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Time to take on anti-biotech crowd over GMO labeling

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  • Time to put end to the mandatory GMO labeling charade. Put it on the California statewide ballot and duke it out with radicals using the truth. Everything we eat is genetically modified, and the public should be made aware of that fact.

(For Harry Cline's follow-up to this commentary, see: Anti-biotech crowd convinced GMO food is road to extinction)

The California anti-biotech/anti-genetically modified/anti-science crowd is at it again.

This time around they are calling themselves “advocates for truth in food labeling” and are gathering signatures to get another infamous California voter initiative on the 2012 California electoral ballot. If passed, it would mandate that GMO foods be labeled with some kind of warning.

Bring it on.

It is about time this GMO labeling issue be tackled head-on so the public can be told the truth. Truth is, everything we eat today has been genetically modified, using either conventional plant and animal breeding or biotech technology.

For example, a team of scientists at the University of California has identified no less than 14 so-called genetically modified feedstuffs that are fed to dairy cattle. These are just the biotech products. Of course conventionally genetically modified feedstuff is also fed to milk-producing dairy cows.

These include Roundup Ready corn, Bt grain and silage corn as well as distillers grain; Roundup Ready soybeans, Roundup Ready cottonseed, Bt cottonseed, Roundup Ready alfalfa, Roundup Ready canola, BST used to increase milk production, genetically-engineered Renet used in 90 percent of commercial cheese production, Roundup Ready sugar beets, glufosinate-resistant corn grain and silage, glufosinate-resistant cotton, glufosinate-resistant canola and imidazalione-tolerant corn.

Not all dairy cows are fed this complete list, but enough to dare say if you buy milk in California, it will have to be labeled GMO under the hopefully ill-fated initiative. I suspect organic milk has some of the same ingredients since the overwhelming majority of corn, cotton and soybeans are biotech crops. If not, it would most certainly be conventionally genetically modified.

Of course a lot of those feeds are also fed to poultry and beef cattle.

And we could go on and on, right into the heart of the organic/anti biotech movement - the notorious Organic Trade Association - where one of its board members is a vice president and general manager of Smuckers Natural Foods. Smuckers uses high fructose corn syrup and other GMO ingredients in various jams and jellies. There are other food producing companies represented on the OTA board that also sell biotech foods.

The absurdity of this anti-biotech movement becomes more apparent each day as people realize that the world needs increasingly more food to head off starvation by millions. The most logical way to meet this challenge is with scientific advancement, including biotechnology.

The cost of food continues to go up with the growing scarcity of products as the world competes for food. The public is growing more aware of this each day.

It is time agriculture and food processors take on this anti-biotech crowd straight out with the facts and put a stop to this mandatory GMO labeling nonsense. It is time consumers are told the truth and put this anti-biotech initiative in the same category as the ludicrous anti-circumcision ban initiative a bunch of amazingly arrogant whackos in San Francisco tried to get on a city election ballot. A superior court recently tossed the initiative off the ballot, even though enough signatures were collected to put it on a San Francisco city election ballot. Even the ACLU supported its removal from the ballot because it violated constitutional and religious freedoms.

The mandatory GMO labeling proposal is going nowhere in Washington. Maybe it is time to bury it in California. It would be expensive to defeat. However, the time is right to stop this nonsense where it all started, in California.

(For Harry Cline's follow-up to this commentary, see: Anti-biotech crowd convinced GMO food is road to extinction)

Discuss this Blog Entry 106

anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2011

Dear Harry,

Thanks for so eloquently listing all the things I do not want to put in my body, children's body, or animal's body. Why are you so opposed to labeling if you are so sure that it won't harm you? Just for your information though: genetic modification is a process where genes of a different species are mechanically introduced into cells of another species by means of bacterias and viruses; it has nothing to do with natural selection or hybridization.

Anonymous 2 (not verified)
on Sep 10, 2012

Thank you anonymous for your comment. For all, Harry is actually Henry. Henry Miller. Western Farm Press 'mislabeled' him. Google him.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 7, 2011

you mansanto shill, you have no idea about the bag of worms we're opening up, there is no way to know the possible side effects of gmo products, you think taking foreign dna and rna and putting them into our food, into our bodies is a good idea? what happens when that dna gets into our bodies? when these foreign genes get into the biosystem and recombine in unseen ways? the solution to the worlds food crisis doesn't lie in corporate controlled gmo farms, the answer lies in teaching people to grow their own food closest to the source in small organic gardens, look up urban gardening, its amazing how much food you can grow in a small space when you know how.

a father (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I am not anti-biotec. I am not some hippy, tree huggin' guy but I do have young children. As a father, this technology came to rise during my lifetime and nobody knows what the long term effects may or may not be. But without proper labeling, then medical traceability is impossible to prove or eliminate that GMO foods pose health risks to certain people who may have light or severe reactions to them. There was a case a few years ago where someone got an alergic reaction to GMO corn product. So what is so wrong with disclosure? What is so wrong with me, as a father, wanting to know whether or not a food product that my child is consuming is GMO or not. This is simply an issue of disclosure thats all. It doesn't mean that I won't buy the product, but as a father and a consumer I just want to know. Who wouldn't & why?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I am not anti-biotec. I am not some hippy, tree huggin' guy but I do have young children. As a father, this technology came to rise during my lifetime and nobody knows what the long term effects may or may not be. But without proper labeling, then medical traceability is impossible to prove or eliminate that GMO foods pose health risks to certain people who may have light or severe reactions to them. There was a case a few years ago where someone got an alergic reaction to GMO corn product. So what is so wrong with disclosure? What is so wrong with me, as a father, wanting to know whether or not a food product that my child is consuming is GMO or not. This is simply an issue of disclosure thats all. It doesn't mean that I won't buy the product, but as a father and a consumer I just want to know. Who wouldn't & why?

