Scaremongerers Unite!: Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act Introduced in Congress

killer tomatoCredit: Attack of the Killer TomatoesIt's introduced today by a bipartisan group of Congresscritters on behalf of rent-seekers in the organic foods industry and anti-science mystificationists posing as consumer activists. Unfortunately, as the press release from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) notes, polls show that most Americans, spooked by anti-technology activist and organic commercial interest scare campaigns, want foods containing ingredients derived from biotech crops (nearly anything containing corn or soy) labeled.

The legislation would evidently force the Food and Drug Administration to mandate such labels even though the agency has heretofore only required labeling for science-based nutritional and safety information. To see why this legislation is a particularly egregrious abuse of science, see my article, "The Top Five Lies About Biotech Crops."

Frankly, ignorance looks like it's going to win, so food companies should just go ahead and slap labels on everything they sell reporting: "This product may contain ingredients derived from safe modern biotechnology."

For more background on why this labeling campaign traduces science to further what is just scaremongering for money and political power, see my article, "California Initiative Puts Profits Ahead of Science."

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  • Wind Rider||

    I think Babs is just pissed that Barb's been getting all the press lately.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If you're genetically engineering food already anyway, why not mandate they make it a different color or put it in the genes to make such food glow or something? Maybe something that screams "I've been altered!" when you bite into it.

  • An0nB0t||

    Warty would pay a premium for food that screams when he bites it.

  • An0nB0t||

    Aaaand that was your entire joke. Please ignore me, I've been drinking.

  • ||

    Oddly enough inserting a phosphoresence gene is one of the mechanisms for detecting whether a plant has been sucessfully altered. Put a UV light on it and if it glows the gene transfer worked.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    So, are all domesticated animal meat products going to be labeled as "genetically engineered" since all domesticated livestock was selectively bred? Does the wild animal that the cow came from even exist any more?

  • Matrix||

    most livestock and crops are a result of selective beeding. It is a much slower process.

    Also, you aren't taking genes from another living organism and transplanting them into another organisms DNA sequence with selective breeding.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Either way, the producer is picking the genes that end up in the products demanded by consumers. Producer does the will of the consumer. Oh the horror.

    The damn dumbest whiner out there in Michael Pollan. He cries about naturally occurring genes, transferred to potatoes, that produce a naturally occurring enzyme, that kills a potato eating bug.

    This he calls a "pesticide" all through his little PBS special. Which it actually is, but the way he uses it he makes it sound like chemical factory sludge has been added to the potatoes.

  • entropy||

    Well, these are the people who hate chemicals who end up hating GM foods.

    All factory sludge is chemical factory sludge, because everything is a chemical. Even (relatively) pure atomic substances are chemicals, they do not come in monoatomic clumps, they form molecules with themselves.

    Everything you see and everything anyone eats is chemicals, unless you know someone who breaths vacuum and freebases neutrinos for sustenance.

    A compound is a compound, however (or where ever) it was made, and a gene is a gene. These people just hate anything less than the bare minimum of human involvement because they are misanthropists.

  • entropy||

    And to put it another way, these people know as much about chemistry and genomics as they do about the mechanics of firearms.

    The thingy. That. Goes. Up.

  • ||

    Everything you see and everything anyone eats is chemicals

    But some chemicals are made by korporashuns!!!!!

  • Doctor Whom||

    Also, you aren't taking genes from another living organism and transplanting them into another organisms DNA sequence with selective breeding.

    1. You are with cross-breeding.

    2. Even if you're right, therefore, what?

  • Agammamon||

    Selective breeding *is* genetic modification.

  • Zeb||

    Not exactly. The genetic modification in that case happen randomly as natural mutations. All the breeders do is decide which genes to put together. I'm not at all opposed to GMOs, but conventional selective breeding is really a different thing. What I find kind of funny is that people fear the intentional modifications where people more or less know what the result is going to be but are fine with the totally random changes that happen naturally.

  • Greg F||

    Also, you aren't taking genes from another living organism and transplanting them into another organisms ...

    I get it ... it's only bad when humans do it.

    Genetically modified organisms may not be as "unnatural" as some may think. The process of altering the DNA of one organism for the benefit of another organism is not a man-made idea. Agrobacterium has been accomplishing this feat for millions of years.
  • ||

    Yup. It's called "horizontal gene transfer".

  • SKR||

    and it's far more common than we ever guessed.

  • SKR||

    Also, you aren't taking genes from another living organism and transplanting them into another organisms DNA sequence with selective breeding.

    No, but nature is perfectly capable of doing that on her own.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Also, you aren't taking genes from another living organism and transplanting them into another organisms DNA sequence with selective breeding.


    Someone need to take a basic biology class. The topic for today - Sexual Reproduction, Fertilization.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Does the wild animal that the cow came from even exist any more?

    No.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Look at the nuts on that thing!

  • Libertymike||

    You wouldn't have to juice if you could take an Aurochs gonadal extract every day.

  • ||

    The GMO freakout is one of the most politically baseless stances I've ever come across. Its reached a fever pitch that is on par with Area 51 conspiracy theories. The research and evidence is so overwhelmingly supportive of GMOs that I feel like I'm missing a whole lot of information.

    Alas, I look into over and over again and solidly reaffirm my position. How does the non-GMO movement possibly maintain traction?

  • ||

    How does the non-GMO movement possibly maintain traction?

    Rhetorical? If not, see Gun Control, War on Drugs, Stimulus Spending, and any other number of ill-conceived stances that continue to persist.

