Friday, December 5, 2014

More on Anti-GMO Nonsense

There are several "Food Babe" type anti-GMO memes making the rounds of social media lately. OK. Let me give you the perspective of someone "on the ground" in this debate.

Labeling products with GMO material in them is going to be a giant pain. How much GMO product in the item will require a label? Nearly every acre of soybeans and field corn in this country are products of genetic engineering. So if only a trace amount of GMO requires a label, then huge swaths of the grocery store will be labeled. What about animals fed from GMO crops (almost all of them), does meat from them require a label? Working out which products should get the label and which shouldn't is going to arbitrary and unjust. Instead, consider that so called organic food is already labeled as such -- odds are that stuff isn't GMO and nearly everything else is to some extent.

Now on to the ancillary point of why label, safety? The assumption apparently being that GMO crops are somehow more dangerous to eat than conventional crops. There simply is no evidence that could be true, let alone that it is true. Study after study have given us the firm conclusion that GMO crops are indistinguishable from their non-GMO counterparts in terms of nutrition or safety. In fact GMO crops have been intensely studied in the past several decades, far more intensely studied than any other agricultural product in American history. The federal USDA, EPA, and FDA as well as some of their state counterparts all require, conduct, and oversee testing of every single new GMO product before it is brought to the market. Ongoing studies of health and environmental effects by government agencies and many universities have been gathering data from the field for close to 30 years and so far all effects have been as predicted -- which is to say there is no reason to assume GMO crops are unsafe or in any way different from their non-GMO counterparts for human or animal consumption.

This labeling nonsense is fear mongering and irresponsibly teaching people to fear GMOs without any good reason. In the next few decades we are going to have to have even more GMO food stuffs available, not just grains but vegetables. This isn't optional, non-GMO plant breeding cannot do enough. In order to feed the growing global population in a world with shifting climates and shrinking farm land, we will need foods that grow under many conditions, produce many vital nutrients, and above all out yield their non-GMO ancestors. Yes, we can, should, and will test these products before, during, and after their release to farmers to use. Yes, we will pull from the market any product with a harmful trait and immediately eliminate that trait from future generations of that crop, this has been done and is easy to do via genetic engineering. In that way we will continue to improve the quality, quantity, reliability and safety of the food supply.

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