Alexis (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I consider myself to be a pretty logical, realistic person, but under your designation I now seem to be a whacko as I would be happy to see a food label that designates any and all biotech food as a GMO. In fact, mu hope is that by the average consumer seeing this on so many products they purchase they will be roused to act and either change their consumption habits or communicate to the FDA, Congress and any other appropriate governmental entity to help increase change in this area. I want my food to be real and natural. There are plenty of studies out there that actually refute your claim that the only way to feed the world is through biotech. How can that be true when we as Americans consume way more than we need to (ever heard of the rise in obesity in the US?) and waste at least 40% of it. Make the food process more efficient by half and there are a lot of underfed people who can now eat. I always appreciate having the opportunity to hear an opposing view so that I can see if I need to modify my thoughts, and in this case I agree with only segment of your diatribe. It shouldn't be on CA ballot for voters to decide on - it should be mandated by the FDA, CA state lawmakers, etc.

Alexis (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I consider myself to be a pretty logical, realistic person, but under your designation I now seem to be a whacko as I would be happy to see a food label that designates any and all biotech food as a GMO. In fact, mu hope is that by the average consumer seeing this on so many products they purchase they will be roused to act and either change their consumption habits or communicate to the FDA, Congress and any other appropriate governmental entity to help increase change in this area. I want my food to be real and natural. There are plenty of studies out there that actually refute your claim that the only way to feed the world is through biotech. How can that be true when we as Americans consume way more than we need to (ever heard of the rise in obesity in the US?) and waste at least 40% of it. Make the food process more efficient by half and there are a lot of underfed people who can now eat. I always appreciate having the opportunity to hear an opposing view so that I can see if I need to modify my thoughts, and in this case I agree with only segment of your diatribe. It shouldn't be on CA ballot for voters to decide on - it should be mandated by the FDA, CA state lawmakers, etc.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I am not trying to stop GMO.

I just want to know what I am eating.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

People have a right to know what's in their food. Why is that anti-science?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

The perspective of this article is absolutely wrong. We need better and clearer labeling of all food stuffs. I do not advocate putting WARNING labels on things - but I want to know exactly what is in my food. As it is, it is impossible to get an accurate and complete list of every ingredient in food products. And the argument that we need to feed people so we have to use biotechnology is dubious at best. So much food is wasted in this country and in europe that we could feed 1/3 of africa from the waste alone. What we really need is truth in labeling and truthful information about the techniques that are used to produce the food we eat. Only then can we have an informed and productive discussion of how to produce food in a sustainable manner that provides for everyone. Also, traditional animal husbandry is not "genetically modified" in the manner that I am upset about. And people that are upset with "GMO" are not anti-science. I am anti doing things without proper testing, oversight, and access to information. Animal husbandry does not artificially splice genes and introduce new genes into a plant in a lab - genes that do not naturally occur in nature. Traditional practices take a long time to produce effects and can only be done with naturally occurring plants. As humans have altered grains and plants over millennia, our bodies have had plenty of time to catch up and adjust to these changes. Bio-tech is introducing things into plants and grains and animals through a process that just doesn't have the same long term vetting that traditional processes have. Additionally, the public is not being given proper information about what is used where and how it is done. Proper labeling would go a long way to help this. If the science is so safe and good, then you have nothing to hide.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

The perspective of this article is absolutely wrong. We need better and clearer labeling of all food stuffs. I do not advocate putting WARNING labels on things - but I want to know exactly what is in my food. As it is, it is impossible to get an accurate and complete list of every ingredient in food products. And the argument that we need to feed people so we have to use biotechnology is dubious at best. So much food is wasted in this country and in europe that we could feed 1/3 of africa from the waste alone. What we really need is truth in labeling and truthful information about the techniques that are used to produce the food we eat. Only then can we have an informed and productive discussion of how to produce food in a sustainable manner that provides for everyone. Also, traditional animal husbandry is not "genetically modified" in the manner that I am upset about. And people that are upset with "GMO" are not anti-science. I am anti doing things without proper testing, oversight, and access to information. Animal husbandry does not artificially splice genes and introduce new genes into a plant in a lab - genes that do not naturally occur in nature. Traditional practices take a long time to produce effects and can only be done with naturally occurring plants. As humans have altered grains and plants over millennia, our bodies have had plenty of time to catch up and adjust to these changes. Bio-tech is introducing things into plants and grains and animals through a process that just doesn't have the same long term vetting that traditional processes have. Additionally, the public is not being given proper information about what is used where and how it is done. Proper labeling would go a long way to help this. If the science is so safe and good, then you have nothing to hide.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I read 5 outright lies before I got to the fifth paragraph. This is biotech propaganda and gives just enough information to make uninformed readers know that they are being lied too.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I don't think it's all about "anti-biotechnology." Your just inflaming the issue. The issue is about GMO, Genetically modified foods that people are concerned with, and we are not talking about natural hybridization. We are talking about people playing around with splicing genetics to creating something different, and we don't know what the long term affects of that will be. That's what concerns people. I'm a "science" geek myself, but I'd rather eat foods that come naturally without being genetically modified with some kind of chemical. Sure some company's make foods that are both GMO and non-GMO, so I'm not sure what point your trying to make about the board members of Smuckers. Do they label? Then maybe that's your point. The bigger issue is labeling. People want to know what they are eating, and I'm one of them. If it has any GMO in it, I want to know. If an item say's "natural flavoring" then I won't even buy it because that can mean anything on the huge list. If it list's what that alleged "natural flavoring" is then I may buy it. Why do these corporation want to hide this from consumers? The real reason the world has a food shortage is because people are not using the available farm land properly. We should have less cattle and more grains, and we surely don't need to be drinking milk into adulthood.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

"It is about time this GMO labeling issue be tackled head-on so the public can be told the truth. Truth is, everything we eat today has been genetically modified, using either conventional plant and animal breeding or biotech technology" So wouldn't labeling it be telling the public the truth about what they're eating? If you're so concerned about tackling the issue "head-on so the public can be told the truth. Truth is, everything we eat today has been genetically modified" then why not let them label it. That's honesty, isn't it?

