Energy & Environment

Why labeling of GMOs is actually bad for people and the environment

David Zilberman

On November 6th, California voters will be asked to vote on a proposition about labeling of genetically modified (GM) products. On the surface this seems quite reasonable: people should have information about what they consume. In my view, labeling requirements are appropriate when there is undisputed scientific evidence that a food component is damaging, which, for example, is the reason for warning labels on cigarettes. But with GMOs this is not the case. For example, a recent NRC report states that GMOs are as safe if not more safe than conventional food which is also consistent with most of the published research.

Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat are already modified as they have been generated through techniques such as selective breeding and hybridization of crops among others. The discovery of DNA and advances in modern molecular biology allow us to develop more refined and precise crop breeding techniques where we slightly modify existing varieties by adding a specific trait. Obviously, genetic engineering is in its infancy, and has already led to major developments in medicine. Even though it has been underutilized in agriculture, existing GMOs have had significant impact. The most popular traits address pest control (Bt varieties) and tolerance to herbicides (Round-up ready varieties). These traits have been adopted with corn and soybeans in the US, Brazil, and Argentina among others and also in cotton in India, China, and some developing countries. Studies show that GM varieties of cotton and corn in developing countries increased in per acre yield by more than 50%, and GMOs contributed significantly to the more than doubling of the production of soybeans.

The importance of GMOs has to be viewed within a global context. Population and income growth have led to increased demand for food and especially meat. Meat production is feed intensive. This and the introduction of biofuel has resulted in increased prices of agricultural commodities. When food becomes scarce (and expensive), it is the global poor that suffers most. Our calculations suggest that the magnitude of the impact of GMOs on reducing food commodity prices was the same or even bigger than biofuels had on increases of these prices (15-30% reduction in the price of corn and soybeans overall). Furthermore, the prices of cotton did not rise with the prices of other commodities in 2008 due to increased supply from the adoption of GMOs. If African nations and Europe would have adopted GMOs, current prices of food would have decreased significantly, and much of the suffering associated with the food shortages could have been avoided. Thus even in its early stages GMOs have made significant contributions to reducing food shortages and saving lives.

Adoption of GMOs is not only good for food commodity prices and the well being of the poor, it is also good for the environment. Adoption of herbicide tolerant varieties enabled transition to minimal tillage techniques, which reduced the GHG effect of agriculture equivalent to hundreds of thousands of cars annually. GMOs make it possible to produce food on less land, reducing the incentive of converting wild land into agricultural land. There is evidence that by replacing toxic chemicals in India and China, adoption of GMOs directly saved many lives. Reduction of exposure to pesticides and the resulting health effects has been a major cause for adoption in the US.

But what about Monsanto? This company has a monopoly on crucial patents and has made a lot of money from GMOs. This is undisputed. However, studies show that the economic gain from GMOs was divided between consumers, farmers, and seed manufacturers without anyone gaining the lion’s share. Apple also makes a lot of money and no one complains. Of course there is room for increasing access to intellectual property, especially products that are of value to the poor, but labeling GMOs is not the optimal way to achieve this goal.

Now, what about emergence of resistance to GMOs? This is an unavoidable consequence because of evolution. This means that we need to have continuous research in the life sciences to find solutions for potential problems. I believe sustainability is different than Nirvana; we cannot find final solutions that do not give rise to new problems. GMO is a technology that allows us to better adapt to new diseases and climate change. Genetic tools will improve our adaptive capacities to climate change.

The public is divided among individuals who believe that GMOs are bad, others who think they are valuable, and many who are basically indifferent. The last group may not see the damage of requiring labeling of GMOs since they do not see the big loss. However, labels make a difference. A labeling requirement creates a stigma effect that will reduce the demand for GM products and may reduce investment in new GM traits. The net effect will be to slow the development of agricultural biotechnology, and this in turn may negatively affect health, the economy, and the environment. It is actually counter-productive to the many environmental and social goals that we cherish. Therefore, labeling of GMOs will be a step in the wrong direction.

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Comments to "Why labeling of GMOs is actually bad for people and the environment":
    • A Farmer's Daughter

      I am a farmers daughter, and I will say this. My family grows BT corn, and I am glad we do. Why don’t you all go look up Bacillus Thuringiensis? It is a bacterium that is in the ground, and it isn’t going to harm humans. That is what BT stands for, I have studied it in college.

