In 2008, Duane Grant, who runs farms in northern Idaho and Oregon, began to grow sugar from seeds that were genetically modified beet. As a result, he says he now uses fewer chemicals, plow less often and get higher yields from the same surface. – Increase profits and reduce their environmental footprint along the way
“I am proud of it,” he said.
But that pride does not translate into support for a movement of thriving consumers who have mandatory labels placed on products containing sugars like yours, such as juices, soft drinks and breakfast cereals, and any other product containing a genetically modified organism, or GMO. Grant considers such irrational labels -. A feeling that aligns with the broader food industry, which has been spending tens of millions of dollars in recent years to avoid them, fearing that drive customers
Despite two decades of guarantees of biotechnology companies, food industry, federal regulators and even a substantial part of scientists that GM foods are safe ballot initiatives and petitions from citizens seeking label GM foods are emerging as fast as the industry can pay – or sue – to defeat them. Meanwhile, sales of foods labeled GM-free have been gaining ground on the shopping lists of consumers, and polls indicate that more Americans than ever are in favor labels identifying genetically modified foods.
This has even some supporters of genetic engineering wonders if it’s time to rethink the issue of labeling. “If you give people a choice and value winning,” said David Ropeik, a consultant to risk communication. It has begun to call the industry to put aside their “fear of fear” and embrace labeling of GMOs, which is required in at least 64 other countries, including Japan, Australia, Russia, Brazil and more than a dozen European countries.
But Grant, like many players in the industry, remains skeptical. “To allow the popular perception of damage – or benefit – to be the basis for mandatory labeling would not result in food is safer,” he argued. “It would result in the scientific community to be pushed into the background in favor of food regulation mafia-moda-of-the-day.”
Whether that’s true, food manufacturers are spending heavily to avoid mandatory GMO labels. In 2012, for example, opponents of a proposed labeling of California – including Monsanto, ConAgra and other manufacturers of genetically modified seeds along with food companies such as Sara Lee, Coca-Cola and Kellogg – spent no less than $ 46 million, mainly in lobbying and advertising to defeat the measure. the following year similar efforts in Washington urged the state attorney general to sue the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA), claiming that the main lobby of the food industry identity taxpayers hiding their anti-labeling campaign in violation of state election laws. The GMA time came clean, revealing dozens of collaborators – including Nestle, Del Monte, Coca-Cola and Hershey -. They had chipped in $ 7 million to kill the measure
In almost all these battles, companies spend more easily supporters of the label.
Monsanto and Dupont Pioneer, for example, were among a long list of interests of the food industry contributed more than $ 15 million to defeat a labeling measure in Colorado during the November elections , according to state records. Supporters of the project managed to raise a small fraction of that amount. The initiative failed. Dupont, Monsanto, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo and other actors in the food industry pumps more than $ 30 million in efforts to quell a similar measure in Oregon -. Twice the supporters quantity were able to gather
The industry is now locked in a fierce legal battle with Vermont, which passed a law on GMO labeling last year, and companies have strongly pushed by federal legislation prohibit other states to follow suit. A bill that would make was introduced last spring by Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, as usual, received the largest individual contribution -. $ 10,000 – GMA for the 2014 election cycle, according to federal data. The bill did not make for the committee, but Heather Denker, a spokesman for the office Pompeo, said he plans to reintroduce the bill in the coming weeks.
The industry justifies all these costs in a variety of reasons. For starters, the companies say, a hodgepodge of different state laws labeling would be unworkable, and even a federal labeling standard would make food more expensive. They also argue that genetic modification, which involves the insertion of foreign genes in an organism – so the corn and soybean now arises primarily as – so that expresses a new and seemingly desirable trait, is actually only one of a variety cultivation techniques of plants that have been used for decades without complaint.
More substantively, supporters of GMOs argue that there is no evidence to suggest genetically modified foods pose more risk than the typical conventional breeding, a general view held by a long list of scientific organizations, including the American Medical Association , the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization.
Taking a similar position, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food GM crops in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture US and the Agency for Environmental Protection, has seen fit to leave GMO labeling a strictly voluntary matter.
