The GMO Labeling Debate

There are two camps that favor labeling genetically modified [GM] foods:

1) The “Right to Know” people, who say they just want to know what’s in their food. This is a specious argument. The truth is they think there is something harmful about GMOs. Why else would they feel so strongly about labeling genetically modified foods? Yes, the Just Label it Campaign is couched as a consumer rights issue, but really it’s based on fear. Everybody knows this, so pretending otherwise is silly.

2) The other pro-label camp is comprised of a small minority of pro-biotech people who recognize that the battle for public opinion is lost. The GMO fear-mongers have won–they have successfully framed the argument as a consumer choice issue. So the only sensible thing to do at this point  is to play along and join the labeling bandwagon. As Ramez Naam argued effectively in a recent guest post,

We should label them [GM foods] because that is the very best thing we can do for public acceptance of agricultural biotech. And we should label them because there’s absolutely nothing to hide.

From a political and pragmatic standpoint, this makes sense. After all, winning an argument at all costs can be counterproductive, whatever the cause. (The climate concerned who insist on playing whack-a-mole with climate skeptics–instead of picking their battles carefully–have yet to learn this lesson.)  Still, I suspect that many pro-biotech people stand on principle and object to GMO labeling because it implicitly concedes victory to the fear-mongers, which is what one commenter on Naam’s post said

[Just label it] is a disingenuous campaign and everybody knows it. How can we entertain that?! Capitulating on this misses the whole point and reinforces their framing of the issue. It sets a bad precedent.

Personally, I’m ambivalent about GMO labeling. I see right through the naked cynicism of the Right to Know campaign. It is totally disingenuous. On the other hand, as any student of Aikido or Tai Chi knows, redirecting the force of your attacker is an effective tactic. There is a case to be made that a GMO label on foods would neutralize the opposition and eventually pave the way to greater acceptance of biotechnology. Jonathan Gilligan made this argument earlier in the year, saying,

if GM food is labeled as such, I really believe that most consumers will buy it anyway and it will defuse the “what are they trying to hide” line of attack.

I find this to be a compelling argument. And yet, in a Bloomberg column this weekend, Cass Sunstein makes a good case against mandatory GMO labeling. He essentially concludes that science should guide the argument:

In the abstract, it is hard to disagree with the claim that consumers “have a right to know.” But with respect to food, there are countless facts that people might conceivably want to know, and government doesn’t require them to be placed on labels. Unless science can identify a legitimate concern about risks to health or the environment, the argument for compulsory GM labels rests on weak foundations.

I’m curious to hear where people stand on the GMO labeling issue, and whether anyone has changed his or her mind recently (in either direction) and why.

[Image at Label it Yourself website.]

300 Responses to “The GMO Labeling Debate”

  1. Pdiff says:

    I definitely feel that labels should be evidence based and only relate to health and safety issues. However, I have become resigned to the inevitable occurrence of GMO labeling. The popular pressure has simply grown too great to avoid. That said, I strenuously object to the nonsense style and details of the Prop 37, I522, or their derivatives (virtually all current proposals). If labeling is to be done, then put it in the right place (with other health and nutritional information, not blatantly on the package front) and say something useful besides “may contain GMO”. Anyone truly interested in “right to know” would want nothing less.

  2. I agree with pdiff, except that I favor the “may contain GMO”, as that defuses the major anti-GM right-to-know argument, yet doesn’t give in to them totally. It also would prevent the need for segregation or testing of ingredients on the basis of GM content and would not open manufacturers and others to lawsuits on that basis. I am absolutely against any kind of warning label.

  3. brian says:

    I think we would all agree that there’s a line to be drawn between what is reasonable information to include on a label and what’s unreasonable.

    It’s reasonable that, when you buy a ready made lasagne, you know you’re buying beef (and not some other meat).

    But is it reasonable to know that the cow was an Aberdeen Angus or a Holstein? Should I expect to know what variety of tomato was used for the sauce? I think most people would feel that this is not required – sure, the manufacturer might want to tell you he only used ‘finest Angus beef from the glens of Scotland and sun ripened tomatoes from Spain’ but that’s up to him.

    So what side of the line does GM fall? I would say that’s optional information that a food manufacturer or supermarket could include if they wanted to. If someone wanted to market their product as ‘GM free’ that’s up to them – personally I think it’s a rather cynical move to frighten the consumer into buying their product. I’d prefer the information is left off the label because to say a product contains GM or not means absolutely nothing – meaningless information is worse than no information.

  4. Andrew Adams says:

    If someone wanted to market their product as ‘GM free’ that’s up to them – personally I think it’s a rather cynical move to frighten the consumer into buying their product.

    Surely all they are doing is recognising a demand for a particular kind of product and meeting that demand. What’s wrong with that?

  5. Steve Crook says:

    I’m in the UK, and I don’t see it would be possible to get food that directly contains GMOs onto shelves without labeling. Indirectly, (chickens fed on GM maize) is already happening, and afaik there’s been no problem with people buying it.

    As long as the ‘contains GMOs’ on the label is just another ingredient entry rather than a warning, just label and let the market decide.

  6. Kevin Folta says:

    Most of the people in Group 1 are entirely disingenuous. Non-GMO food is already labeled. Look at the non-GMO project and ‘organic’ food in general. Labels are already there if someone wants the “right to know”.

    My feeling, without evidence, is simply that the label is required to create a target, as with the sticker above. The anti-GM activists stop at nothing to support bogus charts, bad science and weak studies. Imagine when they can scare Joe and Jane Six Pack with false information directed toward specific food items!

    Once that bad information is out there, it might as well be fact. Those that don’t understand, don’t want to be bothered with critical thinking, or hate a certain company will always remember that lumpy rat that ate the cheerios.

  7. cory says:

    Do you consider corn bred to contain BT a GMO product? Given that it is suspect in the deaths of millions of monarch butterflies, I’d like to have the option of not buying it. Labeling would help me to do that. How is that a specious argument?

  8. Matt Lewis says:

    FEAR of poison is a good thing, its call self preservation. Since GMO’s were introduced there has been a 50% rise in food and skin allergies. My wife has Celiac disease, I have Crohn’s disease, all four of my children suffer from one or the other.

    Not only is it the GMO food, its the herbicides that are used on the GMO food that are causing much more of a problem>

    Label is what I settle for, I want a BAN of GMO. You article shows your ignorance. Science is great until it hurts your children and then says oh my bad.

    EVERYONE SHOULD EAT ORGANIC. We can produce enough food for the world without GMO if we set greed aside and stop paying people not to grow. Ignorance is all that this article represents.

  9. jh says:

    I think there has to be a demonstrable health issue for FDA-mandated labeling. That’s what the FDA is all about. Using it for any other reason is a distortion of its mission.

  10. camille_h says:

    Discover must not be the magazine I thought it was. It is hard to believe an anti-information anti-labeling anti-disclosure point of view such as this has any traction. If you are making a profit from selling food that people are putting directly into their bodies & using their possible future health outcomes as your science experiment without disclosure, I find that disingenuous at best & possibly quite dangerous. The food “scienticians” drawing up bizarre reworkings of natural products devoid of the nutrient spectrums found in natural foods only to pump them back up with a weird blend of replaced nutrients… What could go wrong? From the same lot that stuffed us full of margarine, partially hydrogenated crap, HFC, dyes, colorants, preservatives, pesticides, etc. No thanks. When I buy a bananna, or a peach, or a tomato or freakshow grains you’ve “improved” I’d like to receive fair warning before turning over my hard won money. Honestly. I vastly prefer Europe’s prove it does no harm conservative approach!!!!! I treasure my heirloom non-killer seeds organic CSA & they are the first destination for our household’s money.

  11. cory says:

    adding more after caffeine:

    I’d also like the option to avoid round-up ready products, for the scientific reason that they are encouraging selection for herbicide resistant weeds and overuse of roundup may blunt the sharp edge of one tool we have, similar to the way that overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is suspected of contributing to the rise in antibiotic resistant infections in humans.
    Here is a link on an article from Nature on BT corn:

    And here is an article on roundup resistance from Nature Biotechnology

    Now. Please tell me why wanting choice is specious. I have demonstrated two valid, scientifically supported reasons for personally wanting to avoid using two particular GMO products. Shouldn’t I be allowed the information I need to make that choice?

  12. Buddy199 says:

    Over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, which means that most people eat whatever they want, as much as they want, with not much consideration given to possible negative health effects. If you pointed out that their corn dog had GMO in it you would probably be met with an open mouthed, blank stare. GMO labeling is a concern for just a microscopic hypochondriacal splinter of the population. What a non-issue for everyone else.

  13. Robert Ford says:

    the hilarious thing is that both of those conditions are genetic and heritable so it’s purely you and your wife who are at fault for passing them on to your kids. #funny

  14. And here we have a perfect illustration of the problem. Cory is misinformed, and has been led to believe that a label is what we need to solve the Monarch issues and do something about Roundup.

    Neither of those things changes with a label. (Same thing with patents which is the next goalpost….)

    So when they wake up from the haze of the campaign, they’ll look around and realize that their label didn’t do a thing, because it wasn’t based on the facts and the science.

    The next f̶u̶n̶d̶r̶a̶i̶s̶e̶r̶ initiative will be to ban GMOs. Which would also have the same outcome–as the conventional herbicides still do the same things. But they’ll think they did something.

  15. JonFrum says:

    Unless you’re a farmer, why would you care about weed resistance? When you eat your dinner, do you ever actually think about the weeds that grew in the fields where the plants were grown? Ridiculous. As to butterflies, glyphosate is far LESS toxic than herbicides that have been used in the past. That’s why it’s used. Take away glyphosate, and MORE non-target insects will be killed by agriculture.

    So much for your scientifically supported reasons.

  16. JonFrum says:

    I want to know if products are manufactured by Jews. I just want to know, that’s all. I little yellow triangle on the label would do the job. Why can’t I have the right to choose who I buy from?

  17. says:

    Keith, I am adamantly opposed to GMO labeling. As you mentioned, this isn’t really about the right to know, it is about fear-mongering. One look at some of these comments show how wide spread the misinformation and willful ignorance is about GMOs. I think it would set a terrible precedence to label something scientifically sound and give into the fear mongering. If we start here, where does it stop? Label planes with chemtrails (lol)? Label water with fluoride? Label electricity from nuclear plants? Label any product that has used animal testing? Giving into unfounded fears is never a good idea.

  18. harrywr2 says:

    If we are going to label…then we should label everything without exception.

    I.E. Every piece of meat that has been fed GMO grain should be labeled…every gallon of GMO based ethanol gasoline. Every thing that has been cooked with GMO corn oil. Every menu in every restaurant.

    Only when the public can see that the vast majority of foodstuff has had ‘GMO’ ingredients for a full generation will they come to realize how truly silly the labeling argument is.

    We already label non-GMO foods…we call them ‘organic’.

  19. Robert Wager says:

    So the 15 recalls for pathogenic bacteria in organic food since 2011 including one that killed >50 people and gave over 1000 kidney damage for life is? Not a single case of harm form consuming GM crops has ever been documented. You definitely need to read this:

  20. Robert Wager says:

    If GM specific food labels was really a “right to know” how food crops were made in the first place, then why is “made with ionizing radiation mutagenesis” of made with chemical mutagenesis” not also part of the call to label? The organic food industry does not think the public has THAT “right to know” about how some of their food is made.

  21. Mia says:

    The label should be a man on the toilet clenching his stomach with sweat beads pouring down his face…

  22. Matt Lewis says:

    hilarious? I think not. Neither of our parents had these issue, and we did not have these issues when we were young, but our children do. 50% increase in skin and food allergies in children since the introduction of GMO foods. Nobody in my family is overweight.

  23. Jake says:

    Fear of poison is a good thing – but you are using anecdotal evidence to describe something as poison. Is fear of lettuce a good thing, or fear of eggs – in short, what makes something a poison?

    The idea that you can produce enough food for the entire world with organic food alone is a conspicuous claim to me. We pay people not to grow in order to preserve soil, limit soil erosion, and limit run-off. In order to really do sustainable, organic row-crops, one would have to have a lot of fallow ground every year. It is simply not feasible to grow enough food for a rapidly growing world without chemical and biological technologies.

    In no way am I trying to minimize Celiac’s, Crohn’s and allergies (one of my best friends suffers from Crohn’s disease – and it is suffering). However, there is no causal link between GMOs and these diseases. Even if there WERE evidence I would have a hard time arguing for the banning of GMOs, because hunger and malnutrition affect many, many more people and inflict damage to humanity on a global scale.

  24. Steve Crook says:

    You’ll be accused of having something to hide and make GMO an even bigger target.

    All that most people want is to know what’s in the packet so they can make a decision. Label and let the market decide..

    It may take a decade, but eventually, you’ll have a generation of
    people that have grown up with GMO on the shelves and can’t see anything
    wrong with it.

    We will be left with a vocal minority who still think we can feed the world organically, but every dog has a few fleas and manages to live with them.

  25. cory says:

    We all rely on the agribusiness model for the majority of our food supply. We all share the responsibility to understand the strengths and weaknesses of that system.

  26. cory says:

    I am not misinformed. I would personally like to choose not to spend my money on those products. I deserve that option.

    I did not attempt to predict personal shopping behavior without scientific cause (as you are), or predict a change in market or farming practices (as you have). I responded to the original question, which was, “what is your stance on labels”. End of story.

    I gave you examples of valid scientific studies that establish the reasons for my concern, and you responded with personal attacks. Now who’s unscientific?

  27. cory says:
    Evolved glyphosate-resistant weeds around the world: lessons to be learnt
    Stephen B Powles

  28. Mia says:

    Looks the same, smells the same, goes in the same….and then the story changes….then the fun begins. Processed internally differently, affects differently & is eliminated differently. NOT THE SAME. Don’t just label it. BAN IT!

  29. Robert Ford says:

    yes, i agree. ban this commenter!

  30. Robert Ford says:

    you need to start visiting GNXP blog (on the side bar) cuz you clearly don’t understand even your own predicament let alone GMOs. even a visit to wikipedia might enlighten you. right now you’re a “foil hat” person.

  31. Matt Lewis says:

    Yes Robert wikipedia is a great place to get information any idiot like you can create.

    If you are OK with eating poison and passing it to your children have at it, I WANT LABELS….

  32. Mia says:

    No rampant ibs, crohn’s, colitis, celiac, ibd in the 70’s 80’s, 90’s. Now SUDDENLY everyone and their mother has a bowel problem? What are we eating? Not normal. Never happened before. The problem is not the people. It’s the GMOs plus Glyphosate that is ruining their stomachs & bowels.

    I know….deny & blame…SAVE IT.

  33. Mia says:

    There is a whole world of people just like me who are FED UP with your lies. Get a better job that isn’t anti-humanity…one that you can be proud of.

  34. says:

    Steve, you may be right. There are a lot of people who think that would happen. It just seems unfair to me to force GMO foods to go through the extra expense of labelling for no valid reason. As I mentioned, if we do it there, do we label other things that are virtually meaningless? Its not even labelling for labelling’s sake. Its labelling to appease the Alex Jones, Joseph Mercolas and Mike Adams of the world. It seems counter-productive to me to give in to the whims of anti-science conspiracy theorists, no matter how wide spread the belief is.

  35. Robert Ford says:

    watch out for Those black helicopters!

  36. Robert Ford says:

    Mia to the rescue! Saving the world from …stuff.

  37. camille_h says:

    Hi Robert & thank you for your reply. Organic food & all food can be improperly handled & result in pathogenic bacteria contamination. This is just a deflection from the issue at hand. The way to solve a debate is to narrow the range of the debate, not to distract or add other concerns.

    That said I somewhat agree with you that there is a woeful lack of documentation on the health impacts (if any) of 70% GMO consumption by humans over a period of time. There is a pronounced lack of clinical trials. And a weird spike in all sorts of creepy diseases, related or unrelated (RA, autism, etc. etc.) I prefer the principle of First Do No Harm to be applied here.

    I think the true, hidden complaint about GMO labeling is the massive extent to which these altered industrial foodstuffs have already infiltrated our regular food supply- so the fear of industry seems to be that the horse is out of the barn & since disclosures weren’t made when these new additives were brought in, they are concerned about consumer backlash.

  38. TIL: Discover works for Monsanto

  39. I used to subscribe to discover when it was good but over the past few years they have been going downhill. They haven’t had a relevant article for at least two years now.

  40. Pdiff says:

    Your study on Bt has been long ago debunked. Your resistant weeds story is also skewed (see for example). Mary is correct: You are misinformed. If you still insist on using incorrect and outdated information, then by all means, buy what you like. You already have the information you seem to desire, i.e. Organic and non-GMO labels.

  41. Pdiff says:

    That study was quickly and definitively shown to be complete BS. The “researchers” had no clue what they were doing.

  42. Will labeling GMOs stop herbicide use? No.
    Will labeling GMOs stop weed resistance? No.
    Will labeling GMOs affect the butterfly migration patterns over farms? No.

    You are fooling yourself if you think that labels will affect the things that you think you want to accomplish.

    If you want to avoid GMOs for philosophical reasons, you can do so with the existing labels as Pdiff notes. Just like Kosher, it’s a way for you to select those foods grown to match your philosophy.

  43. Kevin Folta says:

    How do you know it is not organic food causing allergies, celiac disease or Chron’s? In the same time GMO usage has increased, so have products from the organic industry. Correlations do not equate with causality.

    Matt, there is no evidence to support your fears. There is no real link to the herbicides (most are gone long before food is set, unlike in non-GM conventional, or pesticides on organic). Your calls for labels and bans come from fear, a lack of understanding of the science, and listening to profiteering activists over neutral scientists.

    The worst part is that while you blame healthy food for the problems the real causes go unchecked. Focus on the scientific origins of health issues. I hope that it will find you a faster solution.

  44. Matt Lewis says:

    So because I want GMO labels I am crazy. Robert I would rather be thought crazy by ignorant people, then continue to make my family sick.

    Enjoy your poison…..

  45. Kevin Folta says:

    Hey Matt, when you post that article it shows your level of scientific scrutiny. Aris and Leblanc is widely held up as one of the most perfect papers for us to teach from. It shows how bad science can be published. Any first year grad student can find the simple flaws in that work. The main problem is that their “detection” was all done at levels, well, below detection. Look at their standard curves and then the amounts they claim to find. They are looking at noise. Yep. Nothing more than background. But it sure has you nervous, and worse, willing to perpetuate the fear by sharing trash science here.