      In my opinion, GMOs are the future of agriculture, and should be treated as such. Instead of fighting them as ignorant individuals, why don’t you encourage research? If GMOs are used correctly, they could solve many issues world wide. On top of that, if you all want genetically modified free food, go grow it yourself, go raise it yourself. Good luck, and I wish you the best.

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    • et.al

      @ farmers daughter – your post is misleading and scientifically incorrect. BT does not refer to Bacillus Thuringiensis as an organism, but rather to a specific gene sequence extracted from the organism that is then used to modify the corn’s gene sequence.

      In this case, the gene of interest produces a protein that kills Lepidoptera larvae, in particular, European corn borer. This protein is called the BT delta endotoxin. The modification is not limited to the insect toxic sequence. Additional genetic material is also transferred, some necessary for expression, other whose expression may not be known for several seed generations.

      To imply that the gene sequence modification is a natural biological occurrence or that the modification is from a harmless ground bacterium is unfounded. Further, if I may, the “my way or the highway,” go grow it yourself closure sentence is counterproductive.

      If GMOs are to become a safe and accepted addition to the world’s food production system, then it must be researched and discussed respectfully.

      Cheers

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    • Susan Crosthwait

      At least with roundup you have the ability to wash it off. its not a part of the plant- we have animals being forced to eat this crap through tubes- it is becoming a part of their dna. So we get it doublefold in our meat, dairy and produce. Its in your cereal and everything containing corn- which is everything processed and on the shelf.

      Lose a loved one to ALS? or notice 10 year old girls developing way before their years? Go ahead and tell me hormones and pesticides are ok. Many, many people have learned to grow their own garden and raise their own animals- we have the ability to make our own choices that is the beauty of America.

      Relying on government to take care of us has never turned out well. If they had the magic formula there would be no poverty, hunger or homelessness. If you choose to depend upon the government or corporations to take care of you, well then that is your choice.

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    • Henrik

      Labeling should be required worldwide and also include milk, eggs and meat and any feed and food products directly or indirectly related to GMO.

      There is only ONE WAY and that is letting the consumers decide what they eat, not scientists, politicians or corporations.

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    • Thomas A Hanson

      As I always respond when the question of labeling GMOs arises: I’ll support a labeling law when every method of genetic modification is labeled — and when health food stores start telling us how their supposedly “natural” products were created. When the label of organic “Rio Red” grapefruit juice (available at your local “health food” store) says in bold letters: “a product of Brookhaven National Laboratory” in 1968,created by exposing grapefruit buds to thermal neutron radiation — then I will join forces with the pro-labeling crowd.

      Until that moment arrives, I shall continue to view the “label GMO” movement as a deceptive, disingenuous attempt to smear one method of genetic alteration — to single out gene-splicing among all the ways of modifying genes that exist today. These pro-labelers think of themselves as supporters of transparency — as defenders of “information” — when what they are doing is demanding partial information by passing over in silence the thousands of crops that have been bred by using nuclear radiation and mutagenic chemical exposure.

      Anyone who doubts what I have written or who wishes more information on this subject should read the first chapter of Nina Fedoroff’s “Mendel in the Kitchen.”

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      • Justin Hickman

        You’re choosing to put your head in the sand because of a related issue that doesn’t get its proper attention in the food world. Labeling GMOs is important because we’re specifically talking about transgenic crops, the ones mainly sold by Monsanto. Their GM seeds now dominate all major commodity crops. Your old school hybridized GM crop is not the target of this campaign. If it was, almost everything would be labeled GM.

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    • wag

      “Labeling creates a stigma effect.”

      Only when people hate what you are labeling. “Organic” labeling sells products because people want it. So do myriad other health claims. This guy is advocating forcing unknown risks on individuals to benefit “public health”, which is called collectivism.

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    • Whitney

      I do agree that labelling could create a negative stigma around GMO’s. This is not something that is new. Creating publicity leads to uneducated individuals making unreasonable decisions.

      If you care so much about what is in your food, you would already know that GMO’s are everywhere. People who choose to believe that GMO’s are not healthy, or do not know the difference between chemicals and biotechnology can choose organic foods as an option to avoid GMO’s.

      Do your own research, and come to your own conclusions.

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    • Ryan

      Putting arguments about economics and human health aside, where do you demonstrate that the propagation of newly introduced genetic material in the environment at large will not have any negative unintended consequences? Especially when we know so many perturbations cascade in a non-linear fashion.

