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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No on 522: Label GMOs, But Not This Way

Posted by on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

This guest post is by Ramez Naam, who writes science and science fiction.

Consumers clearly want to know whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients. Given that huge interest, foods containing GMOs should be labeled. I’ve written as much before at the website of Discover magazine, trying to persuade scientists that they should support GMO labels.

But Initiative 522 is the wrong way to do it. I-522 mandates that any food containing genetically modified ingredients state so "conspicuously on the front of the package." Yet the scientific consensus on GMOs is that they’re just as safe to eat as any other food. The estimated number of people killed per year from GMOs is exactly zero. Meanwhile, excess consumption of sugar and fat in the United States is estimated to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Yet sugar and fat are only noted on the back of the package, in the ingredient label. Nuts and shellfish, which are potentially lethal to some eaters, are also noted only on the back, in the ingredients label.

The front-of-package mandate in I-522 isn’t a reasonable attempt to inform consumers. It goes above and beyond that, to place a burden on GM foods that isn’t placed on tremendously more dangerous ingredients. It’s an attempt to tap into fear of GMOs, to drive them off the market, by making them, in the initiative’s words "conspicuous."

Here’s where the GMO label should go--where everything else in the ingredients is. I-522’s front-of-package requirement is an attempt to drive genetically modified foods off the market.
  • RN
  • Here’s where the GMO label should go—where everything else in the ingredients is. I-522’s front-of-package requirement is an attempt to drive genetically modified foods off the market.

You may be thinking: But GMOs are more dangerous than sugar, fat, nuts, or shellfish! And you wouldn’t be the only person to think that. But that’s not the scientific consensus.

Every mainstream scientific and medical body that’s looked at the safety of GMOs has found them as safe to eat as conventional and organic foods:

• The American Medical Association finds them so safe that they’ve rejected labeling entirely.

• The National Academy of Science, the premier scientific body in the United States, reviewing hundreds of studies, has found them safe to eat.

• The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest organization of professional scientists in the US, says “the science is quite clear” that GM foods are safe.

• In Europe, where GMOs are even more feared than in the United States, safety has been affirmed by a review of hundreds of studies by the British Royal Society of Medicine, by more than a decade of studies involving 500 independent research groups funded by the European Commission, and by a massive Italian review of 1,837 studies of GMO safety.

• Even the supreme court of France (where GMOs are hated) struck down that country’s ban on GMO planting, ruling that the government had shown no believable evidence of any harm to either humans or the environment.

• Indeed, the National Academy of Science has also found that, in general, genetically modified crops have been kinder to the environment than conventional crops. Farming, in general, is hard on nature, but as their report says, “Generally, GE (GMO) crops have had fewer adverse effects on the environment than non-GE crops produced conventionally.” The report found that Roundup, the pesticide everyone loves to hate, is actually many times gentler and less toxic than the pesticides it replaced, and that GMO-planted farms tended to till less to destroy weeds than other farms, and thus saved fuel, reduced carbon emissions, and reduced the loss of moisture and life from their soil.

All of this, I suspect, is at odds with what you’ve heard. And, despite the links to the most credible scientific and medical organizations in the world (as opposed to the few fairly fringe scientists who campaign against GMOs), you may not believe everything I’ve written here right away. That’s fine. Read the links at your leisure. You may even think I’m a paid Monsanto shill. I’m not. I hold no stock in any agricultural or biotech company and receive no money from them in any way.

Even if you don’t accept the scientific consensus right away: know that one exists. That doesn’t change the fact that you have the right to choose what goes into your body. You do. Of course, you already have ways to choose to eat non-GMO foods already. You can purchase foods labeled organic, none of which contain GMOs. You can purchase foods that proudly proclaim that they’re GMO-free. Consumers who want to eat GMO-free have options already, with no added law whatsoever.

Even so, given the huge demand for it, I support labeling all foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Giving consumers that added information—in a place and manner consistent with other ingredient information—is a good thing that can help consumers regain a sense of control and reduce unnecessary fear of genetically modified foods.

Doing so on the front of the package, though, where virtually nothing else is required, while far more lethal ingredients are mandated only on the back, sends an entirely different message. That would call out GMOs in a way that’s dramatically out of proportion to the real risk, and far beyond what’s needed for consumer choice. That’s not about a right to know. It’s about fear. It’s misleading and it ought to be rejected.

 

Comments (165) RSS

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Theodore Gorath 1
So a handful of people will say they are voting yes just to stick it to Monsanto, a bunch of others will say they voted no because the law is poorly written, a few regulars on the issue will respond with the scientific data which proves that GMOs in their current iterations are not harmful, others will call these people shills, and some others will say that science is just too man-splainy with all its facts and evidences so they don't care what it says on the issue, and a few others will respond that it is not just about the harm to humans (or lack thereof) when eating GMOs.

Around and around we go...
Posted by Theodore Gorath on October 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
2
This is going to fall on deaf ears.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
3
Articles like this need to be better timed to ballot drop than election day. I always vote as soon as possible. This wouldn't have changed my vote, but I think it would have had more influence if it had been submitted a week or two ago.
Posted by LMcGuff http://holyoutlaw.livejournal.com/ on October 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
treacle 4
I think back-of-the-package labeling is totally reasonable for this.
Posted by treacle on October 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM · Report this
5
How dare you! Take your data and your science and get the phck outta here! Can't you see we're busy burning a witch?
Posted by Mr. Happy Sunshine on October 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
Pick1 6
@2 Sadly, I completely agree with you. Because "hey, more information for the consumer is ALWAYS better".
Posted by Pick1 on October 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM · Report this
7
I think as long as we are wrapping up our food in plastics, and shipping them around the world I could care less what goes on it's packaging, or where.
Having more consumer information can not be a negative thing for the consumer.
Posted by michael bell on October 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
8
Thank you for writing this. I'm tired of seeing the side that is typically more open to science willfully ignoring what it says about GMOs.

People seem to think that the money pouring in is because corporations know GMOs are bad - it's having to label your shit to meet the laws of a single state that's bad for them.
Posted by The CHZA on October 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
9
If they're going to label GMOs anywhere on the package, I want a scientific description of what the ingredient that is GE is and what modification was done to it. Because science is cool and I don't want some hack activist who hasn't taken a science course since she got a D in high school biology telling me I have fish toes in my salsa.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
10
The argument about GMO's being not as lethal as other ingredients is absolutely ridiculous. That clearly is not the reason why people want them labeled.

People at Foxconn working under terrible conditions is not physically harmful to people buying Apple products, but the information being public is extremely useful in implementing change to the status quo. In this situation the status quo is that we don't put enough emphasis on WHERE the food comes from in our society, and try as hard as possible to hide that information as if it could harm us by seeing it.
Posted by michael bell on October 30, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
11
What about motivations for voting "yes" other than issues relating to health? I already voted "yes" on 522, but I agree that GMOs pose no health danger. My concern, rather, is motivated by what I consider to be destructive intellectual property interests related to GMOs. I want to know whether I'm supporting private ownership of genetic sequences when I buy a product. I think that GMOs can be very beneficial, but I don't think they're beneficial when a private company has a exclusive control.
Posted by Faber on October 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
12
@8 You think the Monsanto et al wouldn't fight a national law just as hard if not harder?

Posted by searunner on October 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
13
If Monsanto is against something, then I'm for it.

Pure spite towards a malignant corporation is as good a heuristic as any in this bewildering world.
Posted by Alden on October 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
14
It's also misleading to say that GMOs are completely harmless, when that only really applies to human consumption and not the effects the production of GMOs has on the environment.

It doesn't give you cancer, but it makes it much more likely for crops to be wiped out (decreased biodiversity and pesticide resistant pests), contributes to poisoned and oxygen depleted oceans (with help from factory farms and CO2 emissions), has been loosely linked to birth defects in countries where growing them is unregulated... and really, I'm not down with any of that.

I already voted, and the fact that this whole issue has not addressed any of the reasons why I have not chosen to eat GMOs... makes me feel like they plan on ignoring them until it slaps us in the face. In my eyes it's a move for status quo, pure and simple.
Posted by erly on October 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM · Report this
15
"The estimated number of people killed per year from GMOs is exactly zero."

How would you know the effect of GM food given there is no control group or study for that giant experiment started ~20 years ago.
Posted by anon1256 on October 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 16
@11 - And how does labeling address that concern? Does the label in any way tell you who, if anyone, holds a patent on the genome you're eating?
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on October 30, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
17
After reading articles on numerous sites, and now this, I have no issue with labeling on the back of a package. I think people should be more informed and also that some people dont object to actually eating GMO's, bu the process that goes into the manufacturing of these foods. And lets face it, if you dont eat GMOs, the terrorists win.
Posted by Scarecrow on October 30, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
18
Every time citizens try to get a law passed that pushes towards consumer information, protection or rights, the anti-message is "not right bill, not right time." And guess what, casting doubt works especially when there's money and repetitive ads behind it.

