Genetically modified foods: Why does California insist on finding a problem where nobody else does?

posted at 7:01 pm on September 15, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

On the state’s ballot in November, Californians will be voting on Proposition 37 — an initiative that would require all foods produced with or from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to carry mandatory warning labels. Oh, sure, it all sounds well and good and simple enough, except that such a measure would impose significant expenses on (often small) businesses; would cost the way-past-completely-broke Californian government up to over a million dollars to regulate the practice; and, oh yeah — is completely pointless because there is not a single documented case of “adverse health consequences” due to genetically engineered foods.

For a group of people who subscribe to the supposed “party of science,” progressives and environmentalists have waged a strange and steady campaign against the very idea of genetically modified foods. These “frankenfoods,” as they’re sometimes dubbed, are supposedly bad for us because they don’t occur by themselves in nature. But, here’s a news flash, greenies: Human beings have been ‘modifying’ foods with agricultural techniques for centuries. We didn’t just stumble upon corn as we know it today, and we make new apple hybrids all the time. Many medicines, I might also point out, are man-made, but we know that medicines can save lives. Tylenol doesn’t grow on trees, you know. From Forbes:

Except for wild berries and wild mushrooms, virtually all the fruits, vegetables and grains in our diet have been genetically improved by one technique or another – often as a result of seeds being irradiated or genes being moved from one species or genus to another in ways that do not occur in nature. But because genetic engineering is more precise and predictable, the technology is at least as safe as – and often safer than – the modification of food products in cruder, “conventional” ways. This superior technology is the target of Prop. 37.

The safety record of genetically engineered plants and foods derived from them is extraordinary. Even after the cultivation worldwide of more than 3 billion acres of genetically engineered crops (by more than 14 million farmers) and the consumption of more than 3 trillion servings of food by inhabitants of North America alone, there has not been a single ecosystem disrupted or a single confirmed adverse reaction.

The advantages are also remarkable. Every year, farmers planting genetically engineered varieties spray millions fewer gallons of chemical pesticides and substantially reduce topsoil erosion. In addition, many of these varieties are less susceptible to mold infection and have lower levels of fungal toxins, making them safer for consumers and livestock.

Not only would requiring these types of foods to carry mandatory labels impose costs on producers and raise prices for everybody, including consumers, they would imply to consumers that they need to be wary of undefined dangers, which in turn limits their choices unnecessarily. Maybe part of the idea is that consumers are supposed to spring for the organic foods as an alternative (which no state has any business doing anyways), except that recent studies have suggested organic food might not actually be all that it’s cracked up to be:

…Stanford University doctors dug through reams of research to find out — and concluded there’s little evidence that going organic is much healthier, citing only a few differences involving pesticides and antibiotics.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits, the researchers reported Monday.

Nor did the organic foods prove more nutritious.

Even the federal Food and Drug Administration, normally inclined towards being more meddlesome over less, has declined to require all foods in the U.S.A. to carry GMO labels. Imposing such a mandate in California would create a whole new level of regulation-and-litigation bureaucracy that no Californian food-business or individual consumer could avoid paying for. (For more resources, here’s a great piece from the Volokh Conspiracy on why this whole labeling idea is a possibly unconstitutional farce, and an op-ed from the LA Times on why California’s entire ballot-initiative procedure is a hot mess.)

The hubris of ignorant environmentalist groups never ceases to amaze. Have they ever paused to consider that genetically modified foods can, perhaps, save lives and help lift human beings out of poverty? Maybe? I know I’ve posted this video from Penn & Teller before, but it is great, and well worth the watch (warning: some brief foul language).


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Why must we either choose stinky, petulant, nutjob hippies who look like they haven’t had a decent meal in years…

Or pledge slavish devotion to anything that happens in a free market economy “because it’s capitalism, f**kin’ A dude!

I don’t want to be told what to eat or not to eat, but most of what we call “food” in our supermarkets is more of a lab experiment.

California is probably creating more of the same socialist self-demise, but their concern is not wholly misplaced either. This is not some harmless venture into humanitarianism by corporations that want to save poor people, it’s controlling the entire world’s food supply.

somewhatconcerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Remember the difference between a Florida orange and a California orange? The California orange sucks back!!!

K Michael ODonovan on September 15, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Still wouldn’t end farm subsidies.

VerbumSap on September 15, 2012 at 11:33 PM

Welp, that is a whole different topic altogether.

I’m not a fan of farm subsidies. I’m a fan of technology, science, and free markets…and safe food.

tom daschle concerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM

tom daschle concerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM

I don’t believe it is a different topic at all. Which crops are most likely to be GE? Is it just a coincidence that these are the most subsidized?

VerbumSap on September 15, 2012 at 11:48 PM

Yep, it’s coming stright from China.
I have the right to know, as I am aware of lax Chinese standards, as I have learned through my experience at Harbor Freight Tools.
cane_loader on September 15, 2012 at 11:18 PM

Commie plots – is there anything they can’t do?

whatcat on September 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM

Is it just a coincidence that these are the most subsidized?

