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Mandatory GMO Labeling Coming to a State Near You? May 31, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

While California tried last year, no state has yet to enact a mandatory GMO labeling law. But Arizona recently had someone file with the Secretary of State’s office to form a political committee. And the media is already all over this topic.

Howard Fischer with Capitol Media Services did his job as a reporter and reported on the GMO labeling matter in his article, “Activist wants to require labels on genetically modified foods.” But there’s just a bit more to the story (the back story) I’d like to add.

American Farm Bureau Federation

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, Arizona Farm Bureau has policy on mandatory GMO labeling (I know, Farm Bureau is ahead of the curve on so many issues). This is policy proposed, worked on and voted up or down by agriculture members of the Farm Bureau, one of the few legitimate bottom up organizations left in our country. The word-for-word policy approved by our state Farm Bureau’s delegate body on this is in italics.

Labeling Of Genetically Modified Foods:

Farm Bureau opposes the mandatory labeling [emphasis mine] of foods derived from genetically modified (GM) plants and/or animals. The use of biotechnology in agriculture has greatly increased yields, decreased the amounts of pesticides used by farmers, and been proven safe by years of scientific study. Mandatory labeling of GM foods is not supported on any scientific basis, as no significant differences between conventional and GM food varieties have ever been recognized. Labeling of GM ingredients will give consumers a false impression that these foods are different and may lead to decreased demand for GM goods. This in turn may lead to crucial crop shortages, increased food insecurity and a decrease in advances within the field of agricultural biotechnology.

This does not mean that Farm Bureau is opposed to GMO labeling, just making labeling mandatory. As my quote stated in Fischer’s article, mandatory GMO food labeling implies risk where there really is none. While you and I have moved away from appreciating, celebrating and applying a science-based understanding of the world around us, those in biotechnology have not. More than 600 scientific studies support the safety of genetically modified foods. Everyone from the National Academies of Science to the Wold Health Organization have all concluded that GM foods do not pose any more risk to people than other foods. And as I’ve mentioned in earlier blog articles, we already have the USDA-Certified Organic label for anyone who wants to avoid GMOs.

Second, I want to emphasize how important I personally believe it is to focus more on healthy eating than worrying about GMO foods. To keep it simple, I suggest adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, reducing your sugar and fat intake and sticking to the basics like dairy, lean meats and eggs.

Finally, while the anti-GMO crowd will attempt to convince you that GMO crops are bad for the environment, they’re just plain wrong (plan on doing an article on this topic alone). Peer-reviewed scientific studies point to the environmental benefits of geneticall modified crops including a dramatic decline in the use of chemical pesticides (think BT cotton) and chemical fertilizers, an increase in natural resource conservation and the ability to produce more foods for a growing population in a sustainable manner.

The debate on GMOs and GMO labeling is raging but know that Farm Bureau is engaged and excited about the conversation.

 

Editor’s Note: This is part of my ongoing series exploring the world of biotech agriculture and food including Defining & Understanding Biotechnology: Wrapping Our Heads Around the Science,  Getting to Know Monsanto’s People10 Simple Strategies to Avoid GMO Foods and Into the Belly of the Beast: My Visit to Monsanto.

Full Disclosure: This article, nor any previously posted or in the future are funded by any biotech organization. The non-profit Arizona Farm Bureau makes it’s money through member dues and service revenue.

 

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Comments»

1. Diane D'Angelo - May 31, 2013

So you are a spokeperson for the Farm Bureau and you’re patting American citizens on the head and telling us not to worry our pretty little heads about GMOs. Whatever could be the problem with that?