distasteful advertising, a strongly pro-transparency court is crucial.
  1. Corporate Consolidation: The Supreme Court plays an important role in protecting consumers from the harmful effects of monopolies. The Court has a history of being asked to resolve disputes on issues like meat packing mergers – and this will only get more important, considering that the top four meatpacking companies control almost all of the market in the U.S. As big ag continues to expand (degrading biodiversity and imposing higher costs on small family farmers), you can expect more and more cases to reach the Supreme Court.

 

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