    For additional information please read,

    And if you have questions please feel free to send an email. That’s my real name and I’d be happy to talk you through the figures of the paper and show you why it is junk. You’ll feel much better.

  46. Robert Ford says:

    your own genome is what is making your family sick.

  47. Kevin Folta says:

    I love Mia’s scientific evaluation and evidence. “BECAUSE ITS WHAT I THINK” Not the way I like to discuss important scientific issues, but certainly is consistent with the level of sophistication within the pro-labeling community.

    They are a fertile ground to discuss logical fallacy and Dialog Deficit Disorder.

  48. camille_h says:

    Nonsense. Demand for GMO disclosure is mainstream now. Demonizing fair disclosure as some weird conspiracy theory is confounding one for the other, it makes the desire to keep the hidden more suspicious. If you can’t stand behind honest labeling of your product, perhaps you shouldn’t be profiting from it.

    Natural products did not need labeling, as they were what you see is what you get. Luckily people are becoming more aware of pesticides, etc.

    Why so much sympathy for the poor manufacturers having to update their labels to reflect the modern marketplace THEY are reengineering & not concern for fellow humans need for health-impacting information?

  49. Matt Lewis says:

    You trust feeding your children corn, that has bt genes in it. These genes paralyse the bugs intestines and they die when they eat any part of the plant.

    You stupidly I might add, think this is OK for you and your children to eat. I think its disgusting and lacking long term studies and will avoid it for my family.

    Enjoy your poison, some might argue you deserve it……

  50. Chocolate kills dogs. I hope you don’t give your children chocolate.

  51. says:

    Robert, I agree. Could you send me ( or post the source for the 15 recalls with the death figures and kidney damage? I’m writing an article and would love to include that data if I can source it.

  52. Pdiff says:

    “Enjoy your poison, some might argue you deserve it……”
    LOL. That’s it, show your true colors. You indeed are sick ….

  53. says:

    Fair disclosure would be that all natural/organic products disclose the they too use herbicides and pesticides. In many cases, those “natural” poisons are far worse for the environment than the conventional alternative. I’d be all for labelling if it leveled the playing field for everyone and required ALL foods to be labeled with something meaningful like the number of times pesticides and what type of pesticides were used for just one example. Every piece of food you have ever eaten has been genetically modifed over time. A GMO label is virtually meaningless unless, of course, you believe the misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding GMOs.

    Beware the naturalistic fallacy. Natural does not equal safe.

  54. Rick says:

    The monkey picture you have of yourself is tres sophisticated…

  55. Nullius in Verba says:

    All plants contain a natural cocktail of chemical pesticides, evolved to stop things eating them. It’s sort of the plant’s version of an immune system. Every plant contains bactericides, fungicides, insecticides, and so on. Not only that, but most plants are occupied by many more bacteria and fungi that each have their own chemical arsenals of natural defences. You think you can leave a bunch of food out in a muddy field for months, unprotected by anything, and not have it eaten?

    So you’re not avoiding “poisons” by avoiding Bt. It’s just one pesticide evolved by one naturally occurring soil bacterium. The plant has plenty more. Most plants have around a few dozen different chemicals, and there are reckoned to be around 10,000 different chemicals used by plants generally. 99.9% of all the pesticides you eat are absolutely natural, and virtually none of them have been tested for long-term safety.

    However, humans have powerful defensive and protective mechanisms themselves, and can detoxify and digest a wide range of such chemicals, and repairs damage. It’s part of the natural healing process. The odds of any individual chemical causing a problem are slight, and the odds are overwhelmingly that it’s going to be a natural chemical rather than an artificial one, simply because there are a lot more of them.

    (And indeed perfectly natural food poisoning does kill quite a lot of people already, and used to kill a lot more before we invented all this modern food processing.)

    This sort of argument is like having a morbid fear that the light from electric light bulbs is going to burn through your skin, on the basis that electric light has only been around for a century or so, and we haven’t evolved any defences against it. The fact that we walk around in bright sunlight without harm doesn’t occur. Compared to the onslaught of thousands of natural chemicals we face every day, artificial pesticides are a 20 Watt light bulb.

    But it does no good telling people all that. They’ll huddle in their darkened rooms, demanding that buildings be labelled on the door “Contains artificial light” and complaining about how it’s everywhere and they can’t avoid it. And that’s fine by me. People can believe what they want, and do what they want with their own bodies. The problem comes when they start demanding things of the rest of us, that we don’t want but that *we* have to pay for.

    If you want to eat ‘organic’ food, go ahead. It’s still got pesticides in it, but whatever.

    But I want to eat food that *doesn’t* have crazy labels on it. What about *my* choice?

  56. Jules777 says:

    It is not just about fear mongering for everyone you lumped into camp #1. It is about allowing consumers to make choices that are right for them. Ingredients are already required on labels – just as is the percent of RDA for certain vitamins. I personally choose not to eat – or feed my family – GMO foods. And, just as I have to read labels to avoid feeding my son dairy (to which he is allergic), I would like to be able to read the label and know if some other gene (IMO, part of the ingredients!) has been used to create the food. The market economy will then figure out the rest – whether there is a market for GMO foods.

  57. Robert Ford says:

    well, that all assumes that some random hippie is worth protecting from such “poison.”

  58. Pdiff says:

    Perhaps you should first soundly demonstrate “health impacting” issues using modern science. Do you think of manufacturers as being big companies? Many are not. Even small Mom & Pop outfits at the farmer’s market will fall under labeling constraints and the associated legal liabilities. Ironically, many “big companies” will be exempt under existing label proposals: all restaurants, all animals fed GM, all enzymatic and fermented products, and even more ironic, all medical foods. Still think you’re getting disclosure?

    And speaking of honest labeling, why doesn’t Organic step up to the plate and show us how it’s done?

  59. Pdiff says:

    Nothing is wrong with it as a voluntary option to label.

  60. Robert Ford says:

    It’s still confusing to me though. There’s clearly no harm caused by them so they have to make stuff up. So what are they really against? To me it seems like they’re mainly against toying with what’s “natural.” They don’t like anything that’s not “natural.”

  61. morechorizo says:

    Actually something IS wrong with it as it would most likely violate the Civil Rights act. But, hey, it’s a very intelligent and relevant argument…of course.

  62. camille_h says:

    the perfect is not the enemy of the good. We have a long way to go with all kinds of disclosures.

    However, organic HAS already stepped up to the plate. When “toxic” “poison” chemical & freak gene manipulation are the default, we’re in trouble as a world.

    Most if not all organic items including produce take pains to disclose their organic status. Can’t say the same for GMOs, which appear to be hiding their provenance despite having infiltrated our pantries unannounced. In fact it is because of the marketplace becoming more aware of our choices & largely voluntary differentiation of organics– as well as the generally superior health benefits of organic food, not to mention growing concern about over-industrialized foodstuffs that is driving this wonderful debate that WILL end up disclosing lots of origination & production information to consumers.

  63. morechorizo says:

    It seems to me that the author and his supporters in this discussion want to metaphorically ram GMO foods down our throat guided by the premise that there is nothing to be “afraid of” and that in time we will all see how great GMO food is.
    Why so much hostility for labeling as such? Dismissing absurd arguments like the one JonFrum posted, it is common sense that food genetically manipulated in a laboratory should be labeled as such. There are many people who might want to know that. Will knowing that stop herbicides from being used or butterflies from dying as mem_sommerville rightly points out? No. But it will give the market better information to determine which direction the industry takes. And as true capitalists, we all believe in the positive power an informed market has on the country and the world.

  64. morechorizo says:

    For those who make the argument that there is already “non-GMO” labeling out there, they are right. ORGANIC food is non-GMO. But outside of organic food and conventional food is GM which is a third and completely different way of producing food and should be labeled as such.

  65. Buddy199 says:

    I understand that if you eat GMO food next to a windmill while pressing your cell phone to your head you’re safe. What hypochondriacal cry-babies.

  66. camille_h says:

    I’ve seen several NON-GMO product labels on heirloom popcorn seeds & several other items. Hope it builds momentum. But there is no reason to exclusively burden the small organic farmer who already face higher production costs (isn’t cheap likely unhealthy food what this is about at heart?) bear the burden for the industrial world’s rampant overuse of pesticides & genetically manipulated food? Seems like the alterations are designed to protect profit, not health or flavor.

  67. camille_h says:

    “Beware the naturalistic fallacy. Natural does not equal safe.”

    “I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed!”
    ― William Shakespeare

  68. Pdiff says:

    Civil Rights? How so?

  69. says:

    Camille, instead of addressing the facts, you use a quote and an insult in an attempt to change the subject away from the science. It is exactly that kind of behavior that shows that your argument is without merit and you are the one “unarmed.”

  70. morechorizo says:

    It would most likely violate the Civil Rights act. But, hey, it’s a very intelligent and relevant argument…of course.

  71. Pdiff says:

    “the perfect is not the enemy of the good. ”
    Glad to know that. I’ll remember that when thinking of Bt crops that reduce insecticide use and RR crops that limit the use of far more environmentally harmful and toxic herbicides.

    The Organic label hasn’t done crap. Organic as a label means nothing in terms of health (sorry, the benefits are far from proven). It fails to disclose that fact. It also fails to disclose that, as a production method, it is far less efficient, taking far more land to produce equivalent production. It fails to disclose the pesticides and antibiotics it potentially entails. It fails to disclose that no residue testing is required for those pesticides (unlike conventional production). It fails to distinguish between the large industrial scale mono-crop organic outfits and the local 1 acre biodiverse farmer. It fails to disclose that it might be imported as Organic, but the source is dubious. Organic does do one thing: bring in premium $$ for the retailer. That would be why they “take pains” to disclose and certify and promote.

    Be happy eating your Organic. Be also happy knowing that it often is produced using “toxic”, “poison” chemicals and freak gene manipulation (chemo-mutagenisis) that have been the default for a long long time now. Be happy that the perfect is not the enemy of the good … except when it, in fact, is.

  72. camille_h says:

    You need to get out more & talk to some good CSAS.

  73. camille_h says:

    Once someone starts admonishing me to “not believe the natural fallacy” there is nothing left to say.

  74. Pdiff says:

    … and may we offer you a mushroom, all pretty in red with white spots …

  75. camille_h says:

    You already have.

  76. Nullius in Verba says:

    “It seems to me that the author and his supporters in this discussion want to metaphorically ram GMO foods down our throat guided by the premise that there is nothing to be “afraid of” and that in time we willall see how great GMO food is.”

    Not at all. You’re welcome to buy organic.

    “Why so much hostility for labeling as such?”

    There is no hostility to labelling as such. Organic is labelled, and nobody has a problem with that.

    ” it is common sense that food genetically manipulated in a laboratory should be labeled as such. There are many people who might want to know that.”

    OK, sure. And if organic food contains cyanides, there are people who would like to know that too. So should we make all the organic food manufacturers label their food with all the cyanides they contain? And the glucosinolates, indoles, terpenes, phenols, and so on? Let’s see…

    3-indolylmethyl glucosinolate (glucobrassicin), 1-methoxy-3-indolylmethyl glucosinolate (neoglucobrassicin), indole-3-carbinol, indole-3-acetonitrile, bis(3-indolyl)methane, allyl isothiocyanate, 3-methylthiopropyl isothiocyanate, 3-methylsulfinylpropyl isothiocyanate, 3-butenyl isothiocyanate, 5-vinyloxazolidine-2-thione (goitrin), 4-methylthiobutyl isothiocyanate, 4-methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate, 4-methylsulfonylbutyl isothiocyanate, 4-pentenyl isothiocyanate, benzyl isothiocyanate, phenylethyl isothiocyanate, 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane, 1-cyano-3,4-epithiobutane, 1-cyano-3,4-epithiopentane, threo-1-cyano-2-hydroxy-3,4-epithiobutane, erythro-1-cyano-2-hydroxy-3,4-epithiobutane, 2-phenylpropionitrile, allyl cyanide, 1-cyano-2-hydroxy-3-butene, 1-cyano-3-methylsulfinylpropane, 1-cyano-4-methylsulfinylbutane…

    Sounds great, doesn’t it? And we should insist that every single one of them gets labelled on all organic non-GMO produce, because they really believe in informing the consumer…

    “As true capitalists, we all believe in the positive power an informed market has on the country and the world.”

    Capitalism works even when people are not informed – which is a jolly good thing given how little most people know. That’s why capitalism works and centralised command economies don’t – because in a free market people are free to try every solution, the price they pay for it allocating the resources to balance the individual needs and wishes of a billion people, which is far too much information for any group of bureaucrats and legislators to even gather, let alone comprehend and process. The free market already could (and would) provide labels if that’s what people wanted.

    If you want labels, you’ve already got them. Just buy organic/non-GMO labelled products. The more you buy, the more people will want to supply them. Problem solved, right?

  77. Matt Lewis says:

    I love that people will blindly eat poison, and fight for that right…

  78. Matt Lewis says:

    you are ignorant

  79. Matt Lewis says:

    They altered the DNA, its not evolved over anything. Let them alter your DNA, seems safe

  80. Matt Lewis says:

    You want to eat it and want to force it on others, you deserve it.

  81. Kevin Bonham says:

    That “weird spike in all sorts of creepy diseases” is also positively correlated with cell phone use, increased atmospheric CO2, satellites in orbit and women in the workforce. There are a lot of things that have increased over the past 30-40 years, but there’s no reason to think that any of them are causally related to disease.

    “First do no harm” does not mean “never do anything new until proving it’s 100% safe.” If we did that, we wouldn’t drive cars, use the internet or take aspirin.

  82. jeremyah1 says:

    Either Mr. Kloor doesn’t know much about the total farming system around GM seeds – or he is paid by those who take money from Monsanto. That said, he does seem fair and somewhat open minded.

    As a farmer born in 1936 let me be clear, the ignorance of the public who are thronging to our nation’s supermarkets are not only ignorant of the facts but are just too trusting in what they read.

    GM produced food begins by spraying huge amounts of Glyphosate on the crops, this herbicide which is a chelator, e.g. it binds up minerals essential to weed growth, and the plant growth in the process. Glyphosate has been found in pregnant mothers and their fetuses.

    Then comes the Insetcides, some of which are built into every cell of a grain of corn. Not a good thing to ingest, regardless of the promises made by Monsanto and their apologists.

  83. Nullius in Verba says:

    Unless an organism is an exact clone of it’s parent, the DNA is altered in every generation. Mine is. Yours is.

    And humans have been altering the DNA of plants and animals to their design for 6,000 years. Only it was a lot slower, because they had to wait for the random scrambling effects of mutation to come up with the useful changes, and then breed out all the less-useful, damaging ones. In modern times, they speed the process up with radiation and chemical mutagens. But because the DNA-scrambling is random and uncontrolled rather than carefully considered and engineered, it gets called ‘natural’.

    I bet you think that carrots are naturally orange. Orange carrots didn’t even exist prior to the 16th century. Genetic modification has a long history.

  84. Nullius in Verba says:

    Yes? And what about the insecticides built into every cell of non-GM, organic corn?

  85. Pdiff says:

    Actually, I’ve worked quite closely here with the CSA and farmers market, as well as the restaurants they serve and other small ag operations. I and my community here can do that because, on a global scale, we are wealthy in both money and time. And that’s fine, but I don’t expect or require that my neighbors, the US ag sector, or the entire ag world operate that way because it is highly inefficient in money, time, and inputs.

  86. Jake says:

    “Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, CRP is the largest private-lands conservation program in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers and land owners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion, and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species.”

    I live in the Missouri and have been around farms my entire life. The “We pay people not to plant” program is the CRP program. It is true that we have price floor program, but we do not have a program to support limiting supply to increase food prices. We actually have programs to support the highest yield possible in the form of investment grants and crop insurance.

    You are arguing the classic anti-GMO tactic which is to cite a small study that marks bloodstream detection without providing a shred of evidence that Bt toxin is toxic to humans or other warm-blooded animals.

  87. Pdiff says:

    Then why aren’t you eating it? It’s all natural, grown organically on non-GMO compost and the purist spring waters. To repeat hank_59: Natural does not equal safe.

  88. Kris says:

    Roundup (Glyphosate) is toxic & causes Autism. Here’s your science, Sparky…it all starts IN THE GUT.

    My heros: Jeffrey Smith & Dr. Seneff

  89. Pdiff says:

    Exactly how is anyone being forced to use GM? Basically you are telling me that if you knew someone was poisoning themselves (even mistakenly) you would let them die because you judged them unworthy of saving. Wow! That is very sad.

  90. jh says:

    “Either Mr. Kloor doesn’t know much about the total farming system around
    GM seeds – or he is paid by those who take money from Monsanto.”

    Because KK doesn’t agree with you he has to be either ignorant or corrupt? 🙂 So much for political discourse in this country! We’re all on the moral high ground, aren’t we?

  91. jh says:

    Cory, you can already avoid BT and roundup: buy organic.

    When the FDA accepts evidence that GM foods are harmful, it will be time for labeling. Until then, there’s no need for it.

  92. Perhaps you missed where Keith talked about Seneff’s paper and its claims? When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience.

    Please seek credible sources.

  93. Robert Ford says:

    it doesn’t get any more ignorant than having a congenital disorder and yet still deciding to have 4 children. i feel bad for them

  94. dogctor says:

    First do no harm is a guidance for medical professionals to calculate and then discuss the benefits and risk of any intervention ( drug, surgery, food etc).

    Since the foods are unlabeled, tracing adverse effects of these foods to chronic illnesses such as IBD, hepatopathies, pancreatitis, immune-mediated diseases has been impossible, which is exactly how Monsanto et al seem to like it. If they are proud of their product, they would have branded it–emblazoning their logo in bold print on the front of the box.

    There is no plausible mechanism for causation of IBD by satellites and your other absurd examples–red herrings seem to be a standard feature of the Team GMO playbook.

    There are plenty of mechanisms by which b.t.’s immuno-reactive cry proteins can lead to gut inflammation with cross reactivity to other antigens. Round Up and its toxic proprietary adjuvants inhibit the body’s detoxification system and could be applying pressure on the intestinal microbiota selecting out pathogenic bugs such as invasive E.coli and Clostridia.

    Here is the back of the envelope calculus on RR and Bt crops:

    Benefit to consumer’s health: Zero

    Risk: incalculable.

    You might not want to wait until a product genetic engineers benefit from financially is proven 100% safe; I as a medical professional am convinced there are much healthier alternatives.