VerbumSap on September 15, 2012 at 11:48 PM

Are they? I haven’t seen any data on that.

tom daschle concerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM

Sorry but I have to disagree with this one. If for no other reason than the tactics being used by Mansanto to force farmers on to their feed, GMOs can suck it.

Also, that there aren’t any cases of health risks is irrelevant. People have a right to know if what they are putting into their bodies is natural or not. Period.

Benaiah on September 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM

If for no other reason than the tactics being used by Mansanto to force farmers on to their feed, GMOs can suck it.

Also, that there aren’t any cases of health risks is irrelevant. People have a right to know if what they are putting into their bodies is natural or not. Period.

Benaiah on September 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Who has the largest market share of seed sales?

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

I can’t believe how zealous people are on this issue. It is INSANE.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

8 years of rugby and 3 years of firefighting between semesters did mine. Now I’m 30 and it makes me miserable.

Jackalope on September 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM

I wouldn’t call it zealotry.

Would you like to go to the gas station and just have the pump be labeled, “FUEL”?

When it comes to our bodies, why are some being so zealous to insts on no labeling?

Thalidomide was once thought good. So were X-ray machines to try shoes on.

Man is fallible. Not a huge deal to label experimental food. A huge deal, IMO, not to.

I refuse to be an unnotified experiment, without getting at least a check for it.

cane_loader on September 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Hmmm,.,, wrong quote.

I was responding to this:

I can’t believe how zealous people are on this issue. It is INSANE.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM

cane_loader on September 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM

Would you like to go to the gas station and just have the pump be labeled, “FUEL”?

When it comes to our bodies, why are some being so zealous to insts on no labeling?

Thalidomide was once thought good. So were X-ray machines to try shoes on.

Man is fallible. Not a huge deal to label experimental food. A huge deal, IMO, not to.

I refuse to be an unnotified experiment, without getting at least a check for it.

cane_loader on September 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM

GMO foodstuffs are the most tested foodstuffs in all of humanity. It takes decades to bring this stuff to market. Yet, any long hair can pay for an organic certification and everyone KNOWS it is safe and pure and healthy.

I’m not advocating for untested food to be brought to market.

Big Biotech™ not only employs tens of thousands worldwide in R&D, marketing and business, they employ an entire billion dollar marketplace of anti’s whose only goal is rent-seeking.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

[sips hormone-free milk]

*snickers*

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:13 AM

that there aren’t any cases of health risks is irrelevant. People have a right to know if what they are putting into their bodies is natural or not. Period.
Benaiah on September 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM

There is no such “right to know”. And even if there were, most people would stop eating altogether if they did know:
FDA Approved: The Maximum Amount Of Defects Allowed In Your Food

Defect Levels Handbook
The Food Defect Action Levels
Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods
that present no health hazards for humans
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

whatcat on September 16, 2012 at 12:13 AM

Tens of thousands get sick every year as a direct result of migrant workers pooping in crop rows, and there are fatalities, yet there is not one known instance of that happening because the crops were GMO.

Inserting genes is ancient tech. Like I said before, the tech in the pipelines now is 10,000x more powerful, 1,000,000 less understandable to the layman, and is just as likely to be maligned and organized against.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:17 AM

This will work out as well as the California cancer warnings. Everything you buy will have the warning on it. If everything causes cancer, then there is no reason for the warning because you need nuts, bolts, bottles, containers, etc.

AZfederalist on September 16, 2012 at 12:18 AM

Are they? I haven’t seen any data on that.

tom daschle concerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM

It’s common sense, really, but if you want the figures, let’s use biotech friendly ISAAA numbers:

The US continued to be the lead producer of biotech crops globally with 69.0 million hectares, (an average adoption rate of ~90% across its principal biotech crops) with particularly strong growth in maize and cotton in 2011 and the resumption of the planting of RR®alfalfa – alfalfa is the fourth largest hectarage crop in the US (~8 million hectares) after maize, soybean and wheat;

What are the subsidized crops? Let’s continue to use 2011 figures:

Rank Program Recipients 2011 Subsidy Total
2011
1 Corn Subsidies**
52** $4,610,464,817
2 Soybean Subsidies**
34** $2,073,454,838
3 Wheat Subsidies**
397** $2,023,951,310
4 Conservation Reserve Program
433,800 $1,826,661,369
5 Cotton Subsidies**
46** $1,297,599,264

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM

Bad table format, sorry. Linky

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM

Why does California insist on finding a problem where nobody else does?

