Scientifically Illiterate Connecticut Legislators Overwhelmingly Pass Biotech Crop Labeling Law


Killer Tomato
Credit: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Yesterday, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed 134 to 3 legislation requiring that foods containing ingredients derived from modern biotech crops be labeled. The state Senate had earlier approved the legislation unanimously. Let's say it again: Every independent scientific body that has ever looked at biotech crops have found them to be as safe to eat and as safe for the environment as conventional crops. The Food and Drug Administration only requires labels when health or nutrition issues are involved, which is manifestly not the case here.

For example, with regard to the safety of biotech crops even the chief scientific advisor of the notoriously timid European Commission, Anne Glover, recently declared:

"There is no substantiated case of any adverse impact on human health, animal health or environmental health, so that's pretty robust evidence, and I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food," Glover told EurActiv, saying the precautionary principle no longer applies as a result…

…she said that scientific evidence needed to play a stronger role in policymaking, firing a warning shot at countries that have banned GMOs. "I think we could really get somewhere in Europe if when evidence is used partially, there were an obligation on people to say why they have rejected evidence," she said.

Last year, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest scientific organization in the country, issued a resolution affirming the extensive scientific evidence for the safety of biotech crops and opposing mandatory labeling:

There are several current efforts to require labeling of foods containin products derived from genetically modified crop plants, commonly known as GM crops or GMOs. These efforts are not driven by evidence that GM foods are actually dangerous. Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe…

…contrary to popular misconceptions, GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility, tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. Indeed, a recent review of a dozen well-designed long-term animal feeding studies comparing GM and non-GM potatoes, soy, rice, corn and triticale found that the GM and their non-GM counterparts are nutritionally equivalent.

It is the long-standing policy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that special labeling of a food is required if the absence of the information provided poses a special health or environmental risk. The FDA does not require labeling of a food based on the specific genetic modification procedure used in the development of its input crops. Legally mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers.

There is one silver lining to this fiasco. The legislators were sufficiently fearful that their stupid new mandate would harm Connecticut commerce that it will only come into effect if other states with populations totaling 20 million (one of which must border the Nutmeg State) also adopt a similar requirement.

Shame on the Connecticut lawmakers for succumbing to anti-science disinformation!

For more scientific illiteracy, see Reason TV's report on the 'March Against Monsanto' Anti-GMO Protest in Los Angeles below: