Filed Under: Organic Activists

Feeding Consumer Confusion

Oregon’s largest newspaper has plenty to say about the costs of a proposed law that would force the state’s food producers and grocers to label foods containing genetically improved ingredients. “If we had evidence that genetically engineered food was harmful,” The Oregonian’s editorial reads, “those costs might be worth paying… As it is, we have no such evidence.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a coalition of groups aligned against Oregon’s “Measure 27” commissioned a study to determine just what those costs might be. The result: “A labeling law would cost an average Oregon family $550 a year.” And the state’s administrative agencies have estimated that the Oregon Department of Agriculture alone will have to spend over $17 million in the first year, just to keep up with the labeling requirements.

There’s one particular line in the text of Measure 27 that could make the law even more dangerous. It says that labels must be added to foods and beverages if they are “derived from, or prepared with, genetically-engineered material, regardless of whether that material is present in the final product.”

Huh? That’s like warning people who are lactose-intolerant to steer clear of beef, because calves drink milk. It doesn’t matter whether the milk “is present in the final product,” right?

If you’re still not sure what to think about this Oregon election battle, consider the reliability of the players lined up on either side. Those who have certified genetically improved foods as safe for human consumption include the American Dietetic Association, the World Health Organization, and the American Medical Association. The AMA even has a policy statement that reads: “There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods.”

On the other side of the ball are fringe activists, Ralph Nader-inspired counter-culturalists, and organic food companies (whose sales would skyrocket if Americans can be taught to fear food technology).

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