Written by Steve Savage
(Republished from Science 2.0)
This fall, California voters will be asked to vote on Proposition 37, a law which would require that all foods including “GMO Crop ingredients” be labeled as such. There are many reasons that this isn’t a good use of governmental authority for mandatory food labeling. A look at historical logic and precedents for labeling, and at the misleading messages this initiative would foster, should inspire Californians to reject it at the ballot box.
Labeling for a Known Hazard
If a food is hazardous to some consumers, but not others(e.g. peanut allergy), then it makes sense to require that it be labeled to protect that minority. If a food contains something generally hazardous, but difficult to immediately remove from the food supply, it makes sense to label those foods as well (e.g.trans-fats for which labeling was required after 2006). If a particular GMO crop were to be found to be hazardous to certain people, or people in general, the appropriate response would to ban the use of that particular trait nationally, not to label it at a state level! No such hazard has been documented for dozens of biotech crops crop traits over 16 years of extensive commercialization, so “hazard” has never been a reason to require labeling of a GMO crop.
Labeling For Lack of Safety Studies
The proponents of Proposition 37 argue that because the FDA does not require a set of specific human safety studies prior to commercialization, consumer need to be warned. Considering the diversity of biotech traits, it does not really make sense to specify a particular battery of safety studies. They would really need to be varied on a trait-by-trait basis.
The opponents of these crops imply that these foods are thus, untested when it comes to safety. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both the companies that produce the crops, and a wide range of independent researchers, have studied GMO crop safety for years. Highly qualified scientific panels have reviewed those data and consistently concluded that these improved crops represent no unusual risk compared to crops improved by traditional methods.
Ironically, the largest single contributor to the pro-labeling effort is the Internet “health advisor,”Dr.Mercola whose $800,000 donation was funded by his thriving, natural supplement business. There is very little regulatory oversight for that multi-billion dollar supplement industry in terms of required testing either human safety or product efficacy. When it comes to safety testing, GMO crops are far more intensively scrutinized than something like Dr. Mercola’s supplements.
Labeling Because Other Countries Require It
One argument for requiring labeling has been that places like Europe, Japan and China do so. First of all, most of the ingredients in the US, human food supply that come from GMO crops (corn starch; high fructose corn syrup, soybean, cottonseed or canola oil…) have always been supplied from different crops in other regions (potato or rice starch, beet or cane sugar, sunflower, peanut or rapeseed oil…) so there are actually very few GMO labeled foods in those countries. They import massive amounts of our GMO crops for animal feed, but that is not labeled. Second of all, the scientific review panels in these other countries have come to the same conclusions as those in the US. They find no reason to doubt the overall safety of GMO-based foods. It is just that politics trumps science in those political systems. That is certainly not something we should imitate.
Labeling Because It Is A Consumer’s “Right to Know.”
Bits of information do not actually become “knowledge” unless they can be placed into a meaningful context. We have a historical example of this with the mandatory food composition labeling that has been required in the US since 1990. The calorie, protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamin content of foods could theoretically be useful information that consumers could “know.” Unfortunately,when Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, it never actually funded the education part (imagine that). For most consumers, the information on food products is not part of a functional knowledge-base that could guide their food decisions. Instead, they are left to be influenced by the advertizing messages and ever-changing food fads that shape our“marketing of non-existence” food culture. Proposition 37 does not include any sort of official educational component. It would just mandate that a bit of information, “contains ingredients from crops modified by genetic engineering” be attached to many foods. The contextualization of that information will be heavily influenced, not by any sort of balanced presentation, but by a range of activist groups and marketers.
This will not be anything new as these groups have been flooding the internet with hyperbolic warnings for more than a decade. One might think that there would be a statute-of-limitations on saying that “the sky is falling.” It is not at all surprising that Mercola and others would like the opportunity to ramp up the level of societal fear with the help of the “information” supplied by California law. (By the way, Dr. Mercola has not just promoted fear of GMOs. He has been a conduit for anti-vaccination activists and even for a “doctor” with the theory that all cancers are fungal infections).
Labeling As A Way To Track The Effects of GMO Foods
Another argument that Prop. 37 supporters make is that labeling will allow us to better track or detect any issues with these foods. Other than the fact that there is no obvious mechanism for that to happen, there is another major problem with the argument. Foods purchased in restaurants would not be labeled under Prop 37 (nor would alcoholic beverages or organic products that happen to contain them). Considering that on average people eat about half of their meals out,and that many mostly eat out, this idea of tracking falls apart. The other implication of this exemption is that the information on grocery items (which will be cast in a scary light by Mercola et al), will not be seen in restaurants, including those that serve fast food, fried in GMO vegetable oils and sweetened with GMO corn-based sweeteners. Making home meals sound scary and restaurant meals sound safer hardly sounds like a smart message to be sending to a population with an obesity problem.
