Biotechnology

Anti-GMO Initiatives in Oregon and Colorado: Science Wins in Centennial State—Outcome Uncertain Science Wins in Beaver State Too!

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Killer Tomato
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Voters in the Oregon and Colorado were asked to vote on ballot initiatives that would require many foods made with ingredients derived from modern biotech crops to be labeled as such. Science won in Colorado with voters rejecting the mandatory labeling requirement by 68 to 32 percent. The Oregon vote is still too close to call, but the vote was now around 51 percent against labeling and 49 percent in favor. The final results in Oregon may not be known until Friday.

Both initiatives are egregiously unscientific, but the Oregon Measure 92 is particularly dishonest. Measure 92 misleadingly asserts that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration…

…does not require or conduct safety studies of genetically engineered foods. Instead, any safety consultations are voluntary, and genetically engineered food developers may decide what information to provide to the agency. Market approval of genetically engineered food is based on industry research alone.

Of course, this is precisely the way in which new pharmaceuticals are regulated and approved. Companies keep providing information about each new crop variety to the FDA regulators until they have no more questions. In any case, this process is unnecessary. If a trait (pest resistance or herbicide resistance) is safe in one crop it is safe in all crops. There should be no need for approval for each new variety.

Another false Measure 92 finding and declaration is …

The genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes via genetic engineering and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable. Mixing plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes through genetic engineering in combinations that cannot occur in nature may produce results that lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.

The proponents of Measure 92 offer no examples of "adverse health or environmental consequences." Why? Because none have been reported. As I have noted elsewhere:

The World Health Organization flatly states, "No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved."

In 2010, a European Commission review of 50 studies on the safety of biotech crops found "no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms."

At its annual meeting in June, 2013 the American Medical Association endorsed a report on the labeling of bioengineered foods from its Council on Science and Public Health. The report concluded that "Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature."

And one other bit of misinformation is the claim that …

The cultivation of genetically engineered crops can have serious effects on the environment. For example, in 2013, 93 percent of all soy grown in the U.S. was engineered to be herbicide resistance. In fact, the vast majority of genetically engineered crops are designed to withstand herbicides, and therefore promote indiscriminate herbicide use. As a result, genetically engineered, herbicide resistant crops have caused 527 million pounds of additional herbicides to be applied to the nation's farmland.

Actually, the USDA released in May, 2014 its report, Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008, in which it analyzed the trends in herbicide and pesticide use. The study found that herbicide applications peaked at 478 million pounds in 1981 and since drifted down to 394 million pounds in 2008, the latest year for which the agency has figures. Interestingly, Measure 92 fails to mention that pesticide applications peaked in 1972 at 158 million pounds and has now fallen to 29 million pounds. Why? Because of crops genetically engineered to resist insect and other pests.

Colorado's Proposition 105 is more succinct in its misleading assertions:

(3) U.S. FEDERAL LAW DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR THE REGULATION ON THE SAFETY AND LABELING OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD;

(4) THE LONG TERM HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF GROWING AND CONSUMING GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD ARE NOT YET FULLY RESEARCHED AND ARE NOT YET WELL UNDERSTOOD BY SCIENCE ….

Measure 92 would require that "Genetically Engineered" clearly and conspicuously appear on the front or back of the package of foods using ingredients from biotech crops by January, 2016. Similarly, Proposition 105 would mandate "PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING" APPEAR IN A CLEAR AND CONSPICUOUS MANNER ON ITS LABEL" by July, 2016.

Addendum: A referendnum in Maui County in Hawaii passed 50 to 48 percent to ban the growing of biotech crops in the jurisdiction. For more background on the scientifically idiotic campaign against biotech crops in Hawaii see my article, "The Fable of Hawaiian Frankencorn."

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  1. Ron: I assume the blonde giraffe didn’t pay you a visit.

    1. She’s waiting for the next local election, and then it’s waterboarding for Ron!

      1. Still no Coulter, despite the Gillespie/Warner near tie.

        1. It’s okay, even when Warner wins I bet he’s indicted within a month anyway. I was hoping Sarvis would have had more of a showing, but Gillespie surprised the hell out of me.

  2. Sorry, but the idea of eating a food that contains a built in insecticide does not appeal to me.

    I look for the Non-GMO Label.

    1. Thanks for spending more!

      /”Organic” Food Producers

    2. So no radishes or peppers or mustard or anything else that evolved a chemical response to repel insects?

    3. AiR: Every plant has evolved built-in insecticides.

      1. Shoulda known you’d beat me to the punch on that one.

    4. Averroes Ibn Rushd|11.5.14 @ 9:38AM|#
      “Sorry, but the idea of eating a food that contains a built in insecticide does not appeal to me.”

      In which case, you must be a breatharian, or not well informed.
      ‘Organic’ food are bred to increase the ‘built-in’ pesticides.

    5. I look for the Non-GMO Label.

      Have a handful of non-GMO Castor beans and enjoy all the goodness nature has to offer.

    6. You are a scientifically illiterate retard. Go die in a ditch, moron.

    7. You go to all the trouble of registering just to prove Ron right: Anti-GMO zealots are ignorant morons.

    8. I agree. I want to know what foods contain things that I do not want to consume. If food producers wish to use these ingredients, fine but be honest in your ingredients list or it should not be allowed on the store shelves.

  3. Maybe I am missing something but I don’t see what labeling products has to do with being scientific or non-scientific. It is just informing consumers so that they are better equipped to make their own decisions about which food products to buy. If GMO products are better and healthier, then labeling them as such should be a great marketing tactic.

    1. Are people truly better informed by a GMO label, or does such a label merely stoke unreasonable fear?

      I have a hard time buying that the goal of label supporters is the latter, not the former.

      1. Whoops, that last sentence should read the other way around.

        1. Former the not latter the is supporters label of goal the that buying time hard a have I?

    2. The science/anti-science is that they are claiming that the genetically modified foods are a threat, when (as stated in the article) there is no proof of the claim.

      I don’t think anyone here is against companies labeling their food as GMO/Not-GMO, on a voluntary basis. If the non-GMO companies are so proud of their product, let them voluntarily go to the expense of designing their labels to display “100% Non-genetically engineered.” The problem is when you try to make it a government mandate. At that point, we part company.

      1. Here’s the problem with that. As far as I know, the FDA doesn’t say anything either way about GMO. So if a company advertized as non-GMO, companies that use GMO could sue on the grounds that the label is misleading.

        Based upon this, they’d probably win.

        1. Here’s the problem with that. As far as I know, the FDA doesn’t say anything either way about GMO.

          The latter is a non-sequitur wrt the former.

          If Monsanto is legally preventing a dairy/milk distributor from saying his farmers are contracted to be hormone-free, there’s a 1st Am. issue. Not a GMO/Non-GMO issue.

      2. Many in the anti-GMO crowd think it is unfair for them to have to pay more to identify non-GMO foods. They think the extra cost should be borne by everyone else. I have heard that stated almost vertabtim.

        1. So have I.

          “Why should I have to pay extra to get non-GMO food? Why should the cost be bourne by me?”

          Because you’re the fucking idiot who gives a shit, you selfish piece of shit. You want other people to pay the cost of your personal prejudices.

          1. This. Exactly this.

            They want others to pay for their own marketplace preferences. You want fucking labels? Pay for them yourselves. There is absolutely nothing that is stopping companies that use Non-GMO food from putting a huge fucking label on the front, except that you, their customer, don’t want to pay for it.

            Fuck you.

    3. The term “GMO” is inherently innactuate, because all foods are genetically modified. The foods in question have simply been modified using a different METHOD – recombinant DNA technology. The method itself does not have any effect on the food, not is there a theoretical reason to think it would.

      Requiring a label for it is sort of like mandating that food be labeled with the party affiliation of the farmer that grew it. I.e. This wheat is REPUBLICAN wheat.
      The sole purpose is to allow some individuals to discriminate based on an irrational fear or prejudice.

      1. They are waaaaay ahead of you there.

        BuyPartisan works like a nutritional label for your political values.

        1. That is appalling.
          An ap for partisan wingnuts to indulge themselves in political bigotry.

          1. It is appalling, but it is also a rational response to a government that has become so intrusive. When democratic elections can influence so much in our personal lives, the politics of the other guy become pretty important.

            Of course, I suspect that most of the people that use an app like this prefer it that way, and are the same ones calling for government to grow even more intrusive. The viciousness of the cycle is something to behold.

            1. Yes, that’s actually a point I have made before. The more powerful the government becomes, the more important it is for your “side” to WIN.
              This makes people increasingly psychotically obsessed with influencing the political climate in any way they can, including all the sanctimonious moralizing, ostracizing people with different opinions, and political boycotting that you see especially from progressives.

              1. And then they lament partisanship and gridlock.

        2. People who live their entire lives with politics as their central guiding principle need a really good slapping. And so do their mothers because they were raised fucking wrong.

  4. An countywide measure to ban the growing of genetically engineered crops passed here in Humboldt County, CA yesterday.

    1. So good ol’Humboldt is still full on retard…who’d a thunk it.

    2. So good ol’Humboldt is still full on retard…who’d a thunk it.

    3. So good ol’Humboldt is still full on retard…who’d a thunk it.

      1. Their cash crop is dope and they don’t want anyone coming up with stronger stuff.
        It sells by weight, for pete’s sake!

