Dear Legislator, About that GMO Labeling bill…

MA_counties_map

Massachusetts and surrounding states. Vermont recently passed an unrestricted bill on GMO labeling. Source: FamilySearch.org

Like a number of other states, GMO labeling in Massachusetts has been inching along for a while. Recently it came to the surface, which has prompted me to write to state politicians with some thoughts on the bill and the issues. After sending a first letter expressing disappointment at support for this bill, one thoughtful reply from a politician that I respect very much arrived in my box. I don’t feel I’m at liberty to reproduce the text, but it was a reasonable explanation of this legislator’s position.

To summarize, this legislator explained that the bill as they saw it was a nothing more than right to know what’s in the tofu we buy, and that although they are not opposed to genetically modified crops per se, they got a lot of calls about this bill. Clearly this person has been following the issue for a while, citing reports from over a decade ago, as well as more recent local media treatment of the issue. Their perspective has been mostly influenced by certain activist groups, it appears. They noted that this bill is about transparency, and not anti-science in intent. And this person expressed dismay that scientists aren’t conversing with policy makers. It ended with a plea for scientists to speak out on the underlying science more.

I have crafted a reply to that response with more details. I’m posting this letter below, with light edits for clarification. I hope I captured enough of the directions of the legislator’s position that it will make sense without the full text, but if not, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to clarify anything.

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Hello [Legislator]–thanks for the reply. I’ll add a few more things below, with a bunch of supporting links. I’m sure you are swamped with many tasks, I don’t need a reply. But I wanted to just provide a bit more detail on my thoughts.

Best regards,

Mary

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I understand that you support H3996 because you believe it is a labeling requirement, and my comments below will be based on the text as I saw it in the MA Legislatures web site as of June 5, 2014. It is possible that this bill will change, or that my understanding does not match yours. Or if that is not the version I should see, let me know. But I will attempt to explain my understanding of it, and of the possible consequences, based on that text.

tofu-ingredients

This tofu label specifies the identity of specific ingredients. Although it is a non-GMO product, this ingredient-specific approach would be more useful than current proposed GMO labeling laws. Credit: MEM

The tofu example you offer is actually an excellent illustration of the effectiveness of the current system. If [local grocer] tofu at 99¢ is clearly labeled that it is “made with GMO soybeans” as you note, that’s actually more information than H3996 will provide. As I read the bill, the product packages in MA will be labeled with the phrase “Produced with Genetic Engineering”. It doesn’t specify which ingredient is GMO. And as you also note, Nasoya’s “organically grown” tofu soybeans ($1.99) label also provide you with more than H3996 will offer. The “organically grown” label is federally protected language and means that GMOs would be excluded from this product. Unfortunately many people don’t understand the labeling systems we already have, this confusion is something I see quite often.

In the case of the single ingredient in tofu that might be clear what is “produced with genetic engineering”. But let’s examine another label. Let’s pick Cheddar Whole Grain Goldfish® as an example. (This example is obtained on June 5, 2014 from this site. This may change in the future, of course.)

Current ingredient label:
“MADE WITH SMILES AND WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), CHEDDAR CHEESE (CULTURED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO), VEGETABLE OILS (CANOLA, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SOYBEAN), CONTAINS 2 PERCENT OR LESS OF: SALT, AUTOLYZED YEAST, YEAST, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), PAPRIKA, SPICES, DEHYDRATED ONIONS.”

As I understand it, this package would probably now likely carry the “Produced with Genetic Engineering” label, due to canola or soybean oils or possibly the vitamins. However, because the specific item will not be designated, this may lead consumers to mistakenly conclude that the wheat is GMO. There is no commercial GMO wheat. I do not believe consumers benefit from this misleading label. Further, since oils are refined and have neither DNA or protein that differs from conventional oils, the production by GMO methods offers no useful ingredient information either.

It is also possible that the food producer will switch to only sunflower oil to avoid this label. The irony of this, however, is that most sunflower oil comes from herbicide-tolerant sunflowers which are cultivated with an herbicide that has created more “superweeds” than the one that Roundup Ready soybeans employ. (This is what happened when Chipotle labeled their products and moved away from soybean oil.) Or food producers may opt for herbicide-tolerant canola which is not GMO. But since so many people are already convinced that all canola is GMO, they may then challenge this product for presumed mislabeling. This could hurt grocers and bodegas, unfortunately, with nuisance legal action, if I’m reading the legislation’s implementation process and penalties properly.

Of course, scientists are continually bemused by the fact that cloned enzymes from GMOs used in cheese production are exempt from these labels. But we’ll leave that aside for now.

I am sure that you have had “hundreds of requests” from our neighbors asking you to support this bill. And I expect that some of these same folks are ones who assured me that vaccines cause autism at the CDC vaccination event I attended in Somerville some years back.

However, passionate but misinformed mobs are not necessarily the best basis for policy making. As I noted in my first letter, fear makes terrible policy—a good example of this is the fear of terrorism that has led to the over-reach of the surveillance state we find ourselves in today. There are downstream consequences to bad policy.

I am glad that you are aware that GMO crops “can increase productivity, reduce pesticide use, and provide other advantages” as you note. This enables the 99¢ GMO tofu to be a better value for families who can’t afford foods that cost twice as much, and is also therefore better for food security. It would be unfortunate if manufacturers altered their use as an unintended side-effect of the label change requirements. When Cheerios went GMO free to placate consumer fears, the nutrition dropped and so did the package size.

It’s great that you have been reading about these products for so long. There’s a lot of work that has been done in the decade since the activist report you cite from 2001, and the ongoing work has been reviewed by official scientific societies and food agencies around the world. I’m sure you are aware they conclude these foods are safe, as summarized in this handy infographic. However, I disagree that the activist groups are “centrist” on this topic. The Union of Concerned Scientists has been particularly misleading on this front, and they are not respected by the majority of plant and agricultural scientists that I know because of this.

The Boston Review pieces you saw were informative, in some cases . The work by Pamela Ronald is outstanding, Nina Fedoroff is clearly a leader on this issue, and Jennie Schmidt’s insights from both her nutrition credentials and farming experience are excellent, and were among my favorites. Other contributions, however, varied. Margaret Mellon claims to take the “middle ground” with the Union of Concerned Scientists, but as I have noted this is not a perception that scientists in the field share. In fact, years ago I personally called Mellon to explain that I was ending my UCS membership specifically because of their misleading plant science stances. I have also had to publicly upbraid Jack Heinemann for disinformation in a report that he participated in. Claims and evidence are not the same thing. And in science, unlike the media sites, false balance is not something we encourage.

It is not just a concern I have that the labeling requirements “arise from irrational fear, or from even less worthy motives”. I have the evidence for this. I’ve been collecting the statements from food activists that illustrate this. I am also aware that some grocery merchants aim to cater to the well-heeled fearful. Unfortunately as I noted before, the consequences of labeling may, in fact, lead to more expenses all along the food chain. And I do not believe this improves food security for my neighbors who can’t afford to shop at those retailers.