Labeling To Allow Some Consumers To Avoid GMO Foods
Some people may never trust the scientific/regulatory consensus. That is OK, but those folks don’t really need to force mandatory labeling for everyone else. They always have the option to buy Organic, which decided not to use GMO long before it was even an option. These folks also always have the option to buy products that are sold as or even certified as non-GMO – something that is allowed already. Anyone can also learn a few simple rules based on the limited number of crops that are GMO in the first place.
Here are the simple rules: If the product has ingredients that are derived from Corn, Soy, Cotton, Canola, or Sugar beets, just assume it is probably includes biotech varieties since farmers of those crops overwhelmingly choose those option. Right now, the only fresh market GMO crops in the US are papayas from Hawaii (virus resistance developed by Cornell University that saved the crop), and some sweet corn. In the rare case of another biotech crop being added to this list, there is always plenty of official notice and press/blog coverage.
Labeling to Allow Consumers to Intentionally Choose Biotech Improved Foods
Within a few years there may be some biotech-based, non-browning apples on the market, but they will be voluntarily labeled as such because it is a positive consumer feature and because that value chain is amenable to full identity preservation down to the sticker on each fruit. This is the most logical form of GMO crop labeling, and there are no regulatory, legal, or practical barriers to such labels.
Mandatory food labeling should be reserved for well-documented public health needs and should be linked to viable public education efforts. It shouldn’t be something designed to enrich fear-based marketers or to give people a false comparison between home-cooked and restaurant foods.
Written by Guest Expert
Steve Savage has worked with various aspects of agricultural technology for more than 35 years. He has a PhD in plant pathology and his varied career included Colorado State University, DuPont, and the bio-control start-up, Mycogen. He is an independent consultant working with a wide variety of clients on topics including biological control, biotechnology, crop protection chemicals, and more. Steve writes and speaks on food and agriculture topics (Applied Mythology blog) and does a bi-weekly podcast called POPAgriculture for the CropLife Foundation.
The issue is not as simple as just “genetically modified food” SEE
YOUR FOOD, YOUR HEALTH: Latest on BiotechAg, GMOs, Pesticides, Chemicals, CAFOs, BigAg http://ow.ly/dc5pK
It is the industrialization of agriculture and all the attending trappings that go with it: toxic pesticides, chemicals, eradication of biodiversity and destroying ecosystems; destroying health of soils; runoff of fertilizers and chemicals into waterways and drinking water; the monocrop problem (witness the present drought)and all the industries that piggy-back in on the planting of gmo (e.g. farm machinery), loss of local land (landgrabbing) and small farms Africa, India, Sth America); the immoral global patenting of seeds by Monsanto et al;
… and the absolutely sneaky and coercive way GMO has been introduced quietly into the global marketplace with the aid of big money bribes to emerging nations using the arm of the USDA; USAid and relying on industry-funded self-interested research…it goes on.
There is no doubt that there is a biotech cartel twisting arms at all levels of government to get these gmo into as many markets as fast as possible before the general public wakes up and it is too far advanced and committed to turn back.
I really think the biotech industry needs to take a look at their “corporate social responsibility” agendas. Destroying the natural balance of nature, applying lashings and lashings of ever more toxic pesticides and chemicals does not sound like a sustainable long-term approach to healthy, nutritious food to me…the fact that the biotech industry has to even think of “fortifying” gmos tells us a lot. Once upon a time, we got our nutrition from our natural food…sadly those days have gone by to the detriment of all living species. Bigger, Faster, More is a trend that may bring irreversible impacts to the biodiversity of our ecosystems and all life.
It is interesting to note that genetic engineering gets blamed for all the problems in (industrial) agriculture, most of which have nothing to do with it. GE is just a tool for putting new traits into a crop, which can be used to serve an industrial model, or a non-industrial model just like plows, shovels, and tractors can be used for either, and computers can be used to write awesome comments or bad conspiratorial comments on blogs.
I agree with Karl. Actually GE helps with addressing several of the footprint issues of ag. Herbicide tolerance traits make if far more practical to practice no-till farming which essentially eliminates soil erosion and the water quality issues that come from that. GE approaches may also help address nitrogen use-efficiency and drought tolerance. They have certainly made insect control easier in several crops.
As for the equipment – GPS guided tractors and implements now make if possible for farmers to do “controlled wheel traffic” which means that most of the field is never driven over and compacted.
Also, where do people get this idea of “ever more toxic pesticides and chemicals?” If you look at the chemicals used in agriculture, they have been getting less and less toxic to mammals and other non-target organisms. Most modern pesticides are in EPA category IV – “practically non-toxic.”
If your only exposure to agriculture is from scare-mongering sources, you get a horribly distorted picture
“If your only exposure to agriculture is from scare-mongering sources, you get a horribly distorted picture”
Or if your exposure is from creating one of the scare-mongering sources … AKA The Natural Eye dot Com. This seems to be a source that will make no attempt at understanding or improving what we have. Correction will only come from scrapping what is here and rebuilding things “in tune with nature” ™. From the site:
“The new answers will not and cannot come out of the old, decaying, crumbling paradigm – it has run its course. Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again in the same structures that created the planetary demise.”
Although I agree with the complaints about mercola.com, it doesn’t have a thing to do with my opposition to transgenics and the corrupt patent law that the biotech lobby has bought for themselves.
For some reason there is little discussion on this site about the 25 million biotech and gma have contributed to the no on proposition 37. Do they they have vested interests by not revealing that much of the processed food they manufacture contains transgenic products?
See bio.org for their legislative agenda to push for more acreage in corn and soy as feedstock for bio fuels. But of course the endless mantra of biotech is that the technology is needed to feed billions while at the same time gladly taking crop subsidies to provide fuel for cars.
Pot calling the kettle black.
Hmmm… Businesses wanting to keep doing business! Imagine that. I think they have a vested interest in not wasting money on something that is already blatantly obvious to anyone bothering to look. Processed foods will most likely transgenic in some way. This is no secret being hidden or “not revealed”. Steve correctly stated this above: “If the product has ingredients that are derived from Corn, Soy, Cotton, Canola, or Sugar beets, just assume it is probably includes biotech varieties since farmers of those crops overwhelmingly choose those option.”
“But of course the endless mantra of biotech is that the technology is needed to feed billions while at the same time gladly taking crop subsidies to provide fuel for cars.
Those aren’t exclusive concepts. Biotech can/could be used to feed/provide income for more people while at the same time being used to provide fuel for cars.
“corrupt patent law”
Corrupt how exactly? I assume you’ve never been involved in getting a biotech patent and therefore don’t have the first clue what you’re on about.
“Pot calling the kettle black.”
I don’t see how this applies here. Pehaps you could expound.
re: pot calling kettle black
complaining about mercola.com without ever looking at the 25 million dollar
effort to thwart the 1 million California Voters who want labeling
The text of proposition 37 is clear that it is about labeling food crops that are
genetically engineered. Nothing about banning the technology.
Just spent the 25 million on labeling the gmo product in the first place.
Public referenda are not a good way to govern, but our elected officials have abdicated their responsibilities. Whether by corruption or graft, or political expedience, our government supports, through the grant of patents, monopolies on new life forms. With no independent long-term safety testing, these new life forms are being released daily into our environment with the obvious effect that novel patented genetic material is spreading and in many cases supplanting the more traditional life forms. Unchecked, the biotechnologists will own all the means of food production. If we later decide to try to undo this (e.g., because we discover undesirable effects) it may be very difficult or impossible. Hence, this referendum. Biotechnology’s power grab should not be a covert takeover operation, but a public debate. Putting information on the food that is the product of this horrendous public policy will start the ball rolling. This is much bigger than how safe is your bag of chips.
No one has any monopoly on a life form. There is an abundance of independent testing. We are not talking about “new life forms.” There is no scary “power grab” going on here. I’m sorry that you are so afraid, but you don’t need to be.
corn for cattle versus ethanol
Patents are monopolies. I’m talking long term independent tests. Not aware of those. Nor are you.
When it suits your interest you can say it’s all just corn, but when you need that patent, I guess it has to be new and different. Saying different things to different audiences does not engender trust.
It’s not that I’m scared, Steve, it’s that I don’t approve of this. Many people feel the same way. The irrational desires of uneducated people is what scares you, I know. I’m sorry you’re so afraid. Scientists are there to serve the people. If we decide we don’t want the product there won’t be any money in it anymore. But we can’t decide if its hidden.
