Friday, October 18, 2013
Yes, genetically modified food is controversial.
Some people believe products with genetically modified organisms — GMOs — are unhealthy and dangerous. But many others have no concerns about products made from wheat or corn or other crops that have been genetically altered for a higher yield or to be resistant to diseases.
But those who have concerns can have them addressed without mandated GMO labeling, which is what Initiative 522 requires
I-522 should be rejected.
That’s not to say it’s a bad idea to label GMO products. However, the need to label GMO products should be driven by the marketplace — a desire to attract customers to the product being sold.
Since GMO labeling is important to the segment of the population with health concerns, companies that sell products that contain no GMO could put that on their labels to capture that market. If the sales exploded, then other companies selling GMO-free products would start labeling.
And those who are not bothered much or at all with the idea of genetically modified products can make their purchase decisions — as they do now — based on price, taste and other factors whether it is or isn’t labeled GMO free.
But if government regulation is ever needed, and we aren’t convinced it is, uniform standards should come from federal officials and apply to the entire nation.
Having individual states with specific labeling rules is costly for businesses and customers. It also hurts those growing products, such as wheat, that may or may not be genetically modified.
Gluten is an example. Some people are sensitive to gluten (a substance present in cereal grains) and want to purchase only products that are gluten free. Those who have gluten-free products and want to increase their sales label them as such.
As more products are labeled gluten-free, some have asked for clear guidelines on labeling. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it would define “gluten-free” as containing less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. The labeling, however, remains voluntary.
That’s as it should be.
Beyond this, I-522 is poorly crafted. It puts demands on some products and not others. We believe it’s likely to cause problems for no reason.
The fact is GMO products are here to stay.
The practice of manipulating the genetics of apples, grapes, wheat and other crops has been going on for a very long time. These genetic changes aren’t going to be reversed because it has been a success.
Genetic-altering methods have made crops less expensive to grow, resisent to diseases and more nutritious. They’ve been approved by the FDA as safe and they are in many products in grocery stores.
I -522 is an overreach. We urge a “no” vote.