Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Anti-GMO Labelers Wage Massive Disinformation Campaign in Colorado

How much money does it take – most from outside interests – to take down an effort to label GMO-based foods? Better perhaps, how much disinformation does it take to alter voters’ minds to force them to subvert their own nutrition –food choices?  It turns out the answers may be much more than we believed for the first ($9.7m vs. $330,000 for proponents), and much less for the second. The latter since now the Denver Post has tossed its hat into the GMO labeling ring and given a rousing endorsement to vote down Proposition 105 in its Sunday editorial.

But then we already knew the Denver Post – while allowing a few liberal memes – did staunchly also wage a brief for unlimited fracking over a year ago – arguing it was critical for the state’s economy. Can we call ‘bollocks’ on that too? I believe so, especially after surreal gloating and smug satisfaction fairly oozed from the paper’s pages after Jared Polis removed from the Nov. ballot  the initiatives to give local control of fracking to Colorado communities.

The image attached was taken from a flyer delivered in the mail. The flyer included canards that have been repeated in assorted ads on TV and also by the Denver Post in its editorial.  Some of the more prominent include:

1) Farmers and food producers would be required to separate, repackage and re-label ingredients from throughout the country – just for our state.

2) Proposition 105 would cost Colorado taxpayers millions by requiring a new state bureaucracy to enforce its Colorado-only regulations for tens of thousands of products.

3) Proposition is so full of exemptions it would not tell consumers which foods are produced with GMOs.


The first is overblown fear mongering. Most of Colorado’s foods are locally grown as people have become more aware of the advantages. Many places (e.g. Whole Foods) already have GMO labeling which conforms with the law. Any residual issues are not as huge a problem as portrayed as Vermont has already found out, as well as Switzerland – not exactly a backwater nation! (See my posts on it from last month). The Swiss have the sense to use a threshold for labeling GMO which is that samples tested contain less than 0.9 percent GMO products. We can do the same!

The Second complaint  is more hype and the regulatory body needed can be modeled again after Vermont – after mandating their own GMO labeling law, or after Switzerland. “Enforcement” is another bugbear as consumers will basically do the “enforcing” with their food purchase choices.  No special “police” or “code violation” body will be needed.

As for (3),  yes, there are exemptions, because over-ambitious labeling demands would not have gotten the signatures needed and likely invited even more lawsuits than the ones planned. As progressives always harp on in elections: “You cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good!” 

Given the progressives' clarion call, of course meat and dairy aren’t forced to be labeled since the animals are only raised on GMO foods, they are not themselves genetically re-configured animals (e.g. cows actually being engineered from rat, skunk or vampire bat DNA).  Restaurants also don’t need GMO labeling because many (e.g. Chipotle) are already doing it and finding a competitive edge because of it. As for Alcoholic beverages, these also need no special GMO labels. For one thing, most everyone conscious knows it is a drug and also the ill effects, including on the liver and brain. Whether in fact GMOs play any role in alcoholic beverages is therefore akin to worrying about whether the cancer sticks you’re smoking have bisphenol –A filters.

Other objections to Proposition 105 are even more ludicrous, such as Colorado commissioner of agriculture Don Ament arguing (Denver Post, Sept. 28) that genetic engineering has been going on for thousands of years – actually referring to hybridization, e.g. of cattle. In this way, many have been led to believe voting for the Proposition is ridiculous and redundant because – hey!  - those things have been with us like forever.

But there’s a huge difference. In hybridization, similar species can be cross-bred because they share similar genetic traits. (Such as two types of cow being mammals and ungulates).  Hybrids can occur naturally or they can be created by grafting and cross-pollination.

By contrast, genetic engineering involves splicing of two distinct species (e.g. cows and alligators, or tomatoes and mice) that would never occur naturally in a million years – or ten million. Since the GMOs are not natural – they don’t represent natural creatures that would have evolved, or plants, and we simply don’t know what the health consequences might be.

We do know there were some earlier studies, such as  Arpad Pusztai’s in Britain. This study processed the results over several years and found that the rats which consumed GMO potatoes showed evidence of organ (liver, stomach) damage and poor brain development. Pusztai's study went down as the very first independent study (i.e. one not sponsored by a biotech corporation) to examine the effects of bio-engineered food on mammals. Alas, after he tried to publish the results he lost his job  - see:

More recently, families have been made aware of glyphosate in these foods and how it reduces their nutritive value and also raises the specter of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease  and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This will be particularly pronounced if the new Enlist DUO Weedicide is approved for use with GMO crops, as Dr. Oz Mehmet already exposed – as well as others, see e.g.

For Colorado's premium newspaper, The Denver Post gets many things wrong as well in its Anti-105 editorial. Thus, the issue of “cost” is again carped about despite the fact David Byrne – former European commissioner for health and consumer protection - declared that GMO labeling “did not result in increased costs despite the horrifying predictions of some interests.”

The Post also complained that some would ban GMOs which “ironically have resulted in a large decrease in the use of insecticides etc.”

But as Mehmet Oz  observed:

-        There are 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides used per year, used on GMO crops - because those crops are designed to survive the poisons.

 70 - 170 million pounds of additional highly toxic pesticides will be used if the FDA approves Enlist.

Oz then flatly skewered the notion that “less” toxins are being used, and in fact the very design of GMO crops encourages the use of MORE toxins because they are designed to survive them.  As Oz’ guest, journalist Mark Bittman  also noted:

“Yields are not up and pesticide use is not down. So when you talk about feeding a hungry world, GMOs have not moved us in that direction."

Do you really want the residues of 2,4 –D, the chemical used in Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, splotched all over your food if Enlist is approved by the multinational-compromised EPA?

The bottom line here is one of buyer choice: Do you deserve to know if that tomato you’re purchasing is the product of the natural tomato being spliced with mouse genes, or not?  (The aim being to increase its shelf life).  Sixty four European nations already have a ban or moratorium and strict regulation of GMO foods including labeling.

Switzerland, probably a European nation more advanced than many:

funded thirty projects to investigate the risks and benefits of GMOs. These projects concluded that there were no clear health or environmental dangers associated with planting GMOs. However, they also concluded that there was little economic incentive for farmers to adopt GMOs in Switzerland.” (Wikipedia)

Our Swiss friend Rolf told us that the main concern of farmers in Switzerland is the accidental dispersion of GMOs (from areas dedicated to their cultivation)  to outside farms and crops – thereby contaminating them. The worries he cites are well worth noting, but he also averred no Swiss citizen wished to be kept in the dark over what he’s eating.

As he asked me while we were staying in Appenzell,

If it’s good enough for we Swiss, why isn’t it good enough for Americans to have your food labeled?”


 See also:


No comments: