In a stunningly unscientific and naïve series of barely literate paragraphs, Consumer’s Union yesterday endorsed the Washington State GMO labeling bill, Initiative 522, to come before the voters next week.
Despite the fact that major science organizations oppose such labeling as providing no useful information, CU ignores the advice of Scientific American who notes that such labels would only intensify the misconception that such foods endanger people’s health even after every major scientific organization world wide has concluded that they pose no harm.
Instead CU’s state engages in vapid and unsupported generalizations such as
What’s more, we believe that genetically engineered foods should be identified as such, the same as foods that contain additives or are frozen, homogenized, from concentrate, or irradiated. The labels allow you to make informed choices about the foods you eat.
Such statements continue the mythology that GMO crops are in some way different, when they have been found to be nutritionally identical and nearly 2000 peer-reviewed papers have concluded they pose no harm. Transgenic technologies are a breeding technique, not an ingredient: there are no “additives,” and they contain nothing unsafe or different that requires labeling.
In their second foolish paragraph they assert that labeling won’t cost anything because manufacturers won’t all switch away from GM ingredients, completely ignoring the enormous cost of maintaining two segregated supply channels.
In the third ridiculous paragraph they somehow assume that the “market will quickly adjust to demand.” This completely ignores the reasons that farmers chose GM traits in the first place: they provide reliable insect resistant crops, reduce pesticide use and promote no-till farming which greatly improves soil health, thus reducing farmers’ costs and increasing their income. And this naïve move is simply going to reverse 20 years of agricultural research overnight?
Finally, they assert that in 60 countries where GM foods must be labeled, there are no increases in costs. That’s because there are no GM foods to compare them to. Politically motivated and scientifically ignorant lawmakers have succeeded in stigmatizing GM ingredients such that they simply are not available. What kind of comparison are they making?
Finally, they should note that Anne Glover, the chief EU Scientist, has backed the European Science Academy’s report saying that European countries should rethink their opposition to GM crops and products. And, that the non-partisan Washington State Science Academy has recommended against this initiative.
Washington State Voters should reject this misguided initiative, and CU should be ashamed of itself.