GMOs: The Right Not to Know

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GMOs: The Right Not to Know

You might want to let your favorite U.S. senator know how you feel about the GMO anti-labeling bill sneaking its way through the Senate.

—by John deJong

The bill would prevent individual states from passing, or rather enforcing, laws requiring food companies to label foods that contain GMOs.

You might want to let your favorite U.S. senator know how you feel about the GMO anti-labeling bill sneaking its way through the Senate. The bill would prevent individual states from passing, or rather enforcing, laws requiring food companies to label foods that contain GMOs.

Just such a law is scheduled to go into effect in Vermont next year. The food industry raises the specter of expensive and confusing labeling if each state passes different labeling requirements. The truth is, states usually pass laws that reflect other states’ laws, as is the case in most other areas of consumer protection. Maine and Connecticut have passed GMO labeling laws that go into effect when Vermont’s law takes effect.

On the environmental front, states have led where the federal government is too corrupted by special interests to go. California has led the nation in passing laws that, because of its enormous economic power, have set de facto national and even international standards. The food industry is afraid that states will respond to the 57% of Americans who think GMOs are “generally unsafe” and settle on a labeling regime that will allow consumers the information they need to make intelligent decisions about what they eat.

The food industry and Monsanto in particular want to use our corrupt Congress to pass a law that could not pass in most of the states of the union. The bill was snuck through the House of Mis-Representatives this spring on the back of a last-minute funding bill after a slipshod committee hearing. The committee hearing in the Senate was a similar dog and pony show featuring industry spokesmen bewailing the exorbitant costs that a bunch of different labeling laws would require.

The food industry cites “thousands of studies” as scientific proof that there is no clear and present danger associated with GMOs. But “clear and present danger” is an inappropriate standard when you are talking about a lifetime of consumption (or, as is increasingly likely in America, the effects of a lifetime of over-consumption). The early short-term tests on lab animals that showed evidence of problems with GMO consumption were dismissed as statistically insignificant, and not repeated.

Because most GMO crops are doused with glyphosates, the question of safety extends beyond whether GMOs themselves are dangerous. There have been no lifetime studies of the effects of glyphosate exposure. Nor, for that matter, lifetime studies of the effects of eating GMOs. Most of those “thousands of studies” are merely routine tests for “nutritional value” It would be interesting to know whether any of the thousands of discredited studies done by Industrial Bio-Test Labs in 1976 and by Craven labs in 1990 are included in the “thousands of studies.” showing the safety of GMOs.

When I say “your favorite Senator,” I don’t necessarily mean Orrin Hatch or Mike Lee. You may want to reach out to a Senator from some other state who might be more receptive to your concerns about what you eat.

John deJong is associate publisher of CATALYST.

 
 
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