The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
The AgriTalk broadcast is done for today, but the conversation continues. AgriTalk host Mike Adams shares his thoughts and opinions on the news of the week and invites your feedback.
Despite the defeat of Proposition 37 in California that would have required labeling of food products with GMO ingredients, the debate is far from over. Hawaii and Washington are just a couple of states where the debate is heating up. Supporters of mandatory labeling, such as the Environmental Working Group, claim consumers want and deserve the information while opponents, such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization, claim there is no need or outcry for the labels. Personally, I’m not much of a label reader and I don’t see the need to call attention to something that has not been proven to have any negative health effect. Despite denials, I suspect this is more about trying to frighten people and get them to reject biotechnology in our food production. This issue is not going away and the question biotech supporters will have to answer is "if there is nothing to hide, then why oppose labeling"? It will take a lot of education to explain the benefits of biotechnology to consumers who may already be suspicious. Supporters of biotechnology have reason to be concerned the labels will be viewed as warnings. They have seen the negative reaction many people have to terms like genetically modified or genetically engineered. Easy to see why they fear the same thing would happen with labels.
Your interview on food labeling was somewhat disappointing. I think many of your listeners, at least myself, would like to hear an unbiased debate on the issue. We really do not want to hear your opinion. You are supposed to be the moderator. Since you did voice your opinion, it is evident that you must be protecting your advertising money as the “Big” GMO folks poor a lot of money into your organization. I recall Fox news and one or two other major networks that did a report on GMO’s. At the end of the day, both networks dropped their reporting on the subject as they could not stand the heat from seed companies advertisers which were threatening to cancel their advertising contract. Money talks!
Back to the issue on labeling, I do not think is takes a rocket scientist to figure out why the “Big” GMO seed companies and processors spent such an exorbitant amount of cash to defeat Prop 37 in California. The answer is profitability and market share. You know as soon as the consumer has the choice between a GMO versus a Non-GMO product, which one he/she will most likely choose. Duh!
It is my view that , we the farm producer, need to wake up and start listening to the voice of the customer, rather than force-fitting our product down the consumer’s throat. If the farmer really cared about the customer, it would be a no brainer to want to provide what the customer really wants and then adjust to provide the product valued by the customer. Most consumers do not want GMO’s in their food. Do yourself a favor and do some research. By the way, the safety issue on GMO is has to do with the limited amount of testing and the long-term health risks. Yes, GMO seed has been tested (short-term research) by the “Big” seed companies. What about long-term effects? As a responsible producer, would you not want to err on the safe side until the results are conclusive? Today, the results are not conclusive. Remember R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and the major Tobacco companies. They hit a devastating bump in the tracks that basically derailed them. Smoking use to be safe?
In the end, it may not take any labeling laws to effect labeling. As you may have read Whole Food’s new policy mandates that their suppliers provide GMO/Non-GMO labeling. It is apparent that this company listen’s to their customer. This is where I want to sell my farm products.