    The longer they deny, delay and manufacture doubt, the longer they postpone the inevitable, the more damage they are doing to their own brand and looking just like Big Tobacco.

  95. Bernie Mooney says:

    What exactly are “natural products?”

  96. dogctor says:

    “if you tell a lie big enough, often enough, some people will believe it” seems to be a favorite of Team GMO.
    No, I don’t already have labels–it is a lie. In California fighting the label cost a trivial amount of $45 million, 7 million directly from Monsanto.
    I would be quite content if Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, BASF put their logos on the box of Corn Flakes–if they are so proud of their mutant cry proteins and EPSPS with randomly shot into the genome of corn and soy, with its superfluous DNA– they should brand it.
    Problem solved, right?

  97. Bernie Mooney says:

    A link to that video? Heroes? My head hurts. It’s either that or maybe I ate too much gmo wheat today.

  98. dogctor says:

    The insecticide jeremyah is referring to is B.t. aka cry proteins.

    Scientific studies, also very recent ones, have shown that the Cry1Ac protein is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant, which is an enhancer of immune responses.


    Guerrero G.G., Russell W.M., Moreno-Fierros L (2007) Analysis of the cellular immune response induced by Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A toxins in mice: Effect of the hydrophobic motif from diphtheria toxin. Molecular Immunology 44, 1209–1217.

    Guerrero G.G., Dean D.H., Moreno-Fierros L (2004) Structural implication of the induced immune response by Bacillus thuringiensis Cry proteins: role of the N-terminal region. Molecular Immunology 41, 1177–1183.

    Moreno-Fierros L, Ruiz-Medina EJ, Esquivel R, López-Revilla R, Piña-Cruz S., 2003. Intranasal Cry1Ac protoxin is an effective mucosal and systemic carrier and adjuvant of Streptococcus pneumoniae polysaccharides in mice. Scand J Immunol., 57: 45-55.

    Prasad S.S.S.V. & Shethna, Y.I., 1975. Enhancement of immune response by the proteinaceous crystal of Bacillus thuringiensis var thuringiensis. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 62: 517-521.

    Rojas-Hernández S, Rodríguez-Monroy MA, López-Revilla R, Reséndiz-Albor AA, Moreno-Fierros L.,
    2004. Intranasal coadministration of the Cry1Ac protoxin with amoebal lysates increases protection
    against Naegleria fowleri meningoencephalitis. Infect Immun., 72:4368-4375

    Vazquez-Padron RI. Martinez-Gil AF. Ayra-Pardo C. Gonzalez-Cabrera J. Prieto-Samsonov DL. de laRiva GA., 1998. Biochemical characterization of the third domain from Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A toxins. Biochem Mol Biol Int., 45(5):1011-20.

    Vazquez RI. Moreno-Fierros L. Neri-Bazan L. De La Riva GA. Lopez-Revilla R., 1999. Bacillus thuringensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant. Scand J Immunol., 49: 578- 84.

    Vazquez-Padron RI. Gonzales-Cabrera J. Garcia-Tovar C. Neri-Bazan L. Lopez-Revilla R. Hernandez
    M. Moreno-Fierro L. de la Riva GA., 2000a. Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis sp. kurstaki
    HD73 binds to surface proteins in the mouse small intestine. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 271:54-8
    Vazquez-Padron RI. Moreno-Fierros L. Neri-Bazan L. Martinez-Gil AF. de-la-Riva GA. Lopez-Revilla
    R., 2000b. Characterization of the mucosal and systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein
    from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice. Braz J Med Biol Res., 33: 147-55.

  99. Felix says:

    So, the truth really DOES hurt…interesting.

  100. Karl Haro von Mogel says:

    Thanks for posting this video so I could download it before it disappears.

  101. Bernie Mooney says:

    The truth? That’s rich. A yogic flying dance teacher with no scientific credentials interviewing a Computer Science person on the dangers of pesticides. .

  102. dogctor says:

    Your link shows the greatest selection of superweeds in corn and soy.
    Overuse of antibiotics leads to selection of multi drug resistant bacteria.

    Overuse of Round Up- leads to selection of Round Up resistant superweeds.

    What a surprise!

    No, I don’t have the information already.

    I want the food container to be labeled with ” contains: truncated cry proteins/ glyphosate with proprietary adjuvants/ 2,4-D with proprietary adjuvants/ dicamba/ novel corn mitogens “.

    Identification of an endocrine disrupting agent from corn with mitogenic activity.
    Markaverich BM, Alejandro MA, Markaverich D, Zitzow L, Casajuna N, Camarao N, Hill J, Bhirdo K, Faith R, Turk J, Crowley JR.
    Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
    A mitogenic agent in corncob bedding and fresh corn products disrupts sexual behavior and estrous cyclicity in rats. The mitogenic activity resides in an isomeric mixture of linoleic acid derivatives with a tetrahydrofuran ring and two hydroxyl groups (THF-diols) that include 9, (12)-oxy-10,13-dihydroxystearic acid and 10, (13)-oxy-9,12-dihydroxystearic acid.

    Synthetic THF-diols stimulated breast cancer cell proliferation in vitro and disrupted the estrous cycle in female rats at oral doses of approximately 0.30 mg/kg body weight/day. Exposure to THF-diols may disrupt endocrine function in experimental animals at doses approximately 200 times lower than classical phytoestrogens, promote proliferation of breast or prostate cancer, and adversely affect human health.

  103. dogctor says:

    There is a huge difference between judicious use of antibiotics and overuse of antibiotics.
    Same goes for herbicides and insecticides. I am surprised you don’t know better.

    The choices you are offering are entirely unsatisfactory to 90% of the consumers who want their food labeled.

  104. Kevin Bonham says:

    The foods are unlabeled, but tracking the provenance of food is not hard – researchers are absolutely able to distinguish GE crops from non-GE crops, and if there was an effect on inflammatory disorders, it would be possible to uncover it.

    Bt crystal toxins are perfectly acceptable in organic food, if it’s sprayed on rather than added genetically. Studies have show that GE Bt foods express the protein predominantly in leaves and other parts of the plant that aren’t actually ingested. There’s no plausible reason why expressing the protein endogenously vs spraying it onto the plant should be any different health wise. Also, you can inject animals with loads of the toxin and it does nothing.

    Bt cry proteins are no more “immuno-reactive” in mammals than any other protein – you can inject grams of the stuff into a mouse and see no obvious pathology (for the record, I’m an immunologist).

    You say “Round Up and its toxic proprietary adjuvants inhibit the body’s detoxification system,” can you cite a source for this? I’ve never heard the term adjuvant used in this context, and am not aware of any studies suggesting that glyphosphate is an adjuvant, though I’m happy to learn something new on the subject.

    You also say “Here is the back of the envelope calculus on RR and Bt crops:
    Benefit to consumer’s health: Zero
    Risk: incalculable.” This is not strictly true. There are enormous benefits to reducing the need for chemical pesticides (as with bt crops), and many studies have show that glyphosate (roundup) is less harmful than other herbicides that would be used in their place ( And saying the risk is incalculable is disingenuous as well – we can measure the toxicity of cry proteins in animals and humans, we can do the same with glyphosate. We can compare these values to other methods of controlling weeds and insects and we can calculate relative risk. There will always be risk – no one denies that – but the risks with current GMO’s are absolutely calculable and so far fairly low.

  105. dogctor says:

    The genetic basis to inflammatory bowel disease, isn’t in dispute, but it is the interaction of environmental factors ( food and microbes), which triggers the disease.;jsessionid=DFBC4A75562CC06FA25DC530948BBCF9.d01t01

    If I inherited the trait which made me prone to IBD
    ( given immuno reactivity of cry proteins and suppression of bacterial p450 by glyphosate, which quite plausibly affects the microbiome) I would stay far away from Round Up Ready and Bt crops.

    Your lack of sensitivity, Robert Ford, is stunning.

  106. dogctor says:

    1. The cry proteins in transgenic foods are not identical to topically sprayed b.t., and their tertiary structure is likely quite different, which alters allergenicity..
    Results of a 90-day safety assurance study with rats fed grainfrom corn rootworm-protected corn. B. Hammond a,*, J. Lemen a, R. Dudek a, D. Ward a, C. Jiang a, M. Nemeth a, J. Burns b
    a Monsanto Company, 800 North Lindbergh Blvd., St Louis, MO 63167, United States

    Rootworm corn was produced by insertion of DNA sequences that encode a modified Bacillus thuringiensis (subspecies kumamotoensis Cry3Bb1 protein that is selectively toxic to Coleopteran species such as corn rootworm larvae (Diabrotica sp.). The genetic insert in MON 863 also contains the coding sequence for the selectable marker, neomycin phosphotransferase type II (NPTII) that is also producedin the plant…The deduced amino acid sequence of the B.t. Cry protein (653 amino acids) produced in MON 863 is >98.9% identical to that of the Cry3Bb1 protein contained in the foliar-applied commercial B.t. microbial product

    2. There are indeed studies demonstrating that cry proteins are immuno reactive enough as to be useful as adjuvants in vaccines. They do indeed lead to mucosal and immune responses via gavage and IP injections.

    Vazquez-Padron RI. Gonzales-Cabrera J. Garcia-Tovar C. Neri-Bazan L. Lopez-Revilla R. Hernandez
    M. Moreno-Fierro L. de la Riva GA., 2000a. Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis sp. kurstaki HD73 binds to surface proteins in the mouse small intestine. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 271:54-8
    Vazquez-Padron RI. Moreno-Fierros L. Neri-Bazan L. Martinez-Gil AF. de-la-Riva GA. Lopez-Revilla R., 2000b. Characterization of the mucosal and systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein
    from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice. Braz J Med Biol Res., 33: 147-55.

    3. It is an established scientific fact that often the adjuvants used with herbicides and insecticides are as toxic/ more so then the active ingredient.

    Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health
    Caroline Cox1,2 and Michael Surgan3
    By statute or regulation in the United States and elsewhere, pesticide ingredients are divided into two categories: active and inert (sometimes referred to as other ingredients, adjuvants, or coformulants). Despite their name, inert ingredients may be biologically or chemically active and are labeled inert only because of their function in the formulated product. Most of the tests required to register a pesticide are performed with the active ingredient alone, not the full pesticide formulation. Inert ingredients are generally not identified on product labels and are often claimed to be confidential business information.

    In this commentary, we describe the shortcomings of the current procedures for assessing the hazards of pesticide formulations and demonstrate that inert ingredients can increase the toxicity of and potential exposure to pesticide formulations.

    Inert ingredients may enhance the reproductive toxicity of active ingredients. Both the herbicide glyphosate and a glyphosate formulation were toxic to human placenta cell cultures (Richard et al. 2005). However, the formulation was significantly more toxic than glyphosate alone; the median lethal dose for the formulation was half that of the active ingredient.

    Several reports demonstrate disruption of endocrine function by inert ingredients. In one study, a glyphosate-containing herbicide formulation inhibited progesterone production in vitro in mouse Leydig cells, but glyphosate did not (Walsh et al. 2000). Richard et al. (2005) noted that a glyphosate formulation inhibited the activity of human placental cell aromatase, which converts androgens into estrogens. Again, glyphosate alone did not inhibit the activity of this enzyme. In another study, Lin and Garry (2000) found that two 2,4-D formulations caused estrogen-like proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in vitro, whereas 2,4-D did not.

    The risk assessment in a private confidential patient -client relationship demands that the medical professional recommend what is best for the patient .

    Go ahead and show me how you calculated risks of developing IBD, nephropathy, hepatobiliary disease, pancreatitis, allergies, steatosis, obesity, diabetes to my unique patient and determined them to be low .

    I believe that statement is wishful thinking, rather than evidence-based, but you can sway me by showing me your calculations.

    In my professional medical opinion what is best for my patients ( many of whom suffer from IBD, liver disorders, pancreatitis, chronic interstitial nephritis, and allergies) is to stay away from the currently commercialized GMOs.

    I maintain that the benefits to my patients are Zero, and the risks are incalculable.

    I do not mean any offense. But, do immunologists take a medical oath and are they licensed to diagnose, manage, perform surgery and prescribe drugs for dietary -related- disease?

  107. Robert Wager says:

    I just googled organic food recalls and added them up. The 50+ dead was from the summer 2011 in Germany where one organic farm sold contaminated bean sprouts..


  108. Dan says:

    What a rusty tool you are. Do you just throw stuff at the wall & see if it sticks?

    Dr. Seneff is a well credentialed Senior Research Scientist at MIT. She has a degree in Biophysics, M.S. and E.E. degrees in Electrical Engineering & a Ph.D degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, all from MIT. She has been studying biology for 30 years.

    What do you have, besides WRONG INFORMATION?

  109. Dan says:

    Mr. False information, meet The real Dr.

  110. Dan says:

    What’s wrong artificial information disseminators, you don’t have the nads to confront the Dr. on his real science?

  111. You need to learn just a little genetics to understand how, even if only one grandparent on each side of the family was a carrier for these traits, it could result in your children’s situation, with neither of you showing the diseases.

    Microsoft Windows 95 came out at the same time as GMO crops, resulting in the rapid surge of internet use. You could just as easily make the claim that these diseases have increased as a result of the rise in sales of Windows or use of the Internet, and with just as much evidence.

    Celiac disease is the result of an allergic reaction to wheat gluten. There is no GM wheat in the food supply, but celiac disease existed before GMOs. So how does GM corn and soy have anything to do with a disease that is only a reaction to (so far) non-GM wheat?

  112. For clarification, adjuvants used in agricultural pesticides are chemicals that are added by the manufacturer or the applicator to influence the pesticide’s solubility in water, its uptake by the plant, or its ability to stick to the plant.

  113. Nullius in Verba says:

    Yes? And what about the insecticides built into every cell of non-GM, organic corn?

    Try answering the question.

  114. Nullius in Verba says:

    You are already free to produce food with whatever specific ritual properties you want, and label it as such. You’re even free to buy products made by other manufacturers, slap sticky labels on them, and resell them. You can have labels if you want.

    Anyone who wants to know can buy products labelled with the information they want. The more people want them, the more money there is to be made supplying them. The more people buy them, the more money there is to fund the effort. The market shifts automatically to produce what people want, where they want it enough to justify the extra effort and hence expense of doing so.

    The labelling laws you require already exist. Your problem is that only a tiny (but very noisy) number of people really care about such issues, so there’s no market for it. And you’re not about to pay for it yourselves.

    So do you agree with my idea that we should be able to make the organic/non-GMO food growers label their foods with all the cyanides and isothiocyanates they contain? Why isn’t that the same thing? Why aren’t you campaigning for that too?

  115. So, according to the abstract, rather than testing the corn products’ effect on rats, they used “synthetic” versions of some chemical they identified in the corn products. I suppose that means GM corn should be pulled from the market until they can do the “real” experiment they could have done in the first place? I guess it is too hard to get rats to overdose on corn cobs before they starve to death. But that would have been good enough for Seralini. I can see the headlines now: “GM corn cobs cause death of rats.” When will folks realize that “in vitro” does not equal “in vivo?”

  116. They are proud of them, and they do brand them, to their farmer customers, as in Roundup Ready, Yield Guard, etc. Once they sell it to the farmer, and the farmer produces a crop, it is co-mingled with other grain, which may or may not be GM, because, for all intents and purposes from that point on, they are the SAME.

  117. stringrrl says:

    I believe that we have a right to know. Any food that is made with GM ingredients should be labeled: “May contain Genetically Modified Ingredients” or “May contain ingredients sourced from GMO crops.”
    I think MOST people would not blink an eye and just buy it anyway. Some however, will move on and purchase another product that is GMO free or organic (and also says as much).

  118. Kevin Bonham says:

    Ahh, thank you very much for this clarification. In my field, adjuvant has a very different meaning (though it’s still related to inflammation which is why I was confused).

  119. Bernie Mooney says:

    Her bio claims she has been studying biology “in recent years.” And the paper was published in a pay to play journal and has been discredited by other scientists. AND, they refer multiple times to Seralin. Enough said.

  120. Andrew Adams says:

    Well I can understand why people might have moral objection to that whihc could outweigh the consumer choice issue. Do you claim there is a similar moral objection to labelling re GMOs?
    Of course in the UK (and the rest of the EU) there is mandatory labelling for country of origin, so if you want you can avoid goods produced in Israel (or elsewhere).

  121. says:

    Thanks Robert!

  122. Pdiff says:

    Weeds are not bacteria. While I admit selection pressure is present in both systems, the comparison is inappropriate. Bacteria reproduce exponentially faster than weedy plants and are prone to rapid mutative changes and exchange of genetic material. In medical situations, they are exposed to a much larger array of selective pressures and those pressures are continuously applied. Weedy plants, on the other hand, are comparatively less mobile, genetically flexible, and efficient at reproduction. This makes them far more manageable. The point of the reference was that resistance has always been present in agricultural pests and always will be. It is present in all agricultural systems (including conventional and organic) and is not unique to GM technology. I completely agree that overuse can be a problem (in any system), but the term “superweed” is a misnomer and scare term.

    Your “label” is cute. Why have you omitted every other chemical/process? It would also seem to apply to all production systems from conventional to organic. Your scare abstract on corn is off the mark. I note in the article the authors tested only ground corn cob bedding, on rats. They speculate that fresh corn products could have effects, but they did not test them. Should labels then include everything we speculate might happen? Of course, if you really are that paranoid, we can always come up with a low THF-diol GM corn for you 🙂

  123. Your Son says:

    Biotech Soulless Zombies restating LIE AFTER LIE. You have to be willing to sacrifice your 1st born to work for Monsanto. You have all lost your man card when you are willing to live on your knees for a corporation & deny your humanity & integrity.

    Here’s your theme song: ENJOY!

  124. FosterBoondoggle says:

    Your argument on the need for GM labeling seems to come down to this (as you’ve said elsewhere): you want to eat in restaurants and you can’t be *sure* that they’re going to serve you non-GM food because it’s not labeled. (If you buy food in grocery stores, Organic = non-GMO, so your “lie” claim is itself a lie.) Anyway, I went to the big trouble of looking up Organic restaurants in your neighborhood on Yelp. Here you go:,+ca. Yelp says there are 110 of them within about a 15 mile radius. So there’s zero basis for your insistence on gov’t mandated labels. If you stick to these restaurants, the purity and essence of your precious bodily fluids is secure.

  125. dogctor says:

    Thanks for your concern and effort you put into defending my essence and bodily fluids.
    I am touched.