The cause is Spotted Owl Syndrome and the only cure is slow-roasting over lump charcoal served with a tangy barbecue sauce.

viking01 on September 16, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Bad table format, sorry. Linky

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM

From 1996 to 2010, biotech crops contributed to Food Security, Sustainability and Climate Change by: increasing crop production valued at US$78.4 billion; providing a better environment, by saving 443 million kg a.i. of pesticides; in 2010 alone reducing CO2 emissions by 19 billion kg, equivalent to taking ~9 million cars off the road; conserving biodiversity by saving 91 million hectares of land; and helped alleviate poverty by helping 15.0 million small farmers who are some of the poorest people in the world. Biotech crops are essential but are not a panacea and adherence to good farming practices such as rotations and resistance management, are a must for biotech crops as they are for conventional crops.

This sounds horrible. /

1 Corn Subsidies**
52** $4,610,464,817

4.5 billion? Look I am not a fan of subsidizing crops, but 4.5 billion in the budget is…what?

I can’t find a simple percentage of gmo vs legacy crops planted.

I’ve been threadsitting since 2023 CST. Haven’t seen anything compelling from the weeping.

Oh well. Guess I’ll go suck down some hormone-free milk in my ivory tower :/

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:57 AM

Yet, any long hair can pay for an organic certification and everyone KNOWS it is safe and pure and healthy.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM

Actually, what everybody knows isn’t what everybody should know.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/17/organic-food_n_1283231.html

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/07/organic-food-no-more-nutritious-than-conventionallyraised-study-finds.html

With that LA Times story in your mind, watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhBKtjDtTVk

unclesmrgol on September 16, 2012 at 1:15 AM

I didn’t use to care whether food was organic or GMO but now I do. I’ve developed numerous food allergies,significantly to soy, which is the #1 GMO food in the US. Others have already mentioned the increase in autoimmune and other diseases in earlier comments.

Since the introduction of GMO foods in the mid 90′s there has been a 265% increase in hospitalizations due to food allergy reactions. This past decade the number of children with food allergies increased by 20%. 75% of our foods contain at least one GMO ingredient. The US has the highest rate of cancer in the world. Europe, Africa and other countries prohibit GMO foods.

I highly recommend watching some of Robyn O’Brien’s videos on youtube or her book, The Unhealthy Truth.

GrannySunni on September 16, 2012 at 1:21 AM

4.5 billion? Look I am not a fan of subsidizing crops, but 4.5 billion in the budget is…what?

Sure, it’s nothing. A billion here, a billion there–what the hell, right?

I don’t have a problem with GMOs in themselves. (Would be a little odd otherwise, since I have IDDM.) I’m aware that over half of corn and nearly all soybeans are in this category, so it should be a default assumption. It’s not a bad idea to avoid these regardless of their GM status, anyway. But the overproduction of these crops is a huge problem. The subsidies encourage it, the biotech facilitates it. It’s something I care about. I understand not everyone does.

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 1:36 AM

This is not a Looney Left issue. I oppose about 99% of the regulations in place but informing people their “food” is really a genetically engineered “product” makes a hell of a lot of sense. GMO may well be a threat to small farms as well as people. I know it’s CA but even they can accidentally be right.

Snackrabbit on September 16, 2012 at 1:39 AM

If labeling were so in-demand, there would be a market for voluntary labeling, without resorting to coercion through Law and Enforcement. Since that apparently (?) isn’t happening, then most people probably don’t care. So the smug self-riteous progressives must force their best interests on the citizenry, again. Thank you Nanny. I can has free condomz?

Kenosha Kid on September 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM

From these comments it appears that most people aren’t saying they want to outlaw GMO products, they just what to know that what they are consuming. There is nothing wrong with giving people more information so THEY – not the govt, not a corporation – can decide what to put in their body.

Hot Air staff is on the wrong side of this one.

MoreLiberty on September 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM

If labeling were so in-demand, there would be a market for voluntary labeling, without resorting to coercion through Law and Enforcement. Since that apparently (?) isn’t happening, then most people probably don’t care. So the smug self-riteous progressives must force their best interests on the citizenry, again. Thank you Nanny. I can has free condomz?
Kenosha Kid on September 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM

It’s a “feel good” control freak thing, that’s why it’s popular with the left. It employs emotionally based reasoning rather than scientific, factual-based reasoning. It’s like wearing a ribbon for every cause that comes down the pike to show what a great, caring person you are – except, in this case, the ribbon-bedecked demand that others do likewise.

whatcat on September 16, 2012 at 2:25 AM

Obama’s “Safe Foods Czar” is Monsanto’s former Chief Lobbyist, and later CEO, Mark Taylor. You can work backwards from that tidbit to guess which side of Prop 37 enhances individual liberty.

sparkle motion on September 16, 2012 at 2:31 AM

is completely pointless because there is not a single documented case of “adverse health consequences” due to genetically engineered foods.

You do realize that is because there has never been a long term study done?

Additionally, your “we’ve been modifying food for centuries” claim smacks of apples to oranges. Farmers in ancient Egypt weren’t working labs using chemicals, messing around with genes/DNA, etc to create a new strain of grain.

I’m all about reducing regulations, and I don’t really support this measure, but the GMO fight is not some looney left battle. In fact, I’d prefer we just ban all GMOs.

matthewbit07 on September 16, 2012 at 4:46 AM

Also, that there aren’t any cases of health risks is irrelevant. People have a right to know if what they are putting into their bodies is natural or not. Period.

Benaiah on September 15, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Do you know anyone who has diabetes (or any other defficiencies) ??? Do you think the diabet patients know or care that genetic engineering has been used to mass-produce insulin, also human growth hormones, follistim (for treating infertility), human albumin, monoclonal antibodies, vaccines and many other drugs???? Bacteria and yeast factories have been used to produce medicines such as insulin, human growth hormone, and vaccines, supplements such as tryptophan, aid in the production of food (chymosin in cheese making) etc.

jimver on September 16, 2012 at 5:14 AM

I’m all about reducing regulations, and I don’t really support this measure, but the GMO fight is not some looney left battle. In fact, I’d prefer we just ban all GMOs.

matthewbit07 on September 16, 2012 at 4:46 AM

Shall we ban the mass-produce insulin that incolve genetic engineering too? …diabet patients won’t be too thrilled, you know….but then maybe you come up with a solution yourself…

jimver on September 16, 2012 at 5:18 AM

You are ignorant of the enormous benefits to everyone from having access to pest-free food which carries markedly fewer harmful viruses and bacteria: one of the tremendous benefits of modern farming and genetic engineering.

There is an enormous amount of research backing this up: most of it widely published and easily available to you or anyone else who can read.

And produce would be safer yet if you and other ignorant dolts would pay attention to the science and stop opposing irradiation of produce: a measure which would virtually eliminate bacteria and virus-borne illness from produce.

But no, you would rather have other people die of starvation and preventable diseases because you are afraid of the modern world.

Nobody is preventing you from growing your own food any way you want.

PS – Pot is not a food.

landlines on September 15, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Hear! Hear! Thank you, landlines. :-)

Good grief, what a chore getting through these comments. Who are all these greenies infecting Hot Air anyway?

IrishEi on September 16, 2012 at 6:26 AM

For a group of people who subscribe to the supposed “party of science,” progressives and environmentalists have waged a strange and steady campaign against the very idea of genetically modified foods.

Liberals/progressives/Marxists/Neanderthals are all one and the same. It’s been this was from the beginning of time.

JellyToast on September 16, 2012 at 7:41 AM

Hear! Hear! Thank you, landlines. :-)

Good grief, what a chore getting through these comments. Who are all these greenies infecting Hot Air anyway?

IrishEi on September 16, 2012 at 6:26 AM

So believing that te individual should be able to make their own choice in the market place is being a Greenie? That’s simply just ignorant.

MoreLiberty on September 16, 2012 at 7:55 AM

GrannySunni on September 15, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Thanks! I’ve tucked that away in a safe place. :-)

Has anyone read The Wheat Belly? It’s a diet book which discusses GM wheat. Bill O’Reilly (yeah, I know) raves about the diet.

catquilt on September 16, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Herm … if Europe jumped off a cliff into a bubbling cauldron of lava would you do it too? Given e huge list of things Europe does wrong what makes them any sort of model to follow?

Arssanguinus on September 16, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The anti-science loony left.

Arssanguinus on September 16, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Has anyone read The Wheat Belly? It’s a diet book which discusses GM wheat. Bill O’Reilly (yeah, I know) raves about the diet.
catquilt on September 16, 2012 at 8:05 AM

Yes, I’ve read it, and it’s fascinating how diabetes and so many other health problems skyrocketed after the introduction of the GMO wheat, which bears little resemblance to the wheat eaten by our grandparents.

tikvah on September 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Genetically altered people can’t eat genetically altered foods. The people of kalifornika underwent mutations when they moved there. Those mutations were such tha their frontal cortexes atrophied. If they eat genetically altered food, they may shut down completely, and we would be stuck with a bunch of Kalifornica primitives in our zoos.

Old Country Boy on September 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

It is ludicrous to compare cross pollination with direct genetic manipulation.

If nobody cares that the food they eat contains GMOs Then the labeling will not reduce sales. Warnings that the state of California know something to be a carcinogen plays no effect on my decision to buy, but I would like to avoid GMOs.

Slowburn on September 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM

60% of children with autism have a salicylate sensitivity, and some children with ADD/ADHD and other behavioral conditions are believed to function better when placed on a low-salicylate diet. Since genetically modified foods often contain high levels of salicylates in order to fight off parasites, parents should have the right to know which foods are genetically modified so they can choose what is best for their own child.

Are genetically modified crops better than starvation? Absolutely! Does that mean the public should remain ignorant to what they are putting in their bodies? No, it’s never wise to choose ignorance over knowledge.

Smoothies on September 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM

oh good heavens– does NO one understand how our body’s digestive system work??

we swallow “foreign” DNA all the time– cucumber seeds, bacteria, etc etc.