This was a well-considered initiative. It's not bad law, it conforms to food labeling standards in the state of WA and international standards for GE/GMO labeling.
Organizations are saying GE foods are safe, but they're not factoring in that new products come on the market every year. Until the FDA demands independent long-term studies, it's reasonable to ask for a label. Is this label informative enough? Yes, for now. Can we ask for more, sure? Should this be done by the federal government, absolutely? What you're asking is reasonable but we need to proceed in stages.

It seems like there are a fair number of people involved in the scientific community who aren't familiar with how politics works. There is a reason why the fight for domestic partnership was important to the fight for gay marriage. In most of political negotiations, change to the status quo happens slowly. Even this initiative is the work of volunteers working tirelessly for two years.

I know you don't see that. That it's actually a really smart initiative. If it wasn't smart, Multinational Corporations would not be spending 21.45 million to defeat it. It would've been defeated before it even it made to the a public vote.

Anyone new to the GMO/GE conversation, please check out this quick article by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It's independent, reasonable and not flooded with industry bias. http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agricultu…

If you care about consumers rights and preserving ecological & economic diversity, you should be able to see see the long view and support 522.

More...
Posted by ldean on October 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM · Report this
19
@7: That's factually false. Incomplete information can easily lead to a mistaken conclusion, which may even be the correct conclusion given the evidence at hand.

For example: If we found a man shot to death, and I told you that his roommate hated him, and owned the gun with which he was killed, you may start to conclude that the man was shot by his roommate. I could pile on more and more evidence to suggest this conclusion, but the only RELEVANT evidence is that his roommate was out of town the night he died.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 20
@11 - I'm the author of the original piece. I considered adding a point about intellectual property but it didn't quite fit into the guest post.

Basically, yes, intellectual property is an issue. But all patents end. Monsanto's patent on Roundup Ready Soy I, which was the single most planted GMO in the US the last time I looked, expires in 2014. At that point the genetic tweeks they've made enter the public domain. The seeds become freely replantable. Universities and non-profits can experiment with the traits, and so on. Read more here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/busine…

After that, over the next 5-10 years, there'll be a wave of additional patent expirations. Almost every widely planted GMO in the US today will be off patent within 10 years.

Companies like Monsanto don't really 'own' the genes they've patented. Rather, they're granted a 20 year monopoly (from the time of the patent, which is usually several years before it's on sale) on the commercial use of the gene.

And that's not very different from other things you encounter in your life. Your home, your car, your phone, your computer, your TV - all of them incorporate hundreds of patents. All of which are temporary.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
fletc3her 21
I'd be happy with back of the package labeling, but I don't see anything wrong with front-of-the-package labeling. Currently we have no labeling. They've been selling GMO foods for years and never labelled it, at all. The industry has failed to give consumers the information they are now demanding. If the demand is a little overwrought... boo hoo.
Posted by fletc3her on October 30, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Report this
schmacky 22
I am voting no, despite the very cogent point made by Alden @13.
Posted by schmacky on October 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this
23
To be clear, there haven't been many long term studies of GMO foods, since they're relatively new to the marketplace (e.g., they first started to emerge in the 90s, I believe). It's also important to note that the FDA doesn't conduct any independent testing--or indeed require rigorous scientific testing--before a GMO food can be released to market; in contrast, it has a voluntary consultation process, and as long as the GMO food isn't combined with genes from known toxic or FDA-recognized allergens (which don't include all foods people are allergic to), that voluntary process is especially light. (See http://www.fda.gov/food/foodscienceresea…). This might be the reason why mainstream organizations in the scientific community conclude that while no severe risks to health have been identified thus far, further study is recommended. I don't believe that there's scientific consensus that the environmental practices that GMO products promote are all good or safe for the environment--in contrast, this is widely debated, and depends on the GMO food and local ecosystem in question. (see, e.g., item #7 on this FAQ from the World Health Organization http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publicatio…).

I support 522 to give consumers necessary information to decide for themselves whether they want to take any safety risk (however small), and whether they want to support the social and environmental consequences that are promoted by GMO products. As between putting accurate information about the product on the front or back of the label, I'm not sure that any implicit message the placement carriers (if any) outweighs the benefit to consumer transparency and choice. To the extent that corporations fear what consumers will think about the accurate information they disclose, they're more than capable of addressing that fear with even more information and disclosure about why they feel GMO products are good for the consumer, the environment, and society.
More...
Posted by notsojadedinseattle on October 30, 2013 at 12:41 PM · Report this
fletc3her 24
@16 The labeling alerts you to the fact that you are eating food which may be patented. It allows the consumer to do some research.

Currently, the ingredients on a can might just say "corn". They don't identify what strain is being used. If the initiatives passes the front of the can will have a GMO icon of some sort. Now, the manufacturer can just paste that on or they can elaborate on the back with a little more information about exactly what strain of corn is in the can.

My question for no voters would be why you don't care what strain of corn you are eating? You just know Del Monte is the cat's pajamas?
Posted by fletc3her on October 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM · Report this
25
What #14 said. The healthiness of the (GMO) product in and of itself is only part of the issue. The increased use of herbicides and pesticides needed to produce many GMO foods, and the 'downstream' affects of that on our health and the health of our biosphere is another. To say that GMO foods are 'safe' for human consumption may only be true in a very narrow and short-term circumstance. To ignore the huge and growing impacts of industrial farming on our environment, which GMO crops exacerbates, is just plain dishonest.
Posted by screed on October 30, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
26
@6, no, because if these people wanted to listen to reason, they wouldn't be anti-GMO in the first place.

It's like meeting somebody who's worried about chemtrails, and trying to explain what contrails are.

They're already a lost cause.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 27
Only those with an interest in keeping the masses ignorant would have an interest in putting limits on the information those masses are allowed to have.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 29
@18, that's pretty great. Thanks.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on October 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Pick1 30
@23 not required and not done are completely different things. Yes it's only been a short while, but 1837 studies would, in my mind be considered "rigorous".

The point is, that there are a lot of things in your food you eat every day that you just don't know about. How many food labels would splash "Made from parts of ground up bugs" on them?

That's a thing. And it's a pretty common thing. Is it harmful for the consumer? Do they know about it?

Relevance is subjective, but the fear-mongering of GMOs and the passage of I-522 sends a clear message. GMO is always unsafe. Which is stupid.
Posted by Pick1 on October 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 31
I am going to miss all of these commenters after the election is over.
Posted by CC-Rob on October 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
32
If GMO has no effects on health then why are they so afraid to list it on the package?

Why are the giant corporations spending soooo much money to stop it from happening?
Posted by Madame Chintoa on October 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM · Report this
33
@32: Did you read the article? It's because there's an extant irrational fear and this initiative plays into it. The harm is in the perception, nothing to do with reality. But perception is everything in consumer choice.
Posted by Sean on October 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 34
@24 - How does putting that label make researching the source of the GMO any easier? Can you not already research these things without a label saying "May or may not contain genomes under patent. May also contain expired patents"? That's not a useful starting point for productive research.

I'm not saying knowing the source of your food is a bad thing, I just don't see how this initiative makes that possible in any meaningful way.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on October 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM · Report this
35
@27, absolutely! Intelligent design in our classrooms! Only those with an interest in keeping the masses ignorant would have an interest in putting limits on the information those masses are allowed to have. Science and facts be damned!
Posted by notimpressed on October 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM · Report this
36
"This guest post is by Ramez Naam, who writes science and science fiction."

Wait, what the fuck does "writes science" even mean?
Posted by JenV on October 30, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 37
@32 - Here's a thought experiment. What if we had a labeling initiative that required all organic food to carry the label "Made with Manure." on the front of the package?

Can you imagine a reason that, while perfectly accurate, organic growers and organic grocery chains might object to that mandatory labeling?
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
38
Oh, and thanks Stranger for posting this piece. It's refreshing to hear opposition to this that's not fear mongering the other way the way the No On campaign has been.
Posted by Sean on October 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Arsenic7 39
@32
If you had a product and were told that you have to put a big label on it claiming "CONTAINS RARE EARTH ELEMENTS" despite the fact that none of the rare earth elements in it were actually harmful...would you be annoyed?
Posted by Arsenic7 on October 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM · Report this
40
@36: Here's the articles page on his website. Looks like he writes about science concepts and news. http://rameznaam.com/articles/
Posted by Sean on October 30, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Dougsf 41
@31 I've enjoyed this as well, and glad it happened during a slow time at work. I've even learned some unexpected things.
Posted by Dougsf on October 30, 2013 at 1:08 PM · Report this
sirkowski 42
Finally some common sense!

@10 Your analogy is incomplete. You haven't demonstrated what harm there is.

@11 That's like voting to ban vaccines in an effort to make big pharma pay more taxes.

@14 Unless you are a hunter/gatherer, it's very unlikely you don't eat GMOs.

