Why Mandatory Labeling for GMOs is a Very Bad Idea

When I first wrote first wrote about anti-GMO activists (GMOers) fifteen years ago, they were just beginning to feed their Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to the general public. Now a substantial percentage of the public has swallowed their nonsense. They’ve succeeded in convincing idiot politicians to ban them in several countries. They haven’t done as well in the US -recently several state referendums to force labeling have failed. But nannies never quit, and they’re still demanding GMO labeling. This is a very bad idea, for several reasons.

Like all nannies and conspiracy theorists, GMOers lie. Constantly, predictably, and compulsively. They have to, since there is no evidence that GMOs have ever caused any harm to anyone’s health or the environment.

Their favorite tactic is the Gish Gallop – spouting an endless stream of bullshit claims in rapid succession. If, like me, you’re foolish enough to debate a GMOer, every time you disprove one of their lies they’ll simply spew another one.

“GM Foods aren’t tested.”

“Actually, they are, thoroughly, before being approved. And there are more than 2000 studies that have found them harmless.”

“But all of those studies have been sponsored by Monsanto or The Government, which is owned by Monsanto.”

“Actually, 600 of them were completely independent.”

“But I have a French study on rats that shows it causes tumors.”

“Actually, that study, the only one that supports your position, has been thoroughly debunked. It was conducted by GMOers, using a very small sample size, on rats that are designed to be tumor-prone, with none of the standard double-blind protocols that are standard in legitimate studies. The journal that published it has retracted it.”

“But you can’t prove GMOs are safe.”

“Actually, you can’t prove anything is safe. That’s not how science works. What you can do is look for dangers, and when extensive testing doesn’t find any, conclude that it’s not dangerous. Can you prove that organic food is safe?”

(Ignoring the question…) But it made Indian farmers commit suicide.”

“Actually, the data doesn’t bear that out, let me explain. . .”

“Do you know you use the word ‘actually’ an awful lot?”

“Actually, that’s the first true thing you’ve said.”

Over the past twenty years, billions of people have eaten trillions of meals containing GMOs. Among all those people eating all those meals, GMOers can’t point to a single instance of anyone ever being harmed by them. Not one. The bottom line is there is no evidence, not even a little, that GM foods are dangerous.

Their ignorant activism is far from harmless. It is directly responsible for millions of deaths.

Vitamin A deficiencies are a huge problem in many parts of Africa. Every year it results in a million children to going blind, and causes a half a million deaths. One promising solution is Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to provide the missing vitamin, and will be gifted to small farmers. It’s taken twelve years to develop, and still isn’t in use, because GMOers have been fighting it, including by destroying test crops. Each year of delay has cost a million lives and resulted in a half million more blind kids.

Affluent countries banning GMOs has resulted in hungry countries refusing thousands of tons of donated food. They’ve been scared into believing donations might contain GMOs, and those GMOs might get into the food supply, and that would make it impossible for them to export to countries that have banned them. Donated food and seeds that have been accepted have been destroyed by locals who have fallen for GMOer propaganda.

Here, then, are five reasons mandatory GMO labeling is a Very Bad Idea.

5) Given the safety of GMOs, it’s completely unnecessary. GMOers insist they have a right to know if their food contains any GMO components, but they can avoid them simply by buying food labeled Organic, which, by definition doesn’t contain GMOs.

4) No one is preventing voluntary labeling. Some food producers are already labeling their products as GMO Free. This not only provides information for the luddites, but makes it easy for rational people to avoid their products, to avoid contributing to the hysteria.

3) It would lend credibly to GMOer propaganda. “If they’re not dangerous, why are they labeled?

2) It would be enormously expensive. Corn, wheat, soybeans and other commodities are shipped and stored in bulk, mixed together from various farms. Seperating GMO and non-GMO commodities would require separate, duplicate facilities, which would more than double storage and transportation costs.

And the #1 reason: It would cater to the real motive of GMOers movement – destroying the market for good, inexpensive, healthy food. Here are a few quotes from movement leaders:

Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this. – Dr. Joseph Mercola, operator of the junk-science site Mercola.com

By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. – Jeffrey Smith, Founder, Institute for Responsible Technology

The industry’s not stupid. The industry knows that if those foods are labeled ‘genetically engineered,’ the public will shy away and won’t take them. – Jeremy Rifkin – a fear-mongering activist nanny who is consistently wrong about everything

The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws. – Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association

Ignorance is easier to spread than knowledge – far too many people prefer sensational, nonsense claims to clear science. Labeling is designed to foster ignorance.

Let’s pick reality instead.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Good write up, but it focuses entirely on the immediate known health hazards to humans only. Like anything in nature, when we intervene with things there is usually an entire chain of events that takes place–a series of indirect effects. We are already aware of some of those indirect environmental harms on our bees, birds and butterflies. We are therefore required to think more deeply about the benefits of GMOs vs the long-term consequences for planet Earth, not just the medical conditions of one species. That being said, there certainly can be a case against forced labeling. Educate the people, let us make up our own minds.

    James | Jan 15, 2015 | Reply

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  1. Aug 16, 2015: from Fact – GMOs are safe; Fiction – GMO food labels are a good idea | Confronting Mediocrity

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