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Biotech Science Politics

California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled 559

bbianca127 writes "In November, California will be voting on Proposition 37. The proposition would mandate putting labels on foods that have been genetically modified. While supporters of the proposition think that consumers deserve to know what they're eating, opponents call it 'anti-science' and have donated $25 million to defeating the measure. From the article: 'Unsurprisingly, the battle has gotten very expensive, very quickly. Agribusinesses and food manufacturers have donated a total of $13 million toward defeating the measure, bringing the total up to $25 million in the coffers of those proposing the proposition. In comparison, the organic farmers and environmentalists who support the proposition have managed to raise less than a tenth of that total amount.'"
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California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled

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  • Re:What's to fear (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kergan ( 780543 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @06:36PM (#41060927)

    In other news, superbugs are growing resistant to bug-resistant gmo crops:

    http://www.rodale.com/gmo-corn [rodale.com]

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:01PM (#41061303)
    It's not even remotely the same. Cross-breeding does not generally insert genes from bacteria into plants, or squid genes into mammals. Not to mention bacteria or squid or other organisms that themselves had been previously "modified".

    A lot of modern GMO practices resemble "cross breeding" about as much as Chicken Vienna Sausage resembles an actual chicken. Less even.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:12PM (#41061455)
    Because genes from plants are safe, but not genes from bacteria and animals?
  • Re:Reasonable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:12PM (#41061457)

    Saw this a while back, seems relevant.


    Pretty much EVERYTHING you eat today is genetically modified on some level. To expect consumers to decide what genetic modifications are acceptable and which ones aren't, is a very tall order for the layman. If only we had some government group to Administrate the Food sold in this country. They could oversee medicine too. We would call them the FDA and they ALREADY EXIST.

    .. and they are in the pocket of firms like monsanto. GM soybeans were approved in the us without even going through proper testing. I'm sure you don't find it interesting that outside the US (EU) for example where the testing WAS done, the gm crops were banned... hmm, wonder why that happened?

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:19PM (#41061533)

    The "organic" growers will want testing of foods from the big companies to keep them honest. But, it could well be mandated for all producers.

    If you say it's non-gmo, prove it. Regardless of the size of your operation.

    With modern laboratory methods, we can detect tiny amounts of specific genetic material.

    example: detecting Asian Carp DNA in the water of Lake Michigan. We haven't seen the carp, but we know that at least a few are there from the shed genetic material.

    Imagine the consternation when much of the final product "organic" food also tests positive for detectable amounts of transfered BT genes or other GM material. Additions that could have blown in with pollen or from volunteer plants. You grind, mix and process many foods, so anything in it gets distributed. If your suppliers don't do a good job of vetting their sources, you're screwed.

    Too bad if it was contamination. Go to court for remedy if you want. But, in the meantime it's not GMO free so pull off the labels or pull it from the shelves.

    It's all in how the levels are set in the regulations and what part of the production cycle the testing is done at.

    If you want GMO free, it doesn't matter how it gets in, so end product testing rather than the incoming materials is quite reasonable.

    If it passes, big food should lobby for stringent levels and testing. Besides, for large companies, the expense can be spread of huge amounts of product shipped. For small organic producers, not so much. If it passes, this "big win" may be a devil in disguise for those that wanted it.

  • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @07:43PM (#41061847)

    This isn't about withholding information. The information is freely available to anyone willing to research it. This is about forcing information beyond a rational minimum of information (like nutritional content, ingredients, and allergies) to be displayed, but not all the information, only the information that fits political agendas. Kosher and Halal aren't required to be labeled by law, but that doesn't mean anyone is hiding that information. You don't have to label if something was produced via tissue culture or bud sport selection or mutagenesis or wide crosses either, but that doesn't mean anyone is hiding anything. Why is that a non-issue, yet doing the same for genetic engineering is 'withholding information'?

  • Re:What's to fear (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @08:08PM (#41062153)

    Yeah, and if hybrid seed is so great, why not label it? And if food produced via tissue culture is so great, why not label it? And if food produced via induced polyploidy is so great, why not label it? And if food produced via somaclonal variation or mutagenesis is so great, why not label it? And if food produced via doubled haploid hybridization is so great, why not label it? And if Haram food won't send you to hell, why not label it? I could go on, but do you see how easy it is to use that argument? Loaded questions are not good ways to make a point.

    They should proudly label their products:

    The people who sell the seed do. t is the farmers and food processors who don't? I wonder why? I'll be if I went around telling people that tissue culture causes cancer, people who sell tissue cultured crops like potatoes or bananas wouldn't want to label that either, even if I pulled the cancer thing out of my posterior.

    This isn't anti-science but pro-science.

    No, it is singling out something because of political reasons. Hey, evolution is only a theory...are creationists pro-science for asking that fact (and it is a fact) be labeled in textbooks? Or are they anti-science by singling out a single thing in a misleading way meant to deceive people due to their ignorance of what the word theory means? Pro-science would be educating people on the genetic history of crops, including the benefits and risks of the methods. Anti-science is singling out one thing because it doesn't fit your beliefs.

  • Re:Reasonable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tetch ( 534754 ) on Monday August 20, 2012 @10:52PM (#41063725) Journal

    What about Clearfield wheat or any of the other non-GE crops bred for herbicide resistance? Why should that get a free pass? And what if I want to know the conventionally bred genes found in my non-GE food? It is very inconsistent to single out one method of crop improvement and ignore the rest

    I'm a physicist by education & training, and I'm anything but anti-science (I'm all in favour of the space programme, never mind the cost, because we need that off-world colony asap) - but the idea of fiddling with the oh-so subtle machinery of a species' DNA, which has taken at least 2 billion years to evolve (I'm not a flat-Earther Creationist) makes the hairs rise on the back of my neck. There is no way we can possibly safely understand the full implications of inserting a fish gene into a tomato to improve shelf-life.

    My objections to GE (and those of many others) have nothing to do with imagining that the resulting food will be in some way "unsafe to eat" or "bad for me" - that's just the way the anti crowd are painted with pitchfork'n'torches hysteria by the GE companies' PR teams. Protein is protein is protein. No, for me it's all about the rash folly of fiddling with that double helix and messing it up. It's a very clever molecule.

    That conventionally-bred gene manipulation you mention, while resulting in similarly granular effects to that of the GE, has the benefit of using mechanisms and pathways which have stood the test of those 2 billion years without resulting in catastrophic species loss or damage - *that's* why it gets a free pass .... in my book, anyway.

    I hesitate to invoke Hawking style religiosity but I will: Genetic Engineering is "playing God" (no, I'm anything but Christian) when IMHO there is no way we are anywhere near competent yet to exercise such ability. We need to exercise more humility instead. This beautiful planet is the only one we have, or are likely to have for some considerable time to come, and it should be treated with kid gloves.

    NB: I'm not dogmatic about this - I'm deadly serious, and I'm always willing to be educated, so teach me if you will - that's the scientific way :-)

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan