Working at a fair booth, I struck up a friendly conversation with Sharon in a neighboring booth. She was marketing "natural" foods. Somehow, the conversation became more adversarial when we hit on the topic of (horrors of) genetically-modified organisms in foods and the need for GMO labeling.
If you've read my columns, you already know what I think about the topic. I mentioned there's not one shred of evidence that genetically-engineered products are unsafe. Sharon countered with: "There's no evidence that they are, either."
That's the mentality of the Right to Know GMOs, MoveOn and other groups – including the Northeast Organic Farming Association – pushing Massachusetts legislation to force GMO labeling. You can bet they won't carry this blog in their lobby packets – for a balanced perspective. You'd think farmers would know better than to hook up with people of that mindset.
But Sharon and these groups are wrong about the evidence or lack thereof. There's no lack of research on potential health risks of foods containing GMOs. And all credible, peer-reviewed scientific research affirms GMO safety.
Back to Sharon: While she was marketing her high-priced, processed GMO-free foods, she was munching down on pretzels with no such labeling. And she didn't appreciate my pointing out that she might actually be ingesting dangerous, genetically-manipulated organisms.
Spare me the tears, please
Pat Fiero, organizer with MoveOn.org and chairperson of the MA Right To Know GMOs Legislative Committee says: "Getting GMOs labeled is a really critical issue for me. As an organic gardener, a mother, a grandmother, and someone with a food-sensitive chronic disease, I want and need to know what's in my food.
"I also want my and everyone's children and grandchildren to be able to make wise food choices for themselves. We need to know, now, what's in our food."
That's her choice! She should be an informed buyer raising and seeking out foods that don't savage her gut. Yes, she should be teaching her children about making wise food choices about real food concerns – gluten, sulfite and nut sensitivities and lactose intolerance, too much sugar, too much fat, . . ..
The greater risk is . . .
The dirty little secret motivation for organic grower support of legislated GMO labeling is: They hope it'll drive consumers to their products simply because they strongly believe organic foods are healthier.
But they'll never admit that it's a prime motivation. After all, since they're growing what they eat, it's going to be cheaper. A win-win.
The truth is most consumers still don't read beyond the calorie and fat content, and have little reason to. Consumers will go wherever they can get the best-tasting, most convenient foods at the best price. That's the beauty of America's free enterprise system that created opportunities for the organic industry, yet the one these people want to put more legal limits on.
State laws requiring labels on products containing GMOs come with a great cost to food marketers – even farmers if they're into that marketing segment. Enforcing such regulations also come at a cost to those states.
Sorrry. We don't need more laws and regulatory costs for an imagined risk. We have more than enough already. In effect, they'll drive up food costs and reduce availability to people who can least afford it . . . unless they get food stamps, and that's a whole different issue.
The bottom line is: Just say "no" to GMO labeling.
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