I definitely agree with you that “scientists do not contact or seek out legislators” enough. However, unlike paid activists, this work that is not part of their remit. They often can’t afford the time and do not get salary for showing up in legislator’s offices. Scientists are doing science—they run research labs, they are constantly grant writing, they teach students, and have additional duties as well. Their supervisors and colleagues do not always appreciate or value involvement in political activity. It is not rewarded in salary or valued by granting agencies.  This certainly also puts scientists at a disadvantage to activists in this arena. Further, activists may also have had legislative training, media training, and media access that the average researcher won’t have had.

To summarize, I remain disappointed in the MA legislature for their apparent support for this poorly-designed legislation that is likely to misinform consumers, potentially increase costs, and which may have unintended consequences on manufacturing and retail interests as well. Perhaps there is time to improve it, or better yet seek out scientific input on a better strategy. Personally, I believe a system like Kosher is the best way to manage this philosophical issue. But I know other science folks who could support labels if they were implemented in an evidence-based manner, rather than one founded on passions.

Thank you for offering to continue the dialog on this. I am also open to your further questions on any of these issues. If I don’t know an answer, I have a solid network of scientists and farmers who may have additional insights. I’d be happy to connect you to any of them. And of course I continue to support you on all the other issues where we share common ground—which I think is roughly 95%. But I needed to express how misguided this particular bill is.

Mary is a genomics scientist, with credentials in microbiology, immunology, plant cell biology, and mammalian cell, developmental, and molecular biology (PhD). All comments here are my own, and do not represent my company or any other company.


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92 comments to Dear Legislator, About that GMO Labeling bill…

  • Charles M.

    You’re nitpicking. Just label it. I’m not even anti-GMO. I eat them all the time. People would get over it more quickly if anti-labelers didn’t object so much.

  • I am of two minds on that. I think that activists have so poisoned the discourse that there really isn’t anything these companies can do change the tide of that rhetoric. Anything from these companies is dismissed entirely. And on the shouty folks it would have no value at all. So right now, I don’t think there’s much value in a corporate offensive strategy.

    However–if the shouty folks end up forcing the issue with these terrible labels, I very much hope the companies turn their efforts to a “charm offensive” with educational information about the great technology, the farmers who use it, etc. And I think that will actually work much better on the general populace than the fear-mongering of the pitchfork wielders.

    • No, I don’t think that I’ve “unwittingly succumbed”. Listen–I’m a street fighter by nature. You will find me in comment threads around the world in hand-to-hand combat. What I have is evidence from these encounters. The evidence shows that anyone with a corporate affiliation is dismissed instantly. And those without such affiliation are dismissed in the same way, regardless of the facts. There is no evidence that “fighting back” by corporations gets them anywhere. The evidence from other heated issues (vaccines are a good example) also shows this is only polarizing the discussants more. There is little value in a Monsanto or Syngenta rep joining the fray in this way.

      Unless you have evidence to the contrary–I’d be delighted to see the effectiveness your method. I am constantly looking for clues on strategies and I have tried a number of things. I think there are different audiences, too, so different things work at different times and situations.

      That said, I don’t tend to let BS stand–not for the unpersuadable discussants, but for the silent lurking folks who read along in the aftermath.

      I do get out there. But it’s a lot to ask of others who aren’t by nature this way. And on this issue, there are consequences. You know what happened with Beatriz Xoconostle Cázares?

      The sentiment is echoed by Beatriz Xoconostle Cázares, a biotechnology researcher at Cinvestav, who is experimenting with transgenic crops resistant to drought and insects — and who regularly debates with ETC in public forums. Last September, Xoconostle arrived at work to find that her lab had been set on fire. A month later, arsonists attacked the lab of a neighbouring researcher.

      Some people would worry about putting their grad students who work late in the labs at risk for this. I don’t blame them. And it’s because they can’t do this that I go out swinging.

      I will continue to sling links, and I will continue to mud wrestle in comments and in real life. I show up all the time–much to the ire of EarthOpenSource who re-wrote their last report and hilariously led with their irritation and conspiracy theories:

      Apart from their supernormal power of never having to sleep, the GMO lobbyists can be distinguished from ordinary people in that:

      There are few of them and their names or aliases pop up again and again under any article on GM published in a significant enough outlet. What normal person is interested in reading and commenting on so many articles on GM, and even in commenting on the comments, unless they are paid to do so?

      Nothing makes me happier than being under Claire’s skin. That’s a win as far as I’m concerned. But I think there is room for other approaches as well.

      • Well, yes, they do hide from their affiliations. Fagan et al’s Earth Open Source gang doesn’t talk about their relationship to GMO testing services or their organic marketing arm–you never see that in their comments and profiles, do you? Seralini distances from organic grocers and funders. So does Judy Carman.

        But you don’t seem to be getting my point (or providing your evidence of effectiveness, by the way). There are two separate things going on: do you want to be right, or do you want to be right and effective at the same time?

        Here’s an example: I used to call out the behavior of the GMO haters as “anti-science”. Although I still think that’s the case–I no longer use that in discussions anymore because it merely becomes a “am not anti-science, I like space research…” or some other goal-post moving. It doesn’t move the evidence discussion along at all. I may have been right, but it wasn’t effective. Same thing if someone from Monsanto comes into a comment thread with facts. The ensuing chatter is nothing but “yer paid to say that11!!1″. So it goes nowhere, and the Wurlitzer goes round-and-round.

        I’m not suggesting anyone hide their affiliation if they choose to speak. I’m merely not convinced that pouring Monsanto and Syngenta and Bayer commenters into the fray moves us forward–and in some cases it moves us backwards into their “I hate corporations” bunkers. I prefer to see the academic and non-profit folks and other non-affiliateds taking more of the lead on this because the science should be the focus.

        • Ok–one more time, I’m asking you for you evidence of the effectiveness of your strategy. Show me one instance of a comment thread where your method has turned the discussion around.

          • Ha ha ha—yeah, Mischa–I’m your problem. I’m not vocal enough. I’m a shrinking violet on the intertubz. I’m an appeaser.

            Honey, if you really think that–you have not a single clue about how to win hearts and minds. And I’m your ally here. And you still haven’t shown me a single example of your effectiveness. But I think you are making it clear how the polarization happens. Thanks for that.

        • While you are right, MaryM, Mischa brings up the point that what doesn’t work for pro-science,seems to work so well for the anti’s. Just in this past vegan Expo in Vancouver, Jeff Smith asked in the audience who was not afraid of GMO’s. When a few hands appeared, he exclaimed, “You work for Monsanto!”. And no outrage. (If i were there, i would’ve yelled my signature cry, “SAS ! Shill Accusation Syndrome !)

          https://twitter.com/toqlip/status/475745924245770240

          And it is true that people don’t seem to care much that anti-gmo groups are getting funds from entities that profit from organic and anti-gmo fearmongering. Why is this so? I’m perplexed at this.

