In some ways, I am beginning to believe, activists have been hoist with their own petard concerning their attacks on genetically engineered food crops.  They have spent years – without medical or scientific proof – painting GMOs as “Frankenfoods” unsafe for human consumption.  Such is the “stigma” that they have created that it is small wonder why agriculture and the food industry spent millions in advertising to defeat these bills in California and Washington state. Bottom line?  They don’t want consumers turning down their products because a label of “this food contains genetically engineered ingredients” equates to a kiss of death.

Problem is that the labels would contain vague language such as “this product contains genetically engineered ingredients” and that’s it. What’s a consumer supposed to do with this information?  OK, am I as a consumer supposed to investigate the DNA that’s been modified to express a trait such as a resistance to a pest on my own?  Do I then track down the studies conducted on said trait protein to access its actual safety?  It makes about as much sense as those ubiquitous Prop. 65 warnings in California that state “there are some construction materials used in this building that are known carcinogens.” Since these signs seem to appear everywhere throughout buildings in California, have you actually not entered a building because of them?  I rest my case.

 

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This “the-public-has-a-right-to-know” argument is a canard spread by disingenuous individuals and groups who have something to gain by instilling in consumers’ minds the fear that GMO food products are risky and dangerous.

And the mainstream media have played a large role in creating the myth of a science debate – they have propagated claims that the biology is unclear despite the fact that the science is far more settled on GMO foods than it is on climate change.  There’s no GMO debate; every reputable scientific body knows they are safe. To state otherwise is simply shameful. 

Conversely, when the issue received closer examination by concerned and thoughtful editorial boards in both Washington and California, the vast majority of major media outlets came out against GMO food labeling – much to the dismay of proponents of the measures.  Since newspaper readers and television news viewers usually are wired into current affairs, they apparently took the advice of their daily papers and TV stations into the voting booths.  Thus, the confidence in “freedom of the press” was restored.

So to date: GMO labeling proponents 0 and anti-GMO labeling supporters 2.  Let’s all hope that the trend continues and common sense prevails in other states pondering such voting decisions in the future.

 

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