Then enzyme proteins (“nucleases”) in our gut attack all of it, the manipulated modified DNA or other outside DNA, reducing any and all DNA in our diets to the same 4 universal nucleotide units (A,C,T,G) found in all life forms.

then these 4 harmless small molecule units can cross over to the bloodstream, along with the digested & available amino acids and monosaccarides, for utilization by our cells….

does no one pay attention in biology class these days?? sigh.

Deb on September 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM

My undergraduate degree is in this field of study. Most of the modifications are really dull and shouldn’t be worried about. Environmentalists are not upset over GMOs because they have genetic modifications, they are upset because it will feed the world and increase the population.

Yes, environmentalists are *pissed* at the Borlaugs of the world because their work will continue the EVIL plague of man on precious Gaia.

Don’t support their BS with your ignorance. These are the same people who made sure Borlaug is denigrated whilst championing Rachel Carson, who has indirectly caused more deaths than Hitler.

antisense on September 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Labling a food that has been genetically modified from its original, natural state should not be an expensive process and I am in favor of it.

If I splice an organge tree branch into my lemon tree branch and the spliced branch begins yielding leoranges that’s one thing. However, if I, using a microscope, open the cells of a seed, modify the genetic code so that it imposters an insecticide, then plant that seed, grow produce from it and sell it to people, well, that’s something entirely different. And, yes, I’d like to know if that is how my food got to the store shelf.

If you’re comfotable eating GMO foods that’s fine. You will have more to enjoy with me not joining you in that endevour.

watson007 on September 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Glad to see that so many HotAir commenters are opposed to informed consent, as is at least one of the main bloggers. Good to know.

pannw on September 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Attempting to prevent people from knowing that their food is laboratory crafted using the argument that there is no evidence of a potential hazard, is identical to cigarette manufacturers in the 1950s claiming that there is no evidence of a potential hazard, or Pfizer claiming that pseudo-ephedrines are completely harmless.

“Lack of evidence” today will turn into headstones tomorrow.

Labelling is a far different thing than banning, or restricting. Cigarettes are legal and available in every state of the nation, and few would argue that it’s reasonable to inform the purchaser of known hazards. It is equally reasonable to inform the purchaser of chemically altered food.

Freelancer on September 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Between the pop-ups and now this utter BS…i may just stop reading Hot Air….FOREVER

All Things Conservative on September 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM

However, if I, using a microscope, open the cells of a seed, modify the genetic code so that it imposters an insecticide, then plant that seed, grow produce from it and sell it to people, well, that’s something entirely different.

Wow, amazing ignorance. Microscope?…

Good grief…

Let me introduce you to the gene gun Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Yes, I’ve read it, and it’s fascinating how diabetes and so many other health problems skyrocketed after the introduction of the GMO wheat, which bears little resemblance to the wheat eaten by our grandparents.

tikvah on September 16, 2012 at 9:46 AM

What planet do you live on?

Currently, genetically modified wheat is not grown commercially in the United States because of a lack of consumer acceptance.

It doesn’t matter how much info is available to the public, they are still incredibly ignorant fools.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:33 PM

You do realize that is because there has never been a long term study done?

Additionally, your “we’ve been modifying food for centuries” claim smacks of apples to oranges. Farmers in ancient Egypt weren’t working labs using chemicals, messing around with genes/DNA, etc to create a new strain of grain.

I’m all about reducing regulations, and I don’t really support this measure, but the GMO fight is not some looney left battle. In fact, I’d prefer we just ban all GMOs.

matthewbit07 on September 16, 2012 at 4:46 AM

WRONG.

I can’t believe the ignorance…Egyptians weren’t messing around with genes? By controlled breeding THEY WERE. Modern Maize, non transgenic, didn’t exist not too long ago. Look up teosinte. educate yourself.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Obama’s “Safe Foods Czar” is Monsanto’s former Chief Lobbyist, and later CEO, Mark Taylor. You can work backwards from that tidbit to guess which side of Prop 37 enhances individual liberty.

sparkle motion on September 16, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Just lie. right? Nothing advances your stupid agenda like bold faced lies…

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:44 PM

But the overproduction of these crops is a huge problem. The subsidies encourage it, the biotech facilitates it. It’s something I care about. I understand not everyone does.

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 1:36 AM

You would make a fine director at the Ministry of Plenty. Maybe you could issue 5 year directives.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM

How is engineering a plant into producing a toxin and planting trillions of the engineered plants better than spreading the toxin manually at need?

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Yes the ancient Egyptians modified the DNA by selective breeding but that is not genetic engineering.

Slowburn on September 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM

How is engineering a plant into producing a toxin and planting trillions of the engineered plants better than spreading the toxin manually at need?

I’m not going to address your other “point”…

Fewer passes thru fields with farm machinery is preferable.