  • Jan P.

    One question I have – would it cost more for products containing GMOs to label as such (would they have to go through any testing procedures?) or could they just slap on the “Produced with GE” label and not bother verifying? I dislike this type of labeling because I think after a while the consumer won’t notice it anyway. If a product wants to boast being GE-free it would be much more effective marketing (like the “organic” label).

    • There are disputes about the cost because of several ways it could play out. The most recent report I saw to discuss that is linked here: No science-based reason to justify mandatory GMO labeling, study concludes. They didn’t come up with a number because of the complexity of how it might occur.

      So the easiest CYA type of label would be to just slap “Produced with…” yeah. And part of me thinks it would be hilarious to see that happen, because everyone would still just drop their Oreos into their grocery cart. And folks who hate GMOs would then understand how little value that has. But we know that activists plan to use the GMO as a scarlet letter to target individual companies for the kind of awful Food Babe BS we see going on regularly now. So that would wind us back up at the place we are with reformulation and increased costs.

      A farmer has also pointed out what the costs would be for segregating different GMO traits starting at her end of the chain: The Costs of GMO Labeling.

      Certainly the sane label is to put GMO-free labels on products that want this designation (and will pay for it). This already exists, costs nothing to folks who don’t have a philosophical problem with GMOs, and keeps the ossified governmental process out of it. But you can’t demonize the products then, so anti-GMO activists don’t like it.

    • As MaryM pointed out the costs are in the segregation of material, something that’s already done for the organic crowd, one of the reasons why their prices are so high. As MaryM also pointed out, the lowest cost option for the company using GMO’s is the catch all, “May be produced with…”, slapped on everyhting in sight. This frees that company from any tracking and segregation that they may do.

      However, some antigmo activists are wise to this and are demanding that it must be either/or, i.e. It must contain GMO or not and be labeled as such. Fortunately, there’s a low cost way out for this too. The company that still wishes not to track can purchase some innocuous substance, like a vitamin, that is made from GMO’s and, “spritz”, the product, thereby guaranteeing the, “Made with…”, statement. Ironically, this may actually force some previously non-gmo products to have GMO’s !

      MaryM is also right about the scarlet lettering strategy of the anti-gmo movement. But, companies can and have told them to take a hike, with little damage. Walmart is an example. They were approached and threatened to not sell GM sweet corn. Walmart said no, siting the science. That was 2 years ago. I have yet to see throngs of anti-gmo activists in front of any Walmart, and i have personally seen my local Walmart run out of sweet corn last year.

  • Benjamin Edge

    Mary said, “Scientists are doing science—they run research labs, they are constantly grant writing, they teach students, and have additional duties as well. Their supervisors and colleagues do not always appreciate or value involvement in political activity.”

    I would point out that in some states, too much speaking out by scientists could be seen as lobbying, and could have restrictions. Some states require scientists to report any activities that might be considered as lobbying. They don’t appreciate state employees having a say in how state government works.

    • Quite so. And even if it’s not an explicit statement, people fear the consequences or the blowback by their superiors. I remember recently the shouty folks trying to shame Anastasia for tweeting something. They manage to shut people down this way.

      And that’s part of the reason I’m so active in the chatter. Because I work for myself, you can’t complain to my boss. I’ve had scientists thank me on the back-channel for speaking out because they can’t–for either stated or unstated reasons. One guy told me once he feared for his kids, as anti-GMO types have threatened the personal safety of researchers and labs.

        • I find what Food_democracy and EarhOpenSource are asking of you is like the Flat Earth Society, or certain religious sects, asking Gov’t paid NASA scientists to stop, “promoting”, the Earth is round. You pointed out Jeff Smith is not qualified to be a source for seed saving, in the limited way a 140 char tweet can allow. It could be interpreted that you were alluding to his wilder claims. I, myself, would find that perfectly acceptable because he isn’t just being irrational like all of us are at times but that he makes a business out of it, to wit, yogic flying and Genetic Roulette. Hence, your statement is still an observation about his specific credentials and his overall ability to be a source of scientific information.

          On the freedom of speech itself, it is a shame your employer frowned upon you participating in GMO debate and, subsequently, it fell apart after your withdrawal. That debate would’ve been something! But this, to, flies in the face of food_democracy’s claims about you thumping for GMO’s on the government’s dime.

          Yours truly, FO

      • theoldtechnite

        I sure hope these threats are being reported to the police. If for nothing else, it’ll build up a record of such incidents.

  • Best article and also best comments on the internet I have read in a long time. You win the internet today MaryM.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    I know of several state of Florida employees that are silent on the issue because of fear of retaliation by the pc crowd. Strange that in a university town actual education can sometimes be considered evil.

  • Lawrence

    You have 2 ears of corn….one GMO the other NON-GMO, a simple cellular structured bug…bits into the NON-GMO corn…his cellular structure prospers and grows…the next one bites into the GMO ..Within a few days his stomach bursts blood is toxified..and death occurs..this is only a small cellular animal…a few thousands of cells..we have 7.5 trillion…what took a few days takes longer with our complex structure…We are the only developed nation in the world who lets our food supply remain in the dark.. since GMO’s America leads in acid reflux, ADD, and many other new diseases brought on by GE and GMO…which corn would you eat..think about it…the only long-term studies in France released showed quarter size tumors in the rats fed Monsanto maize (round-up ready)

    • If GMO corn produced something that was toxic to all animal cells, what you describe would make sense. However, the Bt engineered into corn does not affect human cells in that way – only specific kinds of insect cells. We can eat piles of Bt with no ill effects – and we digest it like any other protein we eat. There is no evidence for (and plenty of evidence against) the idea that GMOs have caused any human diseases. The tumor study you refer to was a single study that has been roundly criticized for its methods, and its conclusions have been rejected by the scientific community.

      • Lawrence

        There is a reason most educated countries do not allow or demand labeling..studies in Brazil have found Glyphosate to be harmful to the blood stream and stomach…if you cross reference the USA vs countries on Acid reflux and other new diseases since th elast 18 years of GMO…The study in France was the only 2 year study..Monsanto was only 90 days leaving us to be the guinea pigs..you need to see what happened in Europe when they had GMO and why they got rid of it…India as well..you are not looking at the consequences..we are worse of with GMO than other nations that don’t want or have it..Glyphosate and 24d were not designed for cunsumption but as chemical warefare…you don’t eat it for your family..if you do give it a few years and see what it does..

    • I’m sorry that you don’t understand the differences in different species. And that you’ve been misled by some bad information and correlations by people who are trying to confuse people like you by preying on what you don’t understand.

      Glad to see you’ve found a good source of information in Karl though. Best of luck learning some facts.