Minerva_ma (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Yes, there are GMO ingredients present in the vast majority of the foods available in American supermarkets. That's part of the value of truth in labeling: it will make people aware of the extent to which our food chain has been compromised.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Organic Trade association has nothing to do with the initiative. It's from the people of California and the people of the United States of America. Over 30 countries already have labeling. We have a right to know what's in our food.

And Genetically modified is NOT the same as traditional plant breeding. There are many health risks already occurring from all the GMO ingredients that have been HIDDEN in our food including allergies and asthma.

Many other countries are outlawing GMOs. They are not going to give us more food, or better food. If the only reason these companies were making GMO seeds was to feed the world, they would not be patenting them and they would let farmers save their seed as they've always done.

Americans do not want genetically modified ingredients in their food. Farmers do not want to have to buy new seed every year.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Where are all the comments?
Is this the only one?
Personally I cannot see any common denominators in anti/pro -circumcision movements and mandatory labelling of GMO in food.
Please check your references!
The fact that there would be few foods that could qualify for a non-GMO label, according to your own estimates, doesn't mean that we have to do like you suggest, just give up. No, the labelling will immediately guide the majority of people away from the genetically tampered foods, despite how commonplace they are now.
You completely omit to mention that there are a steadily growing number of organically certified farmers also in the US!
We know that just because there are roundup resistant plants, we consumers are not completely round up resistant and nobody knows the long term effects of round up residues consumption, on sick or healthy people. Another GMO practise is to modify plants to produce their own built in insecticide, so they don't need to be sprayed. There is no independent proof that these built in insecticides are harmless. When plants are grown organically they gain their resistance to natural enemies by being given a wide variety of nutrients to enable their natural defences. But the GMO crops are getting their defence from insecticides, roundup-type or GMO, meaning that they need only skin-deep nutrients to display well for as long as possible. Nothing else! When we consume proper organically grown food we get 1/no insecticides in us 2/ we get food containing more trace minerals and minerals beyond the minimum required to just display well! Please compare just the taste of a real organic tomato with a (much bigger/more water/sugar) tasteless factory-tomato! Judging from what you write I think you may actually never have tasted organic food! And the Pro- organic farmers can describe the nutrient differences. (Pro- as in professional)
Finally there is no substance in the phrase "The most logical way to meet this challenge is with scientific advancement, including biotechnology." The most logical way is to build on extremely well proven nutrient dense farming. Eating such produce means also that we need less of it. Who is benefiting from super size? Many Americans are fed endless amounts of GM food that barely satisfies them and make them sicker than all other people in the world, despite more money being spent on health care in the US than in any other place in the world. There is a short term "pre-extinction" gain by GMO agri-business, naturally ending. The End.
Who wants to feed Dinosaurs?
For me and a growing number: GMO RIP, ASAP!
StenBJ.

sten (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Where are all the comments?
Is this the only one?
Personally I cannot see any common denominators in anti/pro -circumcision movements and mandatory labelling of GMO in food.
Please check your references!
The fact that there would be few foods that could qualify for a non-GMO label, according to your own estimates, doesn't mean that we have to do like you suggest, just give up. No, the labelling will immediately guide the majority of people away from the genetically tampered foods, despite how commonplace they are now.
You completely omit to mention that there are a steadily growing number of organically certified farmers also in the US!
We know that just because there are roundup resistant plants, we consumers are not completely round up resistant and nobody knows the long term effects of round up residues consumption, on sick or healthy people. Another GMO practise is to modify plants to produce their own built in insecticide, so they don't need to be sprayed. There is no independent proof that these built in insecticides are harmless. When plants are grown organically they gain their resistance to natural enemies by being given a wide variety of nutrients to enable their natural defences. But the GMO crops are getting their defence from insecticides, roundup-type or GMO, meaning that they need only skin-deep nutrients to display well for as long as possible. Nothing else! When we consume proper organically grown food we get 1/no insecticides in us 2/ we get food containing more trace minerals and minerals beyond the minimum required to just display well! Please compare just the taste of a real organic tomato with a (much bigger/more water/sugar) tasteless factory-tomato! Judging from what you write I think you may actually never have tasted organic food! And the Pro- organic farmers can describe the nutrient differences. (Pro- as in professional)
Finally there is no substance in the phrase "The most logical way to meet this challenge is with scientific advancement, including biotechnology." The most logical way is to build on extremely well proven nutrient dense farming. Eating such produce means also that we need less of it. Who is benefiting from super size? Many Americans are fed endless amounts of GM food that barely satisfies them and make them sicker than all other people in the world, despite more money being spent on health care in the US than in any other place in the world. There is a short term "pre-extinction" gain by GMO agri-business, naturally ending. The End.
Who wants to feed Dinosaurs?
For me and a growing number: GMO RIP, ASAP!
StenBJ.

--

Robert Godes (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

What a total outrage. There is a huge difference between breading plants and animals and GE. IE you will never find a rat breading with a tomato and producing a viable offspring. Yet you would have people believe that splicing rat DNA into a tomato is no different than mixing different variates of tomatoes.

People should have the right to know what kind of technology was used in there food production.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

If there is nothing to worry about re GMOs why would there be a problem labeling. I believe people have a basic right to know what they are putting in their bodies...at least I want to know what I'm putting in mine. It's our right to know, it's the American way! GMO science is very unsettled on long term affects of genetic engineering.

Unlike other democratic countries around the world - all European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and others - have mandatory labeling...why don't we have it here?

I'm a fifth generation California farmer concerned about my children and grandchildren.