“As a public health agency, we base our policy decisions on the best available science,” said Theresa Eisenman, a spokesman for the FDA, in an email. “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived from genetically modified plants, as a class, they differ from other foods in uniform in a meaningful way or, or, as a class, such foods present concerns different security or greater than its non-GE [genetically engineered] counterparts. ”
review process Although the FDA is voluntary, virtually all producers of new GE products are submitted to the Agency for approval. Since the mid-1990s, the FDA has signed off on more than 150 varieties of genetically engineered crops, although not all were commercially viable. Most ingredients derived from GMOs which are in the shelves today correspond to crops that were adjusted to improve resistance to pests and certain herbicides, but new products with consumer-oriented features are in the pipeline. This includes the Arctic apple, which has been designed to withstand Browning.
On February 13, the USDA determines apple was safe to grow, and the FDA is examining.
Eisenman also said the agency is reviewing two citizen petitions urging the FDA to create a mandatory label GMO but that no decision has been made -. To the chagrin of many consumers who are not convinced that GMOs are safe
A study published last month by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that while nearly 90 percent of scientists surveyed they said they considered genetically modified foods safe to eat, only 37 percent of the general population agreed. A survey by ABC News since last summer found similar results, with more than half of respondents said they believed that GM foods were unsafe. In a survey of 2013 the New York Times, 93 percent of respondents said they wanted GMO ingredients identified on food labels.
Critics of this type of survey argue that only show ignorance of transgenic technology. Ropeik, for example, referred to a study of 2013 conducted at the University of Rutgers, in which participants were asked in an open question, the type of information they would like in their food labels is not already there. Only 7 percent said genetic modification. A more recent survey by the Oklahoma State University found that 80 percent of respondents said they supported the mandatory GMO labels. The very large percentage, however, also wanted the food labels containing DNA.
Such cognitive dissonance suggests stakeholders of the industry that environmental advocates are simply exploiting consumer ignorance to force a label on the technology they do not like. “It is clear to us that is the true meaning like a skull,” said Cathleen Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture of the Organization Biotechnology Industry, a trade group representing Monsanto, DuPont and other manufacturers seed GE. “We should not be using labels as a shock.”
Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs with the Environmental Working Group, a defense of public health based in Washington, DC, disagreed. “If you are going to frame this as a debate about technology, you really are missing the bigger picture,” he said. “This is what consumers are entitled to know, in general terms, about their food.”
argued that the jury is still out on safety issues of GMOs, not only on the table but also in the fields, where cross-pollination with conventional crops is difficult to control and where heavy dependence GM seeds is contributing to the emergence of new resistant to herbicides, which in turn encourages farmers to ramp up use of toxic chemicals weeds. “These things have only been on the market for 15 years,” Faber said, “and that have not been subjected to long-term studies, so it is too early to make a judgment one way or another, in its security . ”
In the absence of consensus, the market can be to differentiate many advocates seek. The labels that certify GM-free foods are booming, with the certifier lead, the Non-GMO Project, placing its approval in more than 20,000 food, beverage and body care items. Nielsen, the research firm market, said sales of these products increased 15 percent last year to nearly $ 10 billion, and occupies the free sector of transgenic among the fastest growing food trends on the market today.
organic certification from USDA and acts as a vouchsafe against ingredients GMO, and Whole Foods has taken the lead among major retailers meet consumer demand, which requires that by 2018, all products in its stores in the United States and Canada, either avoid GMOs or carry labels indicating that contain them.
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has floated an even broader long-term solution: placing special bar codes on food packages that consumers can scan with their smartphones, get all the information I could wishing upon the food in question – where was, how it was processed, if grown using hormones or antibiotics, what kind of allergens that may contain and, of course, if it was genetic modification.
Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the GMA, suggested that the barcode solution has merit. “Our members are always looking for ways to use technology to provide consumers with more information about your product options,” he said. Until that happens, however, the GMA and its related industry partners plan to continue fighting the displacement of compulsory label -. And let the labeling is not voluntary GMO provide consumers the option you are looking
In Idaho, Duane Grant suggested that the identification and labeling of products that contain GMOs would be much easier to do these days anyway. “The fact is that about 80 percent of food in the US now contain ingredients produced using genetic modification technology,” he said, “and has been for years.”