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Junkyard dog mentality will defeat food label initiative

  • Anti-GMO labeling initiative on California's Nov. 6 general election ballot.
  • Opposition must not play nice guy in turning back this ludicrous proposition.

No sooner had the California anti-GMO proposition petitions been certified for the Nov. 6 ballot than opponents started the campaign against the mandatory labeling of foods initiative.

The initiative requires companies to label food that has been made from genetically modified plants or animals and prohibits them from advertising such food as “natural.” California Right to Know, the organization fueling the initiative, submitted almost a million signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

Early on, the opponents have taken the high road in this campaign saying the measure conflicts with sound science. Biotechnology has been used for nearly two decades to grow a wide array of crops for human consumption and animal feed. Yet, no one has died or even gotten sick from eating these foods.

One of the early news releases noted that the American Medical Association voted to adopt a policy position stating, “There is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.”

Worldwide, 395 million acres of farmland were planted in 2011 in biotech crops, 30 million more than 2010, says the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech. The amount of land devoted to genetically engineered crops grew 8 percent last year, down from 10 percent growth in 2010. This is all good and true, but “facts” will play only bit parts in a campaign that is expected to have both sides spend $20 million to $60 million on an issue that is about the biggest non-issue that has ever infected the ludicrous California laws-by-voter-referendum process.

Whenever this GMO issue arises, I recall a conversation I had probably 20 years ago with former California State Cotton Specialist Tom Kerby who was perplexed by the early furor over biotech cotton. “It’s only a protein,” he bemoaned, confused about the controversy swirling around this new breakthrough in plant breeding. He failed to understand that science is not part of a debate with the anti-GMO bunch of whackos. These people are not interested in science. They are generally socialists who scream loud to raise money for their anti-American groups.

I told Tom the only way to battle these people is to be a junkyard dog. Kerby, a highly respected scientist, admitted he could not be a junkyard dog. I said, “You’ll lose the debate, then.” That has happened with the American consumer. Most cringe at the mention of GMO, even though they eat it in foods daily produced directly or indirectly from GMO crops — and we live longer every year.

It is going to take a mean, junkyard dog mentality to convince already convicted consumers that the propaganda these radical groups have been feeding the mass media is wrong. No one wants to wallow in the mud with arrogant fools, but that is what it’s going to take.

If you don’t believe that, see what the Organic Trade Association calls the organizations opposing Proposition 37: “lackeys and malevolent actors” in referring to groups opposing Proposition 37. This includes many major agricultural groups along with chambers of commerce, California Independent Grocers Association, major retailers, bakers and other well-respected leadership groups in the state.

You don’t play fair with that mentality.

For more on mandatory food labeling, see:

Campaign to label biotech foods a waste of time and money

California food labeling bill piles on financial burden

Sanders labeling amendment killed by common sense

Time to take on anti-biotech crowd over GMO labeling

Discuss this Blog Entry 8

Kevin Folta (not verified)
on Jul 25, 2012

Those agreeing with science, including almost universally public plant scientists, are “lackeys and malevolent actors”? Isn't that what detractors called Michael Mann and the East Anglia scientists that showed evidence of human-induced global warming?

John (not verified)
on Jul 26, 2012

"He failed to understand that science is not part of a debate with the anti-GMO bunch of whackos. These people are not interested in science. They are generally socialists who scream loud to raise money for their anti-American groups."

I'm an anti-American socialist because I simply want to know if the food I am eating was genetically altered? What kind of crazy paranoid world does this author live in?

Jonathan (not verified)
on Jul 29, 2012

I think people like science when it produces a way to improve their lives and they can choose to take advantage of those new tools or not. I can choose to buy a car or ride my horse instead. Use candles, or turn on a light switch. People start to have problems with scientific advances that are not presented as a choice but are forced upon them (or the alternative is very expensive - e.g. organic foods). It becomes even more threatening when science creates a form of life that spreads on the wind (pollen). Maybe going back (should we want to) will be difficult to do.

I hope there will be no need to regret the decisions that a few business men (and the scientists they hire) have made here. The meager oversight provided by administrative agencies populated by those same scientists through the revolving door, and rubber stamped by a government that has many incentives to do so provides little comfort.

We like scientists who give us more choices, not less. That's why we're pissed off. You can call this anti-science if you like.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 6, 2012

What an obnoxious article from an arrogant corporatist. This isn't about growing more food, this is about "owning" the natural world. Come November, I'll be voting in favor of this amendment proudly.

Just put Harry Cline's words in a TV ad denigrating anyone concerned about how there food is grown and made and the prop will pas easily.

Jae (not verified)
on Aug 10, 2012

Go to this web site and read it, written by Plant Pathologist and Purdue University Professor Emeritus Don Huber, Ph.D.
The Truth about GMO's

Farming is a business and profit is the name of the game.

