Our View: GMO Labeling Doesn’t Answer The Right Questions
By Editorial Board
Portland Press Herald
U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, rarely see eye to eye. But on the matter of GMO labeling, both agree that people deserve to know what’s in their food, and together, they’ve opposed a bill that would prevent states from requiring GMO labels and pre-empt state law in Maine.
The problem is, GMO labels don’t tell consumers much of anything.
Sure, all people want their food to be safe, and most want the opportunity to buy goods that are environmentally sound and come from responsible sources.
But GMO labels won’t help them make that distinction. They don’t tell consumers what food is “good” and what food is “bad.” And fighting over labels distracts from the very real problems and challenges facing food systems worldwide today.
FROM FIELD TO LAB
In this discussion, GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are crops whose genes have been modified to gain a certain outcome, such as resistance to insects or herbicides, or the addition of nutrients.
Humans have been artificially modifying plants since the beginning of agriculture, crossbreeding plants for a higher yield, or so that they survive in a certain climate. GMOs are simply the result of moving that process inside a laboratory.
GMO opponents paint this process as man playing God, haphazardly manipulating genes in ways they don’t really understand with results they can’t possibly predict.
And the onslaught of scary, vague claims has worked – about 57 percent of Americans believe it is “generally unsafe” to eat foods containing GMOs.
But the science doesn’t back that up.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and others say that the GMO foods on the market – which are subject to rigorous approval processes – are fine. And lots of credible studies back them up.
We are a broad-based coalition representing the entire American agriculture food supply chain – from farm to fork. We are committed to increasing the public’s understanding about the science and safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and advocating for science-based policies that keep food affordable for every American.