Karin Cutter (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Your lies will catch up with you, Are you feeding your families foods that have had E'Coli put in them so will not fight off the GM inserts?
Hmmm. If a plant refuses to accept Genetic Modification and you have to put a food borne illness in it to confuse it's immune system and you say it is not harmful.
Stop the Lies it is all about you folks being so greedy that the people of the world have to suffer.
Liars
Liars.

gmonroe (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Our Republican legislators are out of control! It's time to reign the crooks in.

Josh (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Wow - what disinformation you write!
Amazing, like GMO is the same as plant breeding when two plants of near the same are cloned together - nothing invasive - no artificial poisons added like GMO does. - Listen folks this man is a shill for the billionaire monsanto crowd.

The cauliflower mosaic virus is implanted into the gene of the corn seed along with BT, a pesticide that can be used in organic food production cause it dissipates and leaves no poisons behind. UNLIKE GMO corn where the virus and the BT bacteria live in every cell and continue to grow as cells do in live plants and humans. Scientists (I am not against science - it proves the dangers of GMO's) are determining that this bacteria can multiply in our digestive systems and our stomachs then become factories for poison production. That SOUNDS LIKE FUN! NOT!!
Then these poisons move into the feed of the cows and pigs, and into thousands of corn based products. The end result of this WHEN I CONSUME A product that contains GMO (take american red licorice for example with its CORN syrup). CAUSES BLEEDING FROM MY RECTUM! But GMO's are safe this idiot says...not so says my digestive system. Organic corn does not have GMO's, organic meat is fed on grass not GMO raised CORN - DO NOT LET THESE SHILLS FOOL YOU - GMO is in our food supply in huge quantities and is poisoning our farm land, and the american people. We should label it so NO ONE BUYS this poison.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

This is just ludicrous. The double talk is dizzying. It is true science that is opposed to GMO's as the stand in today's regulation process. The anti-biotech are not anti-science. They are pro GOOD science, not pocket lining corporate B.S. science. Plant and animal husbandry is nowhere near the same thing as splicing animal, plant, virus, and bacterial DNA together with unknown outcomes to animal, plants, people and the environment. Real people need to stand up to bio-tech. We can feed millions with out genetically anti-diversifying our crops. Any pest that becomes tolerant to round-up could destroy huge crops, and because of the lack of diversity so could one disease.
Do some reading. Get the whole story form both sides and try to avoid the propaganda. Make an educated choice on your own. I have and I decided I don't want GMO and want my right to know which product include them. I pay more for 100% organic to guarantee it now. Left up to corporations, bio-tech, and our governmental systems (FDA, EPA) this may soon no longer be a choice.

on Sep 8, 2011

The author doesn't seem to understand that the "anti-biotech crowd" is not demanding labeling of conventional crop improvement methods such as selective breeding, grafting, environmental enhancement, etc. These methods are well understood and controllable.

The biotechnology used to insert foreign genetic material is a random process; no one knows what the genetic sequence will be in a GMO as a result of the insertion. It is this process, with its known side effects, that should be stopped (or at least be labeled so consumers can choose).

To conflate traditional methods with random, foreign gene insertion technology is misleading. To write as if GMO labeling proponents are campaigning against traditional, conventional crop improvement methods is a lie.

Lauren (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Thank you Harry, for your calming words. I think Harry Cline is an idiot, but his ranting lies made me want to cry. Hopefully the majority have more sense.

Joe (not verified)
on Sep 9, 2011

Exactly what I was going to say, except you said it better. To equate selective seed saving and hybridizing with introducing bacteria genes to plant strains is an unbelievably dishonest argument. I hope nobody is buying this crap.

Apparently the Feds and the courts have bought the line about saving the world from starvation through mutant crops. They are always on the side of biotech against the small farmer who doesn't want to play.

Gary Hild (not verified)
on Sep 11, 2011

Of course the fact that Roundup herbicide is another really bad chemical that is effecting our soils,some legume roots systems & others along with the observed problem that some of the GM crops are causing problems in rats & mice, but that cannot be believed by people who do not want to think that such things transmitting to human beings. I will prediuct that the day will come when the GM companies will be made to pay a huge price for the lies that they have perpetrated upon a much uninformed public that would rather spend its time doing nothing at all, leaving the health of a nation to the congress that keeps taking the money & running from responsibility of serving the people. Instead they allow the "K" street grafters to have their way as always, reaching deeper into our lives as if we really cared about eating poisons. The biggest lie of all is the lie that there is a shortage of food in the world.

Nickolas Poulin (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I would simply like to know the author's point in this study. You say that you want to show people the facts that would convince them that this initiative is nonsense, but most of your article has nothing to do with this initiative.

Yes, a lot of foods are made with genetically modified ingredients, such as all of the Bt and Roundup Ready crops that you mentioned. However, this initiative would not force producers to label foods made with conventionally bred crops. The whole point of this campaign is to identify what is done using conventional methods (Breeding two like species for example) versus biotech methods (Such as attaching a genetic trait from a fish to a plant using a virus). Only the biotech crops would be labelled.

You go on to say that Organic Milk cows are likely fed biotech crops as well. This is more nonsense. The whole point of Organic foods is that they contain no chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or BIOTECH COMPONENTS. Again, nobody is asking conventionally bred crops to be labelled. The benefit of labeling would be that you can buy regular, non biotech milk, without having to buy organic at a higher cost. It would give consumers the choice between biotech, conventional, and organic.

As for your next blurb, there are plenty of animal stocks that are pasture raised and 100% grass fed that would not need to be labelled under this initiative.

Next, you call it absurd that people calling for labeling come from companies that use biotech crops. I don't see how this is absurd. In fact, this makes their argument stronger because these individuals would apparently not disagree to labeling their own products. They simply agree that people should be given this information, and I don't see a problem with that. Again, your article was supposed to provide the facts, and you made it sound as if those facts would show problems with labeling, but you haven't done so.