      • lawrence

        Thank you very much..you need to look at some facts as well other than where your paycheck comes from..if you put foods that have a long shelf life then your liver is overworked..ad if you use bt toxin.. glysophate and 24d..you will like the rats over time experience stomach and other disorders..70 countries are not wrong..but you support corporations who only look at the bottom line…and you are bought and paid for by them..good luck..hope you don’t have a family that is being exposed to them..Lawrence..gmo’s animals fed gmo grains have reproductive issues, as well when you look at issues of our poor gmo food supply in America…we have the highest acid reflux..whereas in Europe ..there is very little and they have labeling and many ban gmo’s all together..Oregon will not allow them in our crop system since we sell to countries they do not allow..them i their markets…these are the same people who said DDT was harmless and..look at that result…

        • Oh, I’m sorry you are also confused about these other issues as well. First, I have no “paycheck” from anyone associated with the agricultural industry at all. Banning GMOs wouldn’t affect what I do in any way. You don’t get to just make up fictions like that, I’m afraid. But it probably explains some of the other incorrect beliefs you have–you aren’t much wedded to facts, are you?

          And I actually happen to know something about animals who eat GMO feeds. I used to work at one of the premier facilities providing biomedical research animals to the US scientific community. Here’s a pro-tip on that: these animals do not get organic chow. For many generations now, all the research animals in the US have been eating GMO corn and soy. And all of these highly-trained technicians and veterinarians have not seen any issues like you describe.

          I hope you will continue to seek out better information, you really have everything wrong.

          • Lawrence

            Monsanto has been the dirtiest company around trying to force farmers to use their seed spreading their seeds intentionally on organic farms sueing everyone..and most of the developed countries do not allow for GMO and these meats fed with GMO in the USA you can buy your politican..70 developed countries are not wrong..we are one of the very very few ..and our political structure lends itself to who has the most money wins…these seeds came to us from the very same people whos said DDT was so healthy you could drink it..we are somewhere in-between my views and your views…i do believe..we still have the right to know what is in the food we consume no matter what..period…

            • Your feverish assertions continue to be incorrect, Lawrence. Farmers are not forced to buy seeds. You don’t farm, do you?

              Here’s a great piece by a farmer who describes the extensive choices she has for her farm: The Myth About Seed Choice.

              I’m really sorry that you’ve been misled and scared by people who don’t understand the issues. Their fear-mongering and misinformation probably has caused stress-related problems among people like you.

              • Lawrence

                I have talked to a few farmers and seen how dirty Monsanto was to them..you refuse to look and only one part of an issue…they buy up seed companies they have a former Monsanto VP runing the Agriculture department..promoting a very sectic agenda..you only belive what your point of view is and do notlook at anything else..regardless there needs to be labeling…cigarettes have labels so should what we eat..no mushroom treatment in our food supply…especially in a deceptive industry of the past ..and farmers have lost many choices over the last decade

                • I keep asking for people to provide sourced example of what they aren’t able to obtain from seed companies–and not a single example has been presented to me yet.

                  And I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to your conspiracy theorist thinking. I don’t find that random unsourced assertions of people on the internet form good foundation for decision-making. But apparently your mileage may vary.

                  I’m glad you have the choice to buy organic and non-GMO labeled foods, though–because these folks want to provide you with what you want. I don’t know why you’d trust the government to label stuff if you don’t like them already and have conspiracy theories about them. You are better off with a third-party label like the Non-GMO folks.

                  • Lawrence

                    I do not have the choices due to the corruptions of companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont…that is what will happen as this develops..these dishonest companies deserve to go under the way they deceive the public..many new illness since we have had gmos prevalent in our country that are very small in countries that do not have a polluted food supply..before gmo and after gmo and countries that still don’t have gmo..show acid reflux glutin allergies and many doctors treat these by removing gmo products from their diet and these issues go away..i eat wild game fish and organic items that i can view..i have very low acid reflux..and that is why everything needs to be labeled..period…you don’t like being fed the mushroom treatment do you…L..Love your spunk !!!

                    • Well, again–if the government is so corrupt–why do you want a government label Lawrence? That’s still not clear to me.

                      Wouldn’t you be better off with a system like Kosher, that’s run by folks you trust? And they could react much more quickly than government if a new technology comes along.

                    • Lawrence

                      once it is in place it is defined under our system…and farms as well companies then must comply…till you get to that place politicans get there super pac funding from the monsanto, bayer and dupont to keep them from the labels..the corruption is tilldelaying labeling ..you know that as well…

                    • No, Lawrence, you aren’t going to get a useful label from the government. There’s not a single decent proposal that covers the information consumers claim to need. This “may contain…” label is really just a terrible idea for all the reasons I listed above.

                      And if new techniques come along that scare you, there’s no way the government will move fast enough for you.

                      Even the organic board is full of controversy–the organic purity folks are all upset about that.

                      These misguided proposals like the one in MA are really of no scientific merit, I’m afraid. You really need to use a system like Kosher for your needs. I hope you’ll consider that, and find better quality sources of information.

                    • Lawrence, there is no evidence that any disease has been caused or exacerbated by GMOs. You mention Gluten allergies (glutin?) but there is no GMO wheat on the market anywhere. Please stop making these claims unless you have evidence for them.

                    • Lawrence

                      if you follow statistics of acid reflux and gluten and food allergies in the USA which is one of the worst countries in the world for GMO food..and cross compare the EU, Japan and non-gmo or labling countries you will find a signiciant difference in rate of occurance…I also work with several natural MD’s and they treat these conditions by removing the GMO from the diet and sourcing non-gmo alternative and they have a very high recovery rate from these conditions..so maybe the body processes these differently …like long chain sugars vs simple sugars…I notice in my body the acid reflux virtually goes away when i am on wild fis and game that is not fed gmo grain…just the same as sugar being the same composition yet processed different..these too have different reactions in the body..some may require the liver working overtime and thus a cause ..effect scenerio…that is why i do want to know what i am eating..to get the government to say it causes these conditions since they are basically run by these companies..would be hard…yet many medical people are dealing with these issues..and right now they only show up ad a statistical average

                    • theoldtechnite

                      I guess, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, the Organic Purity Laws work best if you do not think about them too much.

    • Chris Preston

      lawrence, there is some fundamental physiology that you clearly do not understand. The gut of an insect is alkaline with a pH of about 10. That of humans and other mammals is acid, about pH 2. The Bt toxin requires a high pH to be active and must be activated by specific proteases. These conditions are present in the gut of insects, but not in humans. Therefore, Bt is activated in the insect gut and punches holes in the midgut wall and the insect dies. In the human gut, Bt toxin is not activated and is broken down like any other protein.

      As for the Seralini rat study you mentioned, the control rats that were not fed GM food also developed tumours of the same size. It is something that breed of rat does when it is allowed to live for 2 years.