It's sad how the left is just as bad as the right with conspiracy theories and pseudo-science.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on October 30, 2013 at 1:15 PM · Report this
43
As a geneticist, I'm happy to see the Stranger finally posted something sensible and scientifically accurate about this GMO issue. Too bad it came out after weeks of Yes campaign nonsense and after ballots have already been mailed.
Posted by BlagHag on October 30, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
44
@26 Proponents of GE labeling are not anti-science. Sure, there are ignorant fanatics on all sides that they media adores for selling clicks and viewa. But most of the volunteers & voters behind this initiative are very well thought out in their support. The key to scientific inquiry is the scientific method. That methodology follows the rational that you do not draw theories from untested or unverified hypotheses. To verify a hypotheses, your research methodology needs to be valid (verified through peer review) and your results need to be repeatable by independent researchers.

In the US, the FDA is not independently testing GE foods. Companies that profit from the sale of their GE products are the ones testing and proving their safety through short-term 6 month studies. Other independent organizations cannot test these products because the patent holders fear patent infringement.

Does that sound like adequately scientific testing to you?
I'm not even anti-GMO. This is just absurd.
Posted by ldean on October 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM · Report this
TacomaRoma 45
@33

And why does that extant irrational fear exist? Why would a simple label on a package cause someone to pause and return to the grocery shelf something as innocent as a can of corn? Why would people have a knee-jerk reaction against something as simple as a different strain of vegetable?

Is it because time after time, Big Agra has shown that it cares fuck-all for the health and well being of consumers? Is it because any attempt to regulate the industry is fought tooth-and-nail with millions of dollars by a handful of companies?

Maybe people are just assholes who are opposed to anything that they don't understand.
Posted by TacomaRoma on October 30, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
sirkowski 46
@44 And evolution is just a theory.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on October 30, 2013 at 1:24 PM · Report this
47
Scientifically, it's pretty weak as a No argument.

We don't require that we be told if the other foods we eat were produced by irradiation, hybridization, etc and don't even require that we're told if "onion" is a yellow, walla walla sweet, or red onion. Those are all different varieties and have pretty substantial genetic differences. GE typically introduces or regulates one or a few genes... yet you requires a special, non-specific labels for that ? What the label is designed to do is be on the front of the package, with no explanation, and make people who notice it scared of gene manipulation, with no evidence of harm.

Europe had activists pushing for GMO bans early, before the technology was really developed or any science done around it.

This really isn't much different than the crazies in the 80s who were worried about toilet seats spreading AIDS. If you look hard, someone probably wanted to ban anyone with AIDS (or who was gay, since gay led to AIDS, right?) from preparing foods. It's a right to know what could be in your food, right ?
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 48
I'm rather IMPRESSED with notimpressed up there at #35 for registering just to take a really badly thought out and rather illogical swipe at me.

Really, labeling food and teaching the batshit craziness of intelligent design are related how exactly? Oh who the fuck cares about what you think "notimpressed". You'll go back to your Monsanto office soon enough.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 30, 2013 at 1:27 PM · Report this
49
@44, in the US, the FDA doesn't independently do clinical trials of drugs either. They advise, instruct in what tests are needed, review data, and monitor the drug companies and any reports after the drugs hit the market. They do the same damn thing for GMOs.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
originalcinner 50
I like science and I like informative labelling. There should be more of both.
Posted by originalcinner on October 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this
51
@48, "How is anti-GMO related to intelligent design?"

They're both forms of ignorance caused by scientific illiteracy.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this
52
Most if not all the published and widely disseminated research on GMO safety has come from industry - my understanding is that the FDA has not done independent research on GMO, because well, who knows. Budgets, politics, probably a lot of reasons. Nonetheless, to keep saying that ALL the research shows GMO food to be safe is misleading. I don't think the industry-financed research in this case is reliable, any more than the tobacco industry research on smoking was reliable when it 'showed' that smoking does not cause cancer. For another perspective on GMOs and the research, I encourage visit this site:

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/10-…

Relying on data produced and interpreted by companies' like Monsanto, DuPont, etc. for objective answers to complex questions is naive. They have every incentive, as well as a history, of deceiving the public about the safety of their products.

Posted by screed on October 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
53
The science, finally. Thanks.
Posted by chris in dk on October 30, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
54
I certainly wouldn't have a single problem with back of the package labeling.

@37 Let's up the ante a little bit with your thought experiemnt. Lets label it as "Exposed to E. Coli". After all, it's a major component to manure, right?
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM · Report this
55

@48, Information has value, facts have value, which is why arbitrarily labeling food that has no jeopardy to human health, teaching that the Earth was created in seven days, and that climate change is a hoax ‘just look how cold it is outside,’ are all forms ignorance—willful or otherwise.

Facts also let people use deduction and sarcasm to reveal a point, which you also obviously missed. Yeah, absolutely it grand enough to make an account and call you out.

@51, spot on.
Posted by notimpressed on October 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM · Report this
The Establishment 56
@39:
@32
If you had a product and were told that you have to put a big label on it claiming "CONTAINS RARE EARTH ELEMENTS" despite the fact that none of the rare earth elements in it were actually harmful...would you be annoyed?

Define "actually harmful." The current methods of extracting rare earth elements are actually very harmful to the environment. So even though the fact that a device may contain rare earth elements may not make that device immediately harmful to the user, it's still indirectly harmful to the user due to the environmental degradation (y'know, harm to that place where the user exists) caused by the production of said rare earth elements.

That's actually an excellent analogy for explaining why it's a great idea for consumers to be aware of the presence of GMO agriculture products in their food. Consumers may want to make choices based on the way their food is produced, not just on whether the end product will be directly harmful to their personal health.

Granted there exists some baseless fear (at least according to our current scientific knowledge) concerning directly harmful effects of GMO food products, but that shouldn't mean we should embrace GMO agriculture wholesale as a knee-jerk reaction to the anti-science arguments made by some. We DO need to take into account the very real environmental harms inflicted, and unsustainable production methods employed by GMO agriculture.

Consumers need to be made aware of how these products are produced so that they may make a conscious choice when selecting their food supply.
Posted by The Establishment on October 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM · Report this
The Establishment 57
@18 really has it right about the typical "No on I-XXX" arguments. There is a real danger that rejecting this initiative will send the message the voters don't want GMO labeling, not that they just wanted the language tweaked slightly. The language tweaking can be done by the legislature if necessary. The "not right bill, not right time" argument is pretty weak without the language of the initiative being rather egregious.
Posted by The Establishment on October 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
raindrop 58
@57: "Not the right bill, not the right time" is especially valid when legislative tweaking is necessary, because legislative tweaking is not reliable.
In addition, no bill like this should be passed on a state level and it shouldn't be passed until Congress finishes tax reform and tort reform.
Posted by raindrop on October 30, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
59
"Apparently, herbicides are a nonrenewable resource. No major herbicide sites of action have been introduced in the past 20 yr (Duke 2011), few new herbicide sites of action are on the horizon, and weed resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides is a “tsunami” still out to sea but approaching land. The time has come to consider herbicide-frequency reduction targets in our major field crops—not just for environmental reasons but for economic reasons. Tinkering around the periphery of the glyphosate resistance problem is clearly too little, too late."

Weed Science 60(2):143-144. 2012
http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1614/W…
Posted by anon1256 on October 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
61
"The science, finally."

The H bomb must be a pretty good thing if Science was used to build it. Especially since all the equations they used were the right ones!
Posted by anon1256 on October 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM · Report this
62
Always be suspicious when a giant corporation spends millions to suppress consumer information. I don't believe it's been proven to be harmful for human consumption, but it's probably an indicator of poor environmental practices. If Monsanto is against it, you should be for it...I very much doubt my (and your) interests align with them.
Posted by shotsix on October 30, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Pick1 63
@62 Let's talk about some hypotheticals presented. Say you have a company that is completely ethical that you own. Because your organic food is grown using manure, you see a bill requiring that you label your food (Ingredients used to make this product were exposed to e. coli)

Then you see that Monsanto is also lobbying for the bill because they too, know this will hurt their sales and cause unnecessary panic.

Do you go with it because Fuck Monsanto?

This change will hurt companies. Not just Monsanto. Guess what. This will hurt a lot of companies a lot more than it does Monsanto. Monsanto can AFFORD to relabel and take a hit to sales. Other companies that do completely ethical things and happen to have safe GMO products will take the blow and actually suffer.

But who cares about them right? Cause fuck monsanto.
Posted by Pick1 on October 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM · Report this
64
@63 This highlights the point that GMOs are everywhere. Small companies who use common ingredients like vegetable oil will be fucked because it's almost impossible to obtain non-GMO oil. So instead they have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on special packaging and logistics just for our state.
Posted by The CHZA on October 30, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 65
This is excellent spin. It *sounds* science-y ("ooo! facts!") while quietly ignoring some very fundamental issues involved in GMOs.

