Op-ed pick: Is GMO labeling about fact, or fear?

Like the Minnesota Legislature, the California Senate is considering a bill to require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOS.

An editorial from the Los Angeles Times questions the need for and effect of labeling.

(The bill) would require conspicuous yet imprecise labels notifying consumers that the food contains some genetically engineered ingredients, without making it clear what the engineering was meant to accomplish. Food companies are developing products for reasons other than to make pesticide use easy, such as building resistance into crops, like oranges, that are threatened by disease, or creating non-allergenic forms of some grains. But the labels wouldn’t give these details. They would serve mainly to frighten grocery shoppers by implying that there is something wrong with the food, without making them better informed. And the labels would be so ubiquitous as to be almost meaningless; it’s widely estimated that 70% to 80% of the packaged food in conventional supermarkets contains genetically engineered ingredients.

Read the Minnesota bill here. Or watch the hearings:

  • Joe

    Waste of time, money, labeling talent…

  • Jasper

    I think the fear here is from the producers who know that many people do not want to be eating GMO food. If they are so confident in its safety, they should not shy away from the labeling. I don’t want to eat it because I don’t feel confident in its safety, but even if it is completely safe, this is not an industry I want to support. I believe these strains are often unsafe for other creatures (sometimes that’s the point) and they can cross pollinate and ‘infect’ the next generation of seeds. I also don’t care to support an industry that slaps patents on seeds/plants and then vigorously hunts and prosecutes farmers who accidentally get that strain in their field. And, farmers should be able to save seed they grew for the following year, which is clearly not supported by GMO producers.

    • davehoug

      this is not an industry I want to support = = = fair enough. Many producers WANT to let you make that decision when it supports their product. However for government to mandate that info because somebody wants to not support that industry………could I mandate labeling caged eggs used in cake mix, cosmetics testing, other sealife caught in nets, fair-trade chocolate and coffee, display birds killed by windmills on electric bills……. many many people have issues they’d like to have labels show regardless of the harm to consumer…..HOW could it stop????

  • Emery

    Any reasonable scientist will tell you that there is no evidence that
    GM food causes any harm. GM farming is our only realistic hope to feed
    the world’s growing population.

    Any reasonable scientist will tell you that the earth’s atmosphere
    and climate is being changed by greenhouse gasses and that human
    activity is at least partly to blame. The continued release of
    greenhouse gasses threatens to alter the climate in very negative ways.

    Two completely opposed groups are prepared to ignore reasonable
    scientists, accuse them of conspiracy and pay-offs, blame the media,
    politicians and big business, and act irrationally. I hope the climate
    change denialists and the Frankenfood scare-mongers take a moment to
    consider the perspective that the other battle vs. science should give
    them.

    • Stephanie

      There is no evidence that GMOs causes harm because there have not been any long-term human studies that explore this question. Scientists are not allowed to use GMOs in their research because of the patents on the seeds. Without labeling, there is no way to track GMOs in our food supply. I would like scientists to be able to prove that there is no danger. I support scientific study but I also support labeling. Otherwise, what you’re doing is just taking scientists by their word that there is no danger. I would like scientists to back up their word with scientific proof through research that uses GMOs and humans in long-term studies. What is unreasonable about that?

      • Emery

        Yes, we are familiar with the precautionary principle.

        We have been Geo-engineering the planet since we started agriculture, and we’re not about to stop as we quickly pass 7 billion people. Judge the proposals on their scientific and engineering merit. That, in fact, is the point of my comment.

        Now please go sit in a corner until the world has been proven safe to interact with. We’ll let you know.

  • Jeannette House

    i think jasper has laid out the arguments in favor of labeling perfectly. if there is no safety issue, then why not label? if there is something that demands gmo use be kept secret from the buying public, then we most certainly deserve to know what that is.
    it’s ingenious to say that there is no scientific data against gmos since no tests for human safety have been performed. the closest has been on mice and it resulted in massive occurrences of tumors.

    i want to know what i am buying and eating… it’s that simple.

    • crm114

      The study you’re referring to was retracted and the doctor responsible lost his right to practice medicine.

      • Jeannette House

        and there is still no study on safety in humans. again, if there is nothing to hide, why keep hiding it?

        • crm114

          Maybe you and the other whackadoos can hold your own study and leave rational people alone.

          • Stephanie

            Please don’t resort to insults. You didn’t even answer the question. Regardless of whether that scientist’s study was retracted, there is still no long-term study available that studies GMOs safety in human use and you can’t refute that fact. Wanting scientific proof is not a “whackadoo” opinion. It is an entirely rational approach. Having GMOs labeled will enable us to better scientifically track the impact of GMOs in the food supply.

  • theoacme

    I have the absolute right to know what is in my food, and any company, any government official, anyone who works to deny me this right is an immediate threat to the health and the life of me and my family.

    Anyone who disagrees, I invite them to take a shotgun, stick it in my mouth, and shoot me, and keep shooting until not even the BCA crime laboratory can identify my body,, so help me God.

    • crm114

      Do I have to bring my own shotgun, or will one be provided?