Why Not Label Genetically Modified Food?
by: Monsanto Company et al. Posted on: September 08, 2013
Editor’s Note: We were privileged to ask the campaign opposing Washington State’s Initiative 522 a few questions. If passed in November 2013, I-522 will require genetically modified foods in Washington State to be labeled. Read below to familiarize yourself with the language and stories used in defense of genetically modified organisms. See here for our conversation with the Yes on I-522 campaign.
What are some of the virtues of genetically modified foods?
Agricultural biotechnology has been used for decades to help improve food crops so they resist disease, require fewer pesticides or are more nutritious. These crops help farmers conserve soil, water, and energy, and are more environmentally friendly to grow. Reducing the amount of pesticides that farmers have to use is safer for the environment and for farm families and farm workers. In addition, fewer applications of pesticides and herbicides reduce the amount of diesel fuel that must be used for machinery to treat crops. Today, 70 to 80 percent of grocery products include some type of genetically engineered ingredient (from soy, corn, sugar beets or canola, for example), and they’re deemed safe by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and many other major scientific and medical organizations.
These plant varieties have been modified through very precise genetic techniques so they produce a specific protein or enzyme that makes them resistant to insect pests, plant viruses or certain safe herbicides. They are not nutritionally different from and are just as safe as conventionally bred plant varieties. In addition, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – the world’s largest scientific organization and publisher of Science magazine – these foods are “the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply.”
Why do you believe it is important that genetically modified foods not be labeled in Washington?
It is important for food labels in Washington and every state to have consistent and factual information. I-522 would not provide that. Instead, it would create inconsistent and misleading labeling regulations in Washington that don’t exist in any other state. I-522 would put Washington farmers and food companies at a competitive disadvantage by increasing their production costs and discouraging them from using modern varieties of crops that require less pesticides and water. Food labeling regulations should be set at the federal level so that farmers, food producers, and consumers in every state are treated equally.
Do you believe that Washington State has the legal authority to label genetically modified foods? Why or why not?
Again, food labeling regulations should be set at the federal level so that farmers, food producers, grocers, retailers and consumers in every state are treated equally. Legal or not, I-522’s mandatory regulations just don’t make any sense. They wouldn’t even treat all food products equally – some products like soy milk and vegetables would require special labels, but others like meat, milk, and cheese would not – even if they are made with genetically engineered ingredients. I-522 wouldn’t even give consumers a reliable way of knowing which products actually contain genetically engineered ingredients and which do not.
When it comes to the future of genetically modified foods how important is labeling? If I-522 passes, why wouldn’t that be the end of the story for genetically modified food in Washington?
The proponents of I-522 have stated publicly that their ultimate goal is not to provide more information on food labels, but to completely eliminate these perfectly safe and healthy foods from our food supply. That would increase food costs for Washington consumers and unfairly hurt family farmers and food producers by putting them at a competitive disadvantage and cutting them off from new technologies that could improve agricultural production, protect the environment, and conserve water, soil and energy. I-522 doesn’t make any sense and would cause real harm to farmers and consumers in our state. That’s why the Washington State Farm Bureau, the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, and agricultural organizations representing tens of thousands of farm families across our state oppose I-522.
To learn more about I-522, visit FactsAbout522.com.
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