So dear "I AM MR SCIENCE & THEREFORE YOU SHOULD OBEY ME", I would like to point out that GMO foods are modified to make the plants co-ooperate with the same pesticides being produced by the company. They are not used to increase yield, nutrition, or any other human benefit. It is therefore obvious that the goal of GMOs is pure greed. We can accept the science, but the morality behind is something we can reject.

You trot out the organic foods option, but you ignore the regulations around them. The same sort of regulations that GMO foods do not have to obey.

Your environmental argument amounts to "It's no worse than what we have already." Kind of like asking a battered spouse to stay with her husband because her father was no worse. You admit that farming is hard on the earth (a huge understatement). The move should be away from conventional farming, not finding ways to maintain the status quo.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on October 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM · Report this
66
@65, spray some Round-up on a non-GMO corn field, and see how your yield turns out.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 2:53 PM · Report this
trstr 68
Thanks for linking to Naam's website, which confirms that they're a creepy anti-human futurist fuck.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
69
@65 - glyphosate is off patent now so your claim that Monsanto will profit is fairly weak.

Golden rice has been proven to be more nutritious and that uses GM techniques. And that is something that organic food has never been able to claim. So, sorry, but there are GM strains that are more nutritious - IF that is what they were designed to do. Glyphosate resistant crop are not intended to be more nutritious or increase yield so your point is a (very common) straw man. As for morality - please explain how it is moral for well-fed activists in developed nations to opposed Golden Rice which is very likely to reduce suffering in developing nations.

There are way more regulations around GM crop strains than organic crop strains. USDA Organic regulations allow crop strains that have been generated via radiation induced mutagenesis - a completely random method that is known to result in more unintended changes to the crop strain than GM - and no testing is required.

Posted by Aaaarrrggh on October 30, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
The Establishment 70
@58

As far as doing it at the state level and imperfect language in the measure, how about I-502?

Should we have voted against it just because there were minor flaws in the language? Should we have waited for the federal government to take up the abolition of marijuana prohibition when the prospect of that happening wasn't remotely realistic in the existing (pre-I-502) political environment, all while marijuana prohibition was doing REAL HARM to the citizens of our state?

In addition, your logic is ridiculous. "We shouldn't do X that's completely unrelated to Y until we've done Y, even though they're completely unrelated." And that's completely ignoring how realistic it will be to accomplish Y in any sort of reasonable timeline.
Posted by The Establishment on October 30, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
trstr 71
"GMOs and nuclear power are two of the most effective and most important green technologies we have." - Ramez Naan, Wired.co.uk 5/17/2013

What a fucking idiot.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 3:11 PM · Report this
trstr 72
@20:

... except those seeds whose patents expire will be well off the market. They won't be available to anyone. Not to mention that expiration of patent doesn't invalidate the contract that farmers have to sign saying that they won't replant seeds. It also won't magically invalidate the sterility of the seeds they create.

Besides that, the producer of the seeds, much like pharmaceuticals, will tweak the genetics in some small irrelevant way and thus enjoy another round of "intellectual property" protection.

Stop selling us shit.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM · Report this
73
To quote a local organic farmer: If GE foods offered anything that was useful to consumers, corporations would DEMAND the right to label it prominently on the front. But they can only sell GE food by concealing its origins. People have many good reasons to choose non-GE foods, including health, environment, economy, social justice, seed preservation, farmer protection, spiritual values, and just plain orneryness. We have the right to know what we are eating.

Prediction: after 522 passes by a few thousand votes, Monsanto et al will file a lawsuit against it by November 15.
Posted by MsBoyer on October 30, 2013 at 3:24 PM · Report this
The Establishment 74
@65

Thank you. It's not about immediate health effects, it's about the environmental damage, and potential threat to our future food supply.

There's a huge analog between antibiotic resistance due to overuse of antibiotics, and pesticide resistance due to overuse of pesticides. Leaving aside the horrific environmental damage in the interim, what will happen to our food production system when we run out of effective pesticides?

Watch what happens as we run out of effective antibiotics, it's probably going to be pretty bad in both cases.
Posted by The Establishment on October 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 75
Oh look The Stranger is shrilling for large connected multinational corporation while calling itself "alternative"

Kinda like how their boy OBAMA signed the Monsanto Protection Act.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM · Report this
76
@75, "boy"

hmm
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
77
@73 Maybe those farmers could get a science degree and develop their own instead of expecting Monsanto of all people to give a fuck about what they think.

Or maybe they could advocate for public funding to develop new GMOs.
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 3:36 PM · Report this
78
I agree with the OP; we should have back of the package labeling. And that is why I'm voting YES on I-522. I believe it will be easier to go from front of the package to back of the package, then to go from no labeling at all. The OP is right that the labeling belongs on the back, and this initiative is a step in that direction.
Posted by Ruik on October 30, 2013 at 3:37 PM · Report this
79
@72, "if the seed patents expire the seeds will be off market"

Not if the farmers keep growing them.

"The contracts won't expire."

If the patents expire, the farmers will owe them no licensing fees.

"The producers of the seeds will come up with new patents."

Well if they come up with something new that the farmers want to grow, more power to them. Doesn't prevent farmers from growing older off-patent seed though.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 80
Can someone see if the IP addresses for about 70% of these comments come from Monsanto? I bet they do!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 30, 2013 at 3:43 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 81
The expiration of seed patents does not remove them from the market. Far from it. It allows anyone to replant those seeds, to sell excess seed from their next harvest, to cross-breed those seeds to create new strains, etc.. The NYT piece I linked to makes that clear: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/busine…

As a poster above commented, if Monsanto wants to sell farmers a patented seed, they have to show value to the farmers above and beyond what they can get in a less expensive, non-patented one.

Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 3:46 PM · Report this
82
@80, we're also the ones who faked the moon landings.

But I've said too much.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 3:48 PM · Report this
83
@71: Ah yes, he takes positions you disagree with, so he must be wrong.

You've shut down on yourself. Your brain has recognized a pattern marked as dangerous, and so you reject it. Instead, consider it, and integrate it into your understanding of the world.

When we tell you that in terms of deaths per Terawatt Hour, up until Fukushima, Nuclear power was literally the single best source of energy used, consider that. If your objection to nuclear power is based on safety, http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-…
If your concern is based on nuclear weapons, then you should be pushing for reactors which do not create enriched uranium/plutonium.

But ultimately, disagreeing with him on issues does not make him wrong. Recheck your assumptions.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 3:48 PM · Report this
sirkowski 84
Good luck feeding the world with non-industrial/non-GMO crops. Whatever, it's just brown people who'r gonna die.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on October 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 85
All this talk about Genetically Modified Orgasms makes me moist.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 86
@76

Yea someone critized you dear leader time to start screaming "RACIST"

If you be a good little shrill maybe he will let you lick the shit off his shoes.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 3:51 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 87
@Cascadian Bacon:

The Stranger has publicly endorsed I-522. This guest post by me is an op-ed, which I pitched to them as a thoughtful opposing view to the official opinion they had posted.

The Stranger's official endorsement of I-522 (from the Stranger Election Control Board) is here:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…

As you can see, they've also done things like used their events page to suggest "Yes on I-522" events: http://www.thestranger.com/suggests/1696…

I respect The Stranger for giving me a chance to present an opposing view.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 3:56 PM · Report this
88
"GMO's are bad," is the Left's version of, "I didn't come from no monkey!"

Posted by LJM on October 30, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
zachd 89
All the arguments about "this is the wrong way to label" would have been better made trying to draft a better initiative. This seems like information that people want, and since companies weren't willing to step up and provide that data excellently perhaps they'll be forced into doing so badly.
Posted by zachd http://zachd.com on October 30, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
90
@77 I don't understand your point. I don't think anyone give's a rat's derriere about what Monsanto thinks about them or their ideas. Monsanto doesn't care what organic farmers have to say or think at all, regardless of the number of advance degrees such farmers might have. Monsanto wants organic farmers to disappear. The company literally, and I mean literally, wants to own the rights to every single crop seed planted in the US, if not the world. That is why they have sued over 1,500 farmers whose fields have been contaminated by GMO crops. That is why we have the Monsanto Protection Act. Once a seed has a GMO gene in it, Monsanto claims ownership and demands the farmer pay them for the seed. Doesn't matter how the gene got there - could have cross-pollinated from a neighbor's farm. Doesn't matter. 'Seed saving' will become a thing of the past. It is outrageous, but that is where we are today. Presumably, defenders of GMO crops are ok with this.
Posted by screed on October 30, 2013 at 4:14 PM · Report this
trstr 91
@81:

From the article you cited:

"Many soybean farmers used to save seeds, but with Roundup Ready seeds they have been contractually obliged to buy new seeds each year. Monsanto has taken legal action against hundreds, if not thousands, of farmers it has accused of saving seed."

That's kinda fucked up, isn't it?

In fact, the article states EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what you claim it does.

