GMO food labels: Would label laws in Vermont, Maine, Connecticut increase food costs?

A piece in Slate serves to remind us that conservatives don’t have a monopoly on anti-scientific notions.  The GMO anxiety seems mostly driven from the left.  (I say this as a liberal).

Those who see the GMO label leading to higher food prices begin (as they should) by highlighting the sham science that’s been used to vilify GMOs over the past two decades. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that GMOs are safe to eat. That hasn’t prevented the disingenuous association of genetic modification with maladies ranging from cancer, autism, impotence, allergies, and infertility tofarmer suicides in India. Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State and an editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Food Consumption and Policy, explained in an email, “requiring GE labels serves to promote the kind of thinking” that’s rooted in “pseudo-scientific theories that have no basis in solid science.” Perhaps it’s not “new and improved” that will pop to mind when consumers see a GMO label, but rather something more like “skull and crossbones.”

via GMO food labels: Would label laws in Vermont, Maine, Connecticut increase food costs?.

Personally, I suspect the reaction from the public, once they got used to seeing the labels, would be a gigantic “meh”.  I doubt it would change the buying habits of most people.  After all, how many people actually look at the labels?  (I look at them, mostly for the nutrition info, but I rarely see anyone else in the aisles bothering.)  At least, that’s what I hope their reaction would be since I’m not eager to pay more for my groceries.

Labeling might perversely make people more comfortable with GMOs once they realized that it was in just about everything.  Irrational though it is, denying the desire for this labeling is probably fueling the GMO scare more than anything else.  I can definitely understand the concern of farmers as discussed in the article.  But I suspect they’re fighting a losing battle.

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6 Responses to GMO food labels: Would label laws in Vermont, Maine, Connecticut increase food costs?

  1. guymax says:

    There are many muddled idea around, that’s for sure. The only problem with this article would be that my objection to GM foods has nothing to do with whether they’re safe to eat, and I think this goes for many people.

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    • You’ve piqued my curiosity. I’m wondering what the other objections might be.

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      • guymax says:

        Things like damage to the ecosystem and the dependency of farmers on patented crops. There may come a time when we can’t grow an apple without three scientists on the staff and a manufacturing licence. It’s a principle thing for me. It cannot be anything other than hubris to think we can interfere with Nature in this way and do no damage. On top of all that it will, typically for new technology, and possibly worst of all, allow us to increase our population yet again. And, of course, it creates a lot of money and jobs for science, which always makes me suspicious of its endorsement of new ways of interfering with the world. .

        As for its nutritional value, one minute we’re being told that butter is bad for us, the next that GM is good for us. I stopped listening a long time ago. I couldn’t argue the case properly either way and don’t want to (!), but to me it seems like madness.

        Most people I know who object to GM cite this sort of reason, long term effects on farming, the ecosystem. food economics etc., and fewer are worried about the selfish issues concerning food safety. But I wouldn’t know if this is a typical sample.

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        • Thanks for the clarification. So more environmental than health. I haven’t heard much on the science on GMOs and the environment, so can’t comment on it. I would note that we’ve been interfering with nature since the first farmers bred the first crops, but technology is definitely adding new dimensions to that.

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  2. Manawai says:

    Fortunately, in this country farmers may CHOOSE to plant whatever seeds they wish. Farmers will always be able to plant natural seeds and to save seeds for subsequent crops. So why do all these farmers CHOOSE to use GMO seeds when they don’t need to? I think the obvious answer is that farming makes people mentally ill the proof of which is in all the farmer suicides in India. Now you no longer have to think about this issue and can quote the above ad infinitum in your anti-GMO media. BTW – The sky is falling!

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