Letter: False arguments against GMO labeling
In her column on New Hampshire’s GMO labeling bill (“Scare tactics aren’t swaying lawmakers,” Monitor Forum, Nov. 15), National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright suggested that impartial research has shown genetically modified food to be safe for human consumption and the environment. This is not true, which is why 64 countries require genetically engineered foods be labeled.
I served on a citizens committee in 2001-02 that studied genetic engineering. Our report made clear that these products had not been sufficiently tested, that there were serious concerns about environmental impact and that these products needed to be labeled to be able to trace unexpected effects on human health and the environment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not independently test these products. The companies that create them test them and tell the FDA that they are safe.
Boatright also says, “Farmers and gardeners have been shaping the genetic destiny of the foods we eat for thousands of years.” Genetic engineering is not farming or gardening. Farmers and gardeners cannot transplant a gene from a species totally unrelated to another species – for example, taking a fish gene and implanting it into a strawberry gene to make strawberries more resistant to frost. This sort of thing can and does happen in biotech laboratories.
Many well-respected studies make clear that American consumers want to know which food products contain genetically engineered ingredients and that labeling will not increase food costs. Simply repeating falsehoods will ultimately fail, just as it did when large companies said smoking or DDT were safe. But do we want to wait decades for the right thing to happen?
If Boatright were a truly thoughtful representative of the National Grange, which was founded to advocate for thousands of families in rural America, she would understand that labeling GMOs would be the most effective way to represent them.