Then, you go on to say that the world needs more food and biotechnology is the solution. I don't see how labeling foods will affect that. Furthermore, every truly independent study has shown that organic farmers produce more food per acre than biotech farmers, and poor farmers in poor countries can't afford the necessary chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow biotech crops anyhow. In fact, as biotech crops have become more prevalent, food scarcity has increased, causing some poor farmers recently to turn to organic farming techniques. In a year or two, we'll likely hear that their trials have proven successful and they too are producing more food per acre than American biotech farmers.

The only thing that I can think of, is that labeling will cause some people to not buy GMO labelled foods. Isn't it our right as free Americans to make that decision? Your response will be that consumers are ill-educated to make that decision, and that it will hurt farmers for no reason. The truth is that many people are educated, and want to make that decision, and that the only people who will be hurt are the billion dollar companies creating these biotech crops and chemicals. Some large corporate farmers might see a slight drop in their income, but they can easily change to non-biotech methods if they want to, and small family farms will multiply and prosper. So if that one "negative" thing does happen, the rich owners of the biotech companies will be a little less rich, and thousands upon thousands of new farm jobs will be created, and they will earn enough money to survive. But then again, we don't want to help create jobs in this economy right?

Nickolas Poulin (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I would simply like to know the author's point in this study. You say that you want to show people the facts that would convince them that this initiative is nonsense, but most of your article has nothing to do with this initiative.

Yes, a lot of foods are made with genetically modified ingredients, such as all of the Bt and Roundup Ready crops that you mentioned. However, this initiative would not force producers to label foods made with conventionally bred crops. The whole point of this campaign is to identify what is done using conventional methods (Breeding two like species for example) versus biotech methods (Such as attaching a genetic trait from a fish to a plant using a virus). Only the biotech crops would be labelled.

You go on to say that Organic Milk cows are likely fed biotech crops as well. This is more nonsense. The whole point of Organic foods is that they contain no chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or BIOTECH COMPONENTS. Again, nobody is asking conventionally bred crops to be labelled. The benefit of labeling would be that you can buy regular, non biotech milk, without having to buy organic at a higher cost. It would give consumers the choice between biotech, conventional, and organic.

As for your next blurb, there are plenty of animal stocks that are pasture raised and 100% grass fed that would not need to be labelled under this initiative.

Next, you call it absurd that people calling for labeling come from companies that use biotech crops. I don't see how this is absurd. In fact, this makes their argument stronger because these individuals would apparently not disagree to labeling their own products. They simply agree that people should be given this information, and I don't see a problem with that. Again, your article was supposed to provide the facts, and you made it sound as if those facts would show problems with labeling, but you haven't done so.

Then, you go on to say that the world needs more food and biotechnology is the solution. I don't see how labeling foods will affect that. Furthermore, every truly independent study has shown that organic farmers produce more food per acre than biotech farmers, and poor farmers in poor countries can't afford the necessary chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow biotech crops anyhow. In fact, as biotech crops have become more prevalent, food scarcity has increased, causing some poor farmers recently to turn to organic farming techniques. In a year or two, we'll likely hear that their trials have proven successful and they too are producing more food per acre than American biotech farmers.

The only thing that I can think of, is that labeling will cause some people to not buy GMO labelled foods. Isn't it our right as free Americans to make that decision? Your response will be that consumers are ill-educated to make that decision, and that it will hurt farmers for no reason. The truth is that many people are educated, and want to make that decision, and that the only people who will be hurt are the billion dollar companies creating these biotech crops and chemicals. Some large corporate farmers might see a slight drop in their income, but they can easily change to non-biotech methods if they want to, and small family farms will multiply and prosper. So if that one "negative" thing does happen, the rich owners of the biotech companies will be a little less rich, and thousands upon thousands of new farm jobs will be created, and they will earn enough money to survive. But then again, we don't want to help create jobs in this economy right?

Nickolas Poulin (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I would simply like to know the author's point in this study. You say that you want to show people the facts that would convince them that this initiative is nonsense, but most of your article has nothing to do with this initiative.

Yes, a lot of foods are made with genetically modified ingredients, such as all of the Bt and Roundup Ready crops that you mentioned. However, this initiative would not force producers to label foods made with conventionally bred crops. The whole point of this campaign is to identify what is done using conventional methods (Breeding two like species for example) versus biotech methods (Such as attaching a genetic trait from a fish to a plant using a virus). Only the biotech crops would be labelled.

You go on to say that Organic Milk cows are likely fed biotech crops as well. This is more nonsense. The whole point of Organic foods is that they contain no chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or BIOTECH COMPONENTS. Again, nobody is asking conventionally bred crops to be labelled. The benefit of labeling would be that you can buy regular, non biotech milk, without having to buy organic at a higher cost. It would give consumers the choice between biotech, conventional, and organic.

As for your next blurb, there are plenty of animal stocks that are pasture raised and 100% grass fed that would not need to be labelled under this initiative.

Next, you call it absurd that people calling for labeling come from companies that use biotech crops. I don't see how this is absurd. In fact, this makes their argument stronger because these individuals would apparently not disagree to labeling their own products. They simply agree that people should be given this information, and I don't see a problem with that. Again, your article was supposed to provide the facts, and you made it sound as if those facts would show problems with labeling, but you haven't done so.

Then, you go on to say that the world needs more food and biotechnology is the solution. I don't see how labeling foods will affect that. Furthermore, every truly independent study has shown that organic farmers produce more food per acre than biotech farmers, and poor farmers in poor countries can't afford the necessary chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow biotech crops anyhow. In fact, as biotech crops have become more prevalent, food scarcity has increased, causing some poor farmers recently to turn to organic farming techniques. In a year or two, we'll likely hear that their trials have proven successful and they too are producing more food per acre than American biotech farmers.

