Archive for September, 2012

GMO Food labeling, a necessary thing?

Election season is upon us and here in California we have, as usual, a long list of poorly written, ill conceived, Propositions to wade through. I won’t bore you here about what I think of this system of direct governance but I am going to discus one of the propositions on the ballot, Prop 37, which is supposed to make it mandatory for food that is produced with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) be labeled as such. There is a lot about this I could discuss but I do not want to write a lengthy “term paper”.

As a Plant Doctor I have worked with GMO crops that are resistant to certain insects, with lower the use of other pesticides to control them, and those that are resistant to certain herbicides making weed control easier. Some people have said that since the introduction of “Roundup Ready” crops the use of Roundup has increased thus, they say, more herbicides are being used. They don’t understand that the use of Roundup is up but the use of other herbicides for those crops are down. One big benefit of these herbicide resistant crops is the elimination of having to send people in to hand hoe the weeds. Hand labor is expensive and hard to come by.

The biggest problem I have with this “food labeling” idea is that we use our labels on food to identify nutritional information and make sure people with food allergies and other medical issues are able to identify what is safe for them to eat. There are NO medical or allergic issues with any GMO products. None! There is only conjecture based on faulty and deceptive science. There are many examples of these so called scientific studies all over the internet and most that have come under close scrutiny by credible scientific sources have show how flawed these studies are. One news story’s headline is GM Corn-Tumor Link Based on Poor Science. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) says that there is no need to label GMO products. The AMA formal statement reads, in part: “Our AMA believes that as of June 2012, there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, …(see more).

Most people that want the labeling just want it because they don’t trust GMO food and they want to know if it is in their food. If they don’t want to trust the science that says it is safe that is their choice and they have the choice to buy organic food that is, by definition, GMO free. But to force that added cost onto everyone just because they have unfounded fear is beyond reason. If we started labeling, banning, and making policy choices based on the fact that some people have an unfounded fear of something, where would that end?

They say that we don’t know the long term effects of GMOs on our bodies. Well, that is true. But we don’t know the long term effects of most of the things we use. Do we not use them? Technological advances are needed to meet present day challenges. We need to grow more food on less land with less inputs and at the same or lower costs. How many people are going to go hungry while we wait to see if there are long term effect? Are we willing to set aside addressing current needs to find out? GMO technology will help us solve food production problems relating to plant and animal diseases, drought, and trying to squeeze more food out of less land. We can’t afford to stifle advances in this scientific tool by making people afraid of it by putting a label on the food as a warning.

(I apologize for not posting over the summer. Family matters along with the hectic summer growing season foiled my plans to blog more frequently)

Advertisements