Sunday, August 4, 2013

On Genetically Modified Crops and Food Labeling

John Rigolizzo has a guest column in the NJ Star-Ledger titled NJ Food-Labeling Bill Delivers Useless Information. Rigolizzo makes a strong case against a bill introduced into the state legislature that would "label food that contains GM [Genetically Modified] ingredients."

Rigolizzo notes that the food labeling would needlessly raise the cost of food while feeding the false hysteria against GM technology. He notes that "GM crops are among the most studied and best understood plants on the planet":

This political activity [the labeling movement] on the state level flies in the face of established scientific evidence. Experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say food with GM ingredients is safe and perfectly healthy, so there’s no need to label. The American Medical Association and a long list of reputable groups agree.

I left the following supportive comments

GMO crops are a boon to agriculture, giving us more plentiful, economical, and nutritious food. Furthermore, GMO technology has incredible value to human life, not just in foods, but in medicine as well. The scientists and businessmen whose minds, work, and willingness to take a risk to bring us this exciting technology are moral heroes, as are all innovators and creators who meet the challenges of human survival by altering nature in service to human life and flourishing. 

Fortunately, there are many people who celebrate the life-serving work of these heroes. Voices for Reason has initiated a series called GMO Monday, in which they highlight the expanding benefits of genetic engineering. 

And thank you, Mr. Rigolizzo, for your voice of reason.

I responded briefly to this comment: "I define healthy as food that is raised as nature intended without chemicals, pesticides or GMA (sic) seeds and that pass all FDA rules."

Nature doesn't "intend" anything. It just is; and what it is, in raw form, is inhospitable to human life. That's why man must use his tool of survival, his mind, to cope; which means, to change the hostile natural environment to a livable one. Agriculture is the harnessing, altering and improving of raw nature to meet man's need to eat. GM is just one form of that. So is cultivating an "organic" garden. While harmful side effects will occasionally happen, the risk is in impeding mans progress toward improving the livability of the earth through reason-driven productive work.

GM foods are good or bad on their own individual merits, and that's how they should be judged. Blanket condemnation of an entire technology is childish and irresponsible, but that's exactly what a GM label would imply. Amanda Maxham's excellent Voices for Reason series GMO Monday zeros in on the benefits of GM technology as applied to individual food like rice and bananas.

As to what labeling should appear on food packaging, the market should decide whether and what information should be printed on the food packaging. Otherwise, people are free to research food products on their own.


GMO Monday by Amanda Maxham

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