GMO Food

Washington State's Wrongheaded GMO Labeling Initiative Set to Go Before Voters

Polls show the latest mandatory GMO labeling ballot measure is too close to call.


This past August I appeared on the Thom Hartmann radio show to talk about federal food labeling. Hartmann, the popular progressive host, quickly focused laser-like attention on my opposition to mandatory GMO labeling. So I posed a hypothetical to him.

"We don't force small farmers who use cow manure to fertilize their food to label their products by saying, 'This product grown in animal feces'" I told Hartmann. "Even though we know that animal feces sometimes sicken people."

"If you eat it raw," chuckled Hartmann.

But foods "we do tend to eat raw," I replied—including spinach and cantaloupe—are precisely the ones that have sickened people in recent years, largely because of the use of animal waste in their production.

Hartmann then asked how he was made more free—attempting to turn my argument against me—by not knowing that his food was grown in animal feces.

"So you're suggesting there should be a label," I asked, "'This product grown in animal feces?'"

"If it's killing people, you're making a strong argument for requiring that [warning] on the label," Hartmann concludes.

Well, it's hardly news that that's the case.

But there you have it. Not only do we need mandatory GMO labeling, but also mandatory warning labels on organic and conventional foods for having been grown the way food's been grown for millennia—using animal feces as fertilizer.

While I'm still surprised this was news to Hartmann (who trumpeted his longstanding expertise on food issues during the interview) and think he's off base with his call for organic food warning labels, at least Hartmann's call for government to compel farmers and grocers of all types and sizes to provide limitless information is consistent.

After all, much of the labeling fight that's going on these days is not so much about a consumer's right to adequate information as it is about a select group forcing the government to unfairly stigmatize foods they don't like and that they're competing against.

Take Washington State's mandatory GMO labeling ballot initiative, I-522, which goes before voters in the state next week.

According to this summary by I-522 opponents, the measure "would require labeling of genetically engineered foods, as defined in the measure, on the packaging of raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seed and seed stock, or on retail shelf signage for unpackaged products." If passed, the law would take effect in 2015.

Opponents claim I-522 "is poorly written and, if passed, would increase prices at the grocery store and hurt state farmers."

Indeed, a recent report by Washington State's independent Academy of Sciences concluded that I-522 would likely raise grocery prices in the state.

Additionally, if passed it's likely that I-522 would open the floodgates to dozens if not hundreds of citizen lawsuits over potential misbranding—which can carry fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day.

What benefits would the law confer on Washington State residents? It's not clear.

Even the preamble of the ballot measure acknowledges the growing success of "foods identified as produced without genetic engineering" (emphasis mine). If it's the case that foods voluntarily identified as non-GMO are increasingly successful, then there's little or no need or rationale to force makers of foods containing GMOs to identify their products as such.

Some supporters of the Washington ballot measure downplay these serious flaws evident in I-522, and instead blast opponents of the measure as out-of-state carpetbaggers. In many cases, they're absolutely right.

Monsanto, Pepsi, and the Grocery Manufacturers of America are some of the chief opponents of I-522. But consider that most of the food that Washington State residents eat comes from outside the state. So it makes perfect sense, does it not, that a company like Pepsi that makes and sells food in all fifty states would oppose a Washington State measure that would mandate that some percentage of Pepsi's products would have to be sold in Washington State either with a costly new label solely for use in the state or, alternately, would have to carry a Washington State-specific label nationally.

But if I-522 opponents are carpetbaggers, then so too are its supporters. After all, the Washington State initiative has been billed from the start as just the latest target of "the national movement for labeling food and beverages containing genetically modified organisms"

Many of its chief supporters, including the Center for Food Safety, Dr. Bronners, and Whole Foods—which I suspect would oppose the Thom Hartmann-endorsed mandatory "grown in animal feces" warning label for organic foods—are similarly based outside the state.

"We are proud to support Yes on 522 and to work with the campaign staff daily," says the website of Austin, TX-based Whole Foods. (Whole Foods also threw its support behind California's failed Prop 37 GMO-labeling ballot measure last year.)

Nevertheless, it's voters in the state whose opinions ultimately matter most. And after a strong start, it appears I-522 may be running out of gas.

A recent poll showed that support for the measure had plummeted from 66% in September to just 46% in October. That makes the I-522 a statistical dead heat.

Supporters lament how the "once-popular initiative is now statistically tied in the polls."

And David Bronner of Dr. Bronner's, who leads fundraising efforts for the "yes on 522" side, now seems to be steeling supporters for a loss. ""Even if we lose here we're still feeding the national debate and conversation," he told Reuters this week.

That's the same pattern evident in California last year, where Prop 37 went down in flames after leading in the polls for months. And it's one that's been mimicked nationally, too, where neither the Obama administration, Congress, nor the FDA appears willing to or interested in forcing GMO labeling on farmers, grocers, and consumers. This is true despite the broken old saw that 90% of Americans support mandatory GMO labeling.

Let me reiterate here what I've written in various columns at least a half-dozen times. I am entirely indifferent to GMO foods and farming (as is Keep Food Legal, the nonprofit I lead). And I believe the government should be equally indifferent. For example, Congress should stop subsidizing GMO corn via the Farm Bill and should also never repeat anything like the terrible Monsanto Protection Act.

But that doesn't mean consumers need be indifferent.