    Am I to understand that you queried these restaurants and got assurances that they eschew GMO corn, soy, sugar beets and canola?

    Is that true?

  126. dogctor says:

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say you are being stubbornly obtuse.

    The branding I am advising is for the final user– the one eating the stuff

    =the consumer.

  127. dogctor says:

    Beats me.

    The spirit of organic farming, as I understand it, is promotion of biodiversity in plants and insects – encouraging beneficial insects, rather than the scorched earth principle of industrial ag of killing every living thing in sight.

  128. FosterBoondoggle says:

    They advertise as “organic”, which is already something for which there’s a government sanctioned label. If you don’t trust them, why would you trust any more, given a gov’t mandated non-GMO food label, that restaurants advertising as “GMO-free” really were?

  129. dogctor says:

    You are wasting a lot of time in circuitous useless arguments.

    People know not to eat fruit pits with high cyanide content.

    Isothiocyanates are not a threat to health. They are not equivalent to unexpected and hidden truncated cry proteins, 2,4-D, glyphosate and their proprietary toxic adjuvants.

  130. dogctor says:

    Distinction without a practical difference
    ….the point is simple.

    You created RR resistant crops which everyone who has heard of evolution would have predicted will lead to overuse of Round Up and selection of superweeds <– I don't care whether GMO proponents believe the term is appropriate, because it is succinct and accurate, and I will continue to use it.

    This is the exact same concept which will neutralize all benefits of b.t. in a short term, as the overuse of b.t. will lead to selection of superbugs.

  131. dogctor says:

    THF-diols were tested in vivo and in vitro.

    GMO pushers should really try to get that very important concept and prove their crap safe in vivo, rather than just in vitro, as they love to do…..

    and not on a statistically insignificant number of rats, half of which go missing in 90 days:
    where half the rats go missing and majority of the rest are showing signs of hepatobiliary and renal disease at 5mos of age, in spite of designing the study to hide all adverse effects by using a statistically unbalanced design and avoiding crucial tests altogether.
    I’d be embarrassed to publish such junk science.

  132. boxorox says:

    There is one part of the labeling campaign that does not get the attention it deserves. That is whether or not the method being proposed will achieve the intended result. Regardless if you feel you have the “right to know”, the law put into place to provide you the information you seek should fulfill it’s promise.

    If you actually read the text of I-522, you’ll see the law would not
    require anywhere near the level of detail you think it would. It would
    not tell you what is in the food, how much is in there or even if there
    is a reasonable level of certainty.

    mandated label, “may be partially produced with genetic engineering” is
    so utterly ambiguous, that it provides absolutely no assurance to the
    consumer, and does not present a reasonable basis for choice. This is
    the phrase that would appear on the vast majority of the packaged
    products in the typical grocery store.

    corn would be absolutely indistinguishable from GM beets, GM wheat, or
    anything else. You would not be able to tell if there are GMOs actually
    in the food, or simply that the supplier did not supply an affidavit.

    Wouldn’t listing the ACTUAL ingredients on the label be MUCH better? If not, why not??

    Typically, allergens are listed on the nutrition label where
    they belong. Would you feel comfortable buying food that simply said
    “May contain allergens”, without telling you anything about which are
    there?? Of course you wouldn’t!

    As for going after the big chem-agro companies, forcing
    retailers to police labels that don’t provide any real information is
    NOT fighting against the bad guys. I-522 does not attack Monsanto,
    Kellogg, Pepsi, or Kraft with anything. The law would only apply to
    foods “offered for retail sale”.
    There is absolutely no mention of requiring manufacturers to add
    labels at the point of production, packaging, wholesale or distribution.
    It ONLY mentions having labels when the food is “offered for retail
    sale”. Monsanto does not sell retail food. They are completely let off
    the hook.

  133. jeremyah1 says:

    No moral high ground here jh – he is just flat out ignorant of the facts. I did say that he seemed to be open minded, and I am hoping that he posts another article that is more factual.

  134. Kevin Bonham says:

    I’ll take these one at a time. These dualing comments are getting super long – do you have a blog? Perhaps it would be useful to take this to a more amenable forum (my blog is at

    1) Before commenting on this point, I’d like to read the papers you cited, but unfortunately I don’t have institutional access to the “Food and Chemical Toxicology” journal – the first paper you cite (as well as a follow up 13 week trial on the same plant ( is in that journal, but I can only access the abstract. Do you have access to the full text and can you send it to me?

    At first blush, there’s no reason to assume that there’s be any structural difference between proteins with greater than 98% homology, is a structural difference described in the paper?

    2) I do have access to the two papers that you cite here, and they do not say what you think they say. As you well know, injecting a protein directly into the small intestine or into the peritoneum is VASTLY different than ingesting it. Show me increased inflammation or any immune response from mice fed the toxin if you want to make this point. I’m happy to stipulate that injecting corn into your gut is a bad idea.

    My statement, “you can inject animals with loads of the toxin and it does nothing” was based on knowledge from 2001 when I worked in a lab studying a related protein, nematocidal Cry5b. That’s clearly out of date – thanks for updating me (though it’s curious that as I dug through citations, I did not see papers from any other group suggesting this activity).

    3) Switching gears here. Now we’re talking about relative risk.

    The studies you point to here do not show the relative safety of glyphosate compared to other herbicides. I’d be shocked if this chemical, it’s adjuvants, or any other herbicide or adjuvant DIDN’T kill cells in vitro. That’s not at issue here. The question is whether alternative methods would be better or worse.

    Listen, I’m all for reducing herbicide use, and I applaud anyone looking for ways to accomplish this, whether it’s using different farming methods, genetic engineering or whatever. Personally, I’d love to see someone find a way to eat into Monsanto’s profits – I’m no fan of that company.

    On risk –

    You say, “Go ahead and show me how you calculated risks of developing IBD, nephropathy, hepatobiliary disease, pancreatitis, allergies, steatosis, obesity, diabetes to *my unique patient* and determined them to be low.”

    No, of course I can’t do that. You’re a medical professional, and your patients are your patients. I wouldn’t presume.

    But I do know how to read and analyze data, and all the data suggests that GMOs are safe. And remember, it’s not a question of eating GMO or no eating GMO, it’s a question of eating GMO or something else. That other food has to be grown, farmers are going to use pesticides and herbicides (even organic ones).

    You say there’s no plausible mechanism by which cell phone radiation could cause the pathologies, but based on my understanding of biology, there’s also no plausible mechanism by which a tiny amount ( of an ingested protein would survive digestion in the gut, induce an inflammatory response and lead to the pathologies that you describe either. I’ve been surprised before, I’m not saying it’s not possible, but in the face of so much published research suggesting no harm from GMO’s, it would take some extraordinary evidence to point in the other direction.

    You also say, “I do not mean any offense. But, do immunologists take a medical oath and are they licensed to diagnose, manage, perform surgery and prescribe drugs for dietary -related- disease?” I’m sorry, but you did mean offense, or at least to elevate your credentials at the expense of my own. I was not saying that I’m an immunologist to say I know better than you, I was saying that so you could understand where I’m coming from.

    I work at a medical school in the GI/nutrition department and I have asked many of the doctors around me about this issue. Many of them study IBD and colitis. They do not have the same concerns that you do.

  135. dogctor says:

    Hi Kevin. Thanks for your long response.

    Sorry, Keith–mine will be just as long (unless Kevin dedicates a post on his own blog and then we will move there:)

    I bought the first Hammond paper about a year ago, Kevin–If you post your email address I’ll be glad to email it to you. There is no sense in you too spending 35bucks on it. I hope you will share it with all medical doctors, especially ones convinced of the integrity of the safety testing of GMOs.

    The second 13wk study is not a follow up to the first, I posted on b.t.– it is on a different variety of Round Up Ready corn. I am pretty sure all the systematic experimental flaws carried over, however.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have institutional access, but I found a cool site to read them- you just can’t copy and paste, print/ share, but they are cheap to read. .

    I disagree with you about the implications to immunology of a protein with 98% homology. I just realized that the link I posted doesnt work. Try this one– and please read all the cited articles.

    As you well know, injecting a protein directly into the small intestine or into the peritoneum is VASTLY different than ingesting it.

    Alright. The studies below, from the broken link (sorry about that) show local and systemic immunogenicity of cry proteins via IP, Intragastric and intranasal routes.

    1.Guerrero G.G., Dean D.H., Moreno-Fierros L (2004) Structural implication of the induced immune response by Bacillus thuringiensis Cry proteins: role of the N-terminal region. Molecular Immunology 41, 1177–1183.

    Paraphrasing: proteolytic processing of 17 amino acid residues =tCry1A were able to induce not only high igG (serum and trachea from intranasal administration) but also levels of igM in small and large intestine, higher than the non-truncated Cry protein. Which is the reason you can’t assume that the 98% alike with an approximately 12 amino acid difference will not be as immunogenic as the proCry protein.

    The N-terminal region ( the immuno active domain) is resistant to proteolysis , and it gives it the ability to bind to glycoproteins, functioning in cellular adhesion and nutrient absorption in vertebrates.

    2. Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice.
    Vázquez-Padrón RI, Moreno-Fierros L, Neri-Bazán L, de la Riva GA, López-Revilla R.

    The spore-forming soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis produces parasporal inclusion bodies composed by delta-endotoxins also known as Cry proteins, whose resistance to proteolysis, stability in highly alkaline pH and innocuity to vertebrates make them an interesting candidate to carrier of relevant epitopes in vaccines. The purpose of this study was to determine the mucosal and systemic immunogenicity in mice of Cry1Ac protoxin from B. thuringiensis HD73. Crystalline and soluble forms of the protoxin were administered by intraperitoneal or intragastric route and anti-Cry1Ac antibodies of the major isotypes were determined in serum and intestinal fluids. The two forms of Cry1Ac protoxin administered by intraperitoneal route induced a high systemic antibody response, however, only soluble Cry1Ac induced a mucosal response via intragastric. Serum antibody levels were higher than those induced by cholera toxin. Systemic immune responses were attained with doses of soluble Cry1Ac ranging from 0.1 to 100 microg by both routes, and the maximal effect was obtained with the highest doses. High anti-Cry1Ac IgG antibody levels were detected in the large and small intestine fluids from mice receiving the antigen via i.p. These data indicate that Cry1Ac is a potent systemic and mucosal immunogen.
    Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis sp. kurstaki HD73 binds to surface proteins in the mouse small intestine.
    Vázquez-Padrón RI, Gonzáles-Cabrera J, García-Tovar C, Neri-Bazan L, Lopéz-Revilla R, Hernández M, Moreno-Fierro L, de la Riva GA.

    Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), considered a safe insecticide, produces insecticidal proteins named Cry during sporulation, which possess exceptional immunological properties. In this work using an immunohistochemical test we demonstrated that Cry1Ac protoxin (pCry1Ac) binds to the mucosal surface of the mouse small intestine . Ligand blot assay allowed us to detect, under denaturing conditions, six pCry1Ac-binding polypeptides present in brush border membrane vesicles isolated from the small intestine. Moreover, this protein induced in situ temporal changes in the electrophysiological properties of the mouse jejunum. The data obtained indicate a possible interaction in vivo of Cry proteins with the animal bowel which could induce changes in the physiological status of the intestine

    The studies you point to here do not show the relative safety of glyphosate
    compared to other herbicides.

    Glyphosate is being promoted as safe as sugar water, and it clearly isn’t. The unsurprising arrival of superweeds, as well as its use as a dessicant sprayed directly on near-market crops, is raising the exposure of the population massively. So, even if pound for pound it is less toxic, the cumulative effects are not. You will have a challenging time convincing me that localized, judicious use of herbicides upon scouting fields for weeds in conventional agriculture before RR crops (even if harsher herbicides were used to spot treat) resulted in more toxicity than blanketing millions of acres of Round-Up Ready crops. And then, of course, there are organic methods of agriculture which do not use any herbicides, instead relying on crop rotation and soil management which gives the desired crops a better head start in out-competing the weeds-there are always alternatives.

    But I do know how to read and analyze data, and all the data suggests that GMOs
    are safe.
    Get back to me after you have read all the safety assurance studies, which in spite of an experimental design perfected to hide adverse effects, still manage to state that half the rats went missing and the majority of the rest were suffering from renal and hepatobiliary disease after ingesting the crap for 90 days ( 13 wks)– and after you’ve actually opened you mind to the Big Picture. There is no methodological data upon which the safety of these crops can be measured, and no empirical data to back up the claimed safety, except for per/acute effects. As you likely know, the effects of tobacco and asbestos do not show up for decades.

    there’s also no plausible mechanism by which a tiny amount ( of an ingested protein would survive
    digestion in the gut, induce an inflammatory response and lead to the
    pathologies that you describe either

    False. Curiously, none of the studies I cited showed up in your link.
    Are you surprised? -I am not…not even a little bit.

    “I do not mean any offense. But, do immunologists take a medical oath and are
    they licensed to diagnose, manage, perform surgery and prescribe drugs for
    dietary -related- disease?”

    I am sorry if you are offended, and when you and many of the doctors around you who study IBD and
    colitis, and do not have the same concerns that I do, take that medical oath, and have their own license ( to diagnose, manage, perform surgery and prescribe drugs for dietary related disease) on the line- then your, and their opinion on the subject will matter. Until that day, your and their opinion doesn’t enter into my private doctor-client-patient relationship in which I am paid to render an educated professional opinion.

    If that is offensive, so be it. It is what it is.

  136. DrDenim says:

    And “natural” of course meaning farming methods frozen ca 1950s.

  137. DrDenim says:

    There is already a (voluntary) “no GMO” label, which I use to avoid those products so not to support such silliness.

  138. Kevin Bonham says:

    webeastiesblog [at] gmail

    For the record, I’m not offended – I only meant to say that your claim that you meant no offense was disingenuous. Since we’re talking about science, I’m perfectly willing to stack up my bonafides, and the bonafides of the doctors I work with that HAVE taken the medical oath, DO have patients, actually study the disorders you’re talking about AND have a comprehensive grasp of the medical and scientific literature because they are also scientists, over those of a general practice vet that studies this in her spare time any day of the week.

    No offense.

    I’ll work on a blog post about the rest of this stuff and point you in that direction when it’s done so we can stop blowing up Keith’s comments.

  139. Robert Wager says:

    I see you did not read the series of papers in PNAS that showed Bt crops do not threaten monarch butterflies. Ah the myth continues.

  140. Robert Wager says:

    Are you still pushing the 90% myth? When NON-PUSH polls are conducted properly and consumers are asked questions like

    What if anything would you like to see added to the food labels? A whopping 3% say GM content.

    And the real question is never asked .

    Are you willing to pay more for your food to pay for GM specific labeling?

    I think we all know the result of that type of poll question.

  141. Martin says:

    Agreed: I’m all for marking packages ‘GM’ and all for GM; just as I’m all for marking alcohol content and all for getting a bit tipsy, and all for marking ‘organic’ so I can avoid the extra expense, and all for marking ‘may contain nuts’ etc etc.

    Everyone quickly gets used to it, the hidden scariness of uncertainty is replaced with normality, and the few that remain that want to avoid GM will instead support some interesting niche farming and food businesses run by slightly strange enthusiasts that make for interesting documentaries, and we’re all happy.

  142. Pdiff says:

    Yes, it was speculative. The study involved cell lines exposed to CM extract, in vitro, not in situ. The in situ part was bedding for rats. Unless you are living on and sleeping in corncob bedding, it is speculative that the effects seen in cells would occur from ingestion of corn products that: are typically highly processed, must survive the digestive system, and finally somehow make their way into the relevant tissues. This is why the authors wisely chose to use the word may twice when drawing their conclusions. I see you have used this corn bit, as well as a few other in vitro studies in this blog’s comments before, trying to scare people. It reminds me of the remarks recently made by Sir John Beddington regarding the failure of knowledgeable people to discern the difference between risk and hazard. Show me a study of ingestion of typical corn products inducing these effects. Show me what the effective in situ dose levels are. Show me the cancer it supposedly causes. Explain why, for us high corn consuming Americans, the incidence rate of cancers has been declining since the introduction of GM corn according statistics from the National Cancer Institute. We should note, and you admit, that the extracted CM has nothing to do with GM corn as it is found in other corn as well. The study you cited, for example, did not discern the source of the corn. Elsewhere on this site you have used loose logic to argue that most corn is GM now, so what they used must be too. Bad assumption. For one, the corncob could easily come from popcorn production for which there are no GM varieties. It could have also easily come from non-GM fields in 2002, when the study was done, as GM adoption was less at that time. Most notable, however, the authors also extracted from “fresh” corn, which would be sweet corn, again for which, there were no GM varieties available in 2002. This has nothing to do with GM. Your arguments continue to be loose, chemo-phobic and speculative.

  143. dogctor says:


    I think that’s Awesome and I look forward to reading your blog, Kevin.

  144. dogctor says:

    1. Citation to a poll please.
    2. I don’t have to pay more to have my food labeled. The increase in cost to add ” contains genetically engineered/ modified ingredients” to a label is a figment of your imagination.

  145. dogctor says:

    Identification of an endocrine disrupting agent from corn with mitogenic activity.

    Markaverich BM, Alejandro MA, Markaverich D, Zitzow L, Casajuna N, Camarao N, Hill J, Bhirdo K, Faith R, Turk J, Crowley JR.


    Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


    A mitogenic agent in corncob bedding and fresh corn products disrupts sexual behavior and estrous cyclicity in rats. ( IN VIVO ) The mitogenic activity resides in an isomeric mixture of linoleic acid derivatives with a tetrahydrofuran ring and two hydroxyl groups (THF-diols) that include 9, (12)-oxy-10,13-dihydroxystearic acid and 10, (13)-oxy-9,12-dihydroxystearic acid. Synthetic THF-diols stimulated breast cancer cell proliferation in vitro and disrupted the estrous cycle in female rats at oral doses of approximately 0.30 mg/kg body weight/day. Exposure to THF-diols may disrupt endocrine function in experimental animals at doses approximately 200 times lower than classical phytoestrogens, promote proliferation of breast or prostate cancer, and adversely affect human health.

    Without the corn labeled, how are researchers supposed to know which corn contains this carcinogen? Perfect public health argument to have the crap labeled.

    As far as decreases in cancers, that has nothing to do with your corn. The decreases have been seen in a few specific cancers- namely breast and colon, due to earlier detection and more aggressive treatment. There is a small decrease in death due to better chemotherapy protocols used for lymphoma and some leukemias.
    You don’t get to take credit for those,

    So back to the question I’ve posed half a dozen times now ” can you cite an article analyzing the transgenic corn on the market for THF-dios?”