The only thing that I can think of, is that labeling will cause some people to not buy GMO labelled foods. Isn't it our right as free Americans to make that decision? Your response will be that consumers are ill-educated to make that decision, and that it will hurt farmers for no reason. The truth is that many people are educated, and want to make that decision, and that the only people who will be hurt are the billion dollar companies creating these biotech crops and chemicals. Some large corporate farmers might see a slight drop in their income, but they can easily change to non-biotech methods if they want to, and small family farms will multiply and prosper. So if that one "negative" thing does happen, the rich owners of the biotech companies will be a little less rich, and thousands upon thousands of new farm jobs will be created, and they will earn enough money to survive. But then again, we don't want to help create jobs in this economy right?

Joshua Donini (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

"The cost of food continues to go up with the growing scarcity of products as the world competes for food."

Really? Because it seems the scarcity of food is a result of huge expanses of monocultures of corn and soy that comprise a vast majority of the processed food found in the supermarkets and the cost rises with the ever growing amount of petroleum needed to produce it. Not to mention the burden giant chemical companies posing as food suppliers put on their peasant farmers.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

We are talking about two clearly and vastly different technologies....one is the simple cross breeding of different types of the same crop so that desirable traits are passed on to the offspring (much as most of our dog species and rose species have been created) and the other is the insertion of DNA from totally different species that could never naturally cross breed using techniques that are dangerous to humans, animals and the environment. It requires using harmful attaching DNA strands to harmful bacteria and then using harmful viruses to penetrate the walls of the plant's cell's nuclei to create a plant that is part plant and, in some cases, part animal.

The myth that the author of this article speaks o, that we need these mutant plants to feed the world, is straight out of the Monsanto's self-serving propaganda playbook. This author obviously works for Monsanto or has drank their GE Kool Aid. Our world's hunger is not for lack of the ability to grow enough food, (we have food surpluses worldwide) it is about getting the food that we have into the mouths of those who need it....it is about tyrannical governments withholding food from their poor to exert control over them. It is a distribution problem, not a supply problem. The myth that Monsanto perpetuates about it's technologies saving the world are strictly a piece of their self proclaimed plan to dominate and control the world's food supply, so that we all have to come to them for our seeds.

GMOs are part of an industrial agricultural system that they are seeking to spread world wide that increases the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, pollutes our waters and destroys our agricultural soils, puts increased demands on our dwindling fresh water supply, imposes harsh economic and social hardships on the subsistence farmers of the world's third world nations, threatens the planet's biodiversity and natural biomes, and poses countless health risks to a public who has been kept ignorant about what is being put into their food supply.

Most of the developed world has been awakened to this and has taken action to stop Monsanto from destroying their food systems, leaving the US people as the guinea pigs for their hideous experiments while the rest of the world waits and watches to see what happens to our country and its people rather than allow such evil experiments to be conducted on the people of their countries. We in California are trying to wake people up to what is happening to their food supply and to allow then to make an educated and informed decision on whether or not they want to participate in Monsanto's plan. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE EATING!!!

douglas Michael (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

We buy our wheat locally from small, family owned organic farmers - some amish with very deeply ingrained values, and some farmers are just very concerned about their relationship with the land and the consumer. To think that consumers might unknowingly end up buying unlabeled bt or round up ready wheat (breads) is truly alarming and something that should concern everyone who gives a damn what they put on their family's table.

For this gentlemen to blow off these concerns as if all we're talking about is a hybridized strain of wheat is absurd. GM products are genetically re-engineered and I don't want it.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), also lateral gene transfer (LGT), is any process in which an organism incorporates genetic material from another organism without being the offspring of that organism. By contrast, vertical transfer occurs when an organism receives genetic material from its ancestor, e.g., its parent or a species from which it has evolved.

Most thinking in genetics has focused upon vertical transfer, but there is a growing awareness that horizontal gene transfer is a highly significant phenomenon and amongst single-celled organisms perhaps the dominant form of genetic transfer. Artificial horizontal gene transfer is a form of genetic engineering.

READ>>> artificial.. wow.. who wants to eat a plant that has been artificially changed to accept a toxic manmade herbicide? NOT ME!!!

furthermore, It should also be noted that the process may be a hidden hazard of genetic engineering as it may allow dangerous transgenic DNA to spread from species to species.....AND... Horizontal gene transfer is common among bacteria, even amongst very distantly-related ones. This process is thought to be a significant cause of increased drug resistance[16] when one bacterial cell acquires resistance and quickly transfers the resistance genes to many species

DNWord (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Amazing article. By labeling those wanting to know if their foods contain GMOs as being "anti-biotech or anti-science," the author manages to mis-state the GMO-labeling advocate's argument and put him in the same category with creationists and anti-evolutionists.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. The science on the safety of GMOs is not undisputed, and the research has been far from independent. Without lengthy and independent research, it is too soon to say if mixing up DNA from unlike species is going to have only the intended consequences. Lacking that, we must have GMOs labeled. Otherwise how will we know if GMOs are making us sick?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

If it's ok that our animals are being feed these GM crops and most of the foods in the grocery stores contain them then what’s the big deal about labeling? A lot of these foods have built in toxins and that might be a concern for people who have children. Aren't some of these foods classified as pesticides by the FDA? Why doesn’t most of Europe and Japan want these foods and won't import US foods?

on Sep 8, 2011

Amazing article. By labeling those wanting to know if their foods contain GMOs as being "anti-biotech or anti-science," the author manages to mis-state the GMO-labeling advocate's argument and put him in the same category with creationists and anti-evolutionists.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. The science on the safety of GMOs is not undisputed, and the research has been far from independent. Without lengthy and independent research, it is too soon to say if mixing up DNA from unlike species is going to have only the intended consequences. Lacking that, we must have GMOs labeled. Otherwise how will we know if GMOs are making us sick?