Consumers who support GMO farming or don't care about GMOs should be free to seek out foods they want. And if there's enough support among those consumers for private "Contains GMO" labeling—as a selling point—then those labels will likely appear.

On the other hand, consumers who detest GMO foods should be free to avoid them at all costs—and are free thanks to their ability to buy organic foods that contain no GMOs, to buy foods labeled as free of GMOs, or to grow and raise their own food.

Furthermore, both groups should be free to tout the benefits they claim about their own dietary choices and to rail against the dietary choices of those made by those in the other group. But neither group should be permitted to force the government to diminish or jeopardize the food choices of the other with mandatory scare labeling about frankenfoods or feces.

That's not just food freedom, it's also fairness and plain common sense.

NEXT: Illinois Teachers Warned About Poor State of Pension Fund

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  1. Take the Saturday Pledge!

    Pledge not to respond to any trolls who try to turn the Saturday threads into their own person playground for talking about abortion, gay marriage, circumcision, Christian persecution, or deep-dish pizza!

    1. Or teh EVIL SOCONS!!1!

      Just Say No to “Bo”

    2. Look man, this is the week. I can feel it.

      We’re, that is, us, right here and now are gonna suss this abortion thing out in full today! We’ll then send a copy of this historic comment thread to the congress, the president and the supreme court of our great nation and they will change the laws to conform with the philosophical truths that we, as commenters, will have unearthed.

      Today, my friends, the debate ENDS!

    3. Gotcha. See below for a post dealing with none of these topics. You’re welcome!

      1. Posted another one – still in compliance, since it’s about the persecution of non-Christians.

        1. And a partial violation – I put a post below about Glenn Greenwald’s lover being accused of terrorism.

          1. Powerful Constitution Party video about gun control – hint: they’re against it and cite 56 million reasons why.


    4. So no responding to posts by Bailey and Shackford, got it!

    5. Y’know, Little Caesar’s offers this “Hot ‘n Ready” deep dish pizza. You walk in, no wait for preparation, and tastes more or less oven fresh. At $8 it is a real bargain!

    6. Pledge not to respond to any trolls who try to turn the Saturday threads into their own person playground for talking about abortion, gay marriage, circumcision, Christian persecution, or deep-dish pizza!
      Dudes, Dudettes, and Dudesses: I am VERY sorry to report to you today, from such an UTTERLY outwardly loverly, sunny Saturday afternoon today in Stanstanstanistan, that my conscience MANDATES that I be the troll that I am, and report to you, that my marriage as a gay Christian has been persecuted today because I had my deep-dish pizza circumscribed! AND, above and beyond that, the cabin boy, the cabin boy, the dirty little nipper, he lined his ass, with broken glass, and practiced female circumcision on his African Skipperessa! I am NOT sure how they managed that, and I guess I am NOT really interested in learning all about it, I guess I am willfully and woefully, deliberately ignernt? And that’s the way things were, in the Year of Our Lord Government Almighty, 11-02-BR-549?

      1. My favorite poster delivers.

        Fast clap for you.

  2. What is said to be wrong with GMO food?

    I see people oppose it but I never see their reasons.

    1. The perception that they’re “unnatural”.

      Also, some people are just natural-born control freaks, and want to get their freak on.

    2. “What is said to be wrong with GMO food?”

      I think the issue for a lot of them is companies like Monsanto and herbicides like RoundUp.

      To make a long story short, their herbicide kills everything that hasn’t been genetically modified to withstand it.

      They don’t like people spraying stuff that kills everything that hasn’t been grown from seed that’s genetically modified to withstand it–since most of the things in nature have not been genetically modified.

      They also question how much of that stuff is digested by them when they eat GMO foods–since they haven’t been genetically modified.

      Although the health risks have been shown to be minimal or non-existent, remember that the United States exports produce the way the Japanese used to export cars. Farmers around the world (especially in Europe) have a hard time competing with American produce, so they really played up the fear of “frankenfoods” in Europe.

      Those anxieties in the U.S. were exploited by anti-free trade people and environmentalists. They don’t care why people are against free trade–they just want them to be against it. They don’t care why people oppose the use of herbicide–they just want people to be against them. And if playing up the fear of a non-problem helps them achieve their goals, then who cares if it’s a non-problem? That’s the way they look at it.

      1. Although the health risks have been shown to be minimal or non-existent, remember that the United States exports produce the way the Japanese used to export cars. Farmers around the world (especially in Europe) have a hard time competing with American produce, so they really played up the fear of “frankenfoods” in Europe.

        America-bashing is also one of the few accpetable forms of xenophobia left.

    3. Having grown up surrounded by a bunch of far-left wackos, my guess is their reasoning goes something like this…

      1. Capitalism has only survived this long because of imperialism (Lenin).

      2. America is a capitalist/imperialist country, and one of the ways it conspires to spread it’s evil capitalist/imperialist influence is through food exports, which make other countries dependents to it’s evil agenda (related: the “local food” movement).

      4. GMOs allow America to grow and export MORE food, meaning MORE imperialism, MORE capitalism, and further delay of glorious and inevitable communist revolutions.

      1. Sounds about right.

      2. KPres,
        you left out:
        5. Cuba is dying because it’s the only place in the world that would benefit by US imperialism.

      3. There’s the far left wackos and then there are the greens.

        The Greens just think that fucking with nature is inherently immoral and dangerous. And that capitalists are doing crazy dangerous stuff for profit.