    All it would take is an HPLC–easy peasy!

  146. FosterBoondoggle says:

    “I don’t have to pay more to have my food labeled. The increase in cost
    to add ” contains genetically engineered/ modified ingredients” to a
    label is a figment of your imagination.”

    If there were no cost, producers would already provide a label, seeing as some people want it and would pay a premium for it. Those producers would then make extra profits.

    As usual, you’re arguing for the sake of argument, not because you have anything coherent to say or a valid point to make.

  147. The fight to not label shows these corporations have something to hide. The ONLYreason we don’t have better scientific studies is solely based on proprietary basis. MONSANTO will fight to the death to keep anyone from doing a publically financed peer reviewed study of the effects of GMOs on human tissues and organs. The French study has already proven that there are reasons to be concerned, so why not just be a considerate public partner and have independent studies done in an open and fair and reasonable way to quell the suspicions…but we would have a better chance at colonizing Mars than MONSANTO allowing independent studies.

  148. Schratboy says:

    GMOs didn’t exist before 1995. Introducing these novel patented proteins represented a new immune system stimuli associated with these genetically manipulated DNA. Health suffers when the foods being eaten are recognized as foreign by our immune systems causing primary and secondary inflammation. Labeling and education can steer the consuming public to a more healthful NON-GMO food choice.

  149. Schratboy says:

    “Personally, I’m ambivalent about GMO labeling…..I see right through the
    naked cynicism of the Right to Know campaign. It is totally
    disingenuous.”….and perpetuating a 15+ year consumer GMO information boycott is not disingenuous? Keith’s ambivalence seems to be tainted with an affection for glyphosate.

  150. Pdiff says:

    dogctor, last reply here because, quite frankly, you’re being an idiot on this. Clearly the article you just cited says may. If you can’t figure out what the F that means, then I certainly can not help you see it. As has been pointed out to you here and elsewhere on this blog many times, this chemical IS NOT unique to GM corn. How many times do you have to see that before it gets through? Sorry to be rude here, but you really should know better if you are what you imply you are. Yet, on you go complaining that no one has published an article testing only GM corn for your THF-diol. I’m glad I have lost most my hair by this point in my life, because you would have me ripping it out by the handfuls with your inane logic.

    I’m sure you are right, the cancer decreases are not due to corn, but once again, you have completely sailed by the obvious in your obsessive chemo-fascination. The data is quite clear that your implications of massive dangers due to corn have not manifested themselves in reality. People are not dropping dead from eating corn, just like they are not dropping from liver and kidney disease as the charlatans Putztai and Seralini would have us believe. These are really huge clues that your and their hypotheses are wrong. It is just that simple. It is sad and confusing that someone who should be educated enough to discern this can, in fact, not do so.

    I hope you can find some sense in the real world eventually. You would do us all a favor of you could gain some basic understanding about the differences between risk and hazard, as well as possible and probable.

  151. The difference between a variety of a conventional or heirloom tomato a restaurant decides to put on their menu and a bioengineered tomato that will be labeled on a product consumers buy- is that a bioengineered tomato most likely has not been breed with other tomatoes within the same plant family. It probably has genes engineered into it from a totally different kingdom such as the animal kingdom. This makes the GMO tomato a completely different organism that has only been existing in the world for twenty years. Most of our conventional food has been produced in many countries and through many cultures for hundreds of years. To label genetically engineered food is a better way we can regulate and track this new organism in our food system. This isn’t fear mongering, it is observing, testing, and informing which is what science is all about.

  152. I do agree with “saying something useful besides “may contain GMO”” and I am for labeling GMO’s. I would like to have GMO labeling on the front of the package (since food companies put faulty health advertisements on the fronts of their packages all the time)- but would agree to put it with the nutritional information or where consumers usually look for nut allergens etc..

  153. FosterBoondoggle says:

    “Health suffers when the foods being eaten are recognized as foreign by our immune systems…” Isn’t non-GMO corn also foreign to your body? Do you actually have any clue what the sentences your stringing together mean? Green ideas sleep furiously.

  154. dogctor says:

    I’ll take an HPLC on all the corn on the market -organic, organic treated with Round UP, Round Up Resistant corn, B.t. corn dessicated with Round Up.
    Monsanto’s, Syngenta’s, Dow’s, BASF, Pioneer, and heirloom varieties of your liking

    At this point what we have is your opinion.

    Prove it with a peer reviewed study
    -and an HPLC.

  155. I am for GMO labeling, and I do think it is the consumers right to know. When you buy a product you fund that product, the business that makes that product, and the technology used to make that product. For example I buy organic because I like to support organic practices- a counter argument is if you support GMO technology you would specifically buy GMO products take make sure that technology is funded and continues.

  156. You would care about weed resistance because weeds will choke out your food crops which will effect your dinner. Labeling genetically modified food will hopefully make you think more about your dinner how it got their and what you are eating.

  157. night_train says:

    Mr. Kloor, who wouldn’t want to know that 1) they are eating chemically-modified food 2) for which there is no supporting data regarding their safety 3) which are known to sicken and kill lab animals?

  158. James Earlywine says:

    A market becomes more competitive (and therefore effective) when all participants have access to perfect information.

    Obviously alot of people want their food to be labelled if it contains GMOs. ..and these food corporations spent $39 million to make sure that we can’t know which of their foods contain GMOs.

    That’s anti-free-market. While markets might function better than an economy with centralized planning of production and setting of prices, that doesn’t mean it operates optimally. Insofar as a market is less free/competitive, the justification for laissez-faire economics is diminished.

    It is no longer all of us being moved by powerful forces in the market, but all of us being moved by a small set of people who control powerful market forces.

    We are isolated and unorganized, they are organized, such that they can pool their money and defeat us. So now we still don’t know which of their foods are the ones we might prefer not to buy.

    So we either boycott them all, or just get over it, and eat whatever is shoveled into our food for us by our vast corporate market-monster-masters.

  159. Nullius in Verba says:

    Hypothetically, yes, perfect information would result in a market being more optimally competitive. However, perfect information can never happen in the real world, which is why it is such a good thing that free markets still work very well when you don’t have it.

    If it’s obvious that lots of people want their food to be labelled if it contains GMOs, they can already have it. Buy ‘Organic’. Buy ‘No GMO’. The foods you “might prefer not to buy” are the ones without such labels – you already know which they are. If you’re right, manufacturers would be able to charge a premium and anyone who put such labels on would corner the market. The only reason it doesn’t happen is that you are completely wrong – most people *don’t* want labelling, are not willing to pay any extra for it, and it is annoying that you are trying to impose the extra costs and regulatory burdens on their business of complying with your irrational food prejudices.

    Seriously, I would like all ‘Organic’, ‘No-GMO’ foods to be labelled with *all* the toxic and untested chemicals they contain, in their full polysyllabic glory. Because when the poor suckers who have bought in to your chemophobic “natural ingredients” schtick read that the food you’re selling them contains stuff like 4-methylsulfonylbutyl isothiocyanate, they’re going to have a fit. I think it would be educational.

    I’m not seriously proposing it, because it’s against my free market principles, but it is hypocritical of labelling advocates not to be insisting that all these chemical nasties get labelled too. If they had any principles they’d have to. They don’t, of course, because it’s all a marketing scam on the part of Organic food retailers, and actually providing the consumers with useful information would be against their interests.

    Personally I deliberately avoid buying Organic products, because they’re unethical, more expensive, and potentially more dangerous. I think it’s disgusting that they take advantage of people’s scientific ignorance like that. But I don’t want them banned or stopped, because it’s a free country. Now, how about a bit of reciprocity?

  160. James Earlywine says:

    People aren’t willing to pay extra for proper labeling, because they feel they have a right to expect it, as part of a transaction bargained in good faith.

    Furthermore, only a limited number of companies label their products “No GMOs”, and they do command a premium price.

    No one is suggesting that foods WITHOUT GMOs need to be labelled. Only foods that _DO_ contain GMOs.

    If the majority of candy-bar produces began selling their candy bars in gift boxes. ..and some of those gift boxes contained a bomb – you would expect that they should be required to label which boxes have the bomb.

    If you have no idea which box, or how many (if any) contain a bomb, you either avoid candy bars entirely, or you just accept that your candybar packaging might explode.

    That’s the problem, these GMOs are used by the largest of food corps. Apparently almost all of them. ..but they won’t let us know how many of their products contain these ingredients, and which products, and which ingredients.

    Personally, if everyone was afraid of poly-syllabic chemicals, and wanted them on the list of ingredients, that’s fine too. If the people ask for it, why not give it to them? The material cost of compliance is almost nothing.

    “..because people won’t pay us extra.” really? We should have to pay a premium to know which of their products contains ingredients we believe are dangerous? We should have to buy organic stuff at a premium, or just accept that there may be poison in our food? That surprises me coming from a person who says they don’t like/trust organic.

  161. James Earlywine says:

    That’s the thing, no perfectly competitive market exists in the real world – but some markets are more competitive than others.

    The nearer a market is to perfect competition, the more optimally it functions, and the more justification there is for it’s existence. It produces winners and losers, but indifferently. It is a just system.

    Market power dysfunctions the optimizing natural effects/dynamics of markets. The ability to obscure consumers access to good information about your products, reduces market competition, and dysfunctions that market.

    Imagine you and I sell candybars, and yours are of a better quality: they taste better, and they are healthier/safer. Consumers are willing to pay $2 for your candybar, but only $1 for my candy bar.

    If I could persuade retailers to repackage our two candybars into ambiguous brown-paper-sacks. I pay them 10-cents, to repackage our candybars, and charge $1.50 per candy bar.

    On average, consumers are still paying the amount of money. ..but some consumers pay $1.50 and get the $2 candybar, so they come out ahead. Other consumers pay $1.50 and get the $1 candybar, they are damaged by my exercise of market power to obscure their access to information.

    Also I’ve likely sold more candybars than I would have otherwise, securing unearned marketshare.

    This might still be better than a centrally-planned economy, but that doesn’t mean it worked out “well”. Most importantly, it allowed me to manipulate the market so that I could profit from consumer ignorance.

    Now, you and I might have different perspective on the threat on GMOs in food. There may also be validity in the assertions that “contains GMOs” might scare people away from products, when those products are perfect fit for consumption.

    ..but just because there is predictable irrationality in consumers, doesn’t give consumers license to be dishonest, leverage market power to manipulate markets, or otherwise operate not-in-good-faith.

    Consumers asked for the information, so just give it to them.

  162. Nullius in Verba says:

    Your bomb analogy refers to a safety issue, which is different. If there is sufficient evidence that GMOs pose any safety risk, then labelling or banning is justified – and would already be required by existing law. The point is, there isn’t. It’s an entirely made-up scare, run as part of a marketing campaign by a particular industry sector, against a rival product, that is no more harmful than their own. That’s why a new law/regulation would have to be created – there is currently no legislation that allows adverse labelling to be forced on harmless products.

    The material cost of complying with my suggestion to include all the chemical ingredients on the label would be considerable. For a start, you’d need bigger packaging! There are thousands of naturally-occurring chemicals in any vegetable.

    There’s an extra burden documenting, monitoring and testing products. You’ve got the overhead of inspectors from the standards agencies. You may even have to build separate facilities to avoid cross-contamination. It’s a significant expense.

    And a GMO label won’t tell you anything at all about whether there is “poison” in your food. (Although I can tell you for certain that there is. Every vegetable contains dozens of natural pesticides evolved to stop things eating it.) The term ‘GMO’ is too non-specific. Which GMO? Which genes? If one variety of GMO is safe, and another is dangerous, how does labelling them both the same help? It’s utter nonsense!

    By the way, Organic vegetables tend to have a higher pesticide content. This is because plants produce natural pesticides to resist pests and diseases, and often increase their production of these pesticides dramatically when they come under attack. A crop protected by an artificial pesticide safety tested and dose-controlled to a level that prevent pests without risk to humans means this response is unlikely to be triggered. An organic crop without artificial pesticides is far more likely to trigger a reaction that loads the food with uncontrolled levels of randomly-selected pesticides with no safety testing whatsoever. And that’s not even considering the contamination added by the pests.

    99.9% of the pesticides you eat are natural, most of them haven’t been tested for safety, and of those that have about half have proved carcinogenic. The risk is almost certainly very low, but the risks from artificially-protected crops are even lower. It’s not worth worrying about, and most people very sensibly don’t. But if you are worried about this sort of stuff, then absolutely the last thing you ought to be eating is Organic!

    The same goes for GMO-free. It’s not inherently any safer (non-GMO breeding scrambles the DNA in a far less controlled way) and it’s a lot less well tested.

    If people want to buy Organic food, then even though I disagree profoundly, I have no objection to them selling the stuff, labelling it as they choose, or charging a premium to cover the extra expense. Society has no right to limit the freedom of individuals to believe and do what they want except to prevent significant demonstrable non-consensual harm to others. Although Organic, non-GMO foods are far riskier, they’re not risky enough to justify such measures. But I do find it annoying when such people take advantage of the freedom to do their own thing, but then turn around and try to restrict everybody else’s freedom. We don’t want your labels on our food. If you want to put them there, then you can do so at your own expense.

  163. James Earlywine says:

    Tinkering with DNA can produce many unexpected outcomes. These outcomes are difficult to predict and can be disastrous.

    You suggest that these materials are thoroughly test/vetted. Many people believe our science/food-producers lack the capacity to effectively detect/predict these threats to safety.

    These terrible outcomes are often discovered when harm occurs, because hindsight is 20/20.

    As such, many people want to avoid foods containing these experimental materials, until such time as they are revealed to be safe, over time. Some consumers want to have the information required to make decisions that satisfy their risk tolerances. You assertion that they are not exposed to risk, is problematic, because each person has a right to assess their exposure to risk based upon their own knowledge, beliefs, suspicions, evidence, interpretations of the world, etc.

    Time reveals more in hindsight, than testing done by firms who seek to get their genetic innovations to market.

  164. James Earlywine says:

    We’ve all seen many whacky things happen as a result of genetic modifications. Humans don’t know enough about DNA and how it determines biological outcomes, to responsibly leverage our limited genetic knowledge to reliably produce only-good outcomes.

    If people want to see on the label whether a product contains GMO materials, then let them have that information.

    If the materials really are safe, then elevate people’s awareness of this. Given the limited human genetic knowledge, and the limited capacity to reliably predict good outcomes and avoid bad outcomes, I’d say the burden to prove safety and persuade/inform is on the producers.

    If they want consumers to buy food with GMO materials, let the labels be clear, and their food producers arguments compelling.

  165. Nullius in Verba says:

    “If I could persuade retailers to repackage our two candybars into ambiguous brown-paper-sacks…”

    If you could do that, why wouldn’t you simply persuade them not to sell your rival’s candy bars?

    It requires that the retailer chooses to sell a product they know they could get $2 for for $1.50. *All* retailers. It doesn’t sound very likely, does it?

  166. Nullius in Verba says:

    So if you think they don’t have the capacity to test food safety, on what basis do you think new plant breeds used by organic farmers are any safer?

    They can’t have been tested either, right?

  167. Nullius in Verba says:

    They already *do* have the information.

    If it’s labelled ‘GMO-free’ then it doesn’t.

    If it’s not, then that’s equivalent to an implicit label of ‘May contain GMOs’.

    That tells you everything you need to know.

  168. James Earlywine says:

    At the end of the day, the if the retailer sells all of their candy bars, and gets the same total price, they are indifferent.

    The example is meant to illuminate clearly the impact of information obscurity by producers, to control market outcomes.

    As access to complete/perfect information is diminished, the market increasingly fails to optimize outcomes, and becomes unjust.

    Insofar as this is true, it’s existence and operation can no longer be defended according to “free market” principles, because it is no longer a free market.

    We can argue that no market is perfectly competitive or perfectly free. However, when a systemic dynamic exists that makes it less free, and producers are able to preserve/enshrine that dynamic by oligopoly, barriers to entry, and purchasing political capital to control our laws and limit honesty requirements in those markets, that market is intentionally unfree.

    That market is one that is deserving of suspicion, and distrust on the part of consumers. You might think GMO hype is a scare tactic, but consider the well-founded fear that exists now because of the actions of the producers that dominate that “free market”.

  169. James Earlywine says:

    Free-market principles, do not include the freedom to capture and exercise market power. Obscuring information, limiting honesty-requirements, etc. These things capture market power.

    It seems unlikely that food corporations would spend $39M to capture this market power, unless they stood to gain (or mitigate expected losses) of more than $39M.

    So far your only valid counter-argument seems to be, “Well, consumers are predictably irrational. Giving them clear access to perfectly-available information, would cause them to act in a manner that does not optimize their well-being, nor the well-being of producers.”

    That takes decision-making power away from consumers. “Instead of educating and persuading consumers, we’ll just limit their access to information. We know what’s best for them.”

    That’s not a free market principle.

  170. Nullius in Verba says:

    No, they’re not paying $39m to keep information away from consumers. They’re paying $39m to stop one party being able to force unjustified regulations on everyone else. They’re paying to defend their liberty to conduct their own businesses as they see fit.

    There is an infinity of information that could be given about a product, and it’s obviously impossible to give it all. This is about the selection of information that *must* be given, which anywhere else is up to the sellers. So long as what they do say is truthful, the rule is ‘caveat emptor’.

    And yes, that *is* a free market principle. If you want information, you have to pay the owner’s price for it.

  171. Nullius in Verba says:

    “At the end of the day, the if the retailer sells all of their candy bars, and gets the same total price, they are indifferent.”

    No, they would only be indifferent if they got the same total *profit*. And they wouldn’t.

  172. James Earlywine says:

    We have eaten foods that grow naturally since time immemorial. They are required for our survival.

    Human beings learned about mechanics, physics, etc, and improved out capacity to plant and harvest food.

    Many people believe humans still lack a sufficient understanding of DNA to improve outcomes without some pretty serious unintended consequences.

    Are you familiar with programming software, and hexeditors?

    Just because you can open a hexeditor and start tinkering with the 1s and 0s in a file, and sometimes by well-informed trial-and-error, discover how to circumvent a software’s copyright protection – doesn’t mean you know enough about software to improve upon a software application.

    If people don’t want to consume foods that have been DNA-tinkered-with by producers, they should be able to easily identify those products and simply not purchase them. That’s what a free market is made of.

  173. James Earlywine says:

    I’m not suggesting that producers lack ANY capacity to test food safety. For example if I tinker with an apple, and feed it to a horse, and that horse dies 2 hours later. ..and I repeat this experiment over-and-over, I have detected a safety-threat.

    However, if I do not detect a safety-threat, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It simply means that it is not obvious to my instrumentation and within my context of understanding.

    Furthermore, what if an apple killed only 1 out of every 3000 horses, but the cause was unquestionably the apple?

    Now consider that almost nothing is unquestionable when the correlation is that tenuous.

    People have a rightful claim to demand the freedom to appraise risks as they see fit, so that they can manage their exposure to risks as they see fit. That’s what a free market is made of. It requires optimal access to information, to optimize freedom in a market.

    Insofar as any organization seeks to limit that, they seek to make the market less free. They then lose their license to defend their position on “free market” principles.

  174. James Earlywine says:

    Sure they would. Their cost for total candy bars hasn’t changed. Their revenues haven’t changed.

  175. Nullius in Verba says:

    We have eaten foods since time immemorial, but not the same foods we eat today.

    We know from the phenomenon of pesticide resistance that it takes about 20-50 years for the pests to adapt. So natural evolution must have been tinkering with the mix at least that frequently. In fact, immunity is basically what sexual reproduction is for.

    And since the dawn of agriculture man has been breeding new varieties of crop plants, to the point where modern versions are scarcely recognisable as the same species as the original. Selective breeding is a form of genetic modification as well, although far less controlled than genetic engineering. And modern plant breeding techniques speed the process up by inducing massive mutation rates with chemical and radioactive mutagens, and then sorting out any offspring with useful characteristics.

    *Every* crop plant you eat is subject to “genetic tinkering”, both natural and in most cases artificial. But because it’s naturally done that way, nobody feels the need to tell anybody, and so the ignorant think there’s something special about the sort of tinkering that can be done by genetic engineers.

    Yes, I’m familiar with programming and hex editors. What I am saying is that most programmers work by making random changes to the code and seeing if the result crashes, and if it doesn’t crash for a decent length of time then they sell it to the public. Genetic engineering consists of figuring out what a specific bit of code actually does, and making intelligent, directed changes to bring about a desired outcome. And *then* running it in a far more *thorough* series of tests to see if the software crashes.

    It’s not entirely safe, but it’s a lot safer than what everybody else was doing previously. But because you didn’t realise what everyone else did, when you ask about the new techniques it sounds horrifying.

  176. James Earlywine says:

    The default assumption is that food has not been tinkered with, that it is naturally-occurring, and exists as it does in nature.

    Nature has provided food for all species since life has existed on this planet.

    If someone is going to make changes to food, and sell it in a form inconsistent with our naturally-occurring default expectations – then this information should be communicated to buyers.

    Not only because it is required for a buyer to give informed-consent, in agreeing to purchase the product – but because many buyers clearly care about this information and have requested it to be included in the standard package of information included with a product.

    ..and most importantly, it increases the freedom in a market.

  177. Nullius in Verba says:

    So why do you think the organic apple is any safer for the horse than the engineered one? We’ve tested the engineered ones on a lot more horses than the organic ones, so surely the engineered ones would be safer, by this argument, right?

  178. Nullius in Verba says:

    Default *assumption*, yes. A false one, unfortunately.

    Nature doesn’t “provide” food to all species. They *take* it, and it’s very much against the interests of the organism being eaten. Nature also provides the means for the plants to fight back.

  179. James Earlywine says:

    People believe that tinkering with a plant’s DNA via controlled laboratory processes, circumvents natural processes/filters/etc.

    Regardless of whether you personally believe that people have good reason to make a distinction between controlled breeding and direct modification of DNA, and fear controlled/direct modification, that fear does exist.

    Time will reveal if those fears will be substantiated. The future is unknown, if it were not, there would not be any such thing as “risk”.

    You usurp people’s freedom to manage their own risks as they see fit, when you withhold information they deem to be relevant, that would impact/determine their purchasing behaviors according to their own appraisal of risk and their own risk tolerances.

    That is the opposite of a free-market. A “free” market doesn’t mean the freedom to operate according to anti-freemarket principles, and then defend it as “free” market activity.

  180. James Earlywine says:

    Personally, if I could discover what foods contain GMOs, and what kinds, I would do my research and determine which GMOs I’m comfortable with, and which ones I am not, and adjust my buying behavior accordingly.

    Clearly large food corps believe consumers would not purchase many of their products, if they had access to the product-relevant information. As such, they have spent a hefty sum of money to hide this information from consumers.

    That’s not free-market.

  181. Nullius in Verba says:

    You think they can’t do better than to sell $2 candy bars at $1.50?

  182. James Earlywine says:

    If you can prove that, and inform/persuade consumers, then awesome.

    We have thousands of years of history to reflect upon, with regard to apples.

    If you can prove there are harmful side-effects from eating apples, previously undetected – and then demonstrate that you have a process to make apples safer/healthier, awesome.

    ..but that’s something different than what is being discussed in this thread. The question isn’t whether some (or all) GMOs are perfectly safe, or even improve the quality of food. The question is whether consumers should be able to organize and leverage regulatory power via the government, to require producers to include relevant product information on the packaging.

    It’s relevant because a large portion of consumers care to know about it. ..and large food corps have spent alot of money to ensure that they don’t have to include this information. That’s counter to free-market principles, and create a well-founded fear of those firms that dominate those markets.

  183. Nullius in Verba says:

    Again, if they want the information they’re welcome to pay for it, and manufacturers are welcome to provide it. That’s what the organic food industry already does.

    They already *have* that freedom. What they *don’t* have the power to do is to take away other people’s freedom to buy products that don’t.

    There is room in the market for *both*. Manufacturers can sell products that do give the information, and products that don’t, and the two can *compete* against each other. That’s a free market.

    That’s been going on for a number of years now, and the outcome is that comparatively few people are willing to pay the extra cost, and lots of people want the unlabelled products.

  184. James Earlywine says:

    Nature includes the systems that support the life (and eventual death) of all living things. It would be nice if living things could survive/eat in a manner that did not require something else to die. It would be ideal if living things never had to die.

    Unfortunately, this is not the way of things, at least not on our planet as we have observed thus far.

    These systems are included in the concept typically referred to as “nature”.

    I would like to suggest that your arguments do better to inform and persuade consumers, to ameliorate some of their fears of GMOs, and maybe even for consumers to have a favorable attitude toward GMOs.

    ..better to do that, than to spend $39M to obscure from consumers which foods contain GMOs.

    If you really believe GMOs optimize food-production outcomes, teach that to consumers. Don’t hide it from them instead.

    I imagine most consumers would recognize that some genetic modifications are likely to be good. ..their concerns are that some may have bad results that are undetected in the short-run, that can harm them in the long-run.

    This is a valid concern. We have access to a long-run data-set and observations of ourcomes for naturally-ocurring food.

    We don’t have that for GMOs that result from direct interaction with (and modification of) DNA.

    I personally am not especially GMO-averse. The argument isn’t whether genetic modification is necessarily (or even likely) a bad thing. The argument is whether consumers have a right to demand this information in their standard package of information that accompanies the food products they purchase.

  185. James Earlywine says:

    I haven’t said anything of the candybar costs. They might each cost only 25-cents. Candybars are somewhat differentiated. The price is set by what the market will bear.

    Nonetheless, to remove people’s access to information, makes the market less free, not more free. Irrespective of what incentives exist. When a producer/distributor has market-power, they can manipulate consumer access to information, to secure their market position. That’s counter to free-market principles.

  186. James Earlywine says:

    If I sell you a used-car, even if I sell it As-Is, I am required to disclose any information that could reasonably impact your decision to purchase or not purchase that car.

    It is reasonable for consumers to expect their food producers to be held to (at the very least) the same standards of disclosure, as you would expect from a used car salesperson.

  187. James Earlywine says:

    Clearly the food companies know that this information would impact purchase behavior, or they wouldn’t have spent $39 million dollars (collectively) to fight against the requirement that they disclose this (even innocuously) on their product packaging.

  188. Nullius in Verba says:

    “The question isn’t whether some (or all) GMOs are perfectly safe”

    Good! Glad that’s sorted out!

    “The question is whether consumers should be able to organize and leverage regulatory power via the government, to require producers to include relevant product information on the packaging.”

    Yes they can, and entirely without government intervention too! All you have to do is set up your own manufacturers that produce non-GMO food and label it as such, and for consumers to pay a premium for GMO-free labelled produce. You already have that power, and always have.

    If you really want to, you can even buy food from other manufacturers, stick your own GMO or non-GMO labels on it, and resell it. There’s no problem with that at all.

    But everybody else is free to sell products *without* the labels if they want to, and if they can get people to buy them. The public should have a *choice*. They should be able to buy either. And the public will decide what sells.

  189. Nullius in Verba says:

    “The argument is whether consumers have a right to demand this
    information in their standard package of information that accompanies
    the food products they purchase.”

    Yes, they do. All they have to do is not buy the foods without the labels they want.

  190. Nullius in Verba says:

    A used car salesman doesn’t have to disclose any information at all, unless it is a safety issue. What they say has to be truthful, but if they choose not to say anything, the customers can just go elsewhere.

  191. James Earlywine says:

    It’s not about offering non-GMO food. It’s about knowing what’s in the products you purchase. If I want to avoid GMOs, I shouldn’t have to act in paranoia, avoiding all products unless they clearly state “No GMOs”. Furthermore, I might care to know which GMOs are in which foods.

    That’s relevant, and it’s been requested, and been refused by producers. This is not information they should be able to withhold. Anymore than I should be able to withhold from you information like, “The car you’re about to buy from me has a blown headgasket that I know about.”

    The public has more power to make a choice, when they can see the contents of their purchase.

    I actually avoid juices that have high-fructose corn syrup. By your logic, I would need to stop buying all juices except the ones that say, “NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!” in big letters on the front. Instead of simply scanning the small letters on the back. Furthermore, now every juice-maker that doesn’t use high fructose corn syrup has to label their products, “NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!”

    So as large food producers make all sorts of things that people are averse to, natural products need to plaster their package with “NO X1! No X2! No X3! No X4! No X5!”

    That’s rediculous. A packaging should say what IS included, not all the things that are NOT included.

  192. Nullius in Verba says:

    OK, but do you think they can’t do better than to sell candy bars at $1.50 when they could be sold at $2?

  193. James Earlywine says:

    except they are indistinguishable in the market. If a label doesn’t indicate whether it includes GMOs, it may or may not include them.

    If it says that it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.

    So many foods that don’t contain GMOs are available in the market, but I can’t reliable detect them, unless they say “NO GMOs”.

    You really think every food that doesn’t contain GMOs should have to put that on the label? What about foods that don’t contain rubber bands? ..and foods that don’t contain arsenic? ..and foods that don’t contain chocolate?

    You can’t be serious. A package should describe what IS in the package, not what is excluded from the package.

    Consumers care to know if a food product contains GMOs. It should go without saying that if a food package doesn’t indicate that it includes GMOs, then it doesn’t include GMOs.

  194. James Earlywine says:

    because food, by default, does not contain GMOs. Consumers should not assume all food contains GMOs unless the package indicates otherwise. That is not the default state of food.

  195. Nullius in Verba says:

    ” If I want to avoid GMOs, I shouldn’t have to act in paranoia, avoiding all products unless they clearly state “No GMOs”.”

    It is paranoia, and there’s no difference in the information.

    If you want to avoid GMOs then the only thing you need to know is when foods have no GMOs. People who want to sell to you are perfectly welcome to put that on their packaging. Obviously, if you want to avoid GMOs then you would have to avoid all products that didn’t state ‘no GMOs’ even if everything *was* labelled.

  196. James Earlywine says:

    Actually that’s not true of used car salespersons. The 30-day lemon law applies to used cars, in fact that’s what it was created for.

    Individuals also are required by law to disclose pertinent issues if they know them. It’s just difficult to prove what a person knows when they sell a car.

    However, as a matter of law, you are required to disclose anything you know about the car, that would reasonably impact their purchasing decision.

    As a practical matter, people can simply say “I didn’t know the car had that problem.” ..and the burden is on the claimant to prove otherwise.

    Food producers know exactly what their food products contain.

  197. Nullius in Verba says:

    “You really think every food that doesn’t contain GMOs should have to put that on the label?”

    No. I think the manufacturer should be able to put whatever they want on their own packaging, so long as it’s truthful.

    If labelled food outsells non-labelled, the manufacturer is free to take advantage. What I’m against is compulsion of *any* sort.

  198. James Earlywine says:

    Sure, because you’re also selling an equal number of $1 candy bars for $1.50.

    Imagine instead that 3/4 of those brown-paper-bag-packaged candy bars were the $1 ones.

    Imagine also that your consumers are isolated and unorganized.

    Also imagine that even after they open the candy bar and eat it, they cannot tell which candy bar they consumed.

    That’s what’s going on here.

  199. Nullius in Verba says:

    Food manufacturers are well aware that a scare campaign is being conducted against them, and that people (rightly) associate compulsory labelling with safety issues. It’s a blatant attempt to smear the competition.

    And yes, it *is* a free market.

  200. James Earlywine says:

    Exactly. If I don’t want to eat broccoli, I can easily look to see if a food product has broccoli. You can see broccoli. You can’t see what has been done in the dna.

    Therefore it should be indicated on the packaging, in the ingredients section.

    By your logic, if I wanted to avoid eating broccoli, I would need to avoid cheese, cereal, bread, candy, ice cream, chicken, beef, seafood, etc. ..because none of them say “Does not contain Broccoli.”

    Of course, you can easily see broccoli. Consumers can satisfy their preferences to avoid broccoli by simply observing with their eyes, that it does not exist in cheese, or milk, etc.

    Consumers can’t physically observe the presence of GMOs, and they care to know of their presence.

  201. Nullius in Verba says:

    If both candy bars cost the same, and people are willing to pay $2 for the superior candy bar, then any retailer is obviously going to buy *all* the candy bars from the better supplier and sell them at $2 in their original packaging.

    There’s no percentage in hiding information if you can make more money revealing it.

  202. James Earlywine says:

    Well I’m grateful for compulsion. 5 years ago I decided I wanted to take better control of my nutrition. When I was young, food didn’t contain the relevant information I needed to make good purchasing decisions.

    Now I can read the labels and see what’s inside before I purchase it. That’s important to me.

    As one person, I could never have brought about this improvement to the market for food products.

    ..and when large food producers have market power, they easily can make the market, establishing the norms/expectations in that market.

    They didn’t want consumers to expect that they should be able to see the macro-nutritional contents of the food they were buying. They clearly also don’t want consumers to expect they have a right to know if the food they’re about to buy and ingest, has GMO materials included in it.

    In the absence of a law, the coercive power of oligopoly will continue to make the food-product market less free.

  203. James Earlywine says:

    That’s a fair point. People do associate compulsory labeling with safety issues.

    However, people also (rightly) associate anti-free-market activities, like insulating yourself from requirements that you disclose the contents of the package your peddling, with safety issues.

    Snake oil salesmen once sold bottles of various elixirs. Some with real value, some with no value, and some with dangers attached. These bottles and salesmen were pretty much indistinguishable.

    Now we have consumers who are savy, they are familiar with various active ingredients in medicines, and they can see the contents of any OTC medicine by simply reading the label.

    Large food corps appear to be like the era of snake oil salesmen that preceded legitimate pharmaceuticals, and a more-free market for medicines.

  204. Nullius in Verba says:

    What if I want to avoid food harvested in the month of June by any left-handed blue-eyed farm labourer called ‘Bob’ when the moon is full and the tide is in? I can’t see that by looking at the food in question, so all that information should be on the packaging? How about if I don’t like food transported by rail, or stored in the warehouse on a shelf/aisle with a prime number? How far must we go?

  205. Nullius in Verba says:

    “As one person, I could never have brought about this improvement to the market for food products.”

    Do you think one person should be able to tell everybody else in the world what to do?

  206. James Earlywine says:

    Imagine you’re a gas station in a small town. You’re able to sell the “mystery candy bar” for $1.50. 1/4 of the candy bars cost you 85-cents. 3/4 of the candy bars cost you 25-cents.

    You package them all in the same brown bag, and sell them $1.50. People eat them, and have no idea what they just ate.

    That’s large food corps and GMOs. They have a mix of various product offerings. You’re not allowed to know which ones contain GMOs. You just pay the money, hope you don’t get too many GMOs, and have no idea after you eat the food, what you just ate.

  207. James Earlywine says:

    If you really believe GMO is equivalent, it’s difficult to imagine you aren’t engaged in intentional ignorance.

    ..but hey, if you can get a large group of people together, who really do care about avoiding “food harvested in the month of June by any left-handed blue-eyed farm labourer called ‘Bob’ when the moon is full and the tide is in” .. then fine.

    If a large number of people genuinely care to know that, then it should be disclosed.

    It’s the reasonable person standard.

  208. James Earlywine says:

    Our government is intended to be a tool for us to organize. It’s not just one person who wants this information.

  209. Nullius in Verba says:

    ” like insulating yourself from requirements that you disclose the contents of the package your peddling, with safety issues.”

    There *is* no requirement that you disclose the contents of the package you are selling. That’s why vegetables can be sold loose, with no packaging or labels at all, and with no chemical analysis.

    There is no such requirement.It’s not possible.

  210. Nullius in Verba says:

    OK, buy *all* the candy bars at $0.25 and sell them at $1.50. That’s more profit, right?

  211. Nullius in Verba says:

    If enough people want it, then it’s not relevant that “As one person, I could never have brought about this improvement to the market for food products”.

    A large enough number of people do have the power to bring about such improvements, simply by buying products with the improvements. (And anyone can set up in business as a manufacturer/retailer.)

    If enough people want it, they already have the power. If very few people want it, they have no right to dictate.

  212. James Earlywine says:

    As a point of fact, you are mistaken. Loose vegetables are exempt.’s assumed that we all know what they’re made of. ..that they are in their default naturally-occurring state.

    Probably bred to optimize their pedigree, and insulated from pests by insecticides that have passed safety tests (though some people prefer organic). ..and probably covered in a thin layer of wax and shined for presentation.

    Altering a plant’s DNA, changes what it actually is. To breed two green peppers to produce another green pepper, and to select the most attractive green peppers for seedling .. that is a natural process.

    Consider that you could alter a plant’s DNA to turn it into a hybrid green-pepper / frog. That changes the substantive makeup of the plant in a way that goes beyond the constraints of nature. It goes outside the scope of things that are “green pepper”.