Please scroll to the top of the page and click on the “GENERA” tab to find a large collection of safety studies, including those with independent funding and long-term examinations.
What does that have to do with GMOs? Do you really think that if GMOs went away tomorrow that would be different?
Here’s the thing: if you blame GMOs for all the ills of agriculture, you are aiming at the wrong target. And if you did manage to get them banned, none of the problems you claim to be upset about would be resolved the next day anyway. It’s sad to see that kind of wasted energy.
On the list, only a few of those claim to be “long term”, and that is defined by a period of months. I saw one study that claimed in its abstract to accumulate data of up to 2 years. Is that the best you have? Independence is of course a huge issue. That you folks make a list and call it “independent” does not have me convinced. After all, you claim the biotech inventions are not new life forms. There are some concerning word games being played.
Those are standards of toxicological research for examining long-term effects. There is no reason to apply a greater standard to biotech research than is applied to other toxicological work.
What would you consider “long-term” studies? Remember, the longer the study, the more expensive it will be and harder to fund.
Since the full citations are there for each study, you can easily check out the paper to find the funding sources and to verify independence. You do not have to take the word of those working on the GENERA database.
Longer term testing than a few months seems most prudent where the product irreversibly changes the environment.
All of this has taken place without the consent of the ultimate consumer. That consumer did not request GMOs and is largely ignorant that they eat them.
If you think about it, Californian voters are fairly minor consumers of GMO crops, and so it is a little bit absurd to think it is all about what they want or don’t want. The Europeans and the Chinese are also huge customers and they like the relatively low cost and reliable supply that are enhanced by biotechnology. The average Americans who enjoy relatively low meat and milk prices are also beneficiaries. To me it makes sense that people who don’t want to eat GMO foods should bear the cost of that specific demand – not try to dictate things for the global customer base.
“…where the product irreversibly changes the environment” says you already have a conclusion in mind, so your call for “longer term testing” is disingenuous.
Further, “longer … than a few months” is simply moving the goal posts. If the tests had taken place over years, you would call for tests that take place over decades. If decades, then centuries, and so on.
Finally, the consumer did not “request” GMOs any more than he/she requested cloned Cavendish bananas; wheat, rice, and maize varieties produced through chemical metagenesis; or peanuts bombarded with X-rays–and what of it?
These are toxicological standards that have been developed from a large amount of data collected over many years. While at a “gut” level it may seem inadequate, it surprisingly is. Drawing out these studies over longer periods of time has a slim chance of revealing additional information
Like all protocols, they are not 100%, but then, none are. So, there are times that testing misses things. There is no way to prevent that, so we work out a balance to collect information in a way that catches as much as practical within the resources available.
How long do you think research animals live?
Much shorter lives than humans.
I’ll repeat. These are toxicological standards that have been developed on a large body of data over many years to gather the most useful data over the practical time frame to maintain experiments. The vast majority of toxins will evoke some kind of detectable reaction within the time frame of the studies, so that making them run longer will produce little or no additional information and a much greater cost to run the experiment.
With the limited resources available for such studies, do you want fewer done that give us a smaller cumulative level of information?
I do not wish to purchase these products. How can I avoid them? I don’t want to eat them in a tree, in a plane, on a train, in a box with a fox , I do not wish to eat them ANYWHERE- So how do I know where they are? I cannot eat peanuts or products with peanuts. There are labels to tell me if there are products that contain peanut ingredients. I do not wish to eat GMO. How do I KNOW?
Um, yeah, I did research on mice. I thought Maria might not understand that though.
I can’t eat peanuts either, and I can’t wait for an allergen-free Reese’s peanut butter cup made with a GMO peanut. I miss them a lot.
Try them, try them and you may, try them and you may I say.
Funny thing about referencing Seuss… In the end, he tried them and liked them. He would eat them in a tree, they are so good, so good you see.
He WILL eat them in the rain, and in the dark and on a train. He will eat them here and there and he will eat them everywhere.
“I do not wish to purchase these products. How can I avoid them?”
