Thursday, March 22, 2012

Obama Made A Campaign Promise To Label GMOs

While on the campaign trail in 2007, Barack Obama promised to label GMO foods if elected:
"Here's what I'll do as President. ... We'll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they're buying."
There must be a pretty powerful contingent in Congress preventing follow-through on this.


Ben P. DaSalt said...


That was so two thousand seven, like, a lifetime ago.

We have more important things to discuss, like female contraception.

And Florida Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns who has served for 23 years still has concerns over President Obama’s birth certificate.

“I am, shall we say, looking at all the evidence,” Stearns said

Thank goodness for that!

Bix said...

Laughing... The man will have concluded his presidency and people will still be looking at the evidence.

Ben P. DaSalt said...

I mentioned how long Stearns has been in office because if you say that that Republicans are being irrational about this, the response is that it’s the far right fringe, newly elected Tea Party candidates, or political charlatans like Donald Trump. But here we have a long standing Republican still spouting this nonsense.

But I’m deflecting. Obama did say he would label GMOs.

However, with the Party of No insuring that nothing can be accomplished in order to score political points along with the incessant shenanigans they perpetrate, it’s unfair to entirely blame Obama for not getting to every one of his campaign promises, especially a more tertiary one like food labeling. Though, I suspect, that even with an agreeable Congress, Obama wouldn’t label GMO anyway. There’s too much industry influence.

I’m kind of ambivalent about labeling and GMO in general. I can appreciate both sides of the issue, though ultimately I suppose I lean on the idea that labeling and consumer information in general is fair.
But labeling something as GMO doesn’t really tell a consumer all that much. Perhaps general blanket labeling of all associated chemical inputs used for GMO and everything else, organic too, along with a brief description of known toxicity. Maybe doesn’t have to be a full label, just a cell phone bar code that the consumer scans and all the data shows up, could even have additional environmental impact estimates, CO2 produced, water usage, etc.

I’m not all that convinced that all GMO is inherently unhealthy or horrible for the environment, but yes, the way GMO has been rolled out in US so far hasn’t been handled very well at all.

I’m still gathering research on this subject, but the information usually comes from polarized sources and it’s hard to get decent objective analysis.

On one hand I’m pro science and I don’t think scientists came up with GMO out of ignorance or to be evil. The science and reasons for GMO are sound and aren’t nearly as dangerous as some critics claim. On the other hand, market and industry interests aren’t always so benevolent and do we really “need” GMO.

I’m skeptical of the “feed the world claim,” especially in context of first world countries where we have plenty of food. Adding drought resistance and vitamins to third world crops, there’s something to that. I’m also tentative on the more outrageous claims backing organic though I tend to lean toward organics myself, but not in any consistent fashion, I eat plenty of conventionally grown food without much concern.

I realize most of your usual blog commenters, including yourself, are anti-GMO, and I may get flamed for this post, and worse, I don’t even have much to offer as a rebuttal because I agree with many of the anti-GMO arguments. However, there is a hyperbolic anti-science tone from too many GMO critics that makes me question the absolute condemnation of GMO.

Angela and Melinda said...

Ben, I agree w/ you to some extent that GMO *in itself* may not be so bad (though there's no proof either way, bad or good), but to my mind it's all the toxins that GMO plants require that makes GMO bad. As well, there's the issue of, e.g., Monsanto's infertile plants, which require the 3rd world farmers (and others) to buy new seed every year, a financial burden for people who are barely hanging on by their fingernails.

Here's an essay from a very respectable source, Barry Estabrook, on our ability to feed the world with organic food:
And there are others who publish the same info on organic foods. The only reason organic costs so much more is that generally, organic farmers don't receive govt. subsidies.