      So then who decides to take this risk? The answer obviously, is that it is shared by those who produce and those who consume GMO products. In some ways corporations can’t be blamed for passing off risk to the public at large for profit; it’s what they are designed to do.

      Consumers, on the other hand currently have no way to distinguish between GMO and non-GMO products and hence cannot decide whether to take this risk or not. The only institution that can correct this market failure, for better or for worse, is the government. This can be achieved by banning GMO foods altogether, sponsoring general research, or putting restrictions on their use.

      However, if they are going to be on supermarket shelves, consumers need to be aware any time they are complicit in taking this risk and thus producers must inform consumers whenever foods contain such products.

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    • Elisa Strong

      Even though what he writes attempts to display merit, the debate is about LABELING. People have a right to KNOW if their food contains GMOs. People are in favor of disclosure. Why not? It hasn’t stopped the American public from their over consumption of sugar, and thus, sadly, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

      In this day and age of the over-processing of food, the public NEEDS to know if the food they eat contains GMOs. Otherwise, consider, this could backfire, and the public could resort to buying only foods that are labeled as “NON-GMOs only”. Or… I see a HUGE market whereby we shop in stores that require all food be labeled.

      Shame on David Zilberman to try and perpetuate non-disclosure! He assumes the ignorance of the general public.

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    • Thomas A Hanson

      It’s disheartening that some people brandish the word “Monsanto” as an argument-stopper and a reputation-tarnisher. Accusing Professor Zilberman of being a pawn of a large corporation may appeal to a sophomoric cynicism, but until some evidence is produced that his scholarly credentials have been corrupted by cash payments, it behooves readers of this blog to refrain from baseless smear tactics. \

      Biotechnology is here to stay, and Monsanto is not a synonym of that branch of science. Google the words “Granma December 1, 2011″ and three lines down one finds a link to an issue of Cuba’s state newspaper (in English) that details that country’s embrace of genetic engineering. Whatever one may think of Cuban society, it is hard to imagine Monsanto exerting much influence on it.

      Anti-biotechnology activists are partially to blame for Monsanto’s dominance in this country: it is prohibitively expensive for smaller companies to bring genetically-engineered crops to market because of the regulatory hurdles that must be surmounted, and these obstacles are the result of the activist-induced hysteria that 18 years of growing and consuming GE crops have apparently not allayed.

      Until the American public is better educated on this subject, we can expect Big Business to determine which biotech crops reach our dinner plates. Activists constantly warn us of the danger of GE crops “contaminating” neighboring farms, but they forget to inform the public that so-called “terminator” seeds would prevent that from occurring.

      And who raised the alarm about “terminator” seeds? You guessed it. The same people who scream that “golden rice” (rich in vitamin A) is a fraud because its promise has not been fulfilled. And who has campaigned against “golden rice,” thereby slowing down the development of that potentially life-saving crop? You guessed correctly once again.

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    • robert victor

      Scientist says flawed science of GMOs jeopardizing future generations
      By Ken Roseboro, Published: March 1, 2012
      Don Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathologiy at Purdue University, gave a two-and-a-half hour indictment of glyphosate herbicide and genetically modified crops at the Acres USA conference in December. Dr. Huber detailed the negative impacts of glyphosate and GM crops on plants, soils, and the environment and animal and human health. He called glyphosate the “most abused chemical in the history of agriculture” and described GM crops as a “failed system.”
      Glyphosate’s negative impacts on plants
      Huber first detailed the negative impacts of glyphosate on crops, soils, and the environment based on papers that he and other scientists, such as Robert Kremer, a microbiologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, have published.
      Huber said glyphosate makes plants more susceptible to diseases, increases the virulence of soil-borne disease organisms, and immobilizes plant nutrients such as manganese. It is also toxic to beneficial soil organisms and accumulates in the soil.

      There are more than 40 plant diseases reported with use of glyphosate, including many fungal diseases such as fusarium.
      “There has been a 500% increase in fusarium and huge increases in sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans,” Huber said.

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    • jimmy midnight

      Discovering a possibly damaging specific problem in transgenic crops

      I’m Jimmy Midnight. Although I do not have any advanced academic degree, I’m a longtime student of a group of subjects that could collectively be called, “Molecular Biology,” at about the level of a recent college graduate with a major somewhere in this molecular biology complex.