Think of it as ‘green’.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Tens of thousands get sick every year as a direct result of migrant workers pooping in crop rows, and there are fatalities

Brings a whole new meaning to “Montezuma’s Revenge”

Robert Jensen on September 16, 2012 at 2:33 PM

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

So you are conceding that selective breeding is not genetic engineering.

So to prevent burning some diesel having the whole field produce a toxin weather it is need or not is considered Green. I would have never guessed that.

Slowburn on September 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

So you are conceding that selective breeding is not genetic engineering.

Strain at that gnat!

So to prevent burning some diesel having the whole field produce a toxin weather it is need or not is considered Green. I would have never guessed that.

Slowburn on September 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

The toxin is already in the field.

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05556.html

The plants express that toxin as well. It is an elegant design that is efficacious, safe, inexpensive, and environmentally safe.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM

The alternative is multiple passes thru the field with gas guzzling equipment spraying nerve toxins as pesticide control.

Maybe that seems better to some people. Why isn’t that put on food labels?

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 2:56 PM

Don’t you understand? They object to all pesticides for their foods. They would rather let the pests eat their food so that they don’t have any.

blink on September 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Yeah I know. I just want them to say it. Admit that they don’t care about good yielding fields, affordable foor for Americans and abroad. 25k people die each day from starvation. I know that most of those are victims of their circumstances; essentially casualties of their inept and corrupt governments.

Someone said it upstream, if this particular labeling was so popular, why hasn’t it been adopted by food producers? Why does this type of labeling have to be enacted by monopoly of force?

Ericka should have linked to this article from freakonomics

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 3:08 PM

small exerpt:

Existing applications of agricultural biotechnology allow better control of pests by encoding plant DNA to either produce a naturally occurring and widely used insect toxin or generate immunity to a relatively low toxicity, broad spectrum herbicide marketed as Round-Up. By improving the control of insects or weeds, the technologies reduce crop damage, raising crop yields, lowering food prices, and saving natural habitat from cropland expansion.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Here is another good article from 2009

excerpt:

The FDA had three major concerns, which I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing below:

1) that the terms “GMO,” “GM,” and “GE,” were not technically precise and did nothing to inform the average consumer, and that “genetic modification” was overly broad, since it would include conventional means of generating new plant varieties (the FDA prefers the terms “bioengineering” or “biotechnology”–which they use interchangeably–to distinguish newer transgenic processes from conventional practices);

2) that the term “free” implied “zero,” and that the prevalence of bioengineered products made such a claim false, misleading, or unprovable; and

3) that the label would be misleading to the extent that it implied that foods not labeled as “GMO free” were in some way unsafe or inferior (a claim that is, in the FDA’s opinion, unsubstantiated by the scientific literature).

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 3:15 PM

60% of children with autism have a salicylate sensitivity, and some children with ADD/ADHD and other behavioral conditions are believed to function better when placed on a low-salicylate diet.

I can barely stand it anymore. You must be one of the cortex atrophied crew from kalifornica. Salicylates have been with us since before ancient Rome. Humanoids have been using bark teas as analgesics since before Galen. Any reasonable person would deduce that shamans have been giving sallicylates since pre-history. The American indians (the self identified ancestors of the self identified Cherokee princess elizabeth warren) were using willow bark tea when the first europeans arrived on these shores. It has come to pass in these later years that ADD/ADHD are figments of the social psychologists and pharmas. Write more papers, sell more drugs. If that doesn’t work, try getting to the seat of the problem.

Old Country Boy on September 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

You would make a fine director at the Ministry of Plenty. Maybe you could issue 5 year directives.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM

So pointing out the inefficiencies arising from government subsidies and price supports is anti-free market. Good to know!

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

So pointing out the inefficiencies arising from government subsidies and price supports is anti-free market. Good to know!

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Do you have a point? I have already expressed my dislike for farm subsidies. You expressed the notion that YOU KNOW that crops are overproduced. Then you implicate yield increases from biotech…as if that was a bad thing. Yield increases from biotech mean less water usage, less pesticide, less nitrogen usage, less deforestation to produce farmland, less gas burned, no till applications…the list goes on and on.

A hearty herp-derp for you on your senseless snark.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

I’m all about reducing regulations, and I don’t really support this measure, but the GMO fight is not some looney left battle. In fact, I’d prefer we just ban all GMOs.

matthewbit07 on September 16, 2012 at 4:46 AM

Shall we ban the mass-produce insulin that incolve genetic engineering too? …diabet patients won’t be too thrilled, you know….but then maybe you come up with a solution yourself…

jimver on September 16, 2012 at 5:18 AM

That may be an apples and oranges argument. My understanding of the production of insulin and other hormones is that these chemicals are in fact carbon copies of the same thing made naturally in our bodies. I think the concern is mixing and matching genes that didn’t develop naturally within a certain organism. Therefore, we may have to deal with unintended consequences.