The news story you posted is about how Monsanto included language preventing farmers from using Roundup Ready 1 seeds past 2014 in the contracts required to grow seeds. (Contracts required to grow seeds. Does this not sound fucked up to you?) Monsanto supposedly backed down and said that they won't enforce violations of the signed contracts that enable Monsanto to do exactly the opposite of what you say: preventing farmers from growing their crops once the patent expires. This is in the contract that the farmers signed. And Monsanto, contrary to your absolute bogus claim, has sued hundreds of farmers for saving seeds.

You are actually flat out lying to us.

Period.

Anyhow... would you like to tell everyone here your thoughts about Genetically Modified Humans, and why you think eugenics is a good thing?
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
92
@90 conflating GMOs with Monsanto's unethical business practices is ludicrous. Humans have been breeding animals and plants since ancient times, the only difference is now we can be more precise with our breeding. On the other hand, Monsanto is a corporation, and American law favors corporations. If you want to propose laws reining in some of their abuses, propose that. If you want to propose labelling food with "some ingredients from Monsanto", then you are giving precisely the information you seem to want. But this doesn't do either of those things, and the more I read the arguments in favor of 522, the more I regret my vote for it.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Report this
93
@84 Fields that are cultivated using organic methods produce as much if not more biomass (i.e. food) than fields cultivated using conventional mono-crop/mechanized systems. The difference is that organic systems are more labor intensive and don't lend themselves to industrial practices. So I disagree with you. And I have lived in SE Asia and have seen what industrial farming practices have done to rural communities first hand. It isn't pretty. If you are worried about feeding 'brown people' (whatever the hell that means - how about just 'people'?) I would encourage you to fight like hell against GMOs and the type of farming that GMOs support.
Posted by screed on October 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
94
@91: From right before your quote:

"Monsanto also said that after the patent expired it would allow farmers to save Roundup Ready 1 seeds from one year’s crop to plant the next. Monsanto said it would not enforce other patents that might protect those seeds."

So he wasn't lying to you.

Reading that article, it is pretty clear that Monsanto is a great example of what happens when we become a corporatist state, so we should definitely pass laws restricting certain behaviors, but this law doesn't do that, at all.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 4:33 PM · Report this
trstr 95
@83:

The author's assertion is that nuclear energy is a "green technology", not whether it's "safe" or not. You then translate "safe" to "not dying". You then exclude fucking Fukushima, which is a pretty huge fucking data point to exclude.

But, even given that absolutely bogus "Fukushima doesn't count because it totally refutes my argument" stipulation, I'll just tell you that the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is over 1,000 square miles in size. You should really look into Chernobyl's continued effects on wildlife. It's not so fucking green.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
96
@90 Just because I inject a novel gene into a plant genome does not give Monsanto any patent protections over that seed. If that were the case, then how are Syngenta and Bayer allowed to develop, test and sell their own GMO crops?

Also, for anyone running a garden larger than a backyard, seed saving went the way of the dodo when large seed companies started to sell superior hybrid seeds.

And if you remember basic genetics, you'll know that saving the offspring of an F1 hybrid is a terrible idea.
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Dougsf 97
@91 just Godwin'ed. Shut it down.
Posted by Dougsf on October 30, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
98
@92 breeding seeds is fine, has been done since the start of agriculture. GMOs are different because now Monsanto (or other companies, doesn't matter) 'owns' the gene they produce. This ownership gives Monsanto a way to own and control our food supply in ways that are antithesis to a free and prosperous society (and a healthy and productive environment).
Posted by screed on October 30, 2013 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Eastpike 99
Anyone who says that this isn't about GMOs being good or bad, and that this is merely about "more information" is bulshitting you . The language of the law, starting on page 1, is intended to malign transgenic crops, and does so with the typical "BINGO game" of discredited crap (waaaah! testing is not required!). There's no denying that the drafters of 522 are seeking to obscure, scare, and cast doubt upon the safety of GMO foods, which is what the entire campaign against the technology is all about.
Posted by Eastpike on October 30, 2013 at 4:40 PM · Report this
100
@98 No, breeding seeds is not "fine". Have you ever done that before? Do you realize the sheer amount of work it takes? Why do that when you could simply design organisms that have exactly the traits you want, grow them with the organic conditions you want, and have the best of both worlds?
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Eastpike 101
@98 There's plenty of non-GMO seeds that are patented. More than GMO seeds in fact. That has been the case for more than 80 years.
Posted by Eastpike on October 30, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
trstr 102
@94:

Monsanto previously held that once their patent expires, then you can't grow the seed. That was their stance, stated plainly in the article. They then reversed track due to consumer outcry, but the language in the contract remains the same, and nothing prevents them to reneging on their word and reverting back to the legally binding contract which says that you cannot plant those seeds outside of the contract - just as they've sued hundreds of farmers for doing.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
103
@102 and remind me again how inserting a novel gene into a plant genome has anything to do with this?
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 4:46 PM · Report this
104
@14 seems to have confused "GMOs" with "monoculture" and "factory farming." Both those things have been around a lot longer than GMOs.
Posted by DRF on October 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM · Report this
trstr 105
@97:

The author is a transhumanist. Check out their website. They think that humans should be genetically modified. It's not godwinning an argument to state that eugenics is something that the author believes in if the author comes right out and says that eugenics is something that they believe in.
Posted by trstr on October 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
106
@104, yes, and you'll note they're not asking for organic corn to be labeled "monoculture." There's no drive for "factory farm" label. Or an herbicides label. Or a "I don't like this corporation and they made this" label.

It's just a "genetically modified" label. It's almost like all those other things involve a constantly shifting goal post.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 4:58 PM · Report this
107
@102, Monsanto sues farmers for planting their seed because they still have a patented on the seed. No patent, no lawsuit.

Also, pretty sure the "hundreds" is an exaggeration.
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
delirian 108
Make it easy. Underline GMO ingredients, and italicize organic ingredients. Then everybody will be happy.
Posted by delirian on October 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
109
To all of the knee-jerkers proudly opposing to anything Monsanto does... well, they've provided grants for everything from drip irrigation in Africa to the St. Louis Symphony. Are those evil?

It is telling that the same people who blindly reject evidence-based opposing viewpoints also have this black-and-white view that literally every single thing a 20,000 employee company does is wrong. Ask yourself what the probability is of that.

You folks are no better than Republicans who hate Obama when he proposes Republican policies; you are defining your opinions and viewpoints on mindless opposition to an entity you have decided is the embodiment of pure evil... because it is easier than processing any kind of nuance. It's embarrassing to see.
Posted by also on October 30, 2013 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Dougsf 110
@105 well fuck me, then I would like to strike that comment for the record if it is allowed.
Posted by Dougsf on October 30, 2013 at 5:07 PM · Report this
111
@105: Let's say the author is actually a genetically engineered clone based on Stalin's corpse and brainwashed by Scientologists. Does that impact the validity of the argument? Are you capable of reasoning a position, or is it strictly ad hominems to you? If Monsanto or our cult-following clone switched positions, would it influence yours?
Posted by also on October 30, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 112
@105 No, I'm not a proponent of eugenics. I'm for individual and family choice, rather the opposite of the coercive eugenics movement.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 113
@87
Yea The Stranger just happens to have an "opposing view" just in time for the last minute election push.

This rag has never been known for presenting the views of the opposition. You may have noticed that the entire staff is composed of partisan hacks. It does however take large amounts of money from multinational corporate advertisers. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the over 17 million spent by the companies that control our food supply (ADM, ConAgra, Monsanto) ended up there.

Yes genetic engineering has great potential for improving society, just ask Dove Goeddel.

Also yes GMO crops are generally regarded as safe, but every drug ever recalled for its was once recognized as being safe, DDT was once considered safe, PCBs were once considered safe. The FDA, AMA and NAS have enough of a history of being outright wrong that people might want to question their opinion on fairly new technology. I think the people of Washington deserve to know what is in their food.

I hope you are at least getting well paid for your betrayal of our citizens.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 5:19 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 114
@113 - Think what you will. I make no money off this. I donated my time writing the piece and replying to comments here and on Facebook and Twitter. I do this because I frankly think GMOs have huge positive potential for the world.

It made it here on Slog today because I emailed the editor on Monday, asking if he'd be interested, and he said yes. I sent the piece in last night.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
delirian 115
@110: The jury will disregard comments on 'Godwinning'. Both parties are reminded that Godwin's Law is an observation on how a thread progresses, and not an actual action. You can no more Godwin a thread than you can Newton a motion.
Posted by delirian on October 30, 2013 at 5:27 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 116
@114
You should give them a call and ask for your check.

Again I think genetic engineering can have huge social benefits, but the major players on the No on 522 campaigns only care about the benefit to their bottom line.