        Also, they don’t really think we should be improving our food production because that will just lead to more population growth.

        1. Dr. Norman Borlaug, call your office.

        2. Every one should starve to death to save the Sacred Gaia Environment, except of course ME & MY Beloveds… Only the inferiors should perish, to lessen the load on Mother Earth… I gotcha on that one, do copy here…

    4. “I see people oppose it but I never see their reasons.”

      People are a plague on the earth. Anything that furthers their success, wealth or happiness must go. Anything that allows the population to expand must go.

      I think that about sums up their objection to GMO foods.

    5. I see people oppose it but I never see their reasons.

      My best friend from high school/college came out to go skiing last winter. Guy’s not necessarily a “principled libertarian” but I’d say he’s an 80-90 percenter. We seldom disagree on anything.

      First ride up the chair and he starts going off on Monsanto, korporayshuns, how they were engineering grain to be less nutritious so we eat more of it, glutens, monopolies…

      I immediately pushed this doppelganger off the chair to its death (figuratively). Turns out he’s dating some proggy Dr chick from Portland…

      So to answer your question…their reason…is pussy.

      1. There is something to the accusation that GMO grain is less nutritious. Matt Ridley talks about this in Rational Optimist. As it stands, we can make a wheat plant produce more grain much more easily than we can get it to take up more selenium, magnesium, and so forth. The first generation of GMOs made sure fewer people starved for lack of calories, and the next generation, with stuff like golden rice, will make sure they have closer to optimal nutrition.

    6. Do you want their REAL reasons, or the fake ones they use to stir up hysteria?

      REAL reasons: It’s unnatural. It’s playing God with Nature. It’s different and new and scary. Corporations control it.

      FAKE reasons: It will cause allergies, make you sick, spread super weeds, contaminate the environment.

      Fundamentally it’s really about fear of science and nature worship. Same story the environmentalists have been selling for decades. Crazy scientists are going to create mutant monsters that will destroy us. Humanity will be punished by Gaia for getting too uppity.

      1. But somehow those same scientists are super smart and can power the entire planet renewably from just 1 cow turd per day.

    7. What is wrong with GMO foods is, it hurts my baby feelings! I am a voterer, you are a voterer, and all votes (and all voterers & their feelings) are all equal! So there!

    8. The fact that sellers want to sell it is enough for some people to conclude that it’s wrong. Belief is widespread abroad that businesspeople are the enemy of both their customers and their suppliers of labor (and possibly their suppliers of other things). So the fact that they don’t all label it voluntarily, and oppose being made to do so, is enough for many people to conclude that therefore they should be made to do so.

  3. What do I care if vegetables are genetically modified? It’s not like I’m having offspring with them. Or even eating them. I hate vegetables. Except corn and green beans. And carrots are okay. Broccoli is actually alright in certain circumstances. But that’s it. So in conclusion they better labels those things when they’re modified because I want to know.

    1. What do I care if vegetables are genetically modified? It’s not like I’m having offspring with them.

      It’s for Warty’s benefit.

      I hate vegetables. Except corn and green beans.

      Corn is a grain.

      1. ….that gets lodged in Mr. Hanky’s head.

        Not easily digested.

        1. Bah. Go eat a grain.

    2. “What do I care if vegetables are genetically modified?”

      See my post above.

      I should add that RoundUp has to be reformulated regularly to handle RoundUp resistant weeds.

      Over time, weeds become resistant to RoundUp much like bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics. This means that stronger and stronger versions of RoundUp are being reformulated and spread into the environment.

      There are questions about how deep RoundUp gets into the soil, but…

      This is one of those things that people start knee-jerk rejecting just because so many other people are knee-jerk supporting. Most of the people on the left don’t know why they’re against GMO foods, really, and for a lot of the average people who support (for want of a better word) GMO crops, they just do it becasue the progressives are against it–and they want more of whatever the progressives are against…

      1. However, I happen to be of the opinion that…Monsanto sucks. …that their whole business model on GMO seeds is pretty nasty. But that doesn’t mean what they do should be illegal.

        Just because I think what you do sucks doesn’t mean it should be illegal. I think cheating on your spouse, using young women in pr0n who really don’t understand the consequences, and lying to your grandmother about coming to visit for Thanksgiving? I think those are all shitty things to do, too.

        Doesn’t mean they should be illegal. Doesn’t mean the government needs to get involved at all. But just because I don’t think the government needs to get involved, that doesn’t mean I give up my right to criticize what those are people are doing either. And that’s the way I feel about Monsanto.

        I don’t think the government should get involved, but I think what they’re doing is pretty shitty.

        1. I think cheating on your spouse, using young women in pr0n who really don’t understand the consequences, and lying to your grandmother about coming to visit for Thanksgiving? I think those are all shitty things to do, too.

          Do not forget cunt, Ken!! 🙂

          1. That’s different.

            I don’t think that’s unethical, per se.

            I think it’s counter-productive.

            If we want to see a more libertarian world, and that means being more appealing to females, then strategy-wise, I think we should refrain from shooting ourselves in the foot.

            But that doesn’t have anything to do with getting the government involved. That doesn’t have anything to do with government regulation. That has to do with not making ourselves look stupid in front of people we want to impress.

