Democratic Senators introduced a bill this week that would force companies to label any genetically modified ingredients in the food they sell. The Hill reports:
The Biotechnology Food Labeling and Uniformity Act unveiled Wednesday would require manufacturers to disclose the presence of genetically modified organisms on a product’s Nutrition Fact Panel. Manufacturers, though, would have a choice in how they comply.
They could choose to put the words “genetically engineered” in parentheses next to a relevant ingredient; identify GM ingredients with an asterisk and provide an explanation for the asterisk at the bottom of the ingredients list; or apply a catch-all statement at the end of the ingredient list stating the product was “produced with genetic engineering” ingredients.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley defended the legislation, saying it was “a way to give consumers the information they are asking for.” There’s probably some truth to the claim that the public is clamoring for the information: the environmental movement has succeeded in villainizing GM technologies to the point that many are convinced that these crops are somehow harmful for human consumption. Science says otherwise, but greens have never been a group to let facts get in the way of a good scare tactic.
But if we’re going to start labeling foodstuffs with asterisks or cautionary statements warning of GM ingredients, shouldn’t we take this to its logical end and start warning shoppers that the corn, or the apples, or tomatoes, or just about any of the produce they have been buying all their lives, has been genetically engineered by centuries of selective cultivation?
There is admittedly a lot of wiggle room in this compromise bill, but ultimately a compromise with Luddite, anti-science green dogmatists is not a compromise worth making.