      For the last few, maybe several months, I’ve been up on the internet, doing readings in this area, hoping that my “fresh eyes,” which are also those of a rock’n’roller and a visual artist, might see something that regular scholars are missing.

      I wanted to be more literary about it all, and find some great principle in it, but now I’ve come to something very explicit, very specific. And it’s something I feel called upon, immediately, to share with other scientifically aware people, right now in the pre-dawn of another Northern Hemisphere growing season.

      In creating the chimeric artificial plasmids that are the “vectors” of transgenic events, investigators/inventors are using circular DNA molecules that, as it turns out, can’t be fully digested by the usual array of pancreatic nucleases, because, since they’re circular, there are no free 3’ ends, deoxyribonuclease substrates, on them.

      Okay, before winding this up, I’ll gladly stipulate that what I’m outlining here is working hypothesis, but it strikes me that it would be relatively easy to show—or not—in reasonably simple experimental protocols.

      Now, these differentially less digestible circular DNA’s—some of which remain whole–become free-running or rogue chimeric artificial plasmids, free to roam, at least in the Brownian motion sense. Most of them will, of course, roll on through the digestive tract; but, in the biological world, there is what I’d call, “The Rhubarb Effect.” It’s about the tendency to recapitulate, easier and easier, biological events that have ever been consummated, as when seed-grown rhubarb plants throw new seed-stalks at a far smaller size than do divisions. Analogously, plasmids that already have made intergenonic jumps, are likely to be able to make additional intergenomic jumps.

      Now these free-running chimeric artificial plasmids are able to invade micro and macro genomes of various kinds, which explains how various expressions of the various chimeric genes end up in tissues, internal microflora, and so on, as anecdotal evidence, at least, already has it. Is there also some kind of novel pathogen getting around? At least one reputable researcher thought so recently.

      For my regular correspondents, just bookmark this so you can say you got it today. You’ll be the first, ‘cause I’d resent it if somebody else took full credit for this idea.

      For putative scientific contacts, I’ll fill this out it greater detail…soon.

      Thanx for your patience,
      Jimmy

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    • michele

      Hybridization and genetic modification are not the same, the author seems to be using them interchangeably.
      Gmo’s are dangerous, they have not been proved safe long term. Quite the contrary there are many studies where animals were horribly effected by them.
      We do our best to not eat them at all.
      My son has a life threatening soy allergy, I believe that is due to the genetic modification of soy.

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    • aldan

      I have colitis and I’m firmly convinced it is caused by GMOs. When I can grow most of my own food (organic/heirloom veggies and heritage hens for eggs) I can actually eat/digest food. In the winter, when I have to buy food at the grocery store, I spend most of my life in the bathroom.

      Short of buying nothing but organics, which you can’t always find, it is impossible to tell what is safe and what is contaminated with GMOs.

      FYI: cross pollination between two species of plant is not the same as inserting a pesticide gene (fish gene, virus, etc) into a plant gene – fish and plants NEVER cross pollinate in nature, it would be like a person trying to breed with a jelly fish.

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    • Thomas A. Hanson

      There is no evidence that a GMO has ever “contaminated” (in the sense of “rendered impure or harmful”) anything. Of course, anyone who “firmly” believes the contrary will perhaps undergo a reverse placebo effect. (The mind works wonders).

      Fish and plants never cross pollinate in nature? True — and nature, acting without human intervention, would never produce chihuahas or the polio vaccine. Thank God for human ingenuity! As for the supposed unnaturalness of fish genes being inserted into a plant, allow me to quote Michio Kaku (from his book ‘Visions’): “Since all life on earth probably evolved from an original ancestral DNA or RNA molecule, it is not surprising that DNA from one species can propagate so easily within the genome of another” (p. 222).

      To repeat: thank God for human ingenuity. It allows us to make rennetless cheese, sold at your local health food store, the result of a GMO replacing the rennet extracted from the fourth stomach of a calf. I call that progress!

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    • Drew

      Your colitis may also be caused by weather, change in sleep patterns, or stress due to the winter. You should not instantly assume what it is that is causing your condition.

      The crossing of genes between plant/fish as you described may not be natural, but how about the crossing of genes from Cyanobacteria to plants? Chloroplasts contain DNA drastically different than the plant’s nucelic DNA because chloroplasts used to BE another organism. I’d say cyanobacteria and plants are more different than fish and plants.