            1. Just razzin’ you a little. I love you man.

      2. Vegetables are weeds with good marketing.

      3. Ken, Roundup is pretty much non-toxic to human and animals. (I think there is some research that maybe if you drank a gallon of it, you might get sick). It also breaks down rapidly in the environment.

        That’s why farmers like it so much. You don’t need special clothing to handle it, you don’t have to worry about getting cancer. Roundup is a godsend if your trying to avoid tilling, which causes soil erosion and uses a lot of fossil fuels (do you know how many miles per gallon a fucking tiller gets?).

        Also add on the fact that no-till farming helps build soil health.

        So, far from being an environmental hazard, the deveopment of Roundup Ready crops is actually a huge boon to the environment on multiple levels:
        1. It eliminates the use of much more toxic herbicides that would other wise have to be used instead (and which end up in run off into the watershed).
        2. It saves farmers fuel costs (and reduces fossil fuel consumption), since they don’t have to run the tiller to suppress weeds.
        3. It allows farmers to build soil health by practicing no-till agriculture. Which improves yeilds and allows less land to be used for farming.
        4. the switch to no-till farming reduces soil run-off which improves the health of the ecosystem in local watersheds.

    3. Isn’t every organism on earth, with the possible exception of the ameba, genetically modified?

      1. I think there are two different topics here.

        Infusing strawberries with genes from an arctic flounder because it makes strawberries resistant to freezing probably doesn’t up the ante in favor of more and stronger herbicides than we’ve ever used before.

        But putting a gene in a strawberry so you can spray an herbicide that will kill everything that doesn’t have that gene in it is another question entirely.

        Some environmentalists love to conflate the two becasue of the ick factor, no doubt: “Ewwwww! You’re eating that strawberry with flounder genes in its DNA?! …and don’t you know what that RoundUp does to the environment?!”

        But those are two separate issues, one of which has nothing to do with RoundUp, as far as I know.

        1. Completely disagree.

          A genetic alteration is a genetic alteration. Doesn’t matter if it happens naturally or is induced by humans. If it makes the species stronger, it will survive, if not it won’t.

          1. If one of them necessarily requires the use of stronger and stronger herbicides and the other one doesn’t, then to environmentalists, anyway, the question isn’t just about the ethics of splicing genes. It’s about the quantity and nature of those herbicides in the environment.

            1. Except that roundup is a relatively benign Herbicide as compared to the weed killers it’s use replaces. The alternatives are much more toxic – as a result, the Roundup Ready crops are (currently) reducing, the cost, scope, and environmental impact of herbicides actually used by farmers. As soon as it becomes a less effective/impactful crop, the farmers will happily dump it for another variety.

              1. That’s great news!

                Do you have a link to that study?

                I know it’s true that it allows for much higher yields on much less farmland, and that a lot of what used to be farmland is going back to nature.

                Just because I said down yonder that there are downsides, doesn’t mean I don’t know there are upsides, too. Certainly, you’re not suggesting that there aren’t any downsides, are you?

                I’d like to think that after talking about these things with the same people on the same website–for over ten years now–we could maybe get a little more nuanced than just for/against.

                …and there is a difference between genetic engineering that necessitates using stronger herbicides and genetic engineering that doesn’t.

          2. Roundup Ready allows farmers to make much more invasive changes to their farm’s ecology, so in that respect it could be a lot more dangerous.

            That said, it reduces tilling and saves topsoil. Remember how environmentalists used to concerntroll about the speed with which we were depleting our topsoil? Notice how that stopped around the time that they started shrieking about how evil Monsanto is?

            1. “Notice how that stopped around the time that they started shrieking about how evil Monsanto is?”

              Sometimes they make themselves look silly by trying to frame the guilty.

              That’s how OJ got off, scott-free.

              Doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty.

  4. Frappy Jo says no way dude.


      1. ^^this

  5. You didn’t print that label.

    1. You’ll have to pry that 3D printer from my cold dead hands.

  6. I propose progressives be labelled.

    1. I have no problem with an increase in the price of progressives. Until Obama mandates I buy them too.


      2. Yeah, eventually we’ll all be forced to adopt a progressive for their own good.

        1. One for every house! In the old days, I think they called that person the political commissar.

        2. Moar slaves for my diamond mines.

        3. I do that every April 15th. Don’t you?

  7. To cater to the anti gmo crowd, entrepreneurs can put allnatural labels on their food, being subject to fraud prosecution if theres gmos, pesticides, etc in the product. If thrres no label on the food, the hippies can boycott it. Problem solved.

    1. They already do put no-GMO labels on food in the market. The problem is that they are looking to control other people.

    2. Yeah, that’s true.

      I think one side in this debate is trying to use labeling to bias their preferred outcome.

      To be fair, I think it’s also true that the status quo is biased to a certain outcome, as well.

      Take a look at these stats:

      95% of the sugar beets in the U.S. are GMO.

      94% of the soy is GMO.

      93% of the canola is GMO.

      90% of the cotton is GMO.

      88% of the corn is GMO.…..-why-where

      We can argue that the reason the market penetration on these GMO crops is so high is because people don’t care, but it’s also easy to argue that the reason market penetration on these GMO crops is so high is because people don’t know.

      I mean, the argument you’re making is essentially the one for why people buy “organic”, which used to mean (to me, anyway) that the crops didn’t use too much pesticide, but because of Round Up has actually come to mean that the crop is non-GMO.

