No Need For Compulsory GMO Food Labeling, Says New York Times

What anti-biotech activists hope you believeWikimediaThe editors of the New York Times have produced a remarkably sensible editorial that agrees with what we here at Reason have been arguing for years.  The editorial asks, "Why Label Genetically Engineered Foods?"and concludes that there is no good reason to do so:

Whole Foods Market caused a stir last week when it announced that it would require all products sold in its stores in the United States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Food advocacy groups hailed its action as a possible “game changer” that would push the entire food industry to adopt similar labels.

Any private company has the right to require its suppliers to meet labeling standards it chooses to set, and consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they are buying. But there is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers.

The Food and Drug Administration says it has no basis for concluding that foods developed by bioengineering techniques present different or greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding. Nevertheless, bills are pending in several states to require mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients (a referendum to compel such labeling was narrowly defeated in California last November). For now, there seems little reason to make labeling compulsory.

Consumers can already find products free of genetically engineered ingredients, with labels voluntarily placed by the manufacturers.

For those who want to avoid such ingredients, the surest way is to buy products certified as “organic” under federal standards. They contain no genetically engineered ingredients, or at most inadvertent trace amounts.

Exactly right.

See also, my article, "The Top Five Lies About Biotech Crops."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If John Mackey is for it, the New York Times is against it.

  • Aresen||

    For those who want to avoid such ingredients, the surest way is to buy products certified as “organic” under federal standards. They contain no genetically engineered ingredients, or at most inadvertent trace amounts.

    I am willing to bet that a random selection of products labelled "organic" in North American food stores would find a 50% of them do not meet the official standard for "organic" foods.

    The whole "organic food" sham has a record of hype that would embarrass used car salesmen.

  • benji||

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the "official standard" is essentially meaningless. That you could theoretically label like 80% of the shit in the store with it.

  • Ron Bailey||

    A & b: More than 550 pages of federal regulations defining and certifying "organic" say that you're wrong. Not that means that you're necessarily wrong.

  • R C Dean||

    Ron, as a professional, let me assure you that "550 pages of federal regulations" and "essentially meaningless" are not mutually exclusive.

  • Chuck Dove||

    More proof the New York Times has been captured by unchecked corporate interests.

    The sad part is they were warning against this before Citizens United stripped us (and them) of our free speech rights.

  • IceTrey||

    I didn't realize Citzens United was a Constitutional amendment nullifying the 1st.

  • KPres||

    Quite the opposite, actually.

  • Almanian!||

    Ugh. My wife started in this weekend - we both had to visit our friendly family doc, a sharp young man, recent med school grad taking over for his dad. He said nothign to me when I visited, but went all "GMO is the devil!" on my wife, who's already leaning that way...

    I just couldn't engage other than saying, "Really? So how is genetically altered anything BAD?" "Well, because....mawhmawhmawhmawh...." and all I heard was Miss Othmar.

    Et tu, Mrs. Almanian? ET TU?!!

  • ||

    You should mention the "organic" methods of dousing seeds in radiation or chemicals in order to get a result that's not predicable ahead of time. The more you can contrast modern genetic engineering techniques to older, less deterministic methods (including conventional breeding, which actually HAS created poisonous strains of food), the better the case you'll make.

  • Almanian!||

    I'm just hoping I'll die soon.

    Is that weak?

  • BuSab Agent||

    Yes. Also tell Mrs Almanian that organic = covered in cow shit. That's what I always mutter under my breath when someone is waxing on about the wonders of organic produce.

  • benji||

    For those who want to avoid such ingredients, the surest way is to buy products certified as “organic” under federal standards. They contain no genetically engineered ingredients, or at most inadvertent trace amounts.


    What if they're also homeopaths? Sounds like theses food are highly potent in "genetically engineered ingredients"!

  • John Thacker||

    Mandatory GMO labeling of a product is as scientific and defensible as mandatory labeling of the race and ethnicity of the people who produced it.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    I am not opposed to states requiring Jew warnings on their foods if their citizens demand it. It would be stupid and a useless imposition on the food producers, just like GMO labeling, but that's the type of mistake states should be allowed to make.

    It's far better when corporations like Whole Foods voluntarily do it, reducing the perceived need for coercion on the market at large while making a buck in the process.

  • General Butt Naked||

    You're not opposed to that? Would you get into a cattle car for reeducation if 50.001% of the voting public thought it was a a good idea?

    Jesus.

  • SweatingGin||

    I have it on good authority that ObamaCamp is awesome.

  • General Butt Naked||

    All the arugula you can eat!

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Maybe the better way to say it is that it's a compromise I can live with if I have to. We don't live in a time when libertarian purity or even real liberty are necessarily going to be viable options.

    Like I said, if there's a demand for GMO labeling or Semite-free establishments, I'd much prefer that demand be satisfied through the market than legislatively.

  • phandaal||

    B-B-B-BUT PALEO! CAVEMENZ DIDN'T EAT GMO!

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Paleolithic hunter-gatherers are definitionally the only humans who did not genetically modify their organisms. As soon as they did, they became neolithic.