Pointing out that we are already inundated with GMOs only proves how the food industry has been overtaken by the bio-tech industry without the approval or knowledge of the consumer. Saying that they are fighting starvation is simply untrue considering the huge amount of GMO corn, for example, that is used as animal feed, a highly inefficient use of resources per calorie.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Unfortunately, Harry Cline has it all wrong. Genetically mutated crops do not raise crop yields nor do they reduce the cost of food. In fact, a recent study from the UN reported that organic farming methods boost food production more than the conventional farming methods that use "expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks" Mr. Cline is using well known propaganda used by the biotech industry to sell their toxic, outdated farming methods whose only benefit is to line the pockets of biotech companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta. And Genetically mutated crops do nothing to lower the price of food. Besides the fact that taxpayers subsidize these crops, they also require farmers to pay a yearly patent fee as well as the purchasing of chemical herbicides for their fields only made to be resistant to biotechs nasty herbicides. Nice try Harry Cline. Go try to sell your pro-GMO propaganda elsewhere.

on Sep 8, 2011

The myth that the author of this article speaks o, that we need these mutant plants to feed the world, is straight out of the Monsanto's self-serving propaganda playbook. This author obviously works for Monsanto or has drank their GE Kool Aid. Our world's hunger is not for lack of the ability to grow enough food, (we have food surpluses worldwide) it is about getting the food that we have into the mouths of those who need it....it is about tyrannical governments withholding food from their poor to exert control over them. It is a distribution problem, not a supply problem. The myth that Monsanto perpetuates about it's technologies saving the world are strictly a piece of their self proclaimed plan to dominate and control the world's food supply, so that we all have to come to them for our seeds.

GMOs are part of an industrial agricultural system that they are seeking to spread world wide that increases the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, pollutes our waters and destroys our agricultural soils, puts increased demands on our dwindling fresh water supply, imposes harsh economic and social hardships on the subsistence farmers of the world's third world nations, threatens the planet's biodiversity and natural biomes, and poses countless health risks to a public who has been kept ignorant about what is being put into their food supply.

Most of the developed world has been awakened to this and has taken action to stop Monsanto from destroying their food systems, leaving the US people as the guinea pigs for their hideous experiments while the rest of the world waits and watches to see what happens to our country and its people rather than allow such evil experiments to be conducted on the people of their countries. We in California are trying to wake people up to what is happening to their food supply and to allow then to make an educated and informed decision on whether or not they want to participate in Monsanto's plan. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE EATING!!!

sean makowski (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Amen! I'm going to the March on Oct. 1 in N.Y. and you're inspirational comments were the deciding factor....thanks! I hope I can come out with something as informed as you if anyone asks....take care....and thanks again! :)

Steve Van (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

The author is either grossly disinformed or a shill for the biotech industry. Either way this diatribe amounts to a severely distorted piece of propaganda intended solely to further the biotech industry's objectives by attempting to blur the line between conventional genetic breeding and the completely unnatural and severely disruptive biotech gene insertion methods.

The labeling initiative would require labeling ONLY for biotech genetically modified organisms in food products. Assertions to the contrary are a bald-faced lie.

The truth about biotech and the industry is being deflected by this "Their All Crazy" smear campaign. It's the SAME foolish attitude as those that scoffed at Noah while building his ark.

Jeffrey Smith, a scrupulously honest personal friend of mine, has spoken to scientists, collected the scientific evidence, and collected field stories of the extensive harmful effects of biotech GMOs.

Internal documents uncovered by the Freedom of Information Act show that the FDA's own scientists raised serious questions about the safety of biotech genetic manipulation. They were intimidated, hushed, and fired by bureaucrats placed by the biotech industry into the positions of policymaking.

These biotech methods have since been shown to produce deleterious effects on health and environment, spawned superweeds and superbugs, and simply have not lived up to their promises of increasing yield or nutrition over more conventional methods while destroying the soil.

Get the rest of the story:

http://www.responsibletechnology.org

Dorothy Dent (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Could this author be scared that Californians will educate consumers that the toxic, fumigated, pesticide ridden, scientifically altered for profit and environmentally destructive "food" they eat daily, is actually destroying bees, altering nature, ruining habitats, preventing pollination of fruit and crops and putting humans' future in peril? Is this author ignorant of history and the science behind what true agriculture is? How food was raised organically and did use breed selection way before the advent of the use of petroleum waste in crops to create toxic chemicals, pesticides, soil fumigants, irradiation, dead zones in our water and lifeless miles and acres of monocrop death rows from even more toxic Roundup laden seeds, genetic modification mixing animal traits into plants creating unnatural transgenic species, "fake" fertilizers and creation of superweeds and bugs due to corporate-based greedy commercial agriculture? We Californians will be glad to tell or show him what real food tastes like- it is extraordinarily better tasting & more nutritious as well as good for the earth and its inhabitants! For the truth- just go to Organic Consumers Association website for all the info! A desire and love for pure, healthful, fresh organic food is intrinsic to human nature and human rights and we will fight for that right! This author, Harry, has either been very wrongly taught or is misleading these readers to think that by disdaining organic advocates who are scientifically sophisticated nature lovers and protectors of the environment and human rights (if our government can please unsell itself from Monsanto) he could dispel our cause-- wrong! Please sign on to Label Genetically Modified ingredients in food- it's a start- but we have a long way to go- get busy- BUY ORGANIC!!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Harry Hemp is right, we, this 'crowd' you have such contempt for, who are your captive customers for lack of a better choice, WE don't want your frankenfood. People are reasonable and open to reasonable methods, but your use of genetic manipulation for the sole purpose of creating a monopoly over food production and consumption is completely unethical and downright disgusting. I may be an average wage earner, but as much as I am able, I purchase my produce from the local co-op where I know who grows my food and how it's grown. I wish you complete failure and hope very much that more Americans will make the choices I have made and move our dollars to food producers who are environmentally, and socially conscious.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

Harry Hemp is right, we, this 'crowd' you have such contempt for, who are your captive customers for lack of a better choice, WE don't want your frankenfood. People are reasonable and open to reasonable methods, but your use of genetic manipulation for the sole purpose of creating a monopoly over food production and consumption is completely unethical and downright disgusting. I may be an average wage earner, but as much as I am able, I purchase my produce from the local co-op where I know who grows my food and how it's grown. I wish you complete failure and hope very much that more Americans will make the choices I have made and move our dollars to food producers who are environmentally, and socially conscious.