      The organic label definitely makes it more valuable in the market, so we can’t say that strategy doesn’t work at all–especially since the market for premium priced organic produce continues to grow. …but how many people who are buying organic really know what “organic” means?

      I’d bet a bunch of the people that oppose GMO crops don’t even know that “organic” means non-GMO. I shop and eat at Whole Foods often. I think a lot of the people who go there, go there purely for aesthetic reasons.

      1. There are virtually no non-GMO crops on the market today. So called “organics” themselves are far removed from their original species. Humans have been selectively breeding crop and animal species for millennia, so the silly notion that what they eat now is “natural” is absurd on its face.

        GMO labeling is nothing more than a literal stigma since the whole anti-GMO campaign is nothing more than an irrational religion.

    3. Isn’t one of the concerns with GMO food is that “all natural” food might be at risk for cross pollination?

      1. BardMetal|11.2.13 @ 9:45AM|#
        “Isn’t one of the concerns with GMO food is that “all natural” food might be at risk for cross pollination?”

        I believe that’s a claim. Now someone needs to find an “all natural” food that could be contaminated.

      2. Yeah, I think there’s some of that. I heard that Monsanto won a suit where farmers who didn’t buy Monsanto seed were forced to pay–because a neighboring farmer’s GMO plants pollinated non-GMO plants, giving him access to what was effectively Monsanto’s genetic modifications.

        If we’re talking about public perceptions, though, and what’s driving people’s thinking on these things, I don’t think most people are aware of those cases. I wish they were…

        1. Ken Shultz|11.2.13 @ 10:18AM|#
          “Yeah, I think there’s some of that. I heard that Monsanto won a suit where farmers who didn’t buy Monsanto seed were forced to pay–because a neighboring farmer’s GMO plants pollinated non-GMO plants, giving him access to what was effectively Monsanto’s genetic modifications.”

          I’d like to see a cite on that.

          1. It’s a BS urban legend that won’t die. The farmer they sued deliberately isolated the GMO crops by spraying RoundUp on everything, and then harvested what survived for seed to replant later. He knew what he was doing.

            1. What I understand is that his crop was cross pollinated from a neighbor’s crop, and he used the seed that survived best. The seed that survived the best was weed resistant–surprise, surprise!

              1. Ken Shultz|11.2.13 @ 10:49AM|#
                “What I understand is that his crop was cross pollinated from a neighbor’s crop, and he used the seed that survived best. The seed that survived the best was weed resistant–surprise, surprise!”

                Ken, I understand there’s this really big animal in Loch Ness. Now, got a cite?

          2. Ken reads too many left-wing rags. What they actually sue for is when the farmers KNOWINGLY use the seeds from their contaminated crop to replant roundup-ready crops during the next season.

            It seems legitimate to me when you recognize that there are three parties involved here, not just two. People think Monsanto is contaminating the crops then suing the farmers, but that’s not it. What you really have is…

            1) An organic farmer
            2) A GMO farmer next door who contaminated the organic farmer’s crop yield with Monsanto’s seed.
            3) Monsanto who owns the patent and who the GMO farmer bought his seed from.

            So [1] absolutely has the right to sue [2] for contaminating his crop yield, but [1] can’t then take that contaminated product and create a new product (ie, next season’s crop) using [3]’s patented seed.

            Forgetting for the moment how you feel about patents in general, if you’re going to have patents, this is the proper outcome. But the leftist douchebags are trying to say that the poor farmer who had his crop yield ruined is now being bullied by Monsanto. That’s not the case at all.

            1. I don’t remember the last time I read an left-wing anything, but I have talked to a lot of people on the right, who, just like on the left, let their politics determine how they perceive the facts.

              And as far as I can tell, the fact is that if a farmer replants seed, as he usually does, and his crop has been cross-pollinated with GMO crops, he will, over time, end up with a GMO crop–if the GMO seeds out produce the non-GMO seeds. Isn’t that right?

              And that’s regardless of the farmer’s intentions. Is a farmer compelled to destroy his own seed–seed that he would have produced anyway–just because it was infected with Monsanto’s seed? If so, then I think Monsanto owes him something for contaminating his crop and ruining his seed.

              Meanwhile, an experimental variety of Monsanto’s GMO wheat was recently discovered in some farmers’ field–wheat that was never sold to anybody.

              It is also a fact that Monsanto is seriously litigious company, and their behavior can be seen as a lot like that of a patent troll. And as I showed, elsewhere, they have achieved market penetration that looks an awful lot like a monopoly…

            2. And when I add that to pesticides of ever increasing potency, etc., etc., they don’t seem like the kind of people I’d want to buy a used car from, want my daughter to marry, or to invite to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents.

              How many times have I said it in this thread (and others) already? Just because I don’t think what they do should be illegal or invite government regulation doesn’t mean I can’t call them a bunch of assholes, which is what I think they are. I certainly don’t have to defend their behavior.

              Anyway, I was actually answering a question, in the first place, and the answer had something to do with…

              “If we’re talking about public perceptions, though, and what’s driving people’s thinking on these things, I don’t think most people are aware of those cases.”

              My point wasn’t that Monsanto is conspiring to infect the world with its patents; my point was that most people don’t know anything about those cases or Monsanto.

        2. Ken, you’re talking about the Percy Schemeiser case.

          In which the “organic” farmer in question sprayed his field with roundup, then let the surviving plants grow, and then saved the seed from them for planting the next year. In other words, he purposely selected for the Roundup Ready canola.
          His field was 95% Roundup Ready. It didn’t get that way by accident.
          Plus he was using Roundup in violation of his Organic certification.

