Finally, the anti-GMO crowd seems to be getting the set down they’ve sorely needed for awhile now. In response to a push in recent years by the Natural food industry and a segment of the easily led public that has caused several states to take up the issue at the ballot box, the House of Representatives passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act last week. The act would keep states from requiring labeling on foodstuffs containing ingredients that have been genetically modified. Those pushing for GMO labeling have termed such a measure the “Denying Americans the Right to Know”, or DARK act.
These groups have been peddling this nonsense for years: That foods containing genetically modified organisms need to be labeled as having them. They’ve even won GMO labeling initiatives in three northeastern states: Connecticut, Vermont & Maine. However, they haven’t always been successful in their efforts. Thankfully, they struck out in my own home state of Washington in 2013. No thanks to some in my own family, the original “Granola” types dating back to the 1950s.
But, what the majority of proponents of GMO labeling don’t seem to realize is how flawed their thought process on the topic really is. The central problem with GMO labeling was summed up by James Hamblin in The Atlantic:
The central and debilitating fallacy of the “right to know” argument is the meaninglessness and misleading nature of what is being known. Humans have been practicing bioengineering for centuries with selective breeding and cultivation. The Non-GMO Project defines “genetically modified organisms” as those “artificially manipulated in a laboratory” as opposed to “traditional cross-breeding methods,” wherein a laboratory is the nidus of transgression. It was only as recently as 1979 that Gallatin Valley Seed won the All American Selection Award for creating a variety of pea known as sugar snap, which is now ubiquitous, but carries no Franken-crop warning label. Indeed, most any act of agriculture could be considered an imposition of “unnatural” human activity into malleable, unassuming ecosystems. The domain of bioengineering is too vast and complex to know what exactly to make of blanket “GMO” labels; the hopeful premise that this is a binary indicator of good or evil is false. Should I have the “right to know” if my food contains ghosts?
To a good GMO labeling proponent, I would have to assume that answer would be yes, no?
What about other dietary preferences? Should all foods be labeled non-Kosher? What about non-Vegan labeling?
While the Natural foods special interest groups may be supporting a lot of the momentum behind the DARK cause, it is also fed by those we seem to be perpetually plagued with today: those who desire to be constantly up in arms.
On the other hand, I do understand that there are plenty of people who really do take the issue of GMOs very seriously.
What this all really comes down to is people making choices about the food they eat and taking a second to realize that if they want to choose not to eat food containing GMOs they already have a perfectly good, and immensely popular, option available to them called, “Organic.”
State and federal Certified Organic programs in the U.S. are rigorous and, guess what, ensure products contain no genetically modified ingredients. Organic food producers and retailers have proliferated in the last decade despite increased compliance costs and regulations. This has led to the vast variety of Organic food available today, something that could only have been dreamed of by my grandmother in her 1960s health food heyday.
The D.A.R.K. crowd needs to realize that while they have a right to know what’s in their food, they already have the ability to do that under standards for organic food already in place…And as a rule, just assume your food contains GMOs unless otherwise posted.