Actually Maria, it’s pretty damn easy. No Mandatory laws necessary…
And a bonus for your amusement: a killer “croco-duck” anti-GM photoshop image from the last site:
I love the Dr Suess reference! If you really want to avoid eating GMO foods, buy 100%a organic oruut avoid any foods with soy, corn, canola or cotton in the ingredient list. That might be an over-reaction, but it would “protect” you
re: the economic race to the bottom to provide cheap but not safe food.
milk containing melamine and other industrial chemical contaminants in food
such as fire retardants. (the last a historical event)
mad cow, e coli that destroy kidneys, pink slime
use of antibiotics for weight gain and numerous other types of pharma
subsidies to corn farmers and (crop insurance)
herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, biocides, ecocides
I assume by now that most consumers know that something is wrong
with the industrial food system and that the incentives to cut corners or
produce the absolutely cheapest of so called food products is not
in the best interests of people who have the slightest concern
about feeding their families.
So given your “list”, much, if not all, is not a problem necessarily created by GM, what would you have us do? Give up on all modern AG? Ship everyone back to the pastoral, “down on the farm” utopia you seem to imagine? We’re trying to learn from the past here. We are trying to use the new tools we have to avoid problems encountered previously. Not everyone in Ag is the evil money grubbing, humanity hating sociopath you imply. Most (all I’ve ever encountered) are dedicated, concerned people who want to help solve the types of problems you list. Indiscriminate labeling laws like this are just thinly veiled attempts to hamper progress and outright kill GM. It has nothing to do with “choice” and everything to do with restriction.
“I assume by now that most consumers know that something is wrong
with the industrial food system …”
I’d say you assume wrong by the look of the business the fast food outlets do.
The industrial “food” system does not work. It is a toxic treadmill. I will not go into hyper mode and tell you the long list because it is obvious that those here are not going to blink at what I have to say and don’t give a rat’s tail about me or anyone else for that matter that thinks like me, but I am damned if I am going to leave this world in the hands of those who are killing our planet because they feel that this is a “superior” plan. I see many flaws in this plan and if you cannot, then something is very very wrong.
As for the “promises” of gmo, I , along with many others, do not believe them. Again, will not waste anyone’s time , good luck with your genetically modified vision. I hope you can contain them and keep them on your side of the fence cause I dont want any part of it. If you can use this very superior and sophisticated technology to raise food for yourselves, please don’t spread the pollen where I will raise my food. Oh wait, you can’t control it? I see.
And also, PDIFF, the biotech industry is fighting labeling efforts with $$$$, lots of it. Why are they fighting so hard? seems to me they could have used all that money towards labels instead of fighting about NOT having labels.
I doubt that there is anything I can say that you will find reassuring so I won’t try.
Maria, you already have labeling.
Your hostility to the technology is real and you are one of a great many people who share that view. So, many food manufacturers have decided to seek your business and they do that by labeling their foods non-GMO. When I look in the supermarket I find dozens of foods labeled non-GMO, and many more that are labeled ORGANIC which includes non-GMO.
For some reason, you want, instead, for the other food manufacturers to give you what is, for you, a warning label, something that will cause you to NOT buy their product. But there are costs to segregating ingredients, which is what a “contains GMO” label requires. You aren’t going to buy that product, so how do we get you to share that cost?
“Ship everyone back to the pastoral, “down on the farm” utopia”?
That’s been tried a couple of times, if I recall.
They are fighting it because it is pointless, practically useless, will be extremely expensive and will hurt their business. I suggest you take a closer look at the $$$$ sources supporting the measure. If you think that it is free from corporate influence, political motivations, or people who think they have their own set of “superior” plans, then you are seriously deluded.
Both sides are afraid. Companies are afraid consumer fear and uncertainty will affect sales. Duh! Consumers are afraid of that which is called “safe” may really not be. Do I have to cite the long list of products that were later found out to have problems?
Time has resulted in the microwave oven’s technology no longer being referred to as “Nuking”. Companies should take a lesson from that and stop fighting factual labeling of products and ingredients and put their energy into education and further independent testing. Asbestos exposure takes 30-50 years to manifest disease symptoms. It was also widely thought to be “safe” and advertised as such.
“Do I have to cite the long list of products that were later found out to have problems?”
Do we have to label every product ever made, grown or used as “May cause some kind of unknown problem in 30-50 years”?
We can only cite what we know at the time. At the time, asbestos was considered safe and useful and was advertised as such. Once evidence to the contrary was available, i.e. we knew more, then it was not considered or advertised as safe.