    If there's this large of a market of pissed off consumers, then you don't even need the government to "do something". You could have the organic crowd label their products in such a way that shows they do not use GMO, and the GMO producers can do whatever the hell they want as well.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    If there's this large of a market of pissed off consumers, then you don't even need the government to "do something". You could have the organic crowd label their products in such a way that shows they do not use GMO, and the GMO producers can do whatever the hell they want as well.

    I get nothing but glazed looks when I suggest that.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Liberals don't understand the idea of doing something voluntarily; all they know is force. Rather than have the organic/non-GMO part of the food industry voluntarily label their products so as to differentiate them in the marketplace, they'd rather force the GMO part of the industry pay for said market differentiation themselves.

    It's not about who labels what, but about who can force the other faction to pay for it.

  • sam the man||

    To be fair, a lot of the anti-GMO people I've encountered have been self-described libertarians.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    So is Bill Maher.

  • ||

    Food has a direct line to the human disgust mechanism, that's why. It's extremely easy to scare people about food safety.

    Plus, for progressives it's a signalling thing. Being pro-organic and/or anti-GMO is a way of signalling to other progressives that you are "one of them".

  • UnCivilServant||

    BAH. My reaction to seeing a label saying "This product contains GMO would be "Sweet!" and buying it over the inefficient and wasteful unmodified versions.

  • ||

    I want labels on organic foods stating "This product was grown using the finest technology from 10,000 years ago, requires more arable land to grow per volume, incorporates actual honest-to-goodness shit, costs twice as much, and is nutritionally and palatably indistinguishable from its bio-tech analogs. Purchasing this product only proves you're scientifically illiterate and a dirty hippy to boot."

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Grown in shit costs extra.

  • NeonCat||

    "Grown in undiapered free-range Brooklyn baby shit"

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    From babies fed on an artisanal mayonnaise diet.

  • ||

    People would feed pus to babies? Unthinkable!

  • Doctor Whom||

    But that just proves how authentic it is. [/hipster]

  • ||

    Purchasing this product indicates that you are good soldier to other progressives.

  • oncogenesis||

    Why don't non-GE food producers label their products instead? "Does not contain GMOs!" in screaming 72 point type. Seems like doing so voluntarily would give them a competitive advantage with the anti-GE crowd, and would not cause any harm to producers or consumers of GE foods.

    Every time I have posed this question to an anti-GE person, I've received a deer-in-the-headlights stare in return.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I think a milk company tried to put "antibiotic free" or some shit on their labels, and caught static from the regulators. People pretend the obvious solution to all this doesn't exist- letting producers and consumers decide via the market what factual information should be provided.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    This post is gluten free.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Oh, where's my glutenous rice flour?

  • PapayaSF||

    I've seen numerous foods with "No GMOs" labels.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Yup. Me too. Also "gluten free" on stuff that never would have gluten to begin with.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    The real answer is that the anti-GMO folk don't want to pay more than they already do for their food choices, and they'd rather move that cost on to someone else.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm going to start a campaign against foods that contain elements created in nuclear reactions. No Nuke Food!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Starvation diet?

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    What about the packaging? Are the folks who want to take us back to the middle ages going to use "natural" packaging? No plastics allowed, hippie!

  • NeonCat||

    Picturing a hippie getting a cow's teat into the mouth of a bota, raw milk going everywhere, the cow becoming annoyed and stepping on the hippie…

  • Wind Rider||

    Hey, that milk is raw! Call in the FDA SWAT Teams to jack up some Amish over this!

  • BuSab Agent||

    You know what happens when you put raw milk in a bota constructed from a cow's stomach, shake it up, and leave it unrefrigerated for a few days? Cheese!

  • Sevo||

    A majority of right-thinking Americans demand to know whether the food being offered is packed by people with BLUE EYES!
    Only insane people oppose this right to information!

  • Libertymike||

    Why would blue-eyed people want to pack food in some warehouse?

  • BuSab Agent||

    Because the pay is good?

  • ||

    I want to know if my food has been packed by progressives.

    I don't want to eat anything that has been touched by a progressive.

  • Agammamon||

    Fuck, as I try to tell my veganish friend - EVERYTHING you eat nowadays has been genetically modified.

    Corn, tomatoes, apples, lettuce, beef, whatever - someone has deliberately modified it to its modern form.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

    The only thing that this bill will do is ensure that virtually everything in the grocery store will be labeled as a GMO product.

  • elfprince13||

    I don't support this bill. But I would be supportive of any bill ending the bans against voluntary labeling of such things that are currently in place. Consumers who want GMO free crops should be able to get them if someone will sell them.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Consumers who want GMO free crops should be able to get them if someone will sell them.

    Companies are generally already free to label their products as not containing GMO crops. I've seen many of them. That is the best alternative, not trying to coerce others in to creating a market space. You want labeled products? Great. Write to the companies that produce GMO-free foods and tell them to label their food. But you don't force others in to a position where they have to pay for your marketplace preferences.

  • ||

    Don't fall for the other lie- interspecies blocks of DNA are routinely transferred in nature.

  • ||

    What are this bill's chances of getting out of committee?
    Is this serious or is this just some stupid rhetorical exercise so Barbara Boxer can go tell her constituents she is "doing something"?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Hopefully small. This bill didn't even come close to passing in CA; I can't see how it would pass nationwide.

  • SKR||

    I'm pretty sure I can think of a dozen senators that are a lock for no.

  • WomSom||

    Now thats what I am talking about. Wow.

    www.GotzPrivacy.tk

  • Rrabbit||

    Somebody allergic against nuts will want to know not only whether a food product contains nuts, but also whether the food product contains transferred nut genes in any significant quantity. I think they have a right to that information, they should not have to rely on the manufacturer of the food product (much less the government, eeech) to carry out sufficient allergy tests.

  • ||

    One should be always be aware of the nut genes.

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