The Los Angeles Times Editorial board published a wonderful op-ed focusing on the scare tactics used to garner support for California GMO labeling bill SB 1381.
State Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) has said that her bill doesn’t make judgments about whether genetically engineered food is inherently good or bad but merely informs consumers. Yet the wording says otherwise. It’s full of negative declarations about such food, with no mention of the positives.
“United States government scientists have stated that the artificial insertion of genetic material into plants via genetic engineering can increase the levels of known toxicants or allergens in foods and create new toxicants or allergens with consequent health concerns,” the bill says.
The op-ed argues that SB 1381 would require conspicuous yet imprecise labels notifying consumers that the food contains some genetically engineered ingredients, without making it clear what the engineering was meant to accomplish. Food companies are developing products for reasons other than to make pesticide use easy, such as building resistance into crops, like oranges, that are threatened by disease, or creating non-allergenic forms of some grains. But the labels wouldn’t give these details.
The piece goes on to state that labeling foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would serve mainly to frighten grocery shoppers by implying that there is something wrong with the food, without making them better informed. And the labels would be so ubiquitous as to be almost meaningless; it’s widely estimated that 70% to 80% of the packaged food in conventional supermarkets contains genetically engineered ingredients.
Read the LA Times’ opinion piece, “Base food labeling on fact, not fear,” here in its entirety.