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Chelsea Green Blog

The Enemy Speaks – Labeling of Biotech Foods is Unnecessary and Unconstitutional

One of our affiliates, and a great partner in the fight for sustainable food, is the Organic Consumer’s Association.

Last week they shared this article, originally from Forbes, on why labeling genetically modified and other biotech foods is a bad idea.

If you’re a regular visitor here, we’re sure you’ll disagree as vehemently as we do on this important issue. But it’s always good to know what the enemy is up to, how they frame their arguments, and how their worldview differs from your own.

In that spirit, enjoy debating and rebutting this inflammatory screed by Mr. Miller, our new favorite shill for Monsanto, et. al!

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

There are good reasons that such “tinkering at the DNA level” need not be revealed on labels.  Federal regulation requires that food labels be truthful and not misleading and prohibits label statements that could be misunderstood, even if they are strictly accurate.  For example, although a “cholesterol-free” label on a certain variety or batch of fresh spinach would be accurate, it transgresses the FDA’s rules because it could be interpreted as implying that spinach usually contains cholesterol, which it does not.

Following long-standing precedents in food regulation, the FDA requires labeling only to indicate that a new food raises questions of safety, nutrition or proper usage.  But instead of educating or serving a legitimate consumers’ “need to know” certain information, mandatory labels on gene-spliced food would imply a warning.

The FDA’s approach to labeling has been upheld both directly and indirectly by various federal court decisions that have consistently struck down mandatory labeling not supported by data.  In the early 1990s, a group of Wisconsin consumers sued the FDA, arguing that the agency’s decision not to require the labeling of dairy products from cows treated with a gene-spliced protein called bovine somatotropin, or bST, allowed those products to be labeled in a false and misleading manner.  (In other words, the plaintiffs wanted the same sort of mandatory labeling advocated by Maisto.)  However, because the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate any material difference between milk from treated and untreated cows the federal court agreed with the FDA, finding that “it would be misbranding to label the product as different, even if consumers misperceived the product as different.”

>>> Read the Full Article

If you’re more interested in learning about what we here at Chelsea Green think about the issue, peruse our selection of books by Jeffrey Smith, including Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating. You might also enjoy the documentary, The World According to Monsanto. And if you’re keen on getting into the green counter revolution yourself, check out our perennial best seller, Seed to Seed:Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners!

…Pun intended.


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