          1. He sprayed his field with RoundUp to see how badly his field had been infested. The RoundUp killed everything that wasn’t Monsanto GMO. Regardless of that farmer’s motives, the point remains:

            If a farmer replants non-GMO seed, and the crop is subsequently cross-pollinated with GMO crops, he will, over time, end up with a GMO crop–if the GMO seeds out produce the non-GMO seeds.

            Isn’t that right?

            Meanwhile, GMO crops that have never been sold to anybody keep getting loose into the wild:


            1. I don’t know how we got off on this tangent, anyway. I guess somebody mentioned that this had happened; I mentioned that I’d read about the same thing–and then pointed out that I didn’t think it really entered into consumer choice in a big way, since very few consumers are even aware of the incident.

              Then somebody accused me of repeating an urban legend, which was bullshit. It isn’t an urban legend, and there are other cases…

              “If Monsanto is found liable for allowing its genetically modified seed to stray, it theoretically could be on the hook for billions of dollars in damages due to depressed wheat prices and even farmland values.

              “We fully expect we will see future episodes in other parts of the country,” said Warren Burns, a partner with Susman Godfrey in Dallas, since Monsanto tested the wheat in 16 states from 1998 to 2005 . “The potential here is this is the tip of the iceberg.”

              Burns said his model is the lawsuit rice farmers brought against Bayer CropScience after genetically modified rice not intended for human consumption polluted rice crops. Bayer paid $750 million to settle that case in 2011. Farmers also settled a lawsuit over StarLink corn in 2004.”


      3. It’s really interesting how average people today have access to more information than anyone else ever did before, and, yet, so many of these issues seem to be driven by ignorance–on both sides!

        It’s like with electronic cigarettes. I’m in Vegas a lot, and I don’t understand why every smoker I see in the casinos isn’t using electronic cigarettes. I guess in that case, part of the problem is the prohibition against advertising tobacco products, but still, with all the information out there, you’d think smokers would find out that, in a way, there is a cure for cancer! …and you don’t have to stop smoking vaping.

        GMO foods are kind of the inverse of that. There’s no way the people selling GMO foods are going to inform the public of the downsides through advertising (not willingly), and because the organic market has so effectively marketed itself as a lifestyle product, there aren’t a lot of people outside of the Prius/latte set that will ever hear about the upsides of going organic.

        Most of those lifestyle organic people, like I said, probably don’t even know the environmental arguments against GMO. I sit there and eat at Whole Foods, and watch the chicks people in the check out line who came in becasue of the yoga classes, and I doubt they know anything about Monsanto.

        They’re there because it’s a status/trendy thing and becasue buying food there makes them feel healthy.

        1. …”There’s no way the people selling GMO foods are going to inform the public of the downsides through advertising”…

          What “downsides”?

          1. I think I’ve already listed a bunch of them.

            …if you, me, and a majority of Americans consider those downsides acceptable, and the outcomes preferable despite them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t downsides.

            1. Ken Shultz|11.2.13 @ 10:31AM|#
              “I think I’ve already listed a bunch of them.”

              I do0n’t think you have, so we’ll assume there are none.

              1. So your position is that there are no downsides whatsoever to using powerful herbicides?

                Beware of Jane Fonda Syndrome.

                1. No, Sevo’s point is that you have listed a couple of things that some people don’t like, but you haven’t explicitly listed any downsides. A downside would be: GMO’s use 25% more water per ton of production, or GMO’s cause a 13% reduction in regional wildlife, etc. (None of which are true. Just examples). Simply identifying the spraying of “harsher” herbicides (GMO’s actually tend to use less pesticide because they are naturally pest-resistant) is not itself a downside. You haven’t listed a specific problem that said spraying creates other than your dislike of the practice.

                2. Ken, the issue at hand here in terms of herbicides is there is more than just organic and GMO crops. There are simple conventional crops as well

                  You scare the public into not buying GMO’s then farmers are just going to move to slightly more costly conventional crops. Which also use chemical /p/h/f/cides.

                  You’re still infecting the ground with chemicals, but now you’re just making things more difficult for the farmer.

                  1. Honestly, I think there’s more than just those options.

                    Personally, I’m not about to buy produce using more and stronger herbicides as a substitute–if more farmers stopped using Monsanto’s products.

                    And I’ve watched the organic food industry explode from practically nothing over the past 20 years.

                    If consumers come to be willing to pay more for produce that has less in the way of herbicide in it, the market will react to that. And I hope somebody around here gets that this is all I’m advocating.

                    I understand why some people want to put labels on it–because they’re hoping the labels will bias consumers towards organic produce if the GMO stuff is labeled.

                    I’m advocating consumer choice as the solution here, too. And maybe that’s what’s confusing people? …but I’m not arguing for labels.

                    …and there isn’t anything unlibertarian about advocating consumer choice as a solution to something. I think a lot of people have become so conditioned to seeing every situation requiring a government solution, that they’re starting to deny that all sorts of issues even exist–out of self-defense.

                    That’s just a guess, though. I don’t get it, myself.