      • Lawrence

        I do appreciate that info…why does Monsanto refuse to release any studies over 90 days for these products..i really appreciate your input and it makes sense to me

        • Chris Preston

          Lawrence, Monsanto doesn’t do any studies over 90 days because they are not required to do so by regulators. The general view of regulators, not just of GM foods, is that if no issues arise in 90 days in a short-lived mammaliam species, then it is unlikely to occur after that.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          Lawrence, once someone has worked for Monsanto. They are not ruined forever. Did you ever slow down long enough to ponder the possibility that the reason that the VP left is that he didn’t like it? He may be inclined to give them a hard time. I have former employers I speak highly of. And a couple I avoid speaking of and when cornered by direct questions. Bluntly say I wouldn’t trust them.

        • There are actually a bunch of studies that were over 90 days. Some multi-generational, and conducted by both industry and independent governement-funded scientists. See this one, for example: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Mary and Mischa I have read both of your posts for a while now. and after reading your discussions this evening. I can see valid points on both sides. However I wish you would both listen to someone who knows a bit about goalposts. Please google “The Team Speech” and think about the fact that you both are trying to accomplish the same goal. Mischa Mary is not at all an appeaser. I believe she is simply searching for better ways to confront the liars. Whichever one of you made the point about really speaking to the silent masses, not the ones you are actually replying to may be on to something.
    Anastasia, after reading the tweets on your link. The first tweets I have ever read. Puuhhlleeeeze, will you get me some of the patience pills you must have been taking. There was not a good faith comment in the whole thread not posted by you, Karl, or the guy who’s name I can’t remember, That came in in the middle. The others were simply trying to cause problems for you. Nasty folks they are and probably always will be.trying to make false accusations up to put political pressure on your bosses. And double standards? nauseating. Sorry if my comments are polarizing. But when you are dealing with evil truth can be very polarizing. and that can be a problem when evil says you should compromise. Never.

  • Thanks, Mary. I’m going to use this letter as a template for the ones I will need to send to my crazy legislators here in California.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    First Officer, It’s called hypocrisy. Perplexing yes, but it’s been tolerated by the left for years. This strain of the disease is related to the enemy of my enemy is my friend syndrome so popular in foreign policy. Never criticize your allies, even when they come up with wacko stuff. This is why the constant appeal to emotion. It reduces the ability of the logical side of the brain’s ability to function. Let’s use me as an example. My weakness is Mi. football. My brain knows that this is really entertainment, not my team. Yet show me a video of bo’s team speech I mentioned earlier. Or highlight film with “The Victors” playing in the background. Maybe the U. of M band streaming out of the tunnel before the 2011 game against the dastardly organization from South Bend and I get emotional. I still occasionally spend the money to go see a game. AND I know better. Logically. The majority of the folks at the vegan meeting probably have not thought this through as I have. how much more susceptible does this make them? In order to overcome this it will require folks in their communities that they respect and have emotional ties to coming out of the closet and teaching the truth. All this is partially why those jerks go after Anastasia. She doesn’t word her remarks tactlessly. Her photo looks like the neighborhood girl you grew up with. She is capable of gaining their trust. So they try to harm her. Pathetically vindictive behavior. But they usually get away with it.

    • Lawrence

      It is a basic right to know..no matter what each side argues..you need to know what is in your food supply..just like when you buy prepackaged lasagna..or cigarettes…it has NOTHING TO DO ARGUMENTS of how dishonest Monsanto is or how the people perceive each other…the testing and other items done by gmos has been very incomplete substituting proteins for glyphosate and doing very very small sampling negating any results no matter what they would be…but that has not to do with you not know what your food has been fed or contains..you buy diet soda you want to know which sweetener was used…this idiot has no intelligent logic..he needs to know when he buys a diet pop..this is no difference

      • OrchidGrowinMan

        Lawrence,
        As has been pointed-out before, “GMO” is not a substance. Government-mandated labels like this are not for “right to know,” they are for contents. If I took an apple variety, and removed a gene (or arranged for it not to be expressed), and then put it back, so that each and every atom of the genome was identical to before, it would be “GMO” but there is no plausible reason to put a health warning on it.

        • Lawrence

          Its all marketing…if you do something then you describe what you did to make it better..let the buyers decide..people buy cigarettes no matter what…that is th every same here.yet there is evidence of severe bad damage of GMO..take eggs..gmo fed eggs are thin shelled very ugly yolks.very poor flavor…much lower nutrition levels.i don’t want gmo fed…when it comes to eggs..so tell me..many people don’t care

          • Ewan R

            yet there is evidence of severe bad damage of GMO

            That’s an interesting hypothesis you have there, it’d be a shame if someone were to subject it to peer review…

            substituting proteins for glyphosate

            Every time I think I’ve heard all the bizarrest of claims another one drops out – what exactly are you referring to here?

            you buy diet soda you want to know which sweetener was used

            But not which method was used to make the sweetener, which state it was made it, the name of the guy who sealed the barrel it was pumped into, the grade of steel used in pipe 4 of the extrusion machine etc etc. Ingredients which *actually* differ in some meaningful manner… sure, these should be tracked and labelled, meaningless differences (florida oranges vs spanish oranges, cane sugar vs beet sugar, wheat from North Dakota vs wheat from Washington) however absolutely don’t need to be labelled. What you’re demanding is meaningless labelling.

            • Lawrence

              my point was not the data and the studies..but the right to know what is in our food and being fed to our food ..when a company does only one thing ..genetically modifying…that needs to be disclosed…and people given a choice to add that to their diet or not..gmo corn that kills the insects is quite different from regular corn…tomatoes that have enormous shelf lives ..what does that mean for digesting of these foods…they are not the same..these modification have health consequences…

              • Ewan R

                when a company does only one thing ..genetically modifying…that needs to be disclosed

                I’m not clear what you’re asking for here.
                Which company is only doing genetic modification? Are they pretending they are doing something else in not disclosing this? (Monsanto don’t just do genetic modification (by the colloquially accepted terminology) – they do conventional breeding too, and a little herbicide manufacture also… so I assume they don’t have to disclose anything?)

                gmo corn that kills the insects is quite different from regular corn

                Only, I would argue, if you are an insect, or a farmer using the corn (there are minor secondary effects I suppose on the manufacturers of insecticides, the manufacturers of machiniry for spraying insecticides, the livelihood of people who get paid to fly crop dusters and the like – but none of this argues for labelling, at least not in any manner that makes the remotest bit of sense)

                tomatoes that have enormous shelf lives

                It *always* makes sense to be up in arms about stuff that isn’t actually on the market right now.

                what does that mean for digesting of these foods

                Man, if only these foods were teste… oh hang on they are and they’re substantially equivalent – I mean really, how could livestock feeding trials turn up substantial equivalence if the stuff you were feeding them digested drastically differently?

                these modification have health consequences

                [citation needed]

                • Lawrence

                  sorry my bad..yes Monsanto does many other product lines..that is even more reason to label that division of production since the market demands to know

  • Lawrence

    also nobody trusts a politician speaking for Monsanto..or Dow..you immediately look for which super-pac is funding this and how many millions Monsanto paid to own him or her..After all these are the same companies that told us DDT was harmless..and they threaten sue every government and try to exhaust the capital of groups and governments..so this spreads massive distrust of these companies who do not trust their products to stand on their own…95% of America want to know..and with all the efforts to hid things looks very bad for these groups…

  • The Bug Guy

    There is an easy way for someone to avoid gmo produce: purchase items with the non-gmo or organic certifications. Both are in place now and are effective.

