Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 9, 2013

Big food should fight for science, not against GMO labels

For the second time, blue-state voters have defeated a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods. In 2012, it was California; this week, it was Washington, where a labeling referendum lost 55 percent to 45 percent.

Advocates of labeling may as well suspend similar efforts in other states, because it’s clear that, when it comes to persuading voters, they’re no match for Big Food. In Washington, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto Co., DuPont Co. and others raised $22 million to fight the measure, almost triple the $8.4 million collected by Whole Foods Markets Inc., Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, the Center for Food Safety and other advocates of labeling. In California, the food industry similarly outspent its opposition $46 million to $9 million.

This is too bad, because labeling would give consumers more information about what’s in their food, and polls suggest it’s something almost everyone wants. More than 90 percent of U.S. consumers favor requirements for labels on foods that have had their genetic makeup altered — whether to make corn tolerant of herbicides or to create plants that can secrete their own bacterial insecticides.

But it isn’t the worst thing that could happen to food safety, simply because GMO foods aren’t dangerous. Those self- secreted insecticides, for instance, are safe. And claims that GMO foods cause cancer, genetic defects, infertility or obesity aren’t supported by research. The Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization have all concluded that that GMO foods pose no health risk.

What’s more, genetic modification, by protecting crops from extreme weather, improves food security in the developing world.

The questions about GM crops — whether they may have a harmful effect on useful insects, for example, and whether pests may build up resistance — are important ones. But they have been publicly undermined by some labeling advocates’ fear- mongering.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

  • Big insurers need better oversight Could Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. threaten the stability of the financial system? The U.S.’s top regulators are asking themselves this question as they consider whether Berkshire and other large insurers should come under Federal Reserve

    July 25, 2014

  • Questions for Obamacare after the ruling Tuesday, I outlined what we knew about Halbig v. Burwell, the case in which a federal appellate court ruled that subsidies for purchasing insurance under Obamacare can only be made available on marketplaces established by states. Now I propose to out

    July 24, 2014

  • Pensions not the problem I see in last night’s Register-News paper that James Rippy has attempted to enlighten us on pensions in Illinois. I also notice he has written so often he no longer has the title “guest columnist.” It is obvious he has the time and energy to work on

    July 24, 2014

  • Impasse threatens border solution After more than a year of contentious debate, could Congress be any more divided over the issue of immigration? The answer is yes.In the House, positions are hardening over what to do about the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied young im

    July 24, 2014

  • Take a lesson from Texas I like to eat at blue-collar diners and cafes, particularly when I’m on vacation.It’s a chance to step beyond the homogenized national chains and experience a bit of local flavor.And being a reporter, I like to chat up local folks to find out a bit a

    July 23, 2014

  • The future reality of terrorist drones A very small airplane rose over the Gaza Strip last week. It entered Israeli airspace and sped toward the coastal city of Ashdod. Then a Patriot missile blew it up.The plane, a rudimentary drone launched by the terrorist group Hamas, posed little thr

    July 23, 2014

  • We are headed to a jobless future In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future.He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history

    July 23, 2014

  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks