GMO food labeling: Resistance is futile

03/22/2012 11:50:00 AM
Tom Karst

The “Just Label It” group insists it is not anti-GMO food, but merely fervent in favor of “right to know.”

My hunch is that labeling of GMO food among many proponents is more about stopping the technology than giving consumers the “right to know.” For example, the group advises consumers on “How to avoid GMO foods”  by staying away from the “top eight” - corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini and yellow squash.

To get the insight of the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, I recently put out a poll of members.

The question: Should the FDA require retail labeling of genetically modified fruits and vegetables? It should be pointed out that there is just a handful of GMO fruits and vegetables on the market now representing a very tiny fraction of a percent of total produce marketed.

Even for this industry group, the vote is surprisingly in favor of labeling for GMO fruits and vegetables, with a March 22 tally of 13 in favor of mandatory labeling and 10 opposed.

The reasons that members gave in favor of labeling follow the simple logic: Consumers should know how there food is grown and produced.

As one supporter of the idea said, “Surveys show consumers want GMO labeling, what is the food industry so afraid of if there are no risks? How does labeling “raise the price of food” exactly?”

Another member said that suppliers should at least inform buyers whether commodities are GMO or not, and let them decide if any type of labeling is necessary or appropriate.

I assume there are folks in the food industry who oppose labeling of genetically modified food, but they have elected to take a pass on vocal opposition to the “Just Label It” campaign.

Right now genetically modified food is associated with chemical companies and agri-business giants. If genetically engineered fruits and vegetables delivered better taste, elevated nutrition or some other Rx for healthy living, perhaps retailers would be the first to say government mandated labeling of genetically engineered food is not needed. After all, they would be drawing up the point of sale signs themselves.


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Thomas P. Redick    
St. Louis MO  |  March, 22, 2012 at 06:00 PM

The public's "right to know" is being met by nonGMO labeling and stores that sell nothing but NonGM food (Whole Foods, Trader Joes etc.). Activists who want to ban any use of GM in food realize that such a warning label would drive food companies to seek out higher-priced nonGM inputs (mainly corn in snacks-tortillas and soy lecithin). It would reduce consumer choice by raising the cost of food. See this NPR link for my appearance on Diane Rehm. HTTP://THEDIANEREHMSHOW.ORG/AUDIO-PLAYER?NID=15369

steve    
Boise  |  March, 22, 2012 at 06:19 PM

Reduce consumer choice??? As I see it, you currently have fiew to no choice, cause you really don't know. Until the label says it specifically, you are shooting blind. GMO foods that are raised organically,ares okay to carry the organic label. this is clearly out of step with the intent of the label in the first place. I will not buy GMO if I know it is and the GMO oligarchs know it!

Sam Vance    
Cincinnati  |  March, 22, 2012 at 07:33 PM

The ONLY reason that activists want GMO labeling is so they can scare people to avoid those foods through misinformation & fear.

Reggie Corpus    
Williamsburg  |  March, 23, 2012 at 08:47 AM

"My hunch is that labeling of GM food among many proponents is more about stopping the technology than giving consumers the “right to know.” Registrar Corp helps companies comply with U.S. FDA's extensive food labeling requirements by cross referencing your food labeling against thousands of pages within the Code of Federal Regulations as well as the Federal Register, EAFUS Database, GRAS Notices, Guidance Documents, Labeling Guides, and Warning Letters issued by U.S. FDA. For more information visit http://www.registrarcorp.com/fda-food/labeling/regulations.jsp?lang=en

algernon    
iowa  |  March, 23, 2012 at 09:03 AM

Although some believe that America has become a Corporatocracy, I am not one of those people. We are a Republic that exists Of, By, and For the People. We are that Republic because we believe that the prevailing Will of the People will most often lead us in the right direction. Russia, China and 40+ other countries require mandatory labeling for GMO foods, so it is understandable that Americans also want this simple freedom of choice. The pro-biotech Rockefeller Foundation understands the importance of being straightforward with the consumer regarding a new and infant technology like genetic engineering. Here is what Gordon Conway of the Rockefeller Foundation said to Monsanto in 1999: “Consumers have a right to choose whether to eat GM foods or not. There are certainly logistic problems in separating crops all the way from field to retail sale but this technology will not be accepted unless consumers feel they have a choice. If consumers wish to be informed whether they are eating GM foods, they have a right to know. Monsanto should come out immediately and strongly in favor of labeling”. Be fair with the People. If the overwhelming consensus is to label GMO foods, then label them. And science is not flawless; perhaps, years down the road, we'll discover how smart it was to label GMO foods.

Cmon Now    
Florida  |  March, 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Cmon now, I believe we eat millions of tons of GMOs every year. If its better for the environment (you use less pesticide), if its better tasting, if its cost effective .... what´s the problem ? You´ve got to be kidding me! You know, while we are at it, lets just throw our Ipads and cellphones away and go back to the 19th century ?? Sounds just as good!!

derek    
seattle  |  March, 24, 2012 at 01:51 PM

GM foods are increasing the price of produce. soybeans have tripled in price since they were genetically modified. GM farmers are forced to use MORE expensive pesticides over time, and forced to buy expensive seeds. In addition, there are many known serious health effects of consuming glycophosphates and other chemical agents used in GM food production. Who knows how much this costs our society. Obesity, cancer, liver problems, just to name a few issues linked to these toxic chemicals, which also end up in our water supply, degrade our soil, and destroy soil organisms that are essential in the uptake of nutrients into the food we eat. There is a reson GM crops are banned in much of the EU, Japan etc. The vast majority of us want GM foods labelled, and this nation is supposed to be of the people by the people for the people, not run by corporations to maximize their profits. We deserve to at least have transparency as to what are food contains and where it comes from so we can make informed decisions.

Ken Roseboro    
Iowa  |  March, 23, 2012 at 10:43 AM

This is what Monsanto said in a series of ads that ran in the UK and France in 1998 when Europe established its first GM fool labeling laws. “You have a right to know what you eat, especially when it’s better…After several months of debate, Europe has just adopted a new law for the labeling of food that comes from genetically engineered plants…We believe that products that come from biotechnology are better and that they should be labeled.” If they supported labeling in Europe why not in the US?

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