    4. Did it define “genetically engineered”? Otherwise they just banned all agriculture from the country. Morons…

  5. my friend’s mother makes $68 every hour on the internet . She has been without work for ten months but last month her income was $20803 just working on the internet for a few hours. have a peek here….

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

    1. But is she genetically modified?

      1. To make that kind of cash from camwhoring, she’s definitely modified in some way.

        1. It’s the big pony and three dogs that make the difference.

    2. 76 hour work week.

  6. In SF, the tin-foil hats look to be taking a beating. Two measures address, of all things, ‘astroturf’ on some fields in GG Park.
    Yep, look to the Sierra Club for nonsense:
    “”The jury is still out on synthetic turf and whether or not it is safe to play in,” said Sue Vaughan, chairwoman of the Sierra Club’s San Francisco chapter”
    http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanf…..id=2910009
    Looks like their measure is losing, but it IS SF, so…

    1. The jury is still out on whether or not intelligence is a positive evolutionary trait. Probably best to lobotomize everyone. Aiming for the average intelligicence of the extreme environmentalists seems about right.

  7. How is it even legal to put a bunch of unscientific push-polling language into the text of the ballot measure in the first place?
    Shouldn’t the language have to be neutral?

    1. Ideally, the language should be neutral, but Reason has documented several occasions where the language of initiatives has been slanted.

      This isn’t the first and won’t be the last.

      “No” is generally the safest option.

      1. “Slanted” is an understantment.

        These are outright false statements.
        Lies.

  8. THE LONG TERM HEALTH, SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF GROWING AND CONSUMING GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD ARE NOT YET FULLY RESEARCHED AND ARE NOT YET WELL UNDERSTOOD BY SCIENCE ….

    Has just as much meaning.

  9. Both are bad ideas to me, but not because of science/anti-science. The problem is that Colorado and Oregon don’t have consumer bases big enough for many producers to justify the extra cost for state specific labels. My fear was that we’d lose a lot of products here in CO due to this. If GMO labeling standards are going to be implemented, it will have to start nationally, or via big states like CA/TX/NY/FL.

    1. Yes. In Florida Senator Jeremy Ring took the bill before the Florida Senate and Senator Bill Montford, stood up, snatched the bill from Mr. Rings hands and so without that paper, Mr. Ring could not submit the bill……….. plus, Senator Montford received a ton of campaign funds from Montsanto and “agribusiness”.

  10. It would be nice if Oragonians also added some language to their proposal that reminded them that,

    Due to your irrational fears of Genetically Modified Crops, you inadvertently help support the starvation and malnutrition of people all over the developing world. To sate your bourgeois, ignorant, anti-scientific, mythical worldview, you make the lives of millions more miserable. In addition, your ‘organic’ produce is going to give your kids fucking tapeworms. You suck.

  11. Written by a former global warming skeptic!! In the meantime there are folks that would like their food LABELED with this information, so we can have a CHOICE. Because maybe one day they will find GMO does have adverse effects, and I’d like to avoid them TODAY 🙂

  12. Labeling food ingredients used in any product a company wishes to put on store shelves should be a no-brainer. If you use it, label it. Period. Let consumers DECIDE if they want to buy the product that contains your scientific experiment food ingredients. Short term, seed company paid for health studies are not science. Damning and destroying scientists’ reputations that have found in private studies not so glorious outcomes as the chemical companies results in unacceptable. The deceitful hiding of these food ingredients is dishonest and with fraught with ulterior motives. If your foods are so wonderfully delicious and beneficial, label them proudly. Why continue to spend millions of dollars to HIDE them from consumers? If you need to lie or non-disclose your ingredients to make a buck then these motives should be questioned.

  13. This is NOT about naturally occurring genetically modified foods (like species that can cross breed in nature or have been naturally cross bred for traits desired). This is about chemical companies developing foods that cannot ever naturally occur (plant/animal/virus/bacteria DNA forcibly injected into each other) for the sole purpose of patenting the food supply, forcing farmers to repeat buy year after year and to sell more toxic pesticides.

    Control the food, control the people. These companies have and will continue to sue farmers over “seed saving” and even the unintended, uncontrollable, rogue cross-pollination and contamination of their land that a farmer has no control over. Forcing a farmer that had his land and crops contaminated to pay a ransom or go to court is not acceptable either.

  14. Here is what I dont understand: If Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Syngento, Bayer are right and there is nothing to worry about, why do they continue to spend so much money for us not to know? I mean, all anyone is asking is that it is shown on the label within the ingredients. But to spend 300M to stop people from knowing keeps me scratching my head.

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