From what we know now, GMOs currently used as products are safe. There is no evidence to the contrary, despite what the anti-GMO propagandists would like to be true. All we can demand is that the designation of safe be based on sound methods and information. GMOs bound for market are the most tested and scientifically studied food commodities in history. Those tests and studies are conducted world wide by a large number of individuals, organizations and companies. Any future GMO is scrutinized in the same manner, ensuring, to the best of our abilities at this time, that the designation of “safe” remains true. It is not reasonable or rational to demand otherwise.
Can you cite a comprehensive list of products that were not later found out to have problems also? Preferably list next to each what label they should have had, and at what point the label should have been removed.
I’ve discussed this briefly with Anastasia on Twitter (if a couple of 140 character exchanges count as a discussion). I’m very much an advocate of using GM technology. Hey I’ve proudly developed a couple of GM plants myself in the past for academic research reasons. I actually wouldn’t mind a sensible GM label and seem to be alone in that opinion. “Contains GM-derived ingredients” or something like that. No skull and cross bones or syringe logos or anything like that
This is a very different issue for me than any of the other food traits that get used in labelling discussions. Anti-GM feeling and misunderstanding is here to stay for the foreseeable future and there is a huge industry in place to spread misinformation and scare stories. This invariably involves shouting conspiracy and hinting at a big cover up. I honestly think its time the public knew how extensively GM technology is used in food production. Show it. Educate. Discuss. Be proud of what can be achieved. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so dangerous.
Unfortunately the question of proposition 37 isn’t as simple a “a consumer right to know.” The measure was written by the same trial lawyer who penned proposition 65 who has made a fortune (along with many others) filing law suits and getting settlements so the victims can avoid even higher costs for defense. This is designed to be a money making machine like that. It also puts the growers and marketers of all sorts of foods that never have been GMO at risk unless they spend money to have an air tight auditing system and documentation to say they are not GMO.
Even is you are right that it would be good for consumers to know that they have been safely consuming GMO-related food products for 16+ years, this law isn’t the way to do it.
A new study has just been published which show what kind of products the GMO-industry want us to eat. The industry and irresponsible scientists have for long time now tried to convince us that there is no problems with the GMOs currently on the market. Nothing to worry about, nada, zip.
All Guinea Pigs ! Severe toxic effects of a GMO and of the major herbicide of the world
The question that everyone on this planet should ask themselves are:
Are genetechnology in relation to living GMOs used outside a closed laboratory, really a technology? Are scientists able to control the genes?
Are scientists able to understand what happens when genes from virus and bacteria are forced into our FOOD plants DNA? Are they?
Hi Tore – Lists of links that aren’t directly related to the conversation are discouraged, per our comments policy. Accordingly, I’ve truncated your comment, while leaving your meaning in tact. If you have long lists of information to share, you are welcome to leave them in the Forum.
Also, please note that the new Seralini paper has been addressed here: https://biofortified.org/2012/09/genetically-modified-corn-and-cancer-what-does-the-evidence-really-say/
It would make far more sense for you to add to the conversation there.
Kudos to Rachael for the Twitter link re: Another lawyers take on Prop. 37.
It will be interesting to see the unintended damage this does to small producers who want to sell in the state, specifically in regard to the word “Natural” and the book keeping and affidavits necessary by all producers (outside Federal Organic), whether they use GE or not.
The first amendment issues were also interesting, I had never thought about that protecting one from the government compelling them to say something.
Looks like a win-win for the lawyers, which ever way it goes 🙂 .
And thanks to Anastasia for that one actually. I just didn’t like the hashtag-irrific way it came to me.
Interesting analysis. It’s sad really, especially as nearly identical text will probably be on the ballot here (Washington) next year. Never mind the way the proponents seem to advocate for it (largely fear-mongering stuff), the text just has so many flaws that make it bad law no matter what we’re labeling.
When I discuss with friends the question of labeling GMO food, they often begin by saying that they have the right to information about what they eat.
I then ask them what is special about GMO food that makes that particular information important to them (whereas they don’t need labels for where the food was grown, what day it was harvested, whether the grain was a hybrid, etc.)
In almost every case, they tell me that it matters to them because of something that is just not true. Reader of this forum will be familiar with that – fish genes in tomatoes, Indian farmers suicides, farmers sued for cross-pollination, allergies, cancer, …
Often I am able to debunk one of these myths, and another takes its place. Here’s what I don’t understand. I expect someone to show some resentment about having been manipulated into believing a lie. I know people resist changing their minds, but how does one hold in their mind at the same time a desire to have information about their food and a tolerance for misinformation about their food.
Charles. Excellent point! If a source proves wrong why not be more skeptical of what else they claim
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