    This ambiguity should be clearly communicated. “This is made of stuff that isn’t what you might think.”

    Which may mean it’s better, may mean it’s not better. I’d like to see a national registry of GMO materials and studies attached for each material.

    ..because when you begin tinkering with genetics, you begin introducing all sorts of variables that can impact the way a person’s human body develops over time.

    People have a right to scrutinize any intentional tinkering done in that domain. ..and especially to suspect corporations that are incentivized to maximize their profits, perhaps at a cost to human health, if they believe the link will not be detected.

    How could it possibly be detected, if there is no disclosure when GMOs are included in food products?

    It’s seems (and rightly so) rather sinister an agenda for food corps to take up.

  213. James Earlywine says:

    I suppose you could, but if people never get a nice candy bar every now and then, they might stop buying the brown-bag candybar.

    ..then again, maybe they wouldn’t. Especially if their expectations were shifted/manipulated slowly over time, so they never expected to get a nice candybar, always expected to pay $1.50, and never knew what they’d just eaten.

    I guess you could look at it that way too.

  214. James Earlywine says:

    That’s not true, because buyers are isolated. It is only when they become as organized as these large food corps, that they can impact the market to bring about systemic changes that will ensure justice and safety in their food markets and supply.

    Isolated and price-sensitive consumers, who don’t know that saving 40 cents means exposing themselves to GMO materials in their food supply, are not in a position to understand (because the information is hidden from them) what they are buying, and therefore they cannot meaningfully express their preferences.

    They might still decide to save 40 cents and eat the GMO stuff. ..or they might decide to spend 40 cents extra and exclude GMO from their diet.

    ..but as individuals they have no way to bring the systemic market changes that will empower them with that information.

    ..and large food corps obviously don’t want to share this information with consumers, that’s why they spent $39 million dollars, so they don’t have to tell consumers which of their products contain GMOs, and what kind, etc.

    On their list of ingredients, they could simply have an asterix “*”, and at the bottom, indicate “GMO – for more information on GMOs, visit

    Easy breezy, simple as that.

  215. James Earlywine says:

    That is an ordinary and proper function of government, to secure the food supply and increase market freedom.

    America is trailing behind most other developed countries in this domain of consideration.

  216. Nullius in Verba says:

    It doesn’t matter that buyers are isolated. Each acts according to their own preferences, and those preferences are given due weight by the market.

    Isolated and price-sensitive consumers who don’t know that the cheaper food contains GMOs obviously don’t care, either. Consumers of organic vegetables don’t know (or care) that they are being exposed to allyl cyanide. So what?

    Large food producers don’t want their liberties taken away. For liberty, $39m is cheap at the price.

  217. Nullius in Verba says:

    It’s not a function of government.

    And they’re staying ahead of other countries.

  218. James Earlywine says:

    You can’t say that a consumer’s preference has been expressed, and that they don’t care if a product contains GMOs, if they have no way to reliably detect the presence of GMOs.

    The liberty to withhold information requested by a large number of consumers? Really? You can’t be serious.

  219. Nullius in Verba says:

    ” Loose vegetables are exempt.”

    Exactly. They’re *allowed* to sell food without telling you what’s in it.

    “Probably bred to optimize their pedigree”

    “Bred” means their genes have been altered.

    “Consider that you could alter a plant’s DNA to turn it into a hybrid green-pepper / frog. That changes the substantive makeup of the plant in a way that goes beyond the constraints of nature.”

    No it doesn’t. There is no property of DNA that marks it out as ‘frog’ or ‘pepper’. It’s like computer code – if you transplant a line of code from one program into another, it doesn’t look any different. It’s just code.

    Similarly, DNA works the same way in all life, and a lot of the frog genome is actually the same as that in the pepper.

    It’s not true either that they can’t subsequently mix. Viruses can (and have) inserted themselves into the permanent genetic record of other species, and can carry genes from one species to another. In fact, genetic engineers borrowed the technology from nature. They didn’t invent it.

    There is no distinction. Plants naturally produce chemicals that interfere with the biochemistry of the creatures that eat them – including humans. We don’t know what the long-term effects are.

    It’s exactly the same agenda that farmers have had since the dawn of agriculture. The anti-freedom agenda of the organic food producers is far more sinister.

  220. Nullius in Verba says:

    “You can’t say that a consumer’s preference has been expressed, and that
    they don’t care if a product contains GMOs, if they have no way to
    reliably detect the presence of GMOs.”

    Does the average consumer know that their vegetables contain allyl cyanide? If they don’t, have their preferences been expressed?

    “The liberty to withhold information requested by a large number of consumers? Really? You can’t be serious.”

    I’m absolutely serious. That’s freedom of expression.

  221. James Earlywine says:

    You clearly don’t understand the functions of government.

    By your logic, there shouldn’t be any laws at all. In the absence of law, the strong, well-resourced and well-organized people and organization trample the interest of the weak, poor, and disorganized individuals – with impunity.

    The only counter-balancing power to money, is law. It ensures justice and is the only mechanism for ameliorating systemic malfeasances, such as we observe constantly on oligopolistic markets.

    Many capitalists cite “non-participation” as a meaningful alternative. However, a consumer cannot simply choose not to eat. Large food producers justify their oligopoly on the “economies/efficiencies of scale” premise.

    ..and then use their size/scale to dominate the food supply, and do whatever they see fit to do, and refuse to even tell consumers how they’ve modified the food supply, and what they’ve included in their food products.

    If it weren’t for your clear commitment to this position, I would assume that you are being facetious/sarcastic, or otherwise not-serious.

  222. Nullius in Verba says:

    But you said a moment ago they couldn’t tell the difference. What’s this “nice”?

  223. James Earlywine says:

    They’re allowed to sell a limited set of food types without labeling. I guess you’re just not familiar with the laws pertaining to label requirements.

    Breeding means their genes have been selected for breeding with other genes. They have not been directly altered.

    There is, as yet, no reason to think that human tinkering directly with genes, reliably produces better food than selecting genes for breeding, and letting them come together naturally within the context and scope of natural reproductive processes.

    ..and that’s my point, transplanting a single line of code might produce a desired outcome, but with many undesirable side-effects.

    The code might not look different, but the outcome is very different.

  224. James Earlywine says:

    Freedom of expression doesn’t include the freedom to engage in fraud. If consumers ask for information pertaining to food contents, food producers should happily disclose/oblige.

    If consumers get together and ask their government to require food producers to disclose when food contains allyl cyanide, that’s an explicit expression of their preferences. If the food producers then refuse, that’s a clear “free expression” of the producer’s desire to obscure the contents of their food offerings.

    That should not be an option.

    However, in this age of technology and smartphone, I would be content for them to simply include a website link to GMO-related information.

    Then we could at least form a non-profit that gathers this information into a central database, and write a smartphone app that enabled a consumer to scan the barcode with their camera, and have all GMO-related information presented on their smartphone display.

  225. James Earlywine says:

    Not everyone has a smartphone, but I’d say that’s still a happy compromise. A not-for-profit can gather all the information from the various websites and make it available from a single source/registry on the web, and via smartphone.

  226. Nullius in Verba says:

    The only proper function of government is to defend liberty.

    The only counter-balance to power and money is competition. Set up in competition, offer a better product/service, and the power and money will follow.

    People only *get* power and money in a free market by giving people what they want. As opposed to those in government who get power and money by coercion and corruption.

    On the question of liberty, I’m very serious. I agree that from the perspective of someone unused to the theory of liberty it does seem odd. Their intuitions are all based in the traditional authority roles in society, and nothing seems more natural to them on seeing something they disagree with to try to ban it. This sort of conflict of worldviews is very common – and hard to break through.

  227. James Earlywine says:

    A fair challenge. I could respond by pointing out that both candy bars are nice, and a noticeable difference might not be reliably detected in the short-run. That they enjoy both candy bars, but maybe the “nice” candy bar contains a chemical that makes the brain want more candybars, more frequently, and that the brain enjoys wanting candybars.

    At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. People can’t taste GMOs. ..though many still prefer to exclude them from their diet. ..and they can’t, because they can’t tell from the packaging what’s in their food. – and they want to. ..and they can’t. ..because the food producers have refused consumers this information, and spent alot of money to secure their right to refuse this information.

  228. Nullius in Verba says:

    Fraud would be telling untruths about the product.

    But even in court you have the right to remain silent.

  229. James Earlywine says:

    I agree, the power of competition and free markets is considerable. One proper function of government is to fix broken markets.

    If a product contains materials that people worry are dangerous, they should be required to disclose this. This empowers consumers to easily express their preferences, and increases freedom in the market.

    It really is as simple as that. So we at least agree that a proper function of government is to increase liberty.

    It just so happens that you believe that natural forces in the world will optimize outcomes, even while you simultaneously acknowledge that there is no perfectly-competitive market in existence.

    Insofar as government increases freedom, by empowering market participants and protecting/promoting free-market competitive forces, they have defended liberty.

    Answering consumer demand for GMO-related information to be printed on packaging, would increase our liberty.

    Sort of like people enjoy more liberty when they are alive, instead of dead. Laws criminalizing murder may limit the liberty of some murderous people, but overall it increases liberty, because more people are alive instead of dead.

  230. Nullius in Verba says:

    I know the law pertaining to label requirements perfectly fine, thankyou. I’m just pointing out that it conflicts with your claim that there are “requirements that you disclose the contents of the package your peddling”.

    “Breeding means their genes have been selected for breeding with other genes. They have not been directly altered.”

    A difference without meaning. Engineering selects genes with other genes, and whether direct or indirect, the outcome is the same.

    “There is, as yet, no reason to think that human tinkering directly with genes, reliably produces better food than selecting genes for breeding, and letting them come together naturally within the context and scope of natural reproductive processes.”

    Of course there is! Otherwise there’d be no point in doing it!

    ” transplanting a single line of code might produce a desired outcome, but with many undesirable side-effects.”

    And so does selective breeding – only instead of a single line of code you’re mixing thousands of lines of code, which inevitably has many more consequences.

  231. James Earlywine says:

    The relationship between food consumers and food producers is not the same as the relationship between a prosecutor and an accused person.

    Operating in good faith so that each party may enjoy the benefit of their bargain/transaction, is a done cooperatively, not adversarially.

    If there were no barriers to entry, and no oligopoly, New food producers could pop up tomorrow, promising to label all of their food products, so that you know what you’re getting. The food producer would sell themselves on “We make a promise and we deliver. If any of our foods contain and GMO material, you will know because it will be clearly printed on the label.”

    ..but that market is controlled by a few large players.

  232. James Earlywine says:

    That’s not free-market. That’s the opposite of free-market.

  233. James Earlywine says:

    The only transactions that don’t require disclosure, are transactions where the information is considered to be readily available.

    I cannot detect when a food as been genetically modified in a lab. ..and I care to know that. .and it costs almost nothing to add this to your label.

    If you buy something from a junkyard, you buy it “As-Is” in “Unknown” condition.

    ..and this is the standard you believe is appropriate for our food suppliers. That they should be able to sell us food As-Is, in Unknown condition.

    That should offend the sensibilities of every reasonable person out there.

  234. Nullius in Verba says:

    “One proper function of government is to fix broken markets.”

    I disagree. Although I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.

    “If a product contains materials that people worry are dangerous, they should be required to disclose this”

    No! If a product contains materials *actually shown* to be dangerous, then they should disclose this.

    “Answering consumer demand for GMO-related information to be printed on packaging, would increase our liberty. “

    If there was consumer demand for such labelling, then it would already be there.

    What you’re asking for is for the demands of the minority of consumers who want this to overrule the majority of consumers who do not, and to *actively prevent* the latter, by government force, from buying the unlabelled products they prefer. That’s not liberty.

  235. Nullius in Verba says:

    “If there were no barriers to entry, and no oligopoly, New food producers could pop up tomorrow, promising to label all of their food products, so that you know what you’re getting.”

    Yes. That’s what I’m saying should happen. Not restrictions on labelling applied to the old food producers.

    And the organic food label demonstrates that they can.

  236. James Earlywine says:

    You’re not mixing lines of code. That’s like saying that a coach that select players to play against each other, has selected a million different muscle-fiber movements.

    ..and I think you misread my criticism. There is, as yet, no reason to think that human tinkering directly with genes, _reliably_ produces better food.

    Maybe at some point in the future, when we know more, and have better capacity to make DNA edits, and a better understanding of the context and mechanisms of reproduction and biological development, then maybe we can more-reliably produce good outcomes.

    This learning will likely result from decades of technological advancement, and biological experimenting. If a consumer wishes to exclude themselves from that domain of experimentation with the food supply, they should have an easy means of doing it.

  237. Nullius in Verba says:

    We evidently have a different definition of “reasonable”.

  238. James Earlywine says:

    Every person I’ve talked to (in person) wants this information to be made available. I want it. None of us have lobbied congress, because we pretty much feel like it’s hopeless.

    ..and large food corps just spent $39 million to ensure that it really is hopeless.

  239. James Earlywine says:

    People shouldn’t have to pay a premium and eat organic food (which I also don’t feel is very safe), to get basic information about the contents of our food. Especially when that information is available and could be included in the package printing at no additional cost.

  240. Nullius in Verba says:

    “..and I think you misread my criticism. There is, as yet, no reason to
    think that human tinkering directly with genes, _reliably_ produces
    better food.”

    Perhaps you misread my answer. I’m saying that there is, because they did. They tinkered with genes, and have produced better foods, which they can sell for enough extra to recoup the investment. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

    What I *think* you’re talking about is something slightly different, which is the ability to predict from theory alone what the result would be. But in practice you get to see and test it.

  241. Nullius in Verba says:

    They can, because they can buy organic.

  242. Nullius in Verba says:

    OK, set up a new label. If there’s enough of you, it should make money the same way.

  243. James Earlywine says:

    Thus far, we don’t have enough data to understand the long-run and broad-scale impacts of GMOs.

    The law of large numbers states that given a very large set of observations, very-unlikely things begin happening all the time.

    You can’t see that in your laboratories. Especially in the long-run.

    While I can appreciate that we don’t have clear and compelling evidence to believe that GMOs (of any particular type) are harmful – we do have reason to be concerned, given the limited information available about outcomes from consuming those GMOs.

    As such, many consumers (like myself) would prefer to filter them out of our diet, minimizing our exposure to food-related risk.

  244. Nullius in Verba says:

    “But Everyone I Know Voted For McGovern!”

  245. James Earlywine says:

    (risk = uncertainty of outcomes)

  246. James Earlywine says:

    Unfortunately, by time is limited. I’m not a food producers and I don’t want to be a food producer. I just want to be able to easily select food from the grocery store, excluding GMOs from my diet until I know more about what they are, what each one does, how each one id made, and any research available on outcomes resulting from consumption of that particular GMO (or one similar to it).

    As a consumer, I don’t have access to this information. Not because it isn’t available – the food corps know when they make direct modifications to DNA and include the resultant materials in their food products.

    I don’t have access to this information because the food company won’t tell me, and paid $39 million to ensure they never have to.

  247. James Earlywine says:

    Fair enough. My personal experiences are anecdotal. I’ll see if there’s any poll information available online.

  248. Nullius in Verba says:

    Yes, and we have even *more* reason to be concerned that conventionally bred crops are harmful.

    Law requires proof. I might be ‘concerned’ that you’re secretly trying to kill me, but the law requires proof before it will restrict your freedom.

    So far, GM has proved rather safer in practice than organic or conventional farming.

  249. Nullius in Verba says:

    Often the food company doesn’t know. They bought the flour from one of a dozen wholesalers, who each bought it from one of a dozen import/export businesses, who each bought it from one of a dozen flour mills, who bought it from dozens of different farmers and didn’t pay any attention to whether it was GM or not GM because they know there’s no difference.

    If you want to track each stream and keep them separate, that costs money.

  250. Nullius in Verba says:

    No need. The market share for organic vs non-organic tells you that.

  251. James Earlywine says:

    Food is a different type of product. You can easily opt out of buying a car, or buying a GM car specifically.

    The large food corps are ubiquitous in our markets. ..and food is something everyone needs, or they will certainly die.

  252. James Earlywine says:

    Not really. There is no GMO without a patent. There is no accidental GMO production. They can easily give a year for everyone to get into compliance.

    Going forward anyone who produces something using GMO methods, stamps their product. ..because people care to know what was made using GMO.

    Simple as that.

  253. James Earlywine says:

    Not true. I don’t buy organic. I would avoid GMOs until I did research to discover which ones I believed were fine, and which ones I wanted to continue to avoid.

    ..but since I have no idea which products have GMOs, that’s impossible for me to do as a consumer.

    ..and I almost never buy any organic stuff. ..and everyone I know feels the same way, and a only few of them buy organic.

  254. Nullius in Verba says:


    The large food corps are only ubiquitous because they provide what most people want with the maximum of cheapness and convenience. And they’ll seize any opportunity to get even more money by offering new lines for which there is a market – including special labelling if that’s what people want.

    And there are still other smaller shops and chains for speciality items.

    But that makes no difference. Big shop or small, the primary risk is still with conventional breeding, and you still need solid evidence before you can go round banning things.

    And if you want to put it in terms of food being an essential of life, you might want to think about the poor, who struggle to make their domestic budget, and for who cheap food is a lifesaver. They can’t afford fancy luxuries like ‘Organic’ or ‘non-GMO’. It’s all very well for fussy eaters of the prosperous middle classes in wealthy countries to turn their noses up, but the poor need the extra productivity of GMO/pesticide use. They cannot afford the extra that going non-GMO would cost. In the coming decades, agricultural productivity will need to be considerably improved, or they will certainly die.

  255. Nullius in Verba says:

    Yes, but once the grain (or whatever) is produced, it goes into the same bins as all the rest.

  256. Nullius in Verba says:

    If so, then a label saying “contains GMOs” doesn’t help, because it doesn’t tell you which GMO it contains.

    Incidentally, would you research conventionally bred vegetables the same way, to find out what is in them and whether they were ‘fine’ or to be avoided? If not, why not? The risk is greater, after all.

  257. James Earlywine says:

    non-GMO is not some special “luxury” item. Furthermore, it’s up to the poor to decide if and when they will purchase and ingest GMOs.

    I’m not suggesting that market share isn’t earned, but market dominance creates market power. Market power = less free market.

    Once you have a dominant position in the market, competitive forces are relaxed, and firms are at their “liberty” to engage in activities that they were previously limited from doing, due to competitive forces.

