by Thomas Henry
September 20, 2013

from NaturalNews Website







What the public doesn't know won't hurt them.

At least, that's the thinking behind the Scientific American's recent editorial, "Labels for GMO Food Are a Bad Idea."


It argues,

"Instead of providing people with useful information, mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people's health."

For the Scientific American, this would only increase consumer costs, declaring that "such labels have limited people's options" in Europe, where it concedes that companies dropped GM ingredients after consumers avoided them, bemoaning that,

"today it is virtually impossible to find GMOs in European supermarkets."

Public health lawyer Michele Simon, one of several critics who spoke out against the "unscientific" editorial, noted the "familiar ring" to positions used by GM seed corporations when opposing Prop 37, which would have mandated labeling in California.

"It reads like the biotech industry handed Scientific American its talking points," Simon told the NY Daily News.

Stacy Malkan, former director of the Yes on 37 campaign, zeroed in on the claim that labeling GMO ingredients would increase the costs for families by $400 per year, noting that it was based on a study favored by biotech and later debunked by a University of California at Davis study.


Nevertheless, the Scientific American spreads worries that proper labeling requirements would force the more than 70% of foods produced with GM ingredients off the shelves, and as a result, "we would all have to pay a premium on non-GMO foods."

Astoundingly, the Scientific American reassures the public by pronouncing that the FDA has tested 'all the GMO varieties on the market' and subsequently found them to be free of allergenic and toxic effects, a contention that Stacy Malkan called "sloppy and unscientific."

"Saying the FDA has tested all the GMOs on the market is patently false. Each individual company is responsible for testing its own products, and they then decide if they want to voluntarily report it to FDA. But they aren't required to test or report," Malkan said.

Ironically, Scientific American itself warned in 2009,

"Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers."

The magazine's editors even noted at the time how the likes of,

  • Monsanto

  • Syngenta

  • Pioneer Hi-Bred,

...have even threatened litigation for using their GM seeds in unauthorized studies, essentially chilling independent researchers, making industry-sponsored research oftentimes the only available information on a product's efficacy and safety.

Independent studies that have been conducted on genetically modified foods - rather than by obviously self-interested biotech firms - have indicated numerous health risks, including sterility, low birth weight, undersized organs, unusual growth in intestinal cell walls and more.


The Institute for Responsible Technology identified 65 key concerns over GM foods based upon the research. In just one illustrative example, Russian scientist Irina Ermakova found that more than half of the offspring from rats fed GM soy died within three weeks in a peer reviewed study.


While the ultimate effects on humans remains unstudied, there is obviously a need for further research and clear labeling to indicate which foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

Scientific American concludes by arguing: "Such debates are about so much more than slapping ostensibly simple labels on our food to satisfy a segment of American consumers. Ultimately, we are deciding whether we will continue to develop an immensely beneficial technology or shun it based on unfounded fears."

Yet many countries have instituted moratoriums on GM crops or ordered to allow time for long term studies to be conducted. It is only on account of the powerful biotech and pharmaceutical lobbies that this has not been considered - and likely will not be considered - in the United States.













Labels for GMO Foods

...Are a Bad Idea
by The Editors

September 6, 2013

from ScientificAmerican Website


This article was originally published with the title

'Fight the GM Food Scare'




This past June, Connecticut and Maine became the first states to pass bills requiring labels on all foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


In November 2012 California voters rejected the similar Proposition 37 by a narrow majority of 51.4 percent.

"All we want is a simple label/For the food that's on our table," chanted marchers before the elections.

The issue, however, is in no way simple.

We have been tinkering with our food's DNA since the dawn of agriculture. By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms' genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example.


For the past 20 years Americans have been eating plants in which scientists have used modern tools to insert a gene here or tweak a gene there, helping the crops tolerate drought and resist herbicides.


Around 70 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients.

Instead of providing people with useful information, mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the 'misconception' that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people's health.

  • the American Association for the Advancement of Science

  • the World Health Organization

  • and the exceptionally 'vigilant' European Union,

...agree that GMOs are just as safe as other foods.


Compared with conventional breeding techniques - which swap giant chunks of DNA between one plant and another - genetic engineering is far more precise and, in most cases, is less likely to produce an unexpected result.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested all the GMOs on the market to determine whether they are toxic or allergenic. They are not.


(The GMO-fearing can seek out "100 Percent Organic" products, indicating that a food contains no genetically modified ingredients, among other requirements.)

Many people argue for GMO labels in the name of increased consumer choice. On the contrary, such labels have limited people's options. In 1997, a time of growing opposition to GMOs in Europe, the E.U. began to require them.


By 1999, to avoid labels that might drive customers away, most major European retailers had removed genetically modified ingredients from products bearing their brand.


Major food producers such as Nestlé followed suit. Today it is virtually impossible to find GMOs in European supermarkets.

Americans who oppose genetically modified foods would celebrate a similar exclusion. Everyone else would pay a price. Because conventional crops often require more water and pesticides than GMOs do, the former are usually more expensive. Consequently, we would all have to pay a premium on non-GMO foods - and for a questionable return.


Private research firm Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants estimated that Prop 37 would have raised an average California family's yearly food bill by as much as $400.


The measure would also have required farmers, manufacturers and retailers to keep a whole new set of detailed records and to prepare for lawsuits challenging the "naturalness" of their products.

Antagonism toward GMO foods also strengthens the stigma against a technology that has delivered enormous benefits to people in developing countries and promises far more. Recently published data from a seven-year study of Indian farmers show that those growing a genetically modified crop increased their yield per acre by 24 percent and boosted profits by 50 percent.


These farmers were able to buy more food - and food of greater nutritional value - for their families.

To curb vitamin A deficiency - which blinds as many as 500,000 children worldwide every year and kills half of them - researchers have engineered Golden Rice, which produces beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A.


Approximately three quarters of a cup of Golden Rice provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin A; several tests have concluded that the product is safe. Yet Greenpeace and other anti-GMO organizations have used misinformation and hysteria to delay the introduction of Golden Rice to the Philippines, India and China.

More such products are in the works, but only with public support and funding will they make their way to people's plates. An international team of researchers has engineered a variety of cassava - a staple food for 600 million people - with 30 times the usual amount of beta-carotene and four times as much iron, as well as higher levels of protein and zinc.


Another group of scientists has created corn with 169-fold the typical amount of beta-carotene, six times as much vitamin C and double the folate.

At press time, GMO-label legislation is pending in at least 20 states. Such debates are about so much more than slapping ostensibly simple labels on our food to satisfy a segment of American consumers.


Ultimately, we are deciding whether we will continue to develop an immensely beneficial technology or shun it based on unfounded fears.



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