Did you happen to catch Gary Hirshberg’s interview on the Diane Rehm Show? He rocked!
On Tuesday, Jan. 3rd, Stonyfield’s C-E-Yo shared the microphone with Gardiner Harris, science reporter with the New York Times, and Thomas Redick from the “Global Environmental Ethics Counsel” to talk about whether genetically modified (GMO) foods should be labeled.
Harris sang the praises of GMOs in biomedicine, a good and valid point: we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But Redick’s organization set off my “conflict of interest” alarm. Upon further investigation I learned that he provides legal counsel to clients in the agricultural biotechnology and soybean industries. Note: according to USDA, over 90% of the soybeans planted in the U.S. carry Monsanto’s genetically engineered trait to withstand spraying with the herbicide glyphosate, or “Round-up.”
Redick said he thought the voluntary labeling system we have in place works “just fine.” Unfortunately, the great majority of consumers think otherwise. We want to know what we’re feeding our families, and we do not appreciate our children serving as guinea pigs in a national biotech experiment.
Lucky for listeners, Hirshberg hit on all the important reasons why consumers deserve GMO food labels: “transparency, truth and trust.” Plain and simple: “Consumers have a fundamental right to know.”
Now, fellow consumers, let’s get our talking points straight as we march forward on GMO labeling:
1. Cost. You may hear that labeling GMO foods will cost too much money and those costs will be passed onto consumers. Yet Stonyfield has changed labels multiple times a year for insignificant cost. When evaluating regulatory costs, we must remember to weigh them against the price of birth defects and illness related to herbicide and pesticide use on GMO crops, as well as the yet unknown risks inherent in the technology.
2. Chemical use. Despite the GMO promise of reduced chemical use, there’s actually been an explosion in herbicide (glyphosate/ Round-up) application. Glyphosate now shows up in rain and rivers in agricultural watersheds, and according to Paul Capel, U.S. Geological Survey chemist, “we know very little about its long term effects to the environment.” Plus, as weeds become resistant to glyphosate, a new 2,4-D tolerant trait will increase that chemical’s presence in our environment. Note: 2,4-D is a prime component in Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Viet Nam war.
3. Cancer. The President’s Cancer Panel Report on reducing environmental cancer risk advises us to choose foods produced without pesticides/herbicides. Because we can expect herbicide/pesticide residues on GMO crops, labels would help us follow the Cancer Panel Report recommendations. Look for “organic” and “non-GMO” food labels to help protect your family’s health.
4. Justice. Thirty-six countries around the world require GMO labeling. Shouldn’t U.S. citizens enjoy the same freedom to make informed food choices? Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Information is the currency of democracy.”
Just Label It