August, 4 2015

(The Packer) Labeling The First Of Many GMO Issues To Decide

Labeling The First Of Many GMO Issues To Decide
By Chuck Robinson
The Packer

Engaging in the debate over labeling genetically modified foods is a great way to alienate friends, I can tell you.

Why I think about wading into it, I can’t explain. Am I becoming Mr. Wilson from the Dennis the Menace cartoon? Perhaps I have become a grumpy old man worn out by crazy crap, and the GMO debate is brimming with that.

The reason to bring it up is the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that would pre-empt regional and local efforts across the nation to require foods with GMOs to be labeled.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced the bill, and it passed 275-150. However, Govtrack.us gives it only a 30% chance of passing the Senate.

The bill is a strong rebuttal to the often zealous anti-GMO rhetoric.

It would pre-empt states from requiring labeling of GMO food. As sponsors frame it, it removes the potential patchwork of regulations that would impede interstate commerce.

The bill would have FDA regulate companies that want to label themselves as GMO-free and establish a voluntary genetically modified food certification program. That seems analogous to the National Organic Program.

Food producers would have to notify the Food and Drug Administration of any GMO foods intended to be sold interstate and would disallow selling GMO foods not deemed safe by FDA, according to the bill.

It also would prevent required labeling of foods just because they are bioengineered.

The reasoning for that seems solid to me, and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., explained why in December during House subcommittee discussion on GMO labeling, according to Agri-pulse.com.

That was just before he ended his 40-year career in the house in January.

“Mandatory labeling could lead consumers to believe that if the government is requiring a GE label, it must mean that GE foods are riskier or somehow fundamentally different from non-(genetically engineered) foods and to date scientists have concluded that they are not,” Waxman said.

That is a major bone of contention. Anti-GMO combatants inundate us with opinion dressed up in half-truths and outright deceptions and then bring it down to the argument, “What are you trying to hide by not labeling GMOs?”

Read more here.

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