In a recent informal poll, a group of voters were asked if they felt fully informed about the issues in Washington State’s Initiative 522 which would require some products containing transgenic plants to be labeled.
Despite the fact that every major scientific organization in the world has concluded that GMO foods pose no harm and labeling provides no useful information,. Amber Sherwood, a Washington State activist reports that a number of Washington consumers still believe that:
- Monsanto makes pesticides which cause CCD. (Bee Colony Collapse Disorder)
- Monsanto GMO crops destroy heirloom crops.
- Roundup is an insecticide which is killing of insects and other animals, which are becoming resistant so we need to use more Roundup.
- GMO fish and livestock are being sold for food.
In fact none of these somewhat bizarre beliefs are in any way correct, and have been promulgated mendaciously by the organic industry lobby who stands to benefit from GM labeling.
- We do not really know what causes bee colony collapse disorder, since it has been happening for hundreds of years. While neonicotinoid insecticides may be implicated, this is far from established. In any case these insecticides are made by Syngenta and Bayer, not Monsanto.
- There is no evidence that transgenic crops harm heirloom crops. We usually refer to “heirloom tomatoes,” and there are no GM tomatoes on the market to cross-pollinate with. Both cross-pollination and horizontal gene transfer occur naturally throughout nature, with little significant effect.
- Roundup is an herbicide not an insecticide, and it is one of the most benign herbicides ever developed. It is about as toxic as aspirin or salt, and binds naturally to the soil, so it is seldom found in groundwater. Roundup kills broad leaf weeds and grasses and little else; it is not toxic to animals. Overuse of any herbicide can cause local weeds to develop resistance, and this is usually solved by crop rotation.
- There are no GM livestock, and while a transgenic faster growing AquaAdvantage salmon has been developed, it is not yet approved for sale.
The opposition to GM plants has been spearheaded by the organic food industry, which is in fact larger in annual sales than the sum of sales among the five major biotech companies. This opposition and these bogus labeling initiatives are intended to stigmatize GM crops so that organic foods can gain market share.
Recent quotes from leaders of the anti-GM movement confirm that their objectives are to ban GM crops:
- “We are going to force them to label this food. IF we have it labeled then we can organize people not to buy it.” -- Andrew Kimbrell,. Executive Director, Center for Food Safety.
- “Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most effective way to achieve this. Since 85% of the population will refuse to buy foods they know to be genetically modified, thus will effectively eliminate them from the market just the way it was done in Europe.” --Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com
- “By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.” Jeffrey Smith, Institute for Responsible Technology
- “With labeling it (GMOs) will become 0%. For you the label issue is vital, if you get labeling than GMOs are a dead-end.” -- Vandana Shiva, Environmental activist.
- “The burning question for al all then becomes how --and how quickly-- can be move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche to the dominant force in American food and farming. The first step is to change our labeling laws.” -- Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association.
Sources of these quotes are available at the Genetic Literacy Project.
Washington’s I-522 is an ill-advised initiative that should be defeated at the ballot box.