      4. There are also people who oppose the idea agribusiness companies can patent their genetically modified seeds. There is the belief that if you get some kind of plant disease that wipes out a natural version of Plant A then the only version left would be the patented-GMO version. Thus, everyone would have to pay agribusiness to grow that crop. Further, the arguments is that, if you do get cross-pollination then agribusiness could claims ownership of all versions of that particular crop.

        The conspiracy version of that is that big agribusiness has a plan to wipe out all non-patented crops so you would HAVE to buy their version.

        1. I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy–that cross-pollination legal case may have been an unexpected boon for them.

          But conspiracy or not, they’re basically already achieving that outcome. Look at those stats I quoted up yonder:

          94% of the soy is GMO.

          93% of the canola is GMO.

          90% of the cotton is GMO.

          88% of the corn is GMO.

          With that kind of market penetration, who needs a monopoly?

          1. Good point. All of which is to say the problem is not with GMOs but with (i) the patent system & (ii) the reality that most agribusinesses are in bed with the feds e.g. ADM which is hugely profitable also gets large sums from various federal agencies.

          2. “With that kind of market penetration, who needs a monopoly?”
            None of which is stopping anyone from growing, oh, heirloom tomatoes.
            So, no, it is not a monopoly.

            1. Market barriers are typical of monopolies, and it’s usually pretty hard to attain that kind of market share without some form of market barrier.

              However, I don’t think the market barriers define a monopoly. Achieving that kind of market share is probably a better definition.

              Heck, there are other GMO seed companies, but I bet those seed markets are pretty well dominated seed by seed. If Monsanto is in soybeans, I bet their market share is huge in soybeans. If they’re not in okra yet, then the okra GMO market may be dominated by someone else.

              Regardless, if you want to use a descriptive term for how the GMO seeds are dominating the market, saying that GMO seeds are all but monopolizing the market is probably pretty accurate.

              1. Cars are dominating the transportation market!! Horses are virtually extinct as a mode of transportation!!!! It’s a monopoly. A MONOPOLY!!!! SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!!!!!

                GMO’s have a virtual lock on the seed market because, um, they’re better. They yield more. They’re easier to grow. They win so people buy them. Next.

                1. I didn’t say anything needed to be done.

                  In fact, I stated repeatedly that the government shouldn’t get involved.

  8. Vatican looks into NAP violations:

    “Following a wish expressed by Pope Francis, an international conference to examine human trafficking and modern slavery takes place in the Vatican on November 2 and 3.

    “[The conference is] [d]escribed as a “preparatory workshop”, organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences together with the World Federation of Catholic Medical Associations…

    “Each participant at the two-day conference will present a study shining the light on a particular perspective of human trafficking….

    “Describing the phenomenon of human trafficking, [Dean] Suarez-Oroaco [of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies] says it amounts to about a $30 billion enterprise ? that is larger than the GDP of Jordan, for example.

    “He says the trafficking of human beings is the third-most profitable global criminal enterprise, after drugs and armaments.

    “The professor highlights the fact that up to 75 per cent of all detected trafficked people are women and children. (There are about 27 million trafficked people in the world today) And he says that the percentage of children in increasing: “In the U.S., it is estimated that of all the detected trafficked people, 50 per cent are under age”.”…..en1-742628

  9. “Members of the [non-Christian] Baha’i community in Iran are the most persecuted religious minority in the Islamic Republic, where suppression of alternative faiths is growing worse, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed said on [Oct. 21]….

    “”The numbers of Baha’is that are in prison have increased, over a hundred at the present time according to the information I have,” Shaheed said.

    “”They face a whole range of discrimination, from being unable to practice their faith, being denied access to basic services,” he said. “And often they face charges unrelated to their faith, national security charges.””…..I920121022

  10. Nearly every plant product we eat is genetically modified (animals, too). You would not recognize wild-type grapes, tomatoes, corn, wheat…

    The objection is to modern methods of modification which are faster, more economical, more predictable, and more tightly targeted than older methods. “Natural” means “developed before I was born.”

    1. Well put. The whole ‘organic’, ‘natural’ food thing is nonsense. It exists in people’s heads, that is all.

      Having said that, north american wild grapes grow prolifically in Louisiana. They are called muscadines. I have dug a dozen or so up from the surrounding woods and planted them on trellises in my yard. Not because I like natural, but because they remind me of the summers of my childhood. I love ’em.

      1. We have wild grapes here in PA as well. They’re along trails I frequent.

        They are very small (.5-1cm diameter), very dark, and a bit sour. If you eat too many of them your poop will turn purple. They taste good though.

        1. Wild strawberries were (are?) pretty common in the midwest. No body ever ate two.

      2. ‘organic’ has come to mean non-GMO.

        And if you care about there being less herbicide in the world that’s been engineered to kill everything that doesn’t have a specifically engineered gene in it, then it isn’t nonsense.

        Some people don’t care about the Second Amendment, but I do. Just because they don’t care about my gun rights, doesn’t make my gun rights nonsense.

        1. There’s is only one verifiable difference between “organic” food and other food: Price.

          1. If the way it was grown is important to you, then there is another important difference.

            1. You’re missing the point. The way the food is grown can be important to a person, but just because someone slaps an “organic” sticker on your food doesn’t mean there’s any difference (other than the price).

        2. And if I don’t like gays (hypothetical) then I’m all for refusing their rights to marriage and that’s A-OK because it’s what I like. You haven’t actually identified a specific downside other than saying you simply don’t like it. Until you do it’s an entirely emotional, irrational, and religious argument.