Make no doubt about it-transgenic organisms are and have been a concern in the field of genetics since they realized they were able to do genetic engineering. Face it, the potential for making some really scary, destructive things is really there. So, we have to trust people we don’t know driven by motives we know nothing about that they won’t.

I’m not convinced that many of these products (including pharmaceuticals) are properly tested-they are going to be rushed to market because of the huge outlay in developing them and the need to make a profit. Defective products are made all the time-why should that not include GMO crops?

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 16, 2012 at 5:30 PM

I’m not convinced that many of these products (including pharmaceuticals) are properly tested-they are going to be rushed to market because of the huge outlay in developing them and the need to make a profit. Defective products are made all the time-why should that not include GMO crops?

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 16, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Do you consider 10 years a ‘rush to market’? Because it takes at least that long to get a gmo to market. Hell it takes 6-9 years to breed an event into a commercial line once it is thought to work.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

That may be an apples and oranges argument. My understanding of the production of insulin and other hormones is that these chemicals are in fact carbon copies of the same thing made naturally in our bodies. I think the concern is mixing and matching genes that didn’t develop naturally within a certain organism. Therefore, we may have to deal with unintended consequences.

So you are cool with Posilac? rBST? Because that was a carbon copy of existing BST.

Make no doubt about it-transgenic organisms are and have been a concern in the field of genetics since they realized they were able to do genetic engineering. Face it, the potential for making some really scary, destructive things is really there. So, we have to trust people we don’t know driven by motives we know nothing about that they won’t.
Dr. ZhivBlago on September 16, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Like the Terminator™ gene? :P

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Do you consider 10 years a ‘rush to market’? Because it takes at least that long to get a gmo to market. Hell it takes 6-9 years to breed an event into a commercial line once it is thought to work.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

That is indeed a rush to market. Even if they could, they cannot determine all of the biological and ecological outcomes-especially if they have no interest in finding those problems.

Breeding is not really the issue as I pointed out above. Also, consider how many hundreds of years it took to develop new strains of produce and animals through controlled breeding. We have to have time for nature to decide the repercussions of altering existing species, and the longer that takes the better.

I think we may be pushing the envelope with GMOs and we simply need to be more careful with them.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 16, 2012 at 9:11 PM

I avoid GMO foods wherever I can, because of running across stories like the following:

Evidence of GMO toxin absorption and toxicity: http://digitaljournal.com/article/324565

GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html

We eat antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides absorbed by the animals whose meat we eat, and I do not know what the safety limits are or whether they are being counted with the pesticides on veggies, fruits, and grains.

Our skin absorbs the fluoride from our bath and shower water. Fluoride is toxic over ‘safety limits.”

We breathe and absorb whatever is floating around in the air, sometimes fresh, sometimes with, shall we say, baggage.

Cancer is considered a Big Mystery, with decent cure rates only in testicular and lymph cancers. The immune system is more or less a black box that sometimes goes bad and boom, you have to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemo to even have a chance at 5 more years.

But let’s worship at the altar of Saint Monsanto??

alice on September 16, 2012 at 9:33 PM

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

Yes, I do know they are being overproduced. Yes, biotech does contribute to that. And yes, the most heavily subsidized crops are the most likely to be GM *and* the most widely planted crops.

As I said, I have no problem with these labeling requirement as long as they’re receiving subsidies in whatever form. The money adds up.

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM

But let’s worship at the altar of Saint Monsanto??

alice on September 16, 2012 at 9:33 PM

You should have put this at the top of your post. I would have known off the bat to not read it.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 10:18 PM

It is totally depressing to see how opinionated the truly ignorant among us are.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 10:29 PM

So pointing out the inefficiencies arising from government subsidies and price supports is anti-free market. Good to know!

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

You seem to be speaking in code.

blink on September 16, 2012 at 5:04 PM

There’s an incentive to grow more corn, soy, cotton, etc. due to assorted subsidies. This leads to overproduction; that’s why the government used to require those farmers to idle part of their farmland. (They’re also the bulk of the GE crops.) The scheme to address that now is just as stupid, but more complex, naturally. This is an inefficiency–or at least I thought it was, but evidently this makes me a socialist. Is that more clear?

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM

There’s an incentive to grow more corn, soy, cotton, etc. due to assorted subsidies. This leads to overproduction; that’s why the government used to require those farmers to idle part of their farmland. (They’re also the bulk of the GE crops.) The scheme to address that now is just as stupid, but more complex, naturally. This is an inefficiency–or at least I thought it was, but evidently this makes me a socialist. Is that more clear?

VerbumSap on September 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM

Someone needs to start advocating for an overproduction labeling requirement for all foodstuffs.

tom daschle concerned on September 16, 2012 at 11:06 PM

I finally agree with something California. Have you tasted the new tomatoes? You know, the ones that never over-ripen? Yes, the ones that taste like cardboard. The ones whose seed start to grow internally when they sit on your counter for two weeks – still looking like a vine-ripened tomato from days of old. We’re told that nothing has changed except they are picked early for the convenience of shippers; we don’t believe that. BRING THE TOMATO TASTE BACK!

