Bills mandating labeling on genetically improved foods (GIFs) moved forward recently in Massachusetts (H. 813) and California (S.B. 131). They are backed by organic activists such as MA Right to Know GMOs, the Organic Consumers Association, and the Environmental Working Group, who deny the scientific consensus on GIFs and push mandatory labeling ostensibly because consumers should have a “right to know” what they eat. We have reported that such a “right” is simply a gimmick that helps activists obscure their true intentions: a total ban on safe, helpful GIFs.
Both bills pander to a small but vocal group of anti-science alarmists, who don’t recognize the implications of their policies. Labeling requirements dangerously imply health concerns where none exist. This stokes baseless fears, threatening the food security of millions. But First World anti-GIF advocates themselves have never had to worry about a lack of food.
Federal courts have agreed with the FDA that mandating labels similar to GIF labels is against federal law since the FDA has ruled these foods are no different than other foods “even if consumers misperceived the product as different.” “Were consumer interest alone sufficient,” said another court, “there is no end to the information that states could require manufacturers to disclose about their production methods.” Also, since only “material” information is allowed on the label, mandatory GIF demarcations might violate federal laws.
Despite this logic, the motley crew of GIF deniers continues to grow. Its latest ally may be the Russian despot Vladimir Putin. The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, a Russian-led bloc of former Soviet Republics) Alliance for Biosafety cited independent scientists’ “findings” that GIFs cause a “negative impact on liver, on kidneys, on stomach, and on human organism at the whole [sic].” Russia’s State Duma (legislature) continues to consider a total GIF ban.