          1. “And if I don’t like gays (hypothetical) then I’m all for refusing their rights to marriage and that’s A-OK because it’s what I like.”

            Is this the fifth or sixth time I’ve stated that I don’t want the government to do anything?

            I honestly lost count, but you must have run across it at least once in this thread.

        3. Which means more of other kinds of herbicides in exchange for less food. Great idea.

          1. In reality, I think there are more than two choices.

            In fact, I know it.

  11. All I know is when I shop here for food for my daycare there’s very little if any ‘high fructose corn syrup’ in the ingredients in stuff like cereal and bread. In the USA, it’s all I see.

    What’s also interesting a lot of our food comes from American brands who do have plants here in Canada but I still can’t figure our why this ingredient is mysteriously not available here. I’m not complaining since I don’t think it’s good to begin with.

    1. When I lived in Mexico, I was blown away by the way the Coca-Cola tasted. Suddenly, it tasted really great again–like the way I remembered when I was a kid…

      The difference is that the bottlers use real cane sugar down there. Corn syrup Coke just isn’t the same. I don’t know why they use it here in the U.S. either. I suspect corn syrup is less expensive than sugar cane, but then shouldn’t that be a reason for using it in Mexican Coke rather than the U.S.?

      I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it has something to do with the government. Either the government is enticing Coke bottlers to use corn syrup somehow, or maybe our embargo against Cuba is making it hard for Coke bottlers here in the U.S. to get their hands on cheap sugar cane? …I don’t think that’s a problem in Mexico or Canada.

      I don’t know.

      1. To each his own. Fructose is the slightly sweeter simple suger. HFCS is only slightly richer in fructose than standard table sugar (a couple to a few percent, I recall). Coke doesn’t taste good regardless of the sweetener used. Having tasted both sugar sweetened pops I have to say that I prefer the HFCS variety. I don’t hate the “natural” version, but it does taste a bit funny to me.

        1. The HFCS has an aftertaste similar to Diet Coke.

          It tastes like crap to me now. That Jewish holiday when they avoid anything with yeast in it–is that passover?

          Anyway, they start selling the sugar kind in grocery stores so Jews can keep drinking Coke through the holidays, and I stock up on it then.

    2. The HFCS thing is due to two things: Corn subsidies and a tariff on imported cane sugar. As a result, HFCS is a lot cheaper to use than regular sugar.

      So, we have the US .gov’s market distortions to thank for that.

  12. “British authorities claimed the domestic partner of reporter Glenn Greenwald was involved in “terrorism” when he tried to carry documents from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden through a London airport in August, according to police and intelligence documents….

    “At a London court hearing this week for Miranda’s lawsuit [about being detained at a London airport], a document called a “Ports Circulation Sheet” was read into the record. It was prepared by Scotland Yard – in consultation with the MI5 counterintelligence agency – and circulated to British border posts before Miranda’s arrival. The precise date of the document is unclear.

    “”We assess that Miranda is knowingly carrying material the release of which would endanger people’s lives,” the document continued. “Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism…””…..99838.html

  13. Of all the days to stay on topic!

    Let’s try this one:

    “Harrison Ford ‘without a doubt’ returning for Star Wars Episode 7

    “…According to Jedi News: ‘Ford wanted to see the synopsis for his character’s development over more than just Episode 7. He saw this in August and is happy with the story arc.”…..7-4168261/

  14. And I’m sick…sick…sick and tired of the Seattle Times’ constant ‘on the one hand’ articles about labeling.

    No, it won’t be the zombie apocalypse if a food manufacturer has to print extra shit on their products, any more than it would hurt the seattle times to have to print a warning on their front page that the information within may be opinion, and facts may not be accurate.

  15. Ah, a fast and sure cure for the WA state nut cases that want this food restriction is simply have the out state vendors refrain from shipping any GMO or any out state food item into WA.
    Start this boycott 10 days before the GMO election and watch what happens.

    Years ago, the silly little town of Wixom Michigan told the truck drivers that they couldn’t run their big rigs through town. So, the truckers didn’t. Being Teamsters NO truck entered Wixom. How long do you think it took the city fathers to reverse their stupid policy?
    Yes, about 20 minutes after the grocer ran out of milk.

  16. Anyone here in the food business know how much tracing and documenting of ingredients you need to do prove that you don’t have to label your products as containing GMO material? If I read the law correctly, you can be sued if GMO stuff shows up in your products whether you knew it was in the ingredients or not. Plaintiff gets “reasonable” compensation for legal fees and such after winning.

    This law is a wet dream for lawyers and foodie control freaks.

  17. Me being a Devout Scienfoologist, and all, I quiver in fear, with every bite that I take, that non-Scienfoology-type folks, with their non-Scienfooology-type sub-humanoid-type, defective, infectious, non-Scienfoology cooties, might be contasminating my food! I DEMAND a truthful labeling scheme to fully inform me if my food has been looked at by non-Scienfoologists!!!

  18. ” If it’s the case that foods voluntarily identified as non-GMO are increasingly successful,”

    Which of course is the right answer – let producers voluntarily label what they consider relevant information, and let consumers decide how they value that information. You’re liable for your claims, but aren’t forced into making claims.

    The right answer for someone who wants to be free.

    The right answer for theocrats is to punish the wicked, this time by increasing the costs and liabilities associated with designated wicked behavior.

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