Jessica (not verified)
on Aug 11, 2012

Junkyard dogs killed four of my beautiful Finn lambs. They ripped out their intestines for the sport of it, early one morning and left them dead in my pasture.
You would like us farmers to be 'junkyard dogs?"
Harry, don't you know that 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide this year after being forced to plant GMO cotton? Please google Vandana Shiva on youtube to hear the story of what forcing GMOs on Indian cotton farmers has done there.
The pesticide, engineered into every cell of the cotton plant, gave them rashes all over their body, hand-harvesting it.
Their water buffalos died after grazing in the cotton fields. The cotton was not drought-tolerant and their crop failed.
In debt to Monsanto for terminator seed and chemicals, they saw suicide as their only option.
'Junkyard dog mentality' indeed.
I resent being called 'antiscience.' I am a science teacher with 20 years experience. I was an aerospace engineer and worked at GE Medical Systems designing and building a robot.
The Antiscience IS in the openfield planting of GMOs which are extensively crossing with heritage plants and even creating superweeds that now require 2,4 D or half of Agent Orange, to kill them. 1/2 of our cropland in the US is now being approved by the USDA to grow Agent oragne resistant corn and soy. Meanwhile our veterans are struggling to get recognition and treatment of cancers and heart diseases from the Agent Orange in Vietnam. The symptoms from Agent Orange alone cover 6 pages in the officers' manual. Evolution of superweeds is inevitable and it is time to rethink our farming strategies to a more sustainable approach to our soil and water and plants.
Most folks do not know that the Universities that were land grant colleges and freely gave out educations and plant breeding help, are now funded by AgBio companies who are bent on patenting every heritage seed and making it a terminator seed which can only be planted with permission from the AgBio company.
This is being promoted as 'science,' when they are carrying out their science experiments on us, feeding us unlabeled and untested GMO food.
Don't we cherish our own varieties handed down from our grandparents for their special taste and keeping qualities, texture and uniqueness?
Who said that our genetic plant ancestry, our birthright could be taken away by AgBio? Do we not have a right to the plants and seeds in our own garden?
There is no 'science' in putting untested unlabeled science experiments in our family's foods. We just want to know what we are eating and feeding our families.
Yes, worldwide, millions of acres of genetically engineered foods are planted.
But nearly 50 countries, 40% of the world's population, are offered the choice whether to buy GMO or not.
Why are Americans not allowed to know what we are eating?
Why would you not be mad, Harry? You have been lied to just like we have, since Michael Taylor, Lead Attorney for Monsanto became head of public policy for the FDA, and in 1992 he declared that genetically engineered foods are 'substantially equivalent' to heritage foods and do not require testing or labeling.
There is lots of water under the bridge, but it is not too late to restore integrity to farming, to the practices of our fathers, by putting a simple label on GMOs.
Frankly, Kerby is not in my opinion, a respected scientist. Look at his legacy in India. All of those orphans and widows. All of the loss of the farms. You can make him your hero and justify being a mean junkyard dog, but please do not call that 'science.'
Science is careful observation, which all farmers do.
Science is not making farmers sign pledges not to tell the truth or publish experiments on the Monsanto seed.
Science is not patenting seeds, patenting LIFE!! and then not allowing anyone to do or publish experiments, other than Monsanto, on Monsanto seeds.
Monsanto has even bought the bee research firm reporting on the connection between colony collapse disorder and the preemergent pesticides on GMO crops. It turns out the pesticide makes the bees disoriented so they can't find their way home. Thus explaining the empty hives.
Of course, now that Monsanto owns the bee research firm guess how much more we will hear about that?
So tell me, with the honeybees of the world at stake for all of us, who is the junkyard dog here? With the heritage seed and family farms of the world at stake, who is the junkyard dog already loose in the farmyard? With the skyrocketing increase in obesity, autism, diabetes and cancer since 1992, who is the junkyard dog in charge of the AgBio? Junkyard dog indeed.

brenton (not verified)
on Aug 19, 2012

We are living longer? Cool you must not be eating the standard american diet or going to the doctor or taking over the counter meds. With food being stuffed with sugars, salt, odd preservatives, artificial sweeteners and medical/pharma companies wanting to sell drugs that only deal with the symptoms rather than cure the disease. With the truth about cheap natural cures and what really makes for good food choices being suppressed. Americans from this generation onwards will live shorter lives. The ones that do live will can look forward to having the greater possibility of having miserable lives living with preventable diseases.

And this will be one nation, under the dollar, with liberty and justice for none!

Please forgive the reported for his ignorance. He is just not very smart.

Best wishes to all.

Jailyn (not verified)
on Aug 19, 2012

Yeah, Godot. We are looking at one of Yankeedom's fisent sub-speciman there, surely. Most assuredly. No mistake about it, either.And Bad Yankee, you say that It's more mainstream in America to live green, eat organic, and be a goddamn hippie. Well, despite your catchy screen neme, it is obvious to me that YOU haven't been to the United States at all. If you had, and let's say spent a little time at a local Wal Mart, McDonald's, Burger King, or at the Old Country Buffet, you would not be telling your Hungarian readers such nonsense that Americans, by and large, are eating organic foods (ha-ha-ha), live green (ha-ha-ha), and are hippies (phew ).Of course, I sort of missed the Summer of Love in Frisco in 1967, only having gotten to that fine city by the bay (San Fran today) in May of 1970. So who knows, you could be right, Bro'. But today, most Americans are like T-Rexes on two feet.

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