A Not So Smart Conclusion on GMOs

world_food_prize_gmo.jpgFarmers, scientists, consumer advocacy groups, and foodies alike are substantiating their skepticism about GMOs but, according to the House Agriculture committee, it is ignorance, fear and a lack of education that drives the charge to demand GMO labeling

Last week the committee held a hearing on GMO labeling. Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post explains:

People who oppose GMOs or want them labeled so that consumers can know what they're eating are alarmists who thrive on fear and ignorance. . . Labeling GMO foods would only stoke those fears, and harm a beneficial thing, so it should not be allowed, the lawmakers and witnesses agreed.”

Right, so if we only “understood” how “good” they were, then we’d accept that they don’t need to be labeled. This unfortunate and condescending attitude dismisses sound science, and labels the labeling movement as a fringe bunch of confused radicals. That is simply not the case.

For instance, farmers all over the midwest are seeing first hand the damage of “superweeds” caused by GMO “Round-Up ready” seeds and they are steering away from them, according to Tim Barker of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Pushing farmers away from the over-reliance on glyphosate is increasingly a priority for the industry. Last year, the United Soybean Board launched its Take Action program, designed to educate growers and push them to do more to combat herbicide-resistance. University extension experts are spending much of their time, working with farmers desperate for solutions."

Scientists are also moving towards older methods of crop-breeding to move away from GMOs. One scientist, Dr. Jane Dever, a former manager at Bayer CropScience, was featured recently in Civil Eats. She now works in breeding organic cotton to preserve genetic diversity, create new markets, and protect organic seed stocks from getting contaminated. Ken Roseboro writes:

Dever often receives inquiries on where to find non-GMO seeds, especially since the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds, which are devastating cotton fields in the South. The Roundup Ready GMO trait is also so widespread in cottonseed that it is difficult for plant breeders like Dever to keep it out of her organic varieties."

If that’s not enough proof of the well-educated and informed reasoning behind GMO skepticism, citing a slew of documented GMO blunders and problems, plant pathologist, and former EPA scientist Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Center for Food Safety wrote a letter to the House Agriculture subcommittee, which concluded:  

Genetic engineering has provided some benefits, such as decreasing insecticide use. But this benefit is threatened by insect resistance due to the unsustainable use of this technology. Herbicide resistant weeds are driving up herbicide use dramatically and is harming the environment. Despite many billions of dollars of investments and 30 years of research, GE has not addressed in a meaningful way the many challenges we face in agriculture. Meanwhile, cheaper and more effective methods, such as breeding and agroecology, are neglected by our research establishment and farming policies. Genetic engineering may make some contributions to improving agriculture in coming years, but at considerable cost, and much less than is needed."

Apparently the committee didn’t read the letter. Could it be that they’re the ones who are suffering from a lack of education?

If farmers, scientists and consumer groups are all presenting incredibly cogent, well researched arguments of the dangers of GMOs are anti-GMO folks confused? No. We are consumers who have the right to know what we are putting into our bodies and are exercising that right by uncovering some unfortunate truths about our food system.


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson 

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