This November, Californians will vote on an initiative that would require any food containing ingredients derived from genetically modified crops to be labeled as such.
Backers of the “California Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act” are pitching it as a matter of providing information to consumers, who, they argue, “have a right to know what’s in the food we buy and eat and feed our children, just as we have the right to know how many calories are in our food, or whether food comes from other countries like Mexico or China.”
I have no concerns about the safety of GMOs. But I support the right of people to make choices about what they eat, and think we should provide them with the information they need to do so.
I understand where some of the nervousness about GMOs comes from. I worry about the uncontrolled chemical experiments our species is doing on our bodies, and am a big consumer of organic foods. I am also skeptical when industries assert that their products are safe, because so often these claims have turned out to be false.
But I also appreciate the challenges of feeding our growing population, and believe in the power of biotechnology to not just make agriculture more efficient, but to make it better for people and the planet. And as a molecular biologist very familiar with the technology of genetic modification and the research into its safety, I do not find it in the least bit frightening.
What I do find frightening, however, is the way backers of this initiative have turned a campaign for consumer choice into a crusade against GMOs. They don’t want the “genetically engineered” label to merely provide information. They want it to be a warning – the equivalent for GM food of the cancer warning on cigarette boxes.
The problem is there is no justification for a warning. There is no compelling evidence of any harm arising from eating GMOs, and a diverse and convincing body of research demonstrating that GMOs are safe. But rather than reckon with this reality, anti-GMO campaigners have joined their climate-change denying brethren, and launched an agressive war on science.
How sad that he destroyed his own credibility with an attack on CAGW skeptics.
My own experience has been quite different with those in fear of biotechnology also being likely to fear catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, or enhanced greenhouse effect, more correctly.
The ususal pattern has been those who have irrational fears have them on multiple issues.
In fact I can’t recall a single instance of an anti biotech opinion-holding correspondent who claimed skepticism of CAGW. Not one.