Frank (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

I imagine that the author understands perfectly well the differences between "conventional plant and animal breeding" (selective breeding and hybridization) and "biotech technology" (genetic engineering).

As I read the article, I also imagined that the author is probably aware that there are many people in the general food-buying public who do not understand very well the differences between conventional plant and animal breeding and genetic engineering.

Though there are many exceptions that come to mind readily, when the author says, "everything we eat today has been genetically modified, using either conventional plant and animal breeding or biotech technology" he is saying what is mostly true within the realm of modern agriculture and what the general public eats.

But it is misleading. The conflation of the two implies that the consequences of each are the same relative to human health and safety. That has not been proven true yet. And this leaves aside completely any questions about unforeseen consequences of GMO crops in the world at large.

Hence, the need for GMO (genetically engineered) foods to be labeled as such for those who would choose not to participate in the experiment.

matsofatso (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

First, let me reiterate what Harry Hempy said. When I say GMOs, I'm specifically referring to "biotechnology used to insert foreign genetic material into plant DNA. I am by no means anti-science or against any traditional farming enhancement methods. To obfuscate the issue as the author does above, may be the only weapon the bio-tech bullies have, but its not going to work. If you want to have a discussion out in the open on the truth about GMOs, indeed, Bring It On.

To phrase an argument with 'this is the way it is, get over it, there's nothing you can do' as to make 'it' acceptable, is fundamentally flawed. If it's ok, then why the fear of labeling in the first place? If it's 'good for you', then labeling will just help those products fly off the shelves, right?

The fact that these unregulated and insufficiently tested genetically modified foods were added to the US food supply in a way where upwards of 90% of US consumers aren't aware they are eating genetically modified food is just so incredibly wrong and is also why it's so important now to institute mandatory labeling of GMOs. Polling consistently shows that consumers are overwhelmingly in support of GMO labeling.

The anti-GMO crowd didn't start and isn't limited to California. Most developed countries in Europe and Asia have strict laws requiring labeling of GMOs and as a result their food supplies do not, for the most part, contain GMOs.

Since 1996, when the first of these genetically modified foods were forced into the US food supply, our health as a nation has been in serious decline. Cancer rates are shockingly high (1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women can expect to get cancer in their lifetimes), and autism rates have increased 600% between 1996 and 2007.

The first generation of genetically modified food consumers is nearing reproductive age; based on animal testing, we can expect serious issues with them and coming generations.

We have made a huge mistake here in the US when it comes to allowing GMOs to be in our food supply. While it is a challenge to stand up against the overwhelming lobbying power of these bio-tech mega-corporations, the ballot measure in California is proof that consumers are ready to fight.

Seeing bio-tech as the only 'logical' option of how to 'feed the world' is short-sighted and wrong. Our goal should not be to consolidate control of our food supply into the hands of the very few. Our goal should be to foster an environment to where people, locally, can feed themselves.

matsofatso (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

First, let me reiterate what Harry Hempy said. When I say GMOs, I'm specifically referring to "biotechnology used to insert foreign genetic material into plant DNA. I am by no means anti-science or against any traditional farming enhancement methods. To obfuscate the issue as the author does above, may be the only weapon the bio-tech bullies have, but its not going to work. If you want to have a discussion out in the open on the truth about GMOs, indeed, Bring It On.

To phrase an argument with 'this is the way it is, get over it, there's nothing you can do' as to make 'it' acceptable, is fundamentally flawed. If it's ok, then why the fear of labeling in the first place? If it's 'good for you', then labeling will just help those products fly off the shelves, right?

The fact that these unregulated and insufficiently tested genetically modified foods were added to the US food supply in a way where upwards of 90% of US consumers aren't aware they are eating genetically modified food is just so incredibly wrong and is also why it's so important now to institute mandatory labeling of GMOs. Polling consistently shows that consumers are overwhelmingly in support of GMO labeling.

The anti-GMO crowd didn't start and isn't limited to California. Most developed countries in Europe and Asia have strict laws requiring labeling of GMOs and as a result their food supplies do not, for the most part, contain GMOs.

Since 1996, when the first of these genetically modified foods were forced into the US food supply, our health as a nation has been in serious decline. Cancer rates are shockingly high (1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women can expect to get cancer in their lifetimes), and autism rates have increased 600% between 1996 and 2007.

The first generation of genetically modified food consumers is nearing reproductive age; based on animal testing, we can expect serious issues with them and coming generations.

We have made a huge mistake here in the US when it comes to allowing GMOs to be in our food supply. While it is a challenge to stand up against the overwhelming lobbying power of these bio-tech mega-corporations, the ballot measure in California is proof that consumers are ready to fight.

Seeing bio-tech as the only 'logical' option of how to 'feed the world' is short-sighted and wrong. Our goal should not be to consolidate control of our food supply into the hands of the very few. our goal should be to foster an environment to where people, locally, can feed themselves.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

This author is a propaganda artist plain and simple. No different from Goebbels. They know that their little science experiment with the people would go up in smoke when people see "made with GMO" on the label

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 8, 2011

This author is a propaganda artist plain and simple. No different from Goebbels. They know that their little science experiment with the people would go up in smoke when people see "made with GMO" on the label

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