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3 thoughts on “Why do I have a right to know if it's GMO?”

  1. Bill says:

    It will come as no news to you by now, Jim, that in general I’m a big supporter of GM food crops as presenting the way forward in feeding an ever-growing human population while using fewer pesticides and less non-renewable chemical fertilizers, wasting less water, and enabling productive agriculture on marginal land in the developing world. But what might surprise you is that I would probably not have too much of a problem with a requirement to label GMO foods as such. I think people do have something of an inalienable right to know what they’re putting in their mouths, dating back to Mom’s instruction: Don’t put that in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been!

    But I would add these caveats: (1) The labeling shouldn’t be like the surgeon general’s warnings on cigarette packs (“Oh my god WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!”). Rather, it should be just a regular part of the ingredients listing. And (2) labeling alone isn’t enough; what is desperately needed is some consumer education, because (and I apologize for sounding patronizing here) I don’t think the typical consumer has the ability to understand what GMO actually is (and is not), and what it means (or doesn’t mean) for him and for the rest of the world. Thus a GMO labeling requirement without some education in parallel will simply cause one large group of people to freak out (without benefit of much technical insight) and another large group to yawn and ignore it all. What we need is an extended cultural dialog on GMO and both its potential benefits and potential risks, plus some sensible governmental regulatory oversight over introduction of new GMO crops into the food chain to help insure safety (which I’m not sure we have today). Given those two things, I’d actually be quite pleased to see GMO foods labeled as such.
    Of course, Monsanto and the other mega food industry corps just want this whole thing to go away, so that they can tend to the GMO future without having to worry about what consumers or regulators think. And that dog won’t hunt.

    1. Bill says:

      I didn’t really mean to say “I don’t think the typical consumer has the ability to understand what GMO actually is.” What I meant to say was that I don’t think the typical consumer today has the factual information at his disposal to understand what GMO actually is.

  2. jonah says:

    or, in this case, this is true because it’s true.

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