NotEasilyFooled on September 17, 2012 at 7:10 AM

2011
1 Corn Subsidies**
52** $4,610,464,817

How much of that is for ethanol?

cheeflo on September 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

How much of that is for ethanol?

cheeflo on September 17, 2012 at 11:54 AM

None; the link I previously gave provides the breakdown of the programs counted as subsidies for that chart, and that one isn’t included. I think it was an extra $6 billion. It was dropped at the beginning of this year, but who needs direct subsidies when there’s RFS?

VerbumSap on September 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

So patent law doesn’t apply to the field of agriculture, or just to Monsanto specifically?

Didn’t Apple patent the ‘swipe’?

tom daschle concerned on September 15, 2012 at 11:01 PM

The pollen of a Monsanto plant drifting on to the flower of a farmer who chose to plant non-Monsanto crops is hardly a patent violation. More like trespassing. Monsanto’s unwanted material is crossing on to the property of another.

So…a robber breaks into your home and destroys your TV. Your logic would suggest that you should now pay the robber for his trouble?

bigbeachbird on September 17, 2012 at 1:26 PM

Glad to see that so many HotAir commenters are opposed to informed consent, as is at least one of the main bloggers. Good to know.

pannw on September 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I would agree with you in general, but things get a little more complicated when government starts managing information. In some cases the required labels become ubiquitous and therefore meaningless (CA mandated cancer warnings); I am informed by the State of CA that everything that I come into contact with in my daily life will cause cancer. The information content of the warning approaches zero – especially when one learns that the threshold for such a classification may be based on unproven assertions or require consumption levels far beyond human behaviors.

In other cases mandated labeling can become the first step in regulating or banning products or whole categories of products, based on what may turn out to be false evidence or evidence that ignores any reasonable cost-benefit analysis (e.g. DDT ban and resulting annual human malaria deaths worldwide).

in_awe on September 17, 2012 at 1:39 PM

I finally agree with something California. Have you tasted the new tomatoes? You know, the ones that never over-ripen? Yes, the ones that taste like cardboard. The ones whose seed start to grow internally when they sit on your counter for two weeks – still looking like a vine-ripened tomato from days of old. We’re told that nothing has changed except they are picked early for the convenience of shippers; we don’t believe that. BRING THE TOMATO TASTE BACK!

NotEasilyFooled on September 17, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Grow your own. Problem solved.

cptacek on September 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

My daughter is 13 and has had a multitude of medical conditions since the day she was born. Not one doctor ever suggested it was related to a food allergy. We went through the normal changing of baby formula, allergy pills, antibiotics, treatment for IBS, and then finally just suffering. Basically, we were told it was hereditary so for the intestinal discomfort, headaches, and skin conditions (vitiligo) the symptoms could be treated but not one doctor looked at the root cause. 4 months ago I finally found the link between all conditions and gluten. Upon further research there is reason to believe the that GMO wheat is not tolerated by most people, but to people intolerant to wheat it can be unbearable. She has not had a migraine since. She still gets a headache here and there but nothing that takes her down. Stomach issues are almost gone, and she is sleeping through the night for the first time in her life. I don’t know what the sleeping has to do with it, but it was a welcome benefit.

I haven’t researched the government involvement enough to make an educated argument. The only thing I will say is for people with intolerances it should be noted when things have been altered from their original states. It’s nice that most food labels will tell you when things contain soy, wheat, dairy, etc.

maables on September 17, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Grow your own. Problem solved.

cptacek on September 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

We try to plant a summer garden every year. But with the drought the last few years it has been quite a challenge.

maables on September 17, 2012 at 2:45 PM

The pollen of a Monsanto plant drifting on to the flower of a farmer who chose to plant non-Monsanto crops is hardly a patent violation. More like trespassing. Monsanto’s unwanted material is crossing on to the property of another.

So…a robber breaks into your home and destroys your TV. Your logic would suggest that you should now pay the robber for his trouble?

bigbeachbird on September 17, 2012 at 1:26 PM

This comment is too stupid for me to waste time on. Read about the lawsuits. Not one has been legit.

tom daschle concerned on September 17, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I finally agree with something California. Have you tasted the new tomatoes? You know, the ones that never over-ripen? Yes, the ones that taste like cardboard. The ones whose seed start to grow internally when they sit on your counter for two weeks – still looking like a vine-ripened tomato from days of old. We’re told that nothing has changed except they are picked early for the convenience of shippers; we don’t believe that. BRING THE TOMATO TASTE BACK!

NotEasilyFooled on September 17, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Go to a local farmers market. Pay premium prices for herilooms. Don’t complain about price or availability.

tom daschle concerned on September 17, 2012 at 10:16 PM

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