Editorial: Base labeling on science, not superstition

The Detroit News

The left can be quite smug about its allegiance to science. And quite selective, too. That’s particularly true of the environmental movement’s relentless and often hysterical attacks on genetically modified food.

The nation’s food industry is locked in a battle with Vermont over a state law set to go into effect July 1 that will require the labeling of all food products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Agricultural and grocery associations have a pending federal lawsuit claiming state-by-state labeling requirements will make mass distribution of food nearly impossible. They’re also concerned, rightly, that the unwarranted fear campaign pressed by opponents of GMOs will drive consumers away from the products.

This is a fight being waged around the country and the world. In Colorado and other places, communities are establishing genetically engineered-free zones where the crops can not be grown.

Long-standing GMO bans in Africa have blocked rice and other crops modified to combat a variety of childhood ailments associated with abject poverty. The greens have willingly sacrificed children in the false quest to keep food natural.

Any victories the anti-GMO movement achieves is a triumph of superstition over science.

There is no credible evidence to support claims that these so-called Frankenfoods are harmful for humans, and plenty to support their safety.

The most common claim is that GMOs lead to increases in allergies. Nearly all GMO products, before offered for sale, are tested to determine whether they trigger allergic reactions or will increase a resistance to antibodies.

More than 2,000 tests have been conducted to assess the risks of GMO food, according to Forbes.com, and none have been found. Livestock, the primary consumer of GMO crops, have been eating the engineered grains for at least 18 years, with no negative affects.

GMOs should be considered the environment’s best friend. They allow higher yields, meaning more food can be grown on a smaller footprint. This is essential to meeting the food demands of a growing worldwide population.

Crops can also be engineered to resist drought, cutting down on irrigation and the strain on water supplies in arid regions.

Many crops have been modified to require far less use of pesticides and fertilizer, so fewer harmful chemicals flow into waterways.

And as mentioned, crops can also be engineered to improve human health and nutrition.

Far from being monster food, GMOs are an example of science for the public good.

The bill under consideration in the Senate would require a national standard for labeling GMO foods. If those labels come, they should also contain the disclaimer that there are no verifiable risks associated with GMO products.

America’s vital agricultural industry is deeply entwined with genetically engineered products, and that’s a good thing for both consumers and the environment.

Such an important piece of the economy should not be placed at risk by claims unsupported by science.