Doctors and Mike agree—genetically modified is A-Okay

By Mike Barnett

With all the hoopla over genetically-modified Tifton-85 bermuda grass killing cows in Texas last week—which by the way was totally false, because there is no such thing as genetically-modified Tifton-85 bermuda grass—you might have missed some important news from the American Medical Association (AMA) regarding bioengineered food.

That august body of physicians said in a policy statement, adopted at their annual meeting in Chicago, that there is no need to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

That jives nicely with my reasoning that bioengineered food and food that uses conventionally bred crops are pretty much one and the same.

They don’t look different. They don’t taste different. Neither has an adverse effect on your health, unless you’re prone to overeating, in which case both will make you fat.

There are two distinct camps out there when it comes to bioengineered food, with a whole lot of confused consumers in the middle who don’t know what to believe. One camp views bioengineered food as evil and threatening and uses hype and fear to drive an unsuspecting public away from them.

I pitch my tent with the other group, who say bioengineered foods on the market today are safe—based on science and government oversight—and will be necessary to feed an exploding world population.

Unfortunately, as in the cow case in Texas, hype and fear is a much better story than the truth. Fortunately, the AMA—a highly credible source if there ever was one—is a voice of reason in this maddening debate.

The physicians said that “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is focused on consumer education.”

AMA board member Patrice Harris further explained the reasoning in an article in the Los Angeles Times: “The AMA adopted policy supporting this science-based approach, recognizing that there currently is no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods.”

AMA called for continued government oversight of bioengineered crops and livestock. And they called for a careful assessment of each new genetically modified organism (GMO) by the Food and Drug Association. Good ideas, both.

It should come as little surprise that doctors—who rely on science every day to save lives and keep us healthy—came down on the side of reason in the GMO debate.

Thank you, AMA, for having the courage to say so.

Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
Follow Mike on Twitter and Facebook.

12 Responses to “Doctors and Mike agree—genetically modified is A-Okay”

  1. What killed the cow? What causes alzheimers? The US consumes more dairy than any other country, and has more brittle bone diseases? Why? Why? Why? Nobody knows, but we’re continually told that what we eat is never ever the culprit. What’s for sure is… Nobody is concerned with my health as much as I am, and “truth” is often bought. With that said, you alluded to a middle camp (the confused consumer). I’m there. With my health at stake and with few answers given to ailments, I’m going to reach for non-GMO until I’m given answers. Caution is prudent.

    • Gene Hall says:

      What you eat is your choice, Clay. I would not presume to interfere with it. If you are referring to the Elgin case, it’s pretty clear that some kind of drought stressed grass – Prussic acid/cyanide – killed those cows.

  2. I don’t see how gmo can be deemed safe or even innocuous. Why is it only unlabeled in the USA? If you are so proud of this technology please label the “foods” that are grown by it, so the people who choose NOT to be force fed by the biotech industry can avoid them. Thank you.

    • Gene Hall says:

      I’m not sure your labeling statement is correct, but 20 years without any reliable inforamtion that it’s not safe is good enough for me. As for labeling, I can’t speak for food producers, but I’d be willing to talk about it when the concentrated and deliberate misinformtion campaign against biotech (Bet you didn’t know that there’s never been any fish or scorpion DNA in tomatoes, huh) stops. I’m not holding my breath on that one. The goal of labeling is not it inform – It’s to stop a perfectly good technology that we’ll need to feed a rapidly growing world population.

  3. Carrie Bell says:

    I realize that Tifton can not be the only grass for grazing for cows. Therefore my question to you is what was your mix and was it used for pasture last year? How many head on pasture, and how big was the acreage? What fields are beside your pasture and what is in them for the past few years? Many questions yet I would really like to know as there has been nothing said about the death of the cows.
    Thank you

  4. jd barnett says:

    I think that all of the energy directed toward combating the “insidious” threat of GMOs would be better spent ensuring that the individual would get a more balanced diet, especially reining in consumption of excessive protein and adding back more veggies, grains and fruits. We’d all be healthier and happier, as well, I wager.

  5. Timothy says:

    Say NO to GMO! I prefer to eat food made by God. When a scientist creates new strains of DNA, he is saying that Gods work is not good enough. If farmers and people opened thier minds and we all learned how to work With Nature rather than against it, we would not need to genetically engineer our food. Because God made our food perfect, and with real knowledge of how our food grows we can harness a natural way to grow enough food for the population. I suggest you do some learning about Food Forrests. Growing food together rather than in Mono crops. When different species support eachother there is no need for pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Seriously, help keep this world the way God intended. Also remember, that if corporations make money from it they will say it is A-ok no matter the consecuences. Good luck world!

    • Gene Hall says:

      Food Forrests – new one on me. I’d try it, I guess, if I believed there was anything wrong with the food I consume, which I don’t. I hate to break it to you Timothy, but humans have been manipulating DNA since the ancient Egyptians. Cross breeding, hybrids and the like is much more prevalent than the few crops studied for biotech. God, and I am a believer, gave people the ability to learn new things, and we’ve been applying it ever since, especially with our food. If humans had not leanred to manage, encourage and expand our food supply, we’d have been extinct long ago.

  6. I enjoy reading your guys’ blogs. Thanks. I bet if Oprah said GMOs made pigs fly then people would believe it. Some people have too much money and too much time.

    Been reading Designer Food, by Gregory Pence. So far an excellent book! If you’re in “the middle camp” I suggest you read the book. Provides awesome info about the history of GM foods and biotechnology. And it’s written well, by an author that uses an informed voice, not a sensationlly charged one, to articulate a message about why people believe what they do about GMOs and other food innovations.

    http://www.amazon.com/Designer-Food-Mutant-Harvest-Breadbasket/dp/0742508390

  7. Bayard Breeding says:

    A major issue is weather or not we live in an open society or some type of corporate authoritarian one that chooses to hide the ingredients in it’s products for whatever reason.I ,for one, feel that if a company chooses not to be open about whats in its products then I can choose to spend my hard earned dollars with someone who cares about my concerns. I am sick and tired of companies belittling consumers who wish to know what is in their food.

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