    Biofortified has an excellent article that explains how food is already labeled.
    http://www.biofortified.org/2011/07/gmo-food-is-actually-already-labeled-if-you-know-a-few-rules/

    • Lawrence

      bullshit …it needs to be mandatory..nobody tells if it contains gmo…it needs to be enforced just like calorie counts on food…every company prints labels 2x a year..no cost changes there..when its mandatory..farmers will grow what they sell ..now we have the mushroom label…system..keep you in the dark and feed you crap..

      • The Bug Guy

        Just because you have an expressed preference, does not mean that it needs to be mandatory on everyone.

        Contrary to your claims, there is no solid evidence for risk or harm from biotech products, so voluntary labeling is more than adequate.

        The costs associated with labeling is not just the labeling, it is the sorting and clearing needed throughout the system, not to mention record-keeping and enforcement. Unless you want a useless, unenforceable labeling law.

    • Lawrence

      Everything is vague and voluntary..Monsanto and other provocateurs and so adamant against having the states mandate labeling, and fight every effort with lawsuits and harassment. And after watching the TV campaigns of CA and WA. The adds were total misrepresentation of facts..no realm of truth… When the media did the fact checks…the Monsanto adds were always false misleading information…These companies for decades since they lied about DDT continue this practice…These products all began as chemical warfare agents…now their in our seed and meats…

      • Charles Rader

        Lawrence, I live far from those two states, so I’ve never heard any of the ads for either side. I will have to take your word for it that the pro-GMO side’s ads were misleading.

        But I have two other data points.

        First, I downloaded a copy of the text of the California referendum and I read it. At the beginning of the bill, SECTION 1. FINDINGS AND DECLARATIONS, there are several pages of text explaining why the bill is needed, and that section was full of misinformation. I know that two wrongs do not make a right, but it is, in this case, unambiguously clear who lied first.

        Second, I live in Massachusetts and so I have seen the news coverage and the propaganda surrounding the bill which Mary Mangan has described here. So far I have heard nothing from the pro-GMO side – perhaps they will begin lying later. But the anti-GMO side began lying immediately. For example, Representative Ellen Story, who filed the bill, claimed during an interview on National Public Radio that she was not concerned about possible problems with GMOs, only about the public’s right to know. And yet, the bill did not go to the legislature’s Committee on Commerce, the obvious place for a labeling bill, but instead it went to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. At the hearing, dozens of speakers gave testimony, overwhelmingly misleading, about the supposed dangers, e.g. Seralini’s rats, herbicide use given in pounds instead of toxicity, farmers sued for accidental cross-pollination, sterile seeds, the Indian farmer suicides, etc.

        And Lawrence, your own comment, the one I’m answering, ends with “These products all began as chemical warfare agents…now they’re in our seed and meats.”, and that isn’t even close to true.

        • Lawrence

          i have contacted several of the farmers sued by Monsanto for Monsanto seed infiltrating their farms and being forced to pay damages to Monsanto for what looks like intentional harassment by Monsanto and legal asset drawdown to bankrupt these ..people and this was a farmer in Canada regarding Canola..and several corn and soy farmers Midwest..share a very similar story…this is a very disturbing behavior..I believe the large business farms could care less if they grow anything good for your body..its all about profit..and they share the same value as Monsanto their..

          • Charles Rader

            Lawrence, every regular reader of this web site knows about those cases. Yes Monsanto certainly sues farmers for using its seeds without paying. It is certainly reasonable to argue that they are too aggressive in enforcing their patent. But if you read what I wrote, you will see that I was referring to the false claim, in testimony give n to the Massachusetts Legislative Committee, that farmers were being routinely sued for ACCIDENTAL CROSS-POLLINATION.

          • Lawrence – the Percy Schmeiser (of Saskatchewan, Canada) case: he specialized in breeding and growing canola. He was sued my Montsanto was not for accidental cross pollination but because he knowingly and deliberately kept and saved separately a proprietary product he had not paid the appropriate fee to use. And he did so with full knowledge and intent.

            It was really no different than music or movie piracy.

    • Lawrence

      a group of European scientists recently evaluated an even greater number of studies, 343 in all, published over the last several decades.

      Here’s what they found. Not only do organic foods have more nutrients, including cancer-fighting antioxidants, but they also contain far fewer pesticide residues. This is a no-brainer given that monoculture chemical and GMO farmers kill the soil with toxic chemicals and climate-destabilizing nitrate fertilizer—while organic farmers feed the soil with compost, nurturing the soil food web.

      But the key nutritional difference between conventional and organics? Anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants.

  • Ewan R

    hey threaten sue every government and try to exhaust the capital of groups and governments

    So a company which turns a $13Bn (ish) profit each year is going to exhaust the capital of … all the governments on earth. Interesting as the US government can lay out ~$4 Trillion per year without really blinking.

    • Lawrence

      each individual sector operates on budgets…and th e100 million dollar budget of Monsanto and ad Dow in the Bayer and then the corrupt grocers who chip in yes you can exhaust what the regional state will spend especially when they have very limited resources then the Fed…when oregon passes gmo labeling they will be contested by a Monsanto lawsuit..watch and see

    • Lawrence

      70 counties that are the most educated and developed already have labeling in place

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    No, Lawrence 70 countries that have caved in to political pressure from under educated folks who continuously strive to slow progress. Somewhat similarly to the way the Taliban types try to prevent progress in areas they control. This similarity is even becoming more evident as criminals in P.I. have resorted to violence to destroy Golden rice tests. will you at this time condemn this violent war-like behavior?

  • Snoopy Dance! It is confirmed–this bill did not come to the floor, and has gone away.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=826620010706005

    Like bad pennies, though, I’m sure that more will turn up in the next session.

  • Marie N

    This is not just a philosophical/moral issue. While I value your input on HOW the label could be designed more clearly, you side with industry, and not with the rights of consumers–or with science. Labels need to be comprehensive and accurate. Very simply, current labels are misleading about what’s in food because they do not disclose the nature of the ingredients. Every consumer deserves to know the full ingredients within their food– not just those who happen to know or who are invested in this issue, therefore the non-GMO or the organic label is insufficient–and the burden SHOULD be on the manufacturer to disclose it.