    As such, we cannot rely on competitive forces to optimize outcomes in those markets. Especially in the short-run. That time-delay and obscurity of information hurts people.

    If we can’t know when we’re ingesting GMOs, we can’t even begin to build data that would illuminate potentially harmful effects of GMOs. So we cannot ever ascertain our real exposure to risk, and our market purchase-behaviors do not reflect our real preferences. ..because, generally, consumers prefer to eat food that isn’t hazardous to their health .. and they can’t begin to have access to relevant information, because they can’t even begin to know when they’re consuming GMOs, and from what products. Thanks to lobbying by food producers.

    A person would have to be especially (and likely intentionally) obtuse not to find that to be terribly suspect.

  258. James Earlywine says:

    Yeah, that’s a problem. It should be isolated and labelled. ..because people have legitimate concerns about it’s safety.

    Legitimate concern = due to lack of information about GMOs. This information can only be observed/gathered/analyzed over time .. and not enough time has passed to ensure it’s safety.

    ..and food safety matters to people, and for good reason.

  259. James Earlywine says:

    I agree, it should contain detailed information about the GMOs, or at least point to a website that offers this information.

    Conventionally bred vegetables have long-produced our food supply without causing harm. Humans don’t know enough about DNA and genetic/reproductive processes, to reliably produce good outcomes. Competency and reliability are established/developed over time.

    I’m not saying GMOs should be banned, but it is right for consumers to see them as being in an experimental phase, and consumers should only participate in this experiment if they choose to.

    Refusing them access to GMO-pertinent information about the food they are ingesting, even after they have requested it, is to remove their capacity to give informed consent, such that the transaction becomes coercive on the part of food-producers, who have leveraged their resources and market power to deny consumers access to the information they have requested (in large numbers).

  260. Nullius in Verba says:

    “Once you have a dominant position in the market, competitive forces are relaxed”

    No they’re not. There are some businesses that take measures to keep out smaller competition, such as by encouraging a larger regulatory burden, but mostly they dominate because they’ve already got all the infrastructure, contacts, and experience needed to do the job well, and anyone else coming in is still learning.

    “If we can’t know when we’re ingesting GMOs, we can’t even begin to build data that would illuminate potentially harmful effects of GMOs.”

    You couldn’t, anyway. That would be an invitation to placebo/nocebo effects and anecdotal confirmation bias, which is notorious for raising false correlations and superstitions. “The last time I passed a black cat walking under a ladder I had bad luck all the rest of that day…”

    And there are a million other factors besides GMOs that are far more likely to be related, and which you don’t measure either. We’ve got no information on whether left-handed harvesters called Bob are a health risk, because nobody gives us the data.

    The sort of anecdotes you can collect in daily life don’t have the sample size or experimental power to be able to pick up the small/rare effects that the researchers and epidemiologists might have missed.

    GMOs have been tested, and are as safe as any other food. They’re not hazardous.

    A person would have to be especially (and likely intentionally) paranoid to find that to be terribly suspect.

  261. James Earlywine says:

    Actually yes they are relaxed. I would like to suggest that you read up on competitive market forces/dynamics. As an MBA student, we’re trained to discover how to create sustainable competitive advantage and differentiation. To avoid competitive dynamics.

    Look up Blue Ocean and Judo strategies. In fact, regulation that prohibits price-discrimination in a trading region actually empowers smaller businesses to compete with larger businesses.

    There is not good reason to believe that a person’s name or their handed-ness could impact food safety.

    There is reason to believe that humans, in their limited knowledge and understanding of biological systems, the DNA code, and how it determines biological activity/development, could make missteps that are not easily detected in the short-run, that hurt human health.

  262. Nullius in Verba says:

    “Conventionally bred vegetables have long-produced our food supply without causing harm.”

    That’s wrong. They have several times proved to be very harmful indeed.

    “Humans don’t know enough about DNA and genetic/reproductive processes, to reliably produce good outcomes.”

    You keep saying that, but I still don’t know why you think it. If you spray seeds with radiation, most of the results will be useless – very occasionally you will get something useful that you can then breed into a more stable line that expresses the trait alone without all the other less desirable side-effects. If you genetically engineer the specific trait you want, you’re far more likely to get that trait. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and sometimes you get undesirable side-effects, but you can spot those and either engineer or breed them out. As a replacement for the random mutation stage of conventional breeding, it’s far more reliable.

    I’ve no idea why you think it isn’t.

  263. James Earlywine says:

    Some people believe that you cannot reliably detect long-run side-effects in a relatively short study in a lab. This is a reasonable concern to have. If a person wants to wait a decade and see that a GMO is safe before including in their diet, they should be at their liberty to do so. They shouldn’t be limited from the information they need to make purchase decisions according to this preference.

    I apologize, I wasn’t aware that naturally-bred plants have been observed to create health hazards that are not obvious and easy to detect and filter out from the food supply.

    I personally believe that many chemical and selective-breeding innovations have improved the quality of our food supply. I also suspect that most GMOs improve the quality of our food supply.

    ..but all things equal, I would prefer to limit their presence in my diet, until time reveals which ones really are safe, and which ones (if any) pose a threat to human health.

    It’s a pretty basic and well-founded concern, that any consumer might reasonably have. There’s no reason their request for information should not be satisfied, pertaining to the contents of the food products they purchase and ingest.

  264. Nullius in Verba says:

    “Look up Blue Ocean and Judo strategies.”

    Look it up where?

    “There is not good reason to believe that a person’s name or their handed-ness could impact food safety.”

    Of course there is. Food handling has an essential impact on safety, practices are based on education and the proper use of equipment, and equipment designed for highly-educated right-handers used by a working-class left-hander is likely to be misused. Of course, nobody has spotted the connection because nobody collects the data.

    Whereas data on GMOs has been collected and tested, and they have not hurt anyone. It’s complete speculation.

  265. Nullius in Verba says:

    Why only one decade? Why not two? Or five? Or ten?

    And how do you identify the GMO as the factor responsible, rather than any other factor? Mary ate a GM tomato when she was eight and she died of cancer at the age of ninety eight. Was the tomato responsible? How could you possibly tell?

    Life is risky, and things change. We don’t know the long-term risks of lots of things. Are radio waves a health hazard? How about plastic? Suncream? Car exhaust? Wind turbines? How can you isolate any one factor, and do you really propose to go through the 21st century being scared of everything until we’ve got at least 8 decades of experience with it? Are we each going to make a diary note of every new thing we’re exposed to, so that it can be traced as a cause of a 0.00001% increase in risk fifty years later?

    Or do you shrug, write it off as something you can’t do anything about, and get on with life?

    All these constant health scares cause stress and anxiety, which is well-known to cause ill-health via the nocebo effect. Worrying about GMOs is bad for your health.

  266. James Earlywine says:

    Small things behave very differently than big things. It remains to be seen how this biological material will interact with the human body. Especially given that genetic interaction takes places very infrequently and randomly.

    However, given the law of large numbers, unlikely things will begin happening quite frequently, and will be strongly correlated with GMO consumption, or not correlated.

  267. Nullius in Verba says:

    Yes, and how is GMO any different in this regard to anything else?

  268. James Earlywine says:

    Because we’re not allowed to know when we’re consuming food products containing GMO. Food producers are allowed to withhold that information from us, and they’ve paid lots of money to ensure that they can, so it’s likely that they will.

    We cannot observe/understand what we cannot measure.

    Genetic tinkering is a new thing, and the results of any new technology bear themselves out over time.

    Unless you are limited from measuring these things. .

    It’s like trusting your software developers to write code, except they’re using a hexeditor instead of a development environment. That creates a legitimate concern about unintended consequences. ..because it’s a new body of study/technology, still in it’s infancy.

    Consumers should be at their liberty to exclude these items from their diets, if they don’t want to be part of that experimental phase.

  269. Nullius in Verba says:

    But again, there are an infinity of things manufacturers don’t tell us. There is a multitude of information they are allowed to withhold from us. There are thousands of new developments and technologies.

    So how is GMO any different?

  270. James Earlywine says:

    If you believe there is a possibility of harm to human health, I would hope that you or some other person doing their moral and civic duty, would elevate consumer awareness/concern, so that they might insist on knowing these details.

    Of course, you’re probably referring to rudimentary details, such as “This grain was transported by a forklift while it was in the warehouse.”

    The science of material handling in warehouse is not new science. Furthermore, it doesn’t entail tinkering with biological sourcecode, you know, the stuff that determines biological development of organisms in an ecosystem.

    The science of tinkering with DNA is still new. So new in fact, that it should be rightfully be called “tinkering” and not “engineering”. Much like hexediting a file’s 1s and 0s should be called “tinkering” and not “software development”.

  271. James Earlywine says:

    You’re talking about the health and lives of human beings, possibly being impacted by a new science that entails tinkering with the codes that drive biological growth/development/evolution.

    That potential scope and impact of that, is a great deal more worthy of close monitoring and concern over a long period of time, than the mundane details of how the materials are handled and sorted.

  272. James Earlywine says:

    Price-sensitive consumers will not buy the $2 candy bar.

  273. Nullius in Verba says:

    There is always a “possibility” of human harm from *anything*. I would hope people only raised the alarm if they had found actual *evidence*.

    The science of determining if a new crop plant that has arisen from selective breeding is safe is far older. The genetic engineering only replaces the random mutation part – all the rest of the routine is the same.

    It’s not new science. We’ve been doing much of it since 6000 BC.

  274. Nullius in Verba says:

    How do you know?

  275. James Earlywine says:

    That doesn’t tell me everything I need to know. As a consumer, I prefer to avoid food that DOES contain GMOs, not food there merely “might” contain GMOs.

    GMOs require special processing to achieve a genetically modified state. “Gluten Free” labels exist, because it often requires special processing to create a gluten-free food. The label indicates, “Something extra was done to this food, it’s not like normal food.”

    GMOs, as of now, are not like normal food. After decade or two of technological advancement and improved understanding of DNA, maybe then we can reliably ascertain which GMOs are safe and which (if any) are hazardous. Only then should these practices be adopted into our ordinary and accepted processes for producing food.

    Until then, they are exceptional processes, and it should be clearly indicated when these processes have been applied to food.

  276. James Earlywine says:

    If that were true, then we would not be able to achieve better results by doing this genetic-tinkering.

    Sure, you can act more deliberately upon the DNA, but that doesn’t mean you know enough about the DNA code or the systems it drives, to deliberately alter the code responsibly. If something bad happens, you can only say, “Wow, sorry. We were still just learning, and didn’t expect it to hurt people.”

    It’s funny, corporations act like they know everything and are in excellent control, until something bad happens.. then they’re innocent and dumbfounded while the rest of us are harmed by them.

    As such, we cannot rely upon the producers to look after our well-being, we have to make our own decisions about what to ingest. ..and we can’t do that so long as they hide that information from us.

  277. James Earlywine says:

    You have no idea the impact of genetic engineering, because it can’t be measured, because food producers hide the relevant information from us.

    The fact that they hide the information is a strong indication that it should be scrutinized/studied more closely.

    There is already a great deal of regulation and scrutiny over the mundane details of how food is handled. When it is mishandled, food producers are liable.

    This scrutiny is impossible with GMOs, because no one can even known when a food products contains them, and which GMOs it contains.

  278. Nullius in Verba says:

    We’ve already had a decade or two! Some GMOs have been stuck in the bureaucracy for a decade or two, being blocked by people like you.

    It’s perfectly normal food. We’ve already determined which are safe and which are not – the unsafe ones are not allowed to be sold.

    GMO corn has been on sale since 1996. GM salmon was created in 1989, has passed every safety test, and is *still* waiting.

  279. Nullius in Verba says:

    Scrutiny is possible because you can sequence the genome. By contrast, no records are made of how thoroughly something was washed, so you can’t tell where in the chain the error was made.

  280. Nullius in Verba says:

    “Sure, you can act more deliberately upon the DNA, but that doesn’t mean
    you know enough about the DNA code or the systems it drives, to
    deliberately alter the code responsibly.”

    Yes, they do.

  281. James Earlywine says:

    waiting for what? Are you sure it passes all safety tests? I’ve heard that it out-competes natural salmon, entirely replacing salmon with a human-tinkered version, which might be okay.. but might not be (depending on the long-term viability of the human-tinkered salmon).

    If you’re only waiting for it to be allowed into food, I imagine including the information on the label would go a long way toward getting it into the purchase streams of food consumers.

    If a person knows it’s GMO, because it’s printed on the label, then they can buy or not-buy it.

    I bet if food corps weren’t fighting to hide the presence of GMOs in their food products, GMOs would find easier access to market.

  282. James Earlywine says:

    You can sequence a genome, but you can’t measure the impact it makes upon human health, merely by examining the sequence of genes in the plant.

  283. James Earlywine says:

    “Yes, they do.” is not all that persuasive or compelling an argument. They are DNA tinkerers right now, not DNA engineers. They engage in well-informed trial-and-error.

    To act deliberately, does not mean to act with competence and real understanding.

    I think my hexeditor analogy holds pretty well. I’ll not reiterate it for the Xnth time, but still.

  284. James Earlywine says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed with the advances we’ve made, but I don’t think we know enough yet, and I don’t think we have complete control enough yet, for consumers to put all of their faith in our scientists who declare a GMO as “safe”.

    Some consumers (like myself) prefer to wait and see what time reveals. Any consumer who wants to select GMOs for exclusion from their diet, should have easy access to the information required to make that purchasing decision.

    Insofar as we cannot, the market is less-free, and less defensible on “free market” principles.

  285. Nullius in Verba says:

    Your repeated assertion that they don’t know what they’re doing is not convincing, either.

    I’ve actually written entire programs with a hex editor (or even more primitive means). It’s slow, but it’s not particularly difficult. And I knew how and why everything worked, and what the program would do as a result.

  286. Nullius in Verba says:

    That wasn’t what I said.

    You said: “This scrutiny is impossible with GMOs, because no one can even known
    when a food products contains them, and which GMOs it contains.” and I replied “Scrutiny is possible because you can sequence the genome.”

    You can tell whether a food contains them, and which GMO it contains. Your reasons for thinking scrutiny to be impossible are incorrect.

    And of course you can measure the impact, not by simply looking at the sequence, but by creating the organism, feeding it to animals (and then humans), and seeing the impact. Which we have done.

    And the measured impact has been far lower than the measured impact (in actual deaths) of eating non-GM organic food, contaminated by poor handling.

    But you don’t address the point that GM food has proved observably safer than non-GM, you just keep on asserting – wrongly – that we can’t measure it.

  287. Nullius in Verba says:

    The salmon released for farming are at least 95% infertile, and all female. The fertile source animals are kept at a separate facility on land, and cannot reproduce without artificial assistance.

    The study you’re referring to was considering the hypothetical case of farmed salmon somehow escaping captivity, surviving in the wild, meeting up with male non-GM salmon, mating with them, and happening to be in the fertile 5%. It’s highly speculative, and wouldn’t pose a health risk anyway.

  288. James Earlywine says:

    I’m sure your “entire program” was fairly small, didn’t do much, and required you to do know a great deal about the context within which your program was operating.

    That differs very much from the biology and DNA of living organisms, and the balanced ecosystem in which they live. The balanced ecosystem that is (currently) favorable to human survival.

  289. James Earlywine says:

    There hasn’t been enough time to measure the impact of the newer GMOs.

    ..but if what you say is correct – if we can (with sufficient amounts of money), disect every food product in the market, and determine which ones have GMOs, and create a registry – then we should be putting our resources toward doing that, instead of trying to get food producers to simply tell us.

    So I guess we have to reverse engineer all foods to attempt to discover which ones have been manipulated by human hand.

    You might think that doesn’t matter, all that matters is the genome itself, but that isn’t the case. If natural causes were to damage our food supply or ecosystem, there is no negligence/liability. If a human hand does it, there is negligence/liability.

    Unless you’re able to tinker with it, and then disappear like some prankster into the night. That’s what large food corps have purchased a license to do.

  290. James Earlywine says:

    ..but could make AquaBounty the single source for salmon in the world, after they’ve killed off all the naturally-occurring salmon. That’s bad. That drives up the price of salmon, once they have a monopoly.

    ..and it’s not highly speculative, it’s highly likely.

    “AquaBounty plans to raise only sterile fish, but the FDA has called this claim “potentially misleading, “as up to 5 percent of these fish may be fertile.

    The company also claims their GE salmon will be raised in closed facilities so that wild stocks won’t be at risk. Since the company intends only to produce and sell the eggs, it is unclear how they could enforce such restrictions on aquaculture companies, like those in China, Southeast Asia and Chile, where regulations and oversight on aquaculture are notoriously weak.

    Worldwide, the dominant method of raising salmon is in open net pens in the ocean, and millions of farmed fish escape from these facilities every year.

    The impact of a GE salmon escape could be immense, as AquaBounty’s founder once
    claimed orders for 15 million eggs.

    Escaped fish may outcompete wild fish for food, space and mating opportunities, as they often exhibit greater aggression and risk-taking than wild fish.

    AquaBounty’s GE salmon are genetically designed to eat more and grow faster than wild salmon. An invasion of GE fish into a natural fish population could lead to the extinction of both wild and transgenic fish in
    that region. Escaped salmon have also been linked to the spread of infectious diseases and sea lice to wild populations.”

    How is that not a legitimate concern?

  291. James Earlywine says:

    I wish we had the data and resources to discover why food in America produces so many bad outcomes in people’s health.

    My roommate is from Jordan. Before she came here, she had never experienced lactose intolerance, nor gluten intolerance.

    She came here, and within a few months, she began experiencing problems.

    Then her brothers came here from Jordan, and they began having the same problem.

    When they went back home to Jordan, the problem was less severe, but still persisted.

    For good reason, they are highly skeptical of American food, and shop at international grocery stores, and are very careful about the food they eat here.

    It’s strange, because Americans didn’t have these problems either, until the past few decades.

  292. James Earlywine says:

    Imagine what it’s doing to people. It seems to impact stomach and reproductive function.

  293. James Earlywine says:

    Consider this as well:

  294. Chris Akins says:

    So using this logic, we should remove all contents labeling on foods, since by definition only contents categorized as safe are allowed into our foods.

    People have a right to choose, whether their choices are ignorant or not.

    Label the damn food!

  295. Chris Akins says:

    Organic does not = non-GMO, actually.

  296. There’s also a correlation between people drowning in bed sheets and amount of bad Nicholas Cage movies, what’s your point?

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