GMO labeling based on unsound science, lousy logistics

This election cycle, two significant initiatives went under the radar, partly because they failed. Both Oregon and Colorado decided to block the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO), which would require companies to specify whether a food product contains genetically modified products.

Although it is experiencing a rise in popularity, GMO labeling is an unconstitutional, impractical and completely unsupported idea.

The most obvious problem with GMO labeling is that it is unconstitutional, namely in that it regulates interstate trade. If, for example, Oregon had chosen to enact GMO labeling, it would mean that all food companies in other states sending food to Oregon would have to keep track of which products have GMOs in them and label them appropriately.

This controverts the idea that regulating interstate trade is done at the federal level rather than the state level. As such, should these initiatives have passed, they would have soon been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Even if that wasn’t a problem, practical issues remain. For instance, if a cake used GMO wheat in the flour, would the cake have to be labeled, or only individual sacks of flour? If a cow ate GMO grain or corn, would its meat or milk have to be classified as a GMO product?

The question would involve consideration of where the introduction of GMO crops becomes dangerous. However, that line is not just blurry, but nonexistent; there is no danger from GMO crops.

Though it is controversial among scientists in the political world, the stance is unequivocal: Increased adoption of GMO crops would be hugely beneficial. In fact, only a week ago, the largest analysis of GMO crops was completed, published in PLOS ONE, and the result was overwhelmingly positive. Crops can be grown cheaper, using fewer pesticides and more profitably using genetically modified strains rather than conventional ones.

Moreover, according to one of the most comprehensive meta-analyses conducted on the subject, published in The Journal of Animal Sciences, of 100 billion animals studied, no difference was found between those which consumed large amounts of genetically modified crops, compared to those raised before the crop’s introduction.

It is bizarre to see a scientific question so firmly and unequivocally resolved in one direction, with such a large uninformed popular backlash. Though an analogy can be made to climate change, they are two separate beasts: While the steps necessary to combat global warming may trade short-term losses for long-term benefits, GMO labeling has absolutely zero upside, and, if passed, will only cause damage.

It is of vital importance that the science be understood so that intelligent, sensible policy can be made.

Andrew Langen is a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematics.

November 18, 2014


Andrew Langen

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “GMO labeling based on unsound science, lousy logistics”

  1. Alex John says:

    What’s more, we have a right to know is in our food for so many larger reasons rhan health risks. Some people just want to know. It’s why we know there is wheat in our food whether it’s GMO or not. Of course, companies wouldn’t like us to know that either and actively fight to remove every single labeling requirement and even have some representation in congress for that. These corporations don’t care about me, they don’t care for your audience, and they certainly don’t care for you Mr. Writer. They care for their money. We are not money, we are only cattle in their eyes.

  2. Alex John says:

    Wow, this article is terrible! Who paid you to write this one, huh? :p First of all, bags of flour containing GMOs would be labeled as would the cake. Second of all, animals which ate GMOs would need not be labeled unless the animal itself was in fact GMO, but no GMO animals exist yet (legally) on the market. So your two well thought out powerful questions apparently giving credence to your asinine arguments is over by just simply reading the legislation. GMOs might be safe, they might not be. The overwhelming vast majority of studies, nearly all of them, have been tampered with, paid for or more by the companies standing to make billions off of GMOs perceived safety. At the end of the day, they only resemble the cigarette companies old heavy handed scientifically bereft campaign to not label healt effects on cigarettes. But cigarettes don’t kill ANYBODY, right? You’re no journalist, you’re no scientists, not are you even investigative. You’re a hack.

  3. Scott says:

    Aside from a poor understanding of the GMO initiative, I would suggest that Andrew actually reads the constitution. Interstate commerce is nowhere to be found and, more to the point of his story, I believe he might also learn that it’s our rights that are being violated when a corporation actively conspires to conceal the presence of a mutant foodstuff in our food supply, the chief feature of which is that it serves as a pesticide delivery system.

  4. Linda says:

    Easy for you to say because you haven’t developed any allergies to the GMO wheat or anything else. Why do you think so many kids are allergic to peanuts now??? Because they’re GMO. We as the consumers have a RIGHT to know. It’s common sense – if GMO crops are pest resistant then what do you think those chemicals are doing to our bodies???

  5. URnIdiot says:

    wow, you are an idiot. The ‘practical issues’ you discuss are easily answered by reading the language of the initiatives you are critiquing, which you obviously haven’t done.

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