Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On California Proposition 37, The Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Labeling initiative

On California Proposition 37

The Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Labeling initiative 

Here in California, we have a ballot initiative, affectionately known by the descriptive title California Proposition 37, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (2012)

I think I have decided, and I am voting NO on the California State Proposition 37. I have mixed feelings about it but here is why.
  • Labeling food ingredients as being GMO or not does not make the food any safer.
  • There is no validated evidence I am aware of that any GMO food that is allowed to be used in food is unsafe, or has ever been shown to be unsafe.
  • There is nothing inherent to being GMO food that makes them unsafe.
  • Having the labeling for GMO or non-GMO gives a false sense of improved safety.  Given the choice, I would feed my family cereal made from GMO corn produced in the United States before I would feed them anything made from foodstuff imported from China.
  • All of the reasons that I hear from the proponents of the measure are fallacious, and intended to scare, but have no real science behind them.
  • Most (but not all) of the reasons that I hear from the opponents of the measure are valid.

I said that I have mixed feelings.  That's because:
  • I feel Monsanto uses their GMO patents in an unfair, and harmful way.
  • I actually do support the use of the precautionary principle as a tool for making better health and environmental decisions, and think that there is a significant financial incentive to suppress information and studies. Looking only at past behaviors of large agribusiness behavior, and Monsanto in particular when it's a choice between profit and safety, safety may not always carry the day.
  • GMO crops can, but not necessarily, increase the use of both pesticides and herbicides in the production of food.
  • These pesticides and herbicides, coincidentally are not only very profitable, but they are manufactured, tested and sold by the same corporations that are producing and selling the GMO products that encourage their use. That is like adding extra salt to popcorn, so that you can increase your beer sales.

So, I am going to resit the temptation of voting for something on a purely emotional and partially vindictive basis, and vote against it because I feel all of the arguments are based on bad logic.

I hope that, if it is voted down, that this isn't viewed as encouragement for an escalation of bad behaviors in agribusiness. I'm conflicted because I think it will be.

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