GMO Labeling in Oregon – Exercise in Demonizing Scientific Processes

Oregon currently is getting ready to vote on whether to put labels of foods showing that some ingredients of the food product have been produced by the process of Genetic Modification. It’s a waste of time, money and human energy as you will see in reading below:

The Genetic Modification of Organisms (GMO) are a group of processes developed by scientific research over the past 40 years to modify the genes of plants and animals to help cure diseases, make better food products, improve wood for better paper making and occasionally making crop plants that will resist the effects of spraying weed herbicides or attack by insect pests. The process of inserting already existing natural world genes into other organisms has existed in nature since viruses first existed on our planet, so it is not new. What the human GMO processes have done with plants has been to speed up the transfer of desirable genes into specific plants. In this manner, GMO processes have produced much of the Green Revolution, better nutrition for hundreds of millions of people worldwide and give us hope for viable agriculture as water scarcity and climate changes modify our ever more populated world. There have been no reliable scientific experiments in the past 40 years to show that GMO modified plants produce any harm to persons eating them, but there have been many positive outcomes. Included in this would be high lysine GMO corn developed in the 1970’s helping fight a protein deficiency causing kwashiorkor, and the recent development of high vitamin A, GMO golden rice which will help millions of people avoid death and blindness from severe vitamin A deficiencies. So here we have a widespread scientific process used for hundreds of reasons

There has also been a downside to a few of the GMO modifications that have been developed for plants. The insertion of a natural weed gene into wheat has produced an herbicide resistant wheat which has brought on an increase in the broadcast spraying of herbicides which may cause environmental problems. Additionally, the insertion of a gene from the naturally existing insect killing bacterium, bacillus thuringensis, has produced certain plants that kill their insect pests, but also may be killing some of the good insects that we want in our environment. The United States chose not to sign on to many of the international controls suggested for vetting GMO modified plants, and has not clearly limited patents on genes nor the ownership and liability for infection of neighboring crops of wind pollenated plants such as wheat in part because of heavy lobbying by companies that make these varieties of GMO modified plants. The State of Oregon chose not to have ‘no spray’ areas like they have in the State of Washington. So, what have we got? A state needing to fix how it allows certain broadcast and GMO plant pesticides to be used, and how to prevent the infection of its billion dollar non-GMO soft white wheat industry from infection by the wind-blown pollen of GMO modified wheat and to determine who pays for the clean-up of this problem if it occurs. Additionally, we have several large corporations involved with these few downside GMO modifications which need to be controlled in their distribution, patenting and the clean-up of any damage done by the GMO developed plants which they own.

Measure 92 does none of the things we need to do as described in paragraph #2. In fact, the proponents of passing this measure are blatantly demonizing a valid group of scientific processes in their campaign to get Measure 92 passed. They are using a scare tactic of trying to relate GMO modified plants to three chemicals, developed back in the 1940’s and 50’s, DDT and Agent Orange (a 50/50 mixture of 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T). These chemicals were banned in the USA and elsewhere in the 1970’s and 80’s and have no relationship to GMO processes nor plants. Additionally, the pro-92 campaign is falsely claiming that by having their label, a person will have a better idea of what is in their food. This is not true, because GMO is a group of processes, not a food or chemical. It is not like sugar or peanuts, or gluten or silicon dioxide or soy lecithin or vitamin A or trans-fats or any one of the thousands of other items labelled on foods.

It appears that our country and certainly much of the State of Oregon is developing an opinion that demonizes a vast area of scientific investigation in genetics that has already been shown to be safe and of tremendous value to humanity. A quick zip to the internet will verify this demonization, but if you read carefully you will note that most of the writing is innuendo and very shy on facts or references. If you want to know about GMO and foods in general, then I would suggest you read the full “Special Food Edition of Scientific American of September 2013” or go to the October 26, 2014 ‘Opinion’ column written by Elizabeth Hovde which lists three reputable resources for understanding GMO products with their web site addresses.

Finally, here is a good set of questions to ask yourself about your food as you visualize reading a GMO label on a can or package. Will you still be eating tofu knowing that over 90 % of all soybeans are GMO modified in one way or another for good or for bad? Will you still eat bread or use wheat as a thickener in soup, or cook with canola oil, or eat corn chips, corn flakes, corn nuts… knowing the same kind of information? When you see a GMO label on a food item, how will you know if that food was altered to make it more nutritious for your child or is something else?? What if you become ill or allergic to something in a food you have eaten for many years? Will you know if it was caused by a GMO introduced natural gene or by some chemical or food substance that has nothing to do with the GMO process? Are you willing to demonize a whole set of legitimate scientific processes in order to put a useless label on a can?

2 Comments on “GMO Labeling in Oregon – Exercise in Demonizing Scientific Processes

    • Marty, Thanks for the comment, How are you and Jim doing? Keep in touch if you are coming up to OR next summer. Looks like it may be some time before we get back to Texas.


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