      Also, why would a fish gene in your corn be a bad thing? You eat fish. You eat corn. You might even put them both in your mouth at the same time. Which would be the same protein composition as with a GM corn plant. Genes code for proteins. These proteins arent going to mystically harm you in corn if they never did before when they existed in halibut.

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    • Melinda P

      Another thing: I see comments defending GMO foods. That’s even a better reason to label them. That way y’all can be sure to buy foods containing them. I, on the other hand, will avoid them. Even if that means spending $1,000/month on organic GMO-free food!

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    • Thomas A. Hanson

      Apparently there is at least one reader out there who does not know that unless a crop is wild, it has been genetically modified by human activity. Your local health food store has very few items that are not genetically modified, and some of the methods of gene-altering are rather frightful. (Nuclear radiation-induced mutations, for starters.)

      Rather than smugly defending “organic” food — which countless studies have shown to be insignificantly more healthful than conventionally-grown products — a savvy consumer should do a little research. Start with Michael Specter’s book ‘Denialism’ and the chapter on “The Organic Fetish.” (Specter is a staff writer at The New Yorker.) It may dawn on those who feel virtuous about spending large sums of money on their “organic” food that they have been throwing away good money.

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      • MEG

        Thomas!!!

        All very good points. Organic is another word for “capitalism”. People do have the right to say no to GMO’s and they also have the right to research what they are putting in their mouths. There are several data bases dedicated GMO information. I say take advantage of it and don’t let media hype scare you into spending a grand a month on organics. If you do not want to eat GMO’s there are plenty of fruits and veggies on the market that are not GMO, just not organic.

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    • Thomas A. Hanson

      An eminently reasonable piece on the folly of labeling one form of genetic modification — and thanks to CA voters for finally waking up to the reality of what partial labeling would entail. (Oregon voters were similarly wise on this issue, back in 2004 or so.)

      Reading some of the comments on this blog saddens me — have these folks not read what James Watson has written on the subject? I’ll wager that he knows more about GMOs than his opponents. (Read the chapter entitled “Tempest in a Cereal Box” in his book ‘DNA: the Secret of Life.’ — Edward O. Wilson wrote a highly favorable blurb for the book.)

      Are GMO opponents unaware of the hundreds of crops that have been bred by nuclear-radiation? Crops that are not considered “GMO” and would therefore be exempt from labeling? Have they not read the article in The Economist entitled “Nuclear-powered crops” (in the May 5, 2012 issue) or the chapter “The Organic Fetish” in the book ‘Denialism’ by New Yorker staff writer Michael Specter? (He discusses the many crops created in nuclear labs — and the strange silence of activists concerning them.)

      The late George McGovern was a strong supporter of GMOs (see his book The Third Freedom), as is Jimmy Carter. Some people prefer to demonize Monsanto (a far from perfect company) rather than deal with scientific issues. That makes life (and thinking) easier, but it’s a cop-out.

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    • Derek Frenzo

      That totally ridiculous propaganda PRO-GMO argument again? It’s so pathetic! How does labeling products that contain GMOs single out GMO foods?

      If it had a skull and crossbones next to it, that would be one thing, sure! But, to just put a label that says, “A GMO Product”, or “Contains GMOs”, or, “May Contain GMOs”, or even just “GMOs” does not single out GMOs out anymore than labels such as, “Organic”, “Fortified With 10 Vitamins & Minerals”, “Contains Wheat, and Soy Products”, “Vegan”, “Pasteurized”, “Low-Fat”, “Natural And Artificial Ingredients”, and the like.

      As long as the box with the GMO label doesn’t add a disclaimer, “May Be Harmful To Your Health”, then, how is it any different than the other labels I mentioned? It’s not! In fact, Monsanto, all the GMO farmers, and the food industry are, in fact, trying to give GMOs special treatment! They were introduced into our food supply without our consent, without our knowledge, and without long term studies to test their safety.

      Now that we know about them, and the possible links to disease, and the super-weeds that they create, as well as, a host of other possible harmful effects, including being a contributing factor to CCD leading to the destruction of all important bees, the powers that be, want to keep us in the dark once again!

      They made the decision for us if we wanted GMOs in our foods. And, now they want to make the decision for us again as to whether or not we want to know about which foods contain them! They don’t want us to know what we are eating, or even if it’s safe? Does that sound right, or fair to anybody?

