Well, folks. It’s all downhill from here. After proposed legislations upon proposed legislations, Vermont has become the first state to pass a bill that will require all genetically-modified (GMO) foods to be labeled accordingly. Vermont Governor Pat Shumlin signed the bill last week, and it will become effective July 1, 2016. Why is this a terrible idea? Because there is a lack of credible scientific evidence suggesting that GMOs are unsafe. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization all have determined that GMO foods are not unsafe for human consumption. In fact, there is NOT even one mainstream scientifically-accurate study showing that GMOs are unsafe. So then why we would we even put a label on them? Because there is a ridiculous, scientifically-inaccurate conspiracy going around that GMO foods are harmful. There’s also a plethora of junk research studies out there suggesting that GMOs are unsafe, and a few select bloggers, journalists and anti-GMO activists have taken those scientifically-inaccurate studies and ran with them. Consumers often say that they want GMO foods to be labeled so that they have the right to choose what they purchase and put into their bodies. They want to make sure that they are eating the healthiest foods possible.
However, slapping on a label that says “GMO” won’t help them become any healthier. GMO labels will simply CONFUSE consumers. They will begin to think that GMO foods are unsafe and won’t want to buy them. Imagine walking into a grocery store and having the option of two different yogurts, one that says “GMO” and one that says “GMO-free.” My bet is that about 95% of consumers are going to grab the yogurt that says “GMO-free.” And they will be paying more. FOR NO REASON AT ALL. The GMO-free product will consist of the exact same nutrition as the non-GMO product.
Passing this bill in Vermont is the start of a very slippery slope. The passing of this bill will change how consumers view not only GMO foods, but also agriculture as a whole. The passing of this bill may inevitably change how we feed America. And the passing of this bill may change how we feed the world. It makes my heart hurt. New York State looks like it may jump on the GMO-labeling bandwagon soon, as it has recently advanced its own version, and similar bills have also been proposed in states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Florida and Connecticut. What will the result of all this nonsense be? Food prices everywhere will increase and consumers will end up paying higher prices for foods that are of the same nutritional value as their GMO counterparts. Families on budgets will be ripped of their money, even though little Charlie will be eating the same foods as before.
I also can’t even begin to imagine how messy things would be if every state develops its own individual policy regarding the labeling of GMOs! That 50-state framework would be a disaster because consumers wouldn’t know what the heck to believe.
So why are we confusing America’s families? It’s time to put a stop to this. We need a federal standard to prevent all of this unnecessary GMO-labeling nonsense, before it is too late. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) recently introduced a bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014” that would create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of GMO foods. It would also give the FDA the sole authority to require mandatory labeling if GMO products are ever found to be unsafe or materially different than non-GMO foods. The bill would protect consumers and eliminate confusion so that farmers can continue to feed us in a safe, economical and efficient manner. Pompeo and Butterfield, you rock.
And what about that notion that GMOs are brand new to society and we can’t possibly have enough information suggesting that they are safe? THIS IS FALSE.
GMOs are grown from seeds whose genes have been altered just enough to best withstand our changing society’s needs. We have been doing this since the dawn of time. Ever heard of Gregor Mendel? He was a famous geneticist born in 1822, who I’m sure you learned about in high school biology class. Mendel used a Punnett Square to create new types of pea plants that contained desirable traits. THIS WAS IN THE YEAR 1822. We have been genetically-modifying our foods since at least the 1800’s. The only thing that is different now is that we have years of science and technology to help us do it better. Currently, about 80% of the foods in the United States are produced from genetic engineering. No GMOs = No food. Simple as that.
For a more thorough background on the importance of GMOs to our environment, health and global food security, check out the post that I wrote a few months back: https://mollsymoo.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/i-eat-gmos/
But in short, here are why GMOs are awesome:
1.) We can grow foods that are resistant to weeds and bugs and can withstand awful weather conditions like droughts. Farmers can produce higher yields of safer, quality foods this way.
2.) We can produce foods that are of higher nutritional value like Golden Rice, a crop that is high in Vitamin A and helps children with Vitamin A deficiencies so that they can see.
3.) We can produce foods that stay fresher longer. Otherwise, those fruits you are eating from Florida may be brown by the time they get to your table.
The U.S. has a responsibility to help feed the world. We have the tools in our hands. Now let’s STOP being silly, STOP listening to the activists, the junk studies, and the uninformed bloggers and journalists. Let’s START becoming informed about where out food comes from. And let’s START accepting the fact that GMOs are safe and beneficial to our world’s food supply.
For more information on GMOs and to review scientific literature, check out this informative article by Jon Entine, head of the Genetic Literacy Project and senior fellow at the Center for Risk & Health Communication and STATS (Statistical Assessment Service) at George Mason University: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/10/14/2000-reasons-why-gmos-are-safe-to-eat-and-environmentally-sustainable/