There is already evidence to link Monsanto’s products to the bee die offs, and they have been quick to poison us in the past. I’m not coming from some anti-science viewpoint, my degree is in Chemistry, though I no longer work in the field, I do recall working at an agricultural lab where were told to used respirator, gloves and bunnysuit whenever we worked with samples of Monsanto products.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM · Report this
117
I'm with @8...I don't just want to know that a product is GMO, I want to know what kind. Granted, I have extensive experience in ag policy, so I can tell you a lot about a product just from a trade name from memory, but everyone has access to the Google. Front, back, don't care much where.

However, speaking from that ag policy standpoint, labeling would be good for our economy. From experience, we could export a lot more if we had labeling requirements that comported with world standards. Science or not, most of the world has chosen to label, and our manufacturers are being frozen out because we're behind the times.
Posted by Ms. D on October 30, 2013 at 5:39 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 118
@116: Regarding the bee die off, you're probably thinking of Bayer. They're the major manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, not Monsanto. (And those don't have anything to do with GMOs.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayer#Neoni…
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 5:45 PM · Report this
119
@95: I mentioned that Fukushima was not included, the reason being that I was unable to find data that postdates the incident. Certainly that accident was disastrous. Chernobyl was also pretty awful. When we don't properly monitor and maintain standards for industry, bad things happen. This is true for every industrial technology. Look at dams. Look at solar power.
There was a dam that collapsed this one time and killed over 170,000 people. It also obviously wrecked the local ecology. Does that make hydro power not green? How about the issues with wildlife disruption?

Nothing is perfect, and you don't have arguments, just anecdotes and ad hominems.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 120
@118
Currently there is no one reason or cause for the bee die off but a google search of "Monsanto Bee Die Off" yields some pretty interesting results. It stands to reason that plants engineered to produce their own pesticides would also kill bees.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
121
@120, If you google "ancient aliens built the pyramids" you'll get results.

But neither are supported by science.

Even the neonicotinoid idea is sketchy
Posted by GermanSausage on October 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM · Report this
122
@120 You're lost in a field of conspiracy theories. You don't find good scientific information by searching Google and hitting the first blog post you find.
Posted by Solk512 on October 30, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 123
@120
A fair number of studies of Bt corn and bees have been done, showing no impact on bees. If anything, Monsanto has probably had a positive impact on bee health, as the insecticides that Bt corn drives down the use of do have negative impacts on bees.

For example:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1051…

[Reformatted a bit for my emphasis]

"Laboratory feeding studies showed no effects on the weight and survival of honey bees feeding on Cry1 Ab-expressing sweet corn pollen for 35 days.

In field studies, colonies foraging in sweet corn plots and fed Bt pollen cakes for 28 days showed no adverse effects on bee weight, foraging activity, and colony performance.

Brood development was not affected by exposure to Bt pollen "

So that's three tests in this study showing no negative effects on bees from being exposed to Bt corn. But the very next clause..

"... but [was] significantly reduced by the positive insecticide control."

That is to say: The insecticides that Bt corn replaced harm bees. The Bt corn doesn't.

So perhaps Monsanto deserves some credit for actually helping reduce the harm to bee colonies and wild bees.

I doubt they'll ever get it.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 6:31 PM · Report this
124
All you people coming down real hard on those who are questioning the science would do well to remember that part of the scientific method is to default to skepticism. Yes, that skepticism should have reasonable bounds, but realize it's actually way WAY worse to say "SEE? SCIENCE SAYS SO." I probably don't have to trot out the long, long, LONG list of important things that science got wrong.

There is sufficient evidence to state that there is a scientific consensus that GMO's aren't bad for your health. Ok. I don't want to accept it, but I will. But it is still reasonable to question how that concensus was arrived at and, given that Big Agriculture is not entirely dissimilar a business model from Big Tobacco, there is *every reason* to be skeptical that this is a real consensus.

Here's why: it took centuries for there to be a clear, independently-reached scientific consensus that smoking directly caused cancer. Yes, it's true, medical research wasn't then what it is now, but this is not the only example of us not knowing the unintended consequences of what we put in our bodies for a looooong time after we think we do. Sugar is another example.

It's also not the only example of an entrenched industry purposefully muddying the scientific waters. Here's an excerpt from a peer-reviewed study of the history of the tobacco controversy: "The tobacco companies knew and for most part accepted the evidence that cigarette smoking was a cause of cancer by the late 1950s. The documents also reveal that the tobacco companies helped manufacture the smoking controversy by funding scientific research that was intended to obfuscate and prolong the debate about smoking and health. Today, the tobacco companies acknowledge that smoking is a cause of disease, but they have not materially altered the way they do business." (Link is here: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/16/…). Likely many of you have though of the additional example of "climate change" without prompting.

So, yes. I accept that there is evidence that there is a consensus. But I do not accept that there is enough evidence to suggest this is a *final* consensus or that its positions are irrefutable. There is room for reasonable doubt. Given that it is the charge of government to protect health, safety, and general welfare of its citizens, the existence of said reasonable doubt leads me to conclude that imperfect labeling is better than not labeling at all.
More...
Posted by Zelbinian on October 30, 2013 at 6:40 PM · Report this
125
But the real question, is will this song have to be labelled?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR2SzEGzY…
Posted by Hanoumatoi on October 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM · Report this
126
Also, for those saying that GMO's are the only way we can feed the world... I can understand why some would think it is the only solution. Furthermore, I can understand why someone would think the benefit of feeding the hungry trumps all the possible side-effects of GMOs.

However, if you think that way, Allan Savory's TED Talk is worth watching. I'm not knowledgeable enough about the science to know whether or not his method is irrefutable, but it's certainly another option worth considering. http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_ho…
Posted by Zelbinian on October 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 127
@124

5 star post!

@123
A short duration study with a small sample size doesn't carry much weight.

I think you are dodging the point and using the bees as a red herring.

Again:
Also yes GMO crops are generally regarded as safe, but every drug ever recalled for causing harm its was once recognized as being safe, DDT was once considered safe, PCBs were once considered safe. The FDA, AMA and NAS have enough of a history of being outright wrong that people might want to question their opinion on fairly new technology. I think the people of Washington deserve to know what is in their food.

@121
Have you ever had a singly post of substance or is it all just regurgitation of the party line?
Seems you also support the NSA, warrantless searches, drone warfare and anything the media tells you to.

Are you and sirkowsky in some sort of competition to prove who is the biggest tool?
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 7:20 PM · Report this
128
The ingredients list just says "rice". How do I know it's not radation mutated rice, long grain rice, short grain rice, etc ?

Even asking to identify bt containing Mon810 corn is way, way beyond federal label standards.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 7:37 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 129
@10: "The argument about GMO's being not as lethal as other ingredients is absolutely ridiculous. That clearly is not the reason why people want them labeled.

People at Foxconn working under terrible conditions is not physically harmful to people buying Apple products, but the information being public is extremely useful in implementing change to the status quo. "

Fuck off with that exploitative comparison. If anyone died for your food products, it was migrant workers which did so for GM and "Organics".

Good god your perspective is fucked.
Posted by undead ayn rand on October 30, 2013 at 8:59 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 130
More positively-

@9: "If they're going to label GMOs anywhere on the package, I want a scientific description of what the ingredient that is GE is and what modification was done to it. Because science is cool and I don't want some hack activist who hasn't taken a science course since she got a D in high school biology telling me I have fish toes in my salsa."

I appreciate that you've come up with a condition that would have me voting for this godforsaken initiative.

Posted by undead ayn rand on October 30, 2013 at 9:01 PM · Report this
131
@84: Where's your evidence that GMOs make it easier to feed the world? I haven't seen clear data showing that they improve yields. And we're talking about labeling GMOs, not banning them. How will labeling GMOs in Washington lead to starvation in the third world?
Posted by kawriver on October 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 132
Has anybody followed the money on this? It's not that hard.

Dr. Robert T Fraley is the executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto.

Dr. Fraley is a technical advisor to the National Academy of Science.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science also has Dr Robert T Fraley as a fellow.

Dr. Fraley is also a technical advisor to the National Academy of Science.

George Poste is a Chief Executive of Health Technology Networks at Monsanto. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society.

The only study that Ramez Naam has used as "evidence" that doesn't have a direct tie to a Monsanto executive is the AMA proclamation.

That should scare the shit out of you.

Sources: Robert T Fraley bio on Monsanto's page

George Poste on Monsanto
Posted by TheMisanthrope on October 30, 2013 at 9:45 PM · Report this
133
No GMO crops Western Europe has equivalent crop yields and has both lower herbicide and lower insecticide use than the US:

Heinemann et al., 2012, Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2013.806408

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1…
Posted by anon1256 on October 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM · Report this
134
@132, because anyone with half a brain cell about those societies you describe wouldn't exactly say being a "fellow" is like being a president's cabinet member. In 2011 alone, the AAAS added 539 fellows.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 10:20 PM · Report this
RamezNaam 135
@132

Actually, a great many of the studies I linked to here were not funded by Monsanto or biotech. Most of what I've pointed to are meta-studies, which survey hundreds of other studies, but among those a great many *independent* non-biotech funded pieces of research.