      Monsanto is a juggernaut of a company that is using it’s political clout, deceptive tricks, and strong-arm tactics to squeeze the competition, and to suppress the truth about GMOs. I have little doubt, they bought out a leading bee research company so they could hide any evidence that may tie their GMO seeds to the destruction of honey bees. And, if they create genetically modified bees, who knows what other kinds of ripple effects that could create.

      Don’t think for a moment that these GMO seed companies, or the food industry have our best intentions at heart, because the evidence proves otherwise!

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    • Danny

      I believe that GMO’s should exist because I think that some of the organisms modified have benefits — but why not advertise and make sure people know the benefits instead of hide it? It makes no sense. If they really do have a positive outcome on the environment, why not let the people know?

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    • Bob

      Your assertion that GMO’s have the potential to save lives in China and India would be laughable if the sad reality of increased farmer suicides due to reduced crop yields, lower quality of cotton and the economic enslavement that seems to be at the core of most GMO products was not the true outcome in India. In my opinion GMO’s are engineered for greater economic yield in the board room rather than crop yield in the field.

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    • Danielle

      Yeah, because i’m sure all of you have graduated with some sort of degree in agriculture and have critically thought about this issue at hand. This writer provides other input on this matter, which is great for the ones who are actually critical thinking. (Look up the definition of critical thinking.) Also, the study performed on the rats that grew tumors has flaws and also seems to be done by someone who is just a little bit bias. I think we all need to stop the conspiracy theories here and realize that something needs to be done with our population growing and are food production decreasing. Better yet, you all should just become lawyers and do something about it.

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    • Actually

      Actually Danielle, research has been conducted with people ‘who have graudated with some sort of degrees’ more notably M.D.’s and argue that GMO is extremely toxic.
      For instance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAL_AMdMXqY

      there’s no conspiracy theories. it’s conspiracy fact with cold hard evidence. WHY would people want to spread theories that help save others’ lives? Are you incompetent of logic?

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    • Steven Peters

      There is absolutely no evidence since the invent of GE crops that show a higher crop yield than its conventionally counterpart, despite any statement of such; this has been confirmed by scientific communities around the globe.

      To that, use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers for GE crops has increased exponentially further polluting waterways, rivers and on the GE crops themselves which are then consumed by consumers. It’s is a violation of the natural course of life that any one person or company can splice a forced gene into another different gene altogether and patent that crop just to increase that company’s revenue stream; which again, GE crops have shown no greater viability than conventionally grown crops, compared to the genetically mutated strain of crop.

      What’s more, the profoundly alarming research which was undertaken this year over a course of 2 years and of 200 rats who consumed GMOs, the rate of cancer, sterility, autoimmune disease occurred, as well as the incidence of 80% premature death in those rats. If this is happening in rats, what do you think GMOs are doing to us?

      Like 61 other nations around the world which have labeling requirements or bans on GMOs, these government took a precautionary stance and said that they’re going to exercise precaution and not allow GMOs or other transgenic organisms into their food supply.

      It’s more than a good practice to avoid GMOs and to exercise precaution on a known toxic substance that has never had any human trials performed for its safety and offers absolutely no benefit to mankind whatsoever.

      For more information about GMOs visit http://www.naturalrevolution.org

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    • Nick

      The reason why it is not okay to force a safe product to be labelled is pretty simple. If you label a food as having GMOs in it, people who have irrational and baseless fears will stop buying it. Additionally, people without these unfounded opinions will start to form them. “If it’s labeled, it must be significant”

      This leads to a decrease in sales, which necessarily leads to a decrease in profit. This in turns leads to a reduction of the funds available for continued research and advancements in the field. You condemn something which has done no wrong.

      To present a crude analogy off the top of my head, if a new person moves into a neighborhood and the residents think “He might be a pedophile” they have no right to label him as a potential pedophile without evidence supporting their concerns. And to say “Well, if he isn’t a pedophile, why is he afraid of the label. After all, it only says potential” is absurd.

      We do not have that right. Regardless of whether 5 people or 99% of the people think we do, we do not. Baseless fears should never be allowed to harm anyone, anything or any business just because they are shared by a large number of people. In fact, the more people who harbor such baseless fears, the more essential it is that the target of them is protected from the potential negative effects such a label would cause.

