Labeling GMO foods a good idea?  Maybe

By Gene Hall

British environmentalist Mark Lynas is someone I admire. Why? He has that unique kind of courage so rare these days. He admitted he was wrong.

He opposed genetically engineered food for many years. About a year ago, he admitted he was just repeating talking points. After he looked into it himself, objectively, he did what everyone who approaches the subject that way has to do. He changed his mind. He has since been talking a lot about the environmental benefits of genetically engineered food and the fact that the human health damage of the technology still stands at exactly zero.

So, when he called for labeling of GMOs, which is the frantic last stand of the anti-GMO extremists, I did a double take.

But his position makes sense. When food shoppers see the label on nearly everything in the store, they will understand that safety for people or the environment is not really an issue. That’s a very good point.

However, I’m still not sure I agree with Lynas that GMOs need to be labeled.

First, a labeling initiative  will cost more and consumers will have to pay. And, the extremist are not about information here. They want to scare people about a thing that is not only safe, but is of benefit to the world food supply and the environment.

I am intrigued though about what will happen when the public understands they’ve been eating GMO foods for nearly 20 years, with no ill effects what-so-ever. Lynas’ idea is worth considering.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

7 Responses to “Labeling GMO foods a good idea? Maybe”

  1. Bayard Breeding says:

    The main issue is the consumers right to know what is or is not in their food supply. After all we have always been taught that “the customer is always right.” Any company that mislabels what is in their product obviously has something to hide and is guilty of false advertising. So, in essence,if a company hides its ingredients,then the consumer should buy another product. Simple capitalism.

    • Gene Hall says:

      Good to hear from you Mr. Breeding. We are not, of course, talking about ingredients. We are talking about a process. You might as well mandate that the plants were plowed or irrigated a certain way and report that on the label. But, I kind of agree with Lynas and with you for different reasons. Once people understand how routine this is and how slam dunk the safety record is – this controversy will very likely disappear. The thing is, a lot of folks will pay more for something that was settled by science quite some time ago. This label controversy is not about providing information, it’s about scaring people with something they don’t understand. Thanks for posting.

  2. I think, the main problem is adequate education about GMO. This ought to be important not only for farmers, but for consumers as well. I read about it here http://blog.pulawy.com/en/are-gmos-the-best-solution/ It could give the tools to manage the environment in a right way. Educating farmers in the area of sustainable farming would give a chance to develop agriculture. And educating customers can help to explain how their food is produced and where from is imported to stores.

  3. Gene Hall says:

    Avers, I am doing what I can in the way of “education.” Your link suggests risks and problems with GM crops. Let me be clear. I am saying the risk is zero and the benefits are multiple. We are talking about a spotless safety record over nearly two decades now. That’s a lot of testing and potentially a lot of education. The word “natural” in your link is telling as there is no official definition of that word. It can mean whatever someone wants it to mean. GM means less pesticide, less fuel and lower carbon footprints. I can’t imagine why we would not deploy such a technology. Mark Lynas’ point is that the world would quickly understand that if we labeled. He may be right.

    • Gene Hall says:

      One more thought…the most misused word in discussions about food and/or the environment is “natural.” The second is “sustainable.” Meaningful definitions are elusive. I’ll just say that if the next generation of a farm family cannot make a decent living on the farm then sustainability does not exist. If it’s not economically sustainable, there is no need to discuss the rest of it.

  4. D. Peterson says:

    Yes Lynas did his mea culpa, but the kool aid drinkers who have bought into the sadly suspicious, scared, anti-GMO screed are more rabid than ever. They have their talking points down pat, and offering them links to their movement leader’s backtrack is pitifully ineffective. FYI, NO one is listening to Lynas now. I can’t count how many times I linked Arnold Ahlert’s June 12 piece “Radical Environmentalism and Second Thoughts, at Front Page Mag.

    Considering the damage Lynas and his cohorts have done to our economy, our industry for admittedly little more than keeping themselves in donations and grants, I have a hard time admiring him.

    Monsanto and Du Pont et al probably waited too late to launch their site, gmoanswers.com.

    Believing consumers won’t find suspect past illnesses to blame GMOs on is naive, Mr Hall. Over the last few years, I have witnessed some gargantuan leaps of logic by the rabid zealot anti-GMO crowd I encounter on conservative political blogs. Henny Penny is alive and well, especially among the Libertarian, “off the grid” crowd.

    • You make some good points Ms. Peterson. I disagree on some of them, agree on others. If St. Paul can have a Damascus Road conversion then Mark Lynas can mine some credibility as well! You seem to hint that all is lost on the GMO front. I’ll tell you why I disagree. Go online and Google. There are many pieces being written now about this subject, in which the mainstream media has finally started to ‘get’ and cover objectively. That means the knowledge base is going to change in favor of science. Science wise, the issue really is settled. I believe, 10 years from now…the anti-GMO mindset will be in the same category as those that believed Columbus would fall off the edge of the earth. Thanks for posting.

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