For example, the National Academy of Sciences report used 700 studies, of which roughly 200 were classified as fully independent, meaning that there was no money provided for those studies, or to the people conducting those studies, from agbiotech.

An even clearer example is the European Commission's 2010 report, which looked ONLY at research funded directly by European Commission research grants and NOT by any agbiotech dollars, or not where there was any conflict of interest. The summary from that report is;

"The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies."

You can find the full report here: http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdat…

Or you can find the comments of the European Union Science Advisor, who summarized it by saying "there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food" here: http://www.euractiv.com/innovation-enter…

(Mind you, both of those last two citations are from Europe, where general sentiment is even more against GMOs than it is here in the US, which to my mind gives them even greater weight.)
More...
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 30, 2013 at 10:30 PM · Report this
136
@132 has a good point that's related to the point that I make at @32. The FDA does not do independent studies of GMO crops--and the studies that are done are often done with the funding of (or even by, as @52 notes) the companies that profit from GMO crops. Accordingly, if they're the ones doing the research that leads to the general consensus that GMO crops are safe (albeit without any long term studies to date), what's the harm in requiring accurate disclosures about the ingredients in food we buy, and putting the burden on GMO corporate profiteers to lead the public debate for why they're safe (and promotive of positive environmental practices)?
Posted by notsojadedinseattle on October 30, 2013 at 10:44 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 137
@134 right...not that Monsanto would ever think of donating money to societies that they're fellows to. *sigh* Don't be dense. Lobbying isn't just for politicians.

@135 Actually, 4 of the 5 meta studies you linked to have direct ties to Monsanto, two of which has Monsanto as a fucking technical advisor. You really need to stop spinning. You didn't link to the 700 individual studies; you linked to the tied meta studies.

For example, you linked to the meta study by the National Academy of Science which has the executive Vice President as a technical adviser. Not that that immediately discredits the study, but it does call it's sincerity into question.

If I wasn't about to see a movie, I might be able to look into ties to Monsanto of the other studies.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on October 30, 2013 at 10:48 PM · Report this
yelahneb 138
Mez, you're a real trooper to continue to wade in here. Kudos, sir!
Posted by yelahneb http://www.strangebutharmless.com on October 30, 2013 at 10:59 PM · Report this
139
Lol. Monsanto, you can buy a share (NYSE: MON), but they're even more evil than the illuminati, the freemasons, and the evil league of evil.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 30, 2013 at 11:27 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 140
Ok science FICTION writer.

Would you commit to the majority of your diet being GMO products for the rest of your life?

Because that diet is a simple fact for the majority of Americans. After all the majority of their food supply is controlled by 3 corporations, ADM, ConAgra and Monsanto. Monsanto is the biggest donor to the No on 522 campaign.

What did you eat today Mr Intelligentsia?

I have the feeling it was Organic.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 30, 2013 at 11:58 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 141
Or to paraphrase The Princess Bride.

"If it's not poison, then why don't you eat it!"
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 31, 2013 at 12:06 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 142
@140 and @141 - I have no problem eating GMO. If there were approved GMO versions of the majority of the foods I eat, I'd be happy to have that comprise the majority of my diet.

As it is, I'm sure GM corn and soy constitute the bulk of the corn and soy I eat. There isn't much GMO anything else on the market, really, besides canola and cotton, though most of the meat I eat I presume was fed GM corn, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Today's food intake: Turkey sandwich (w/ pickles, tomatoes, cheese), apple, protein bar, Vietnamese food (chicken, rice, seasonings, some veggies) at a restaurant, coffee, half and half, diet coke.

None of it was organic that I know of, though I don't shy away from organic if that's what's around. Quite possibly the chicken and turkey were fed GM corn - I don't know and it doesn't matter to me one way or another. Perhaps the bread on the sandwich had a very small amount of GM corn syrup as an ingredient. Again, don't know and don't really care (so long as it's a very small amount - I do care about sugar intake quite a bit).

There you go.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 12:47 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 143
@137 - I'm the author of the original post you're responding to. I don't really consider responding to your critiques of it 'spamming.'

Here's another list of studies with independent funding (not provided by Monsanto or any biotech) 126 studies on this list: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studi…
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 12:51 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 144
@137 - Ahh, my apologies, I misread your comment as 'spamming' when what you really said was 'spinning'.

For the record, I don't think I'm 'spinning' either, (for instance, I sent you a link to the EU's summary of its decade of independently funded research, as well as the French Supreme Court's findings in the original article, both of which are from pretty independent or even biased-against-GMO sources that still find GMOs safe) ..but that's a different accusation you're making. :)
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 145
@144 When you say, "Actually, a great many of the studies I linked to here were not funded by Monsanto or biotech," you are spinning. You linked to five meta-studies (the French Supreme Court isn't exactly a scientific study), four of which I directly linked to Monsanto. If you're saying that you linked to "a great many studies" because the studies you linked to were meta-studies and by linking to the meta-studies you were linking to the studies those studies studied, then I have a problem with that logic. However, if you're saying that the "great many studies" you linked to in the original article (all 5 of them) were not linked to Monsanto, I have a problem with that too by way of my original comment.

The blog you linked to in 143, biofortified. One of three founders of that blog is David Tribe. David Tribe has mainly had his work published by the Institute of Public Affairs, which also has Monsanto as a major funder.

The Chair of that website, Karl Haro von Mogel, is a PH.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has received grants of $1m from...Monsanto! (U-W source)

It's hard to find anything pro-GMO that doesn't have financial backing from Monsanto in some way shape or form.

...

As for the earlier EU Commission, they're getting sued over their fast approvals of soybeans due to incomplete testing. (Source).

None of this proves anything about GMO foods being dangerous. But, it does demonstrate a potential level of financed propaganda that is frightening.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on October 31, 2013 at 1:30 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 146
@145. Everybody gets sued for something.

The people suing the EU are ENSSR, who sound like they're a bunch of scientists. But they're not really. They include the fellow behind the most commonly cited anti-gmo studies, which are so bad that they have their own Snopes page declaring them false: http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/monsa…

and a fellow who claims that Vedic energies are the key to plant growth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92iguO2vI… [No offense to Vedic energies - I just don't think that qualifies him as a scientist.]

So at least on the case of the EU, I'm going to stick with my claim of an unbiased source.

Also, on the list of independently published studies, just because the person compiling the list is at a University which has received some funding from Monsanto (not even he himself personally) doesn't change that about the studies. You can click through to many of the studies from that list, and see the funding and conflict of interest disclosures in them.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 2:31 AM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 147
@142
Thank you for saying what you ate today, we know know around 0.27% of your yearly diet.

Though you did not answer the main question:

Would you be willing to have the majority of your diet be GMO's?
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on October 31, 2013 at 2:36 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 148
@147 - I thought I did answer that. Yes, if there were GMOs of enough variety (more than just corn, soy, and canola). I'm also happy to have 100% of the meat and poultry I eat to be fed on GM grain.

As for my more general diet - I try to eat healthy, meaning low sugar and low saturated fat. But besides that, I don't care if it's gmo, organic, or conventional. Left to my own devices, I buy gmo + conventional. People around me often buy organic, so sometimes I eat that. It's all fine by me.
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 2:48 AM · Report this
149
@148 Man you have to take a lot of adversity from these folks huh? Good for you for staying mature and staying on the high road through out the attacks.
Posted by WEF1234 on October 31, 2013 at 6:14 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 150
@147: Sure. I'm not a General Ripper such as yourself, GMOs will not sap my "precious bodily fluids".
Posted by undead ayn rand on October 31, 2013 at 8:05 AM · Report this
151
So, as late as 2010 independent scientists could not obtain GMO product for research ( http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/… ) and 3 years later all the important studies have magically been done?

I just don't think that is possible. Someone is trying to feed us horseshit.

“We used to be able to go into any farm store and buy seeds, test them in the field, and publish our results,” said one researcher. With the advent of GM crops, however, even scientists working in public land grant institutions, whose extension services have long provided farmers with independent analyses, found their research ultimately subject to seed company approval.

If a scientist wanted to compare brands of seeds, for instance, or their environmental impact, he or she had to seek permission from each seed company or gene patent holder. Open access to the study’s data and the right to publish that data had to be secured, while, for their part, the companies sought to protect their patents and intellectual property rights. Even if the companies did not object, contract negotiations, made on a case-by-case basis, could be extended and onerous. Making things worse was that with fewer public monies available for farm research, scientists, and their universities, found themselves increasingly dependent on the seed companies for funding.

The companies were not loath to press their advantage.