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    • EgyptGal

      I notice your article makes no mention of the fact that it’s often bacteria such as E-coli used to warp the genetics of the “hybrid” species. Nor do you mention studies in France that have indicated rats fed a lifetime of GMO corn caused up to 70% of the females to die early.

      Also conveniently absent from your article is any mention of Monsanto’s patent on the GMO crops themselves. When as you mentioned, hybridization of species is inevitable. How is it that an agricultural professor neglects to mention the devastating impact that the cross-polinization of GMO crops with organic crops is having on farmers throughout the world? Or how many farmers are rendered incapable of selling their crop because companies like Monsanto claim ownership over the genetic material?

      If GMO crops were the solution to global hunger, why is the US continuing to see rising food prices? Why has the inundation of GMO crops not put a halt to rising costs of food?

      And finally, WHY in a country like the United States where companies are required to label everything, including things like “may have been manufactured in a plant that processes nuts,” or “may contain dairy products,” is it being outlawed to label GMO products? You yourself state that people are developing resistance, what does Monsanto have to hide when it comes to the labelling of food? Do you, sir, eat GMO products in good faith? Would you shovel down a plate of corn that was Genetically modified?

      If there was nothing to hide, and GMO crops really were as “innocent” as you would all have us to believe, there would be NO PROBLEM in labelling foods “GMO free.”

      And for anyone wanting to read about the studies conducted in France, click here:
      http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html

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    • kinsa ka

      There is no reason why a company spend billions in research and developments and yet resistant to a mere labeling requirement for consumer use.

      That is why the law is necessary to have these companies to be forthcoming with their products.

      Big companies usually ignore the consumers until it is our time to vote.

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    • Tom R.

      There’s no scientific evidence showing GMO’s are entirely safe. There is evidence that disorders such as autism have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Obviously something is causing it, and suspiciously GMO integration has become more prevalent over the past 10 years. We don’t know enough presently, so labeling GMO’s is the correct action to take.

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    • jill lee

      This article is ridiculous. We are not being fooled for a second. This will be a huge government cover up because they can not pay to compensate the millions of lives devastated by autism. Look at a chart of the autism rise in the US compared with a chart showing the percentage of GMO food in our Grocery stores. This needs to stop now. Lawyers, get on this. Class action law suit against Monsanto for knowingly poisoning our food supply. My son lives with a neurological disorder every day because of GMO food and round-up. I believe it’s the combination of the two that really does the fetus in early in the womb. I can’t believe anyone would fall for the crap in this article.

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    • Amy konopka

      GMO corn has been in the US food supply since 1996. The rate for food allergies has increased 18% from 1997 -2011. Almost 20%!!!!!! Are they corn allergies? Is this stuff killing us instantly, no. But when my body is constantly fighting off something unnatural and not meant to be digested or introduced, it does make a difference. Running a car low on fluids or not tune-Ed up doesn’t kill it instantly. But it will shorten its life expectancy.

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    • Heidi Ticen

      Great Comments to the Monsato man professor. PLEASE watch out for the UC Berkeley researchers (and other research facilities) that are doing great GMO reearch and LOSING their jobs because of it.We MUST stand behind the researchers who are showing harmful effects of GMOs and then being forced out of the laboratory.It is very dangerous to lose truthful research in our most powerful and respected schools. This is the way of hitlerian science.

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    • Heidi Ticen

      Great Job answering the Monanto man. PLEASE LOOK OUT for the professors at UCBerkeley and other campuses who are doing good GMO research and losing their JOBS because of it. We need to stand behind these researchers and NOT let them get FIRED!!!! I think a people protest could stop that terrible use of a great university.

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    • tommyboy

      This guy is a professor of AGRICULTURE. Big farming / food companies like Monsanto fund his research. Of course he’s going to take this position. The problem is, aside from the potential harm from GMO’s, his arguments fall apart. GMO’s will still be used to feed the global poor where normal food production is not available. It is really only the well-informed that will look for the GMO label; the same populace that eats organic, etc.

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    • UPTOHERE

      I cannot believe your talking about GMOs as if they are not harmful. Are tumors harmful, our bodies do not even recognize GMO as a food. Our bodies do not know what to do with it. GMOs are banned in Europe. Hmmm I wonder why. GMOs are poisoning all of our foods. Please rethink about GMOs and study