    There’s no scientific evidence that proves that GMO is safe over time, and you don’t discuss why the rest of the world has decided to label or ban GMOs with any valid argument. Is everyone who doesn’t support GMO uneducated and misinformed? I’d like to say that we are cautious, make safety provisions and demand that GMO safety be proven in multiple, longitudinal studies prior to dumping them into the food supply. Alas, GM patents currently make true scientific discovery of the safety of GMO nearly impossible because scientists can’t freely experiment, and any scientific study that might be released on the safety of GMO would not be impartial. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research/

    Finally, to suggest that the majority of activists are paid is grossly misleading, and to lump this issue into to the anti-vax issue is unfair, but a nice propaganda technique.

    • The Bug Guy

      Just as with those that seek kosher or halal foods, the burden of labeling is on those that desire such unnecessary labeling. Other than a desire in some to avoid biotech crops, there is no safety or dietary reason to label them. So far, all labeling bills, contrary to the stated desire to educate, fall far short of those goals and would be more misleading than educational.

      The large body of scientific research into short and long-term effects of biotech crops point to their safety with little or no evidence for harm. You can examine the GENERA database for many of these studies.

      While there were issues with access at the time of the Sci-Am article, companies have addressed those issues and access to biotech lines for research are much more open now.

      Many of the countries that have label requirements, such as those in the EU, have acquiesced to political pressures for labeling while ignoring the safety findings of their own scientific advisers, such as EFSA. Other political pressures include old-fashioned trade protectionism.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      “not just philosophical/moral. It is not a moral issue at all. No shown harm plus environmental benefits equals no moral issues. “rest of the world” This is an irrelevant exaggeration to appeal to emotion. This is not an election or popularity contest. This is an example of people with philosophical objections trying to overpower facts with political pressure. Now same question I put to Lawrence. Will you condemn the violence perpetrated in the P.I. against golden rice testing? Against seizing a factory in Argentina etc?

      • Lawrence

        Monsanto, Bayer , Dupont own superpacs…and thus many politicians..Hilary is probably the most outspoken and one of your attorneys..but we are a democracy..and despite throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at politicians, they eventually will need to listen to their constituents…and not keep the public in the dark on our food supply ..Companies Like these spread a deep seated distrust of the political system and we are now seeing the political structure needing to build the trust back to the ones who elect them …not the money structure that bribes and owns them like Mnsanto..these bill will pass and will be beneficial to the public

        • Ewan R

          Hilary is probably the most outspoken and one of your attorneys

          Translation…

          Hilary once worked for a firm which had at some point been hired by Monsanto.

          There is no evidence that Hilary was ever an attorney for Monsanto, nor any credible reason to believe that someone who employed an individual many years ago would hold even the remotest bit of power over them many years later (I mean, I guess that you personally might be utterly willing to do all manner of immoral things to benefit your prior employers, but I know that I am not, and presume that most thinking people are of the same mind)

  • Marie N

    I do condemn violence and attack on or seizure of private property. Most people advocating for labeling do, which is why we are trying to work within the confines of our existing government. I agree that the labeling bills need to be revised to precisely do what they intend to do, which in my opinion, is to force the hand of industry to re-assess what consumers actually want and to provide it. The Big Guy, you said: “While there were issues with access at the time of the Sci-Am article, companies have addressed those issues and access to biotech lines for research are much more open now.” Can you please talk more about this?

    This is a moral issue, though, and I suppose that argument is centered around how one defines harm. There is a lot of economic harm done to small farms because of the rise of patented GMO seed, which is undoubtedly, making it difficult for small farmers to sustain their businesses in the face of lawsuits or inability to comply with their customers demand for non-GMO and organic. There is numerous evidence of this. There is also evidence of potential harm to our environment by eliminating true diversity of seed. Eric, you say there are environmental benefits to GMO crops? Can you please talk more about this. I am aware that GMO is being used to address nutritional deficiencies in certain impoverished areas, however, this is a strange solution to poverty, in my opinion, and one that looks at poverty and hunger from the band-aid perspective, not the reduction perspective.

    Philosophically speaking, food is a human right, and no group should have power over how it is produced, at the exclusion of alternative methods, however, GMO seed is infiltrating organic farms, and even though it is unnatural, it still exists and reproduces according to the laws of nature–to where it is undoubtedly on a path to make nature-made, organic crops extinct. When this happens, those who have a philosophical or moral objection to GMO, now have no rights, and that is unacceptable, and I would argue, quite harmful to the ideals of democracy and personal sovereignty.

    • Lawrence

      i understand there are variety’s of gmo that have beneficial nutrients within..but i glyphosate and round up ready as well as 24 based gmo are nutrient starvation systems

    • Ewan R

      There is a lot of economic harm done to small farms

      Where is your evidence for this?

      GMO seeds are sold as a value share venture. The results from India overwhelmingly show that on average farm revenue (and yield) go up significantly with the adoption of GMO crops. Economic analysis of GM crop adoption in the US shows economic advantages to farmers. Non-GMO and organic are up and coming markets (very lucrative) which exist practically only because GMOs exist (no farmer is going to get a premium for being non-GMO in an environment where GMOs don’t exist).

      There is also evidence of potential harm to our environment by eliminating true diversity of seed.

      How does GMO do anything to the diversity of seed (whatever you mean by that…)

      you say there are environmental benefits to GMO crops

      Making no till easier through RR systems.
      Replacing herbicide regimes with the RR regime reduces the environmental impact.
      Bt eliminates the need for many insecticidal sprays.

      Environmental benefits….

      I am aware that GMO is being used to address nutritional deficiencies in certain impoverished areas, however, this is a strange solution to poverty, in my opinion, and one that looks at poverty and hunger from the band-aid perspective, not the reduction perspective.

      Nirvana fallacy. It’d be great to eliminate poverty. Truly it would. Given the fact we haven’t even remotely come close yet I’d suggest that offering alternate solutions rather than doing nothing at all (which essentially is all modern society does in terms of global poverty) is a good thing.

      GMO seed is infiltrating organic farms

      Citation needed.

      where it is undoubtedly on a path to make nature-made, organic crops extinct

      Both a population genetics fail and an inability to grasp that humans are still involved in the process and that plant breeders are perfectly capable of maintaining distinct lines (how else does one explain the continued availability of sweet corn when there is field corn out there which when comingled genetically immediately buggers it up)

      those who have a philosophical or moral objection to GMO, now have no rights

      When organic or GMO-free labels or other voluntary labelling schemes are outlawed this argument would have a leg to stand on. Philosophical or moral objections to things are not enough to mandate a damn thing. If I was philosophically or morally disinclined towards Catholics (or Pastafarians) I’d look utterly ridiculous demanding that there be labelling of any produce that was handled or produced by said – no rights removed, violated or indeed required in this instance.