    Which is why anti-GMOers need to stop eating their leeks and quinoa and revert to non-GMO ramps and wild goosefoot.

    But not North American goosefoot, because it was genetically modified by early horticulturalists about 1500 years ago.

  • EdwinNJ||

    and acorns, don't forget them acorns

    Though the running it through water process to make it edible might still be too much "processing". Damned corporate chemical-processing Native Americans.

  • EdwinNJ||

    GMO foods are not only fine, they were OVERtested for safety.
    It took 10 years before the FDA allowed them to be sold. What the hell were they testing for 10 years?
    The botany on the issue is pretty simple. It MAY be possible that the added genes, besides creating the desired proteins in the plant (like BT protein), MIGHT have also changed the plant's physiology to create more levels of toxins of some sort. But the toxins in plants are well known and it's a short list: alkaloids, cyanogenic glcosides, raphides/oxalic acid, and a few others in rare cases. Once they tested for all that and found no serious changes, why the hell couldn't it be immediately marketed?

    There is the off chance that the change in the genetic structure also effects how the plants effect your epigenetics; it's recently been discovered that the foods you eat DO affect your genes via epigenetics, which partly controls how genes are expressed. But even there, that's probably more a function of the chemicals in the food, not it's genes. Your digestive system is a powerful grinder/destroyer/processor that annihilates everything into a sludge then breaks it down to its simplest (i.e. monomer-ic) elements. Your foods genes don't really survive that.

    So what the hell is the damn big deal?

  • EdwinNJ||

    oh my, the linked article makes a very good point. Mutagenic breeding is basically a clusterfuck free-for-all in terms of changing genes, and if there's any danger in either mutagenic or GMO breeding, mutagenic would have much more danger. But no one complains about that.

  • Stefny||

    who ever told you that there aren't any safety concerns for generically altered unfortunately has no knowledge on the subject.

    There are not many studies or test on GMO, but the few that have been done have observed HORRIBLE effects from ingesting that crap, and I hope this article doesn't fool anyone.

    WE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE PUTTING IN OUR BODIES!!!!

    and the fact that people voted against that is absolutely absurd. How did we let that happen guys? We need to work together to make this world sane again

  • EdwinNJ||

    cite?

  • Ron Bailey||

    S: Please read my "Top Five Lies About Biotech Crops" to which I link in the post. It has ton of links to actual scientific findings with regard to the safety of biotech crops.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Ron, I think you overstated your case slightly in that article. There could be some health problems associated with GMO foods, but they're not due to the gene splicing so much as the high yield.

    Super high yield crops may have fewer micronutrients, a different macronutrient split, or other compromises in their composition. None of that makes them toxic or unsafe, but if you're replacing a widely used staple with one that contains 4% less biotin or something, you may see some kind of negative effect.

    That's a fixable problem, and GMOs may someday be MORE nutritious than traditional crops were; golden rice comes to mind. But just because they're generally safe doesn't mean that all concerns about the healthiness of GMOs are invalid.

  • R C Dean||

    WE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE PUTTING IN OUR BODIES!!!!

    Well, leaving aside your misuse of the term "right", you certainly have the ability to know what you are putting in your body:

    Don't eat anything unless and until you are satisfied you know what its made of. Does this mean you will have to pass on "underlabelled" foods? Sure. But that's your choice, which you have the ability to implement.

  • GILMORE||

    Don't eat anything unless and until you are satisfied you know what its made of.

    Carbon-based life-forms: They're what's for Dinner!
    .

  • GILMORE||

    Stefny| 3.25.13 @ 6:01PM |#

    who ever told you that there aren't any safety concerns for generically altered unfortunately has no knowledge religious beliefs on the subject.

    FIFY

  • ||

    WE SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE ARE PUTTING IN OUR BODIES!!!!

    This is what my wife is always telling me. And I respond that, by this time, she ought to know Mr. Happy pretty well.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Well, whoever told you how to use the shift key, unfortunately has no knowledge on the subject.

  • SumpTump||

    Comeon man lets make a lot of sense

    www.AnonPlanet.da.bz

  • Sevo||

    R C Dean| 3.25.13 @ 6:10PM |#
    "Ron, as a professional, let me assure you that "550 pages of federal regulations" and "essentially meaningless" are not mutually exclusive."
    There are racing teams who can easily show you that 500 pages of regulations mean at least 550 opportunities to 'read' things 'differently'.

  • General Butt Naked||

    OT (sorry Ron):

    Short documentary by Vice featuring Cody Wilson (the 3d gun printing guy).

    Even includes an obligatory "won't somebody think of the children" pearl clutching by a NYtimes columnist.

  • SumpTump||

    I really like to know whats going on over there.

    www.MaxAnon.tk

  • neonvirus||

    The Food and Drug Administration says it has no basis for concluding that foods developed by bioengineering techniques present different or greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

    I have two words for the NYT and anyone else using the FDA as a source of anything right, good, true or authoritative:

    Regulatory capture

  • iwhitney163||

    The main one I trust and have used for years that is free and even has black lists of which ones to avoid! (the virtual jobs category is highest paying by the way on the site)

    is http://goo.gl/zVKLG

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