“I have talked to dozens of scientists who have gone through incredible machinations to do their research,” says Charles Benbrook, the chief scientist with The Organic Center who served from 1984 to 1990 as executive director of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture. And when their data presents a challenge to the companies, he says, these scientists “have found themselves under personal and professional threats.” Among research that has faced industry disapproval, says Benbrook, are studies on evolving weed resistance, on plant pathogens, and on susceptibility of non-pest insects to the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-derived toxins that protect the GM plants against insect pests.

“Scientists are clearly intimidated,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program.
More...
Posted by anon1256 on October 31, 2013 at 8:37 AM · Report this
RamezNaam 152
@149 - Thank you. :)

@151 - Independent studies have indeed been done. They've been done in four ways:

1) Prior to 2009, many academics simply asked for and were granted permission to use seeds for their research.

2) Other researchers simply did the research and ignored the restrictions. The famous "bt pollen kills butterflies" study (later debunked) was done in this manner - they just went ahead and did it and ignored the licensing. That happened even more frequently in Europe.

3) Other researchers have done work on GMOs that are not specifically from Monsanto et al, showing that the basic techniques of genetic modification are not inherently more dangerous.

4) Since 2009, the biotech companies have done what they very much should have done in the first place, which is created the Academic Research License which allows just about any scientist to use seeds for research purposes. (They basically just have to agree to not become a seed reseller themselves.)
Posted by RamezNaam http://rameznaam.com on October 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
153
@152 the scientists quoted in the article linked to @151 say that the science hadn't been done by 2009 and you claim that it is now done in 2013. There is something very wrong with that picture or someone isn't telling the truth.
Posted by anon1256 on October 31, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
154
Thanks for this, even if it is a day late and a gazillion dollars (blown on the Ken Eikenberry spot) short.

The actual text of the measure would insert into statute "The people find that ...", followed by a number of "findings" as ludicrous as anything by climate change deniers, anti-immunization freaks, or the Indiana legislature when it determined pi to equal exactly three and one seventh.

I-522: not good as policy, not good as science, not even good as superstition.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on October 31, 2013 at 12:39 PM · Report this
155
Speaking as an oldster, this article reminds me almost exactly what they used to say in the brochures about using Thalidomide as a prescribed medicine for pregnant women.
Posted by sgt_doom on October 31, 2013 at 12:50 PM · Report this
156
@155

So you doubt evolution, the germ theory of disease, man-made climate change, general and special relativity, the standard model, plate tectonics and the big band theory as well?

By the way, Thalidomide was never approved for use here in the United States thanks to the FDA, so you either didn't grow up here, or you're just making shit up. Which one is it?
Posted by Solk512 on October 31, 2013 at 1:11 PM · Report this
157
Many people die from bacterial food poisoning every year. Should any food that has the possibility of causing the very real risk of food poisoning carry a label on the front? And, let us not forget, that there is vested interest on both sides of this issue. Companies like Whole Foods and PCC stand to make a lot of money if this issue passes. Does anyone remember the scary signs on convenience stores "microwave in use"? Labeling should be reserved for appropriate risks, like cigarette smoking or drug contraindications. Vote no.
Posted by yacman on October 31, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
158
What, exactly, is the problem with providing consumers with more information? Other than a penny a share off the share price of Big Agra conglomerates?
Posted by maddogm13 on October 31, 2013 at 3:39 PM · Report this
159
@158 You should read the article.
Posted by Solk512 on October 31, 2013 at 5:00 PM · Report this
160
The whole debate about GMOs and labeling is really a debate about different worldviews – do we want a world where nature is completely controlled and manipulated, even down to the level of intra-cellular DNA, treated as a commodity primarily to maximize the profits of large agri-businesses - or do we want a world where we live in harmony with nature and eat healthy food whose production does not damage the environment? The fact that genetic engineered crops are produced is the ultimate sign of human arrogance. Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring: “Control of Nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance.” As was shown in the recent book, “Technofix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us or the Environment” (www.newtechnologyandsociety.org), modern science, which is based on mechanistic reductionism, is inherently unable to predict the consequences of modern technology, including genetically engineered crops, and what their effects may be (e.g., creation of herbicide resistant superweeds, allergies, etc.). So, I have little faith in the studies Ramez Naam cites, particularly since science is often funded by corporations or governments that are corrupted by corporate money. The only solution is to permanently ban GMOs, following the precautionary principle. Humanity existed for millions of years without GMOs, and there is no reason why we can’t now. Hopefully, labeling GMOs is a first step in this direction. As soon as GMOs were labeled in Europe, people stopped buying food containing GMOs since it provided no benefits to them whatsoever and may have some hidden, yet unknown risks.
Posted by Doctor Lionel on October 31, 2013 at 7:20 PM · Report this
161
@160 Yes, the Doctor must be correct. The precautionary principle is what this nation was founded on and it has served us well. It has made America great.
Why fight against the King when we've known England's rule for so long? Why put all that effort into going to the moon when we can just go outside and look at it with our eyes ? What's the purpose of an interstate highway when the horse and buggy has served us so well and they can't go fast enough to keep up with those horseless carriages ? I prefer to get all my information hand written on animal skins, bound together by a religious order of monks. And my local news should be shouted at me in town square at noon every day, or as best as my neighbor can remember if I'm not present to hear it. I'm sure Goldy would love to fill my ears with spin.

As for precautionary principle, surely none of those examples I cite could ever amount to anything worthwhile.
Posted by ChefJoe on October 31, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
162
No on 522 is KETTLE LOGIC

Conversation over! That's end of story. None of no on 522s arguments are related, and sometimes they even can't be both true at the same time.
Posted by michael bell on November 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
163
I'm voting for GMO labeling. I LIKE GMOs. They turn me into Spiderman. I want to easily find GMO foods, so I can keep my arachnophiliatic superpowers.
Posted by gyurika on November 2, 2013 at 6:15 AM · Report this
164
I just want to remind everyone that GE/GMO foods are a collection of individual products manufactured through the use of certain technologies. There will be new ones entering the market annually. So we either decide that it's important to make purchasing decisions based on this technology or we don't. Since GE/GMO technology allows for quick transfers of genes that would not happen through traditional breeding methodologies, and there is no regulation in place to require rigorous long-term independent testing, I am a proponent of labeling. I'm not scared of GE/GMO foods that are currently on the market. I do however think that the pros of labeling far outweigh the cons for the short and long-term future. While you may not agree with 522, it's a start. Most likely it will become a federal issue before 522 is even initiated. Which is why concerned citizens are pursuing it at a state level. Would I like to see the labeling that the author speaks of, absolutely. Are we going to get from here to there without other steps? No.

Labeling is not anti-science and those above who pair it with climate change deniers are doing the same kind of fear mongering that Fox News and similar pundits flood the airways with. US consumers are not going to suddenly stop eating GE/GMO products en masse. What labeling does is encourage better separation, tracking and awareness. Which is better for all of us regardless of your food choices.

Posted by ldean on November 2, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 165
@164: "Labeling is not anti-science and those above who pair it with climate change deniers are doing the same kind of fear mongering that Fox News and similar pundits flood the airways with"

Those who pair it with climate-change deniers are observing fact and sidestepping your fearmongering.
Posted by undead ayn rand on November 2, 2013 at 10:44 PM · Report this
166
"Yet the scientific consensus on GMOs is that they’re just as safe to eat as any other food." By the scientific community, you obviously mean the scientists employe by Monsanto and Dow Chemical. Do your research. Any "scientific" results about GMO food safety come from the same companies that stand to make big profits by their use. Scientists that have raised warnings about the safety of GMO's, are now former employees of the agri-tech companies.

"The estimated number of people killed per year from GMOs is exactly zero."
-This may be true, these may not kill you right away. They will just make you chronically sick. I was diagnosed with MS this year, and let me tell you, it's just awesome! The underlying mechanism with MS is....inflammation. Any scientific studies that have been done, that weren't funded by Monsanto, have shown that GM crops, because they have pesticide in them at a cellular level because they create it, cause chronic inflammation in all lab rats and farm animals that eat it.

So do some research of your own, look at the unbiased studies, and then tell me if you will still be feeding GM crops to your kids. (the most susceptible, due to lower body mass and higher metabolisms)
Posted by Jesse Reynolds on November 6, 2013 at 2:48 AM · Report this
167
All the established organizational references are just that; part of the establishment. Have we learned nothing from history? Money buys influence. If the giant chemical/biotech agri-corps can spend tens of millions on a state initiative, what could they have spent buying "scientific consensus?" I'm just questioning out of natural curiosity. Ideally we all will continue to question out of curiosity for truth.
Posted by GetReal on November 6, 2013 at 8:51 AM · Report this
168
All the established organizational references are just that; part of the establishment. Have we learned nothing from history? Money buys influence. If the giant chemical/biotech agri-corps can spend tens of millions on a state initiative, what could they have spent buying "scientific consensus?" I'm just questioning out of natural curiosity. Ideally we all will continue to question out of curiosity for truth.
Posted by GetReal on November 6, 2013 at 8:55 AM · Report this

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