      • Marie N

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/monsanto-wins-lawsuit_n_3417081.html
        300,000 organic farmers sued Monsanto. “In its ruling Monday, the court noted that records indicate a large majority of conventional seed samples have become contaminated by Monsanto’s Roundup resistance trait.” Contamination happens because wind happens and organic farming is no longer lucrative when farmers must fight against nature, who is unwittingly working in favor of corporate interests here.

        http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/why-does-monsanto-sue-farmers-who-save-seeds.aspx
        “Monsanto patents many of the seed varieties we develop. Patents are necessary to ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products. This is one of the basic reasons for patents….When farmers purchase a patented seed variety, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant seeds produced from the seed they buy from us.” Saving seed is a traditional farming practice that all farmers are now no longer able to do, and thus, must purchase their seed year-to-year.

        http://gmo-journal.com/2011/06/17/loss-of-biodiversity-and-genetically-modified-crops/
        “It is a statistic that is hard to deny: industrial forms of agriculture, with emphasis on large-scale monoculture crop production, have a negative impact on biodiversity. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, referring to the scale of the loss as “extensive,” found that some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost since 1900 as farmers turn to genetically uniform, mass-produced crop varieties….Since genetically modified crops (a.k.a. GMOs) reinforce genetic homogeneity and promote large scale monocultures, they contribute to the decline in biodiversity and increase vulnerability of crops to climate change, pests and diseases.”

        Ewan, please, if you’re going to haughtily demand evidence and citations, you should probably offer your own for the environmental benefits claim.

        • Lawrence

          Ewan , Monsanto is a dirty company and their Karma will and is catching up with them…they sue so many they deserve the absolute worst..L

        • a) did you miss the part where Monsanto won that lawsuit?
          “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a previous ruling that found organic growers had no reason to try to block Monsanto from suing them as the company had pledged it would not take them to court if biotech crops accidentally mix in with organics.

          Organic farmers and others have worried for years that they will be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement if their crops get contaminated with Monsanto biotech crops.”

          Monsanto has not ever sued for the accidental and incidental infiltration of GMO seeds into neighbouring farms. The dismissal of the lawsuit affirmed – the fears by farmers of being sued by Monsanto for accidental infiltration is baseless.

          b) Montsanto is not holding a gun to any farmer’s head forcing them to sign a usage agreement. Again the software analogy applies – you buy your operating system from Microsoft you sign a usage agreement, that agreement does not give you license to use every new version of Windows when it comes out – whether for home or office. You have to buy an upgrade then there’s a new one. You agree to that. The farmers agree to purchase the seed on an annual basis. You don’t like it you buy a different operating system. The farmers don’t like it, and want to harvest and replant seeds year after year they’re free to purchase other seeds. If the process of buying seeds every year wasn’t profitable, farmers and Monsanto would be going out of business pretty quick. No one is being forced to do anything

          c) Factory farming is factory farming. Whether it’s with GE crops or traditional seeds. Any loss of biodiversity (and I understand your concern about that) really isn’t a GMO issue. GE crops are no more a hindrance than traditional crops are a help to biodiversity.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Marie, Thank you for the decency to come out and condemn the terrorist behavior that has happened. Are you aware that the mad man mikey at natural news is advocating the killing of some of the folks who regularly write here? You would be stunned at how many, like Lawrence refuse to do as you have done. We disagree on this. But you earned the respect that one deserves when one is discussing in good faith. I believe Ewan answered most of what you asked me. But I do not remember him mentioning that with less spraying comes less consumption of diesel and soil compaction. a few posts I think I remember seem to have disappeared including the one where I got onto Lawrence for his potty mouth. So I can’t double check to be thorough.

  • ed

    “The most recent report I saw to discuss that is linked here: No science-based reason to justify mandatory GMO labeling, study concludes. ”

    Why would the calls for mandatory labeling need to be science-based? This is a matter of consumer preferences, however misinformed you may think the arguments are. Do consumer preferences need to be science-based now?

    Also, the tofu example you cite toward the top mostly shows how the legislation should be clearer, not that there should be no legislation.

    You clearly have a wealth of information that could help in the design of a more intelligent, less costly piece of legislation. Why not help guide the process?

    • I think government-funded policy should be evidence and fact based. I’m sorry to hear you disagree with that ed.

      What if some group comes along and says that because of their “consumer preference” that only crops picked on Tuesday are edible for them? Should the government fund compliance and tracking for that? What if another group only wants men to have touched all the food products–shall we give in to every consumer preference label thrown out there?

      Maybe vegans would want every package with the phrase “animals were harmed in the farming of this milk and cheese and yogurt”? Should the government do that?

      Where would “consumer preference” end, ed? Can you please specify the line?

      I thought I made it pretty clear that I actually support consumer labels, if they are paid for, established, and monitored by the consumers who have that desire. I support the 3rd party systems like Kosher and non-GMO. Presuming they aren’t making any false claims about the safety or production of the food, of course.

      The Kosher-style system is by far the best for this situation. And as someone who doesn’t adhere to Kosher guidelines, I don’t feel it’s up to me to establish those rules. I feel the same way about non-GMOness. I don’t adhere to the same beliefs as folks who have these concerns and I would much rather they handled these issues themselves. I’m quite sure we wouldn’t agree on what does or doesn’t need to be labeled.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    consumer preferences do not need to be science based. However using the gov’t's monopoly on the use of force to require labeling anything should be fact based.

    • This is not an issue that says the bees are being wiped out by the round-up ready seeds..or the agent orange seeds destroying the monarch butterflies…or the glyphosate affecting the blood supplies of the consumers..but it is knowing if you are consuming these products…people will still eat them no matter what the label..but it is the right to know..not any other debate…Monsanto is not an honest company..and they don’t believe in freedom of choice..that is disappointing.the millions given to the super-pacs out spends the grass root effort 40 or 50 to one…I want to know what kind of seed i am eating and what my meat is being fed…Family farmers don’t want GMO seeds only the large corporate farms who could care less about what is in there seeds or what they do to the consumers..

    • Studies are showing that Bt toxins found in Monsanto crops are harmful to mammalian blood by damaging red blood cells and more. RBC’s are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues through blood flow.

      Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) is a bacterium commonly used as a biological pesticide. It is a microorganism that produces toxic chemicals. It occurs naturally in the environment, and is usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces. Prior to this study, Bt was thought to be toxic only to insects, but recent studies are proving otherwise.

      Dr. Mezzomo and his team of Scientists from the Department of Genetics and Morphology and the Institute of Biological Sciences, at University of Brasilia recently published a study that involved Bacillus thuringensis (Bt toxin) and its effects on mammalian blood. According to the study, the “Cry” toxins that are found in Monsanto’s GMO crops like corn and soy, are much more toxic to mammals than previously thought. The study was published in the Journal of Hematology and Thromboembolic Diseases(1).

      We do not support animal testing, and think it is unnecessary. It should really be a no brainer that GMO crops cause significant damage to human health. Studies that don’t require animal testing have already proven the dangers of GMO consumption. This study unfortunately required the use of Swiss Albino Mice if Bt was to be properly examined. At the same time, most of us know that the existence of GMOs is completely unnecessary

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