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Proposed GMO Labeling Laws Have It Backwards

Avoid lawsuits and confusion by marking “non-GMO” foods.

November 28, 2013
Dennis Kleid - Molecular Biologist, Senior Research Scientist, retired · Wailea , Maui Weekly

Great write up. Thanks for the "GMO Confusion, Valuable technology or frightening sci-fi?" editorial and other related stories in the Nov. 7-13 issue of the Maui Weekly.

I understand that some folks want to know that they are eating fruits and vegetables that were not genetically modified. However, under the proposed laws, products must include notification that sugar (fructose, dextrose and glucose) from corn or sugar beets, and oils from vegetables, cottonseed, canola seed or soybeans may have been purified from plants that were modified in some way using genetic methods rather than hybridization, plant breeding, selection or grafting.

This means that pretty much all foods will end up being marked, because producers doesn't actually know nor could they prove that only non-genetically modified plants were used to produce these products.

The sugar and/or oil is exactly the same. There is no assay that could tell that the plant source was indeed non-GMO or it wasn't. Thus, marking "may contain GMOs" would be required on everything.

However, if the producers of non-GMO products could be FDA-certified that they are providing GMO-free products, then "GMO-free" could be marked and relied upon with confidence.

The direction of the federal bill and those of Washington and California, which lost recently, were written just the opposite--"may contain GMO/GE," whatever that may mean, because every processed food would need to be marked "may be GMO, because we don't know." Organic was exempt in that proposed legislation.

If the American people want to be sure that they are not eating GMO, then the folks that want to be in that particular business could provide the information that they are producing in GMO-free foods, and then mark them as such.

I appreciate the passion and the concern of non-GMO promoters that the burden of labeling should not fall on these folks, but, that is little burden for them compared to the reverse.

If there was a law that allowed folks to mark their products "GMO-free," they would need to work harder than other producers to be able to provide food that met that standard, and thus, they would be proud to have that label.

Unfortunately, these GMO laws are not about that. The proposed laws instead provide a lawyer free-for-all, suing any producer whose product is not marked "may contain GMOs."

The engendering of GMO fear and worries comes from certain producers, in particular, exempt organic producers that have an agenda having nothing to do with food safety worries.

Also, chemical producers point the finger at "bad GMO" and away from their own highly profitable herbicide and pesticide sales and marketing business.

Resistant-to-herbicide weeds come about from the use of all the herbicides. Roundup-resistant weeds may come, but they are still just weeds. Unless you use actually used that herbicide on your weeds, how would you know you even have a resistant-to-herbicide weed?

Again, I love the passion, but put it to good use and get "non-GMO" foods marked so we can find them in the store. Otherwise, everything but the exempted foods will be marked GMO, and the plaintiff attorneys and big-buck settlements will benefit only attorneys.

Marking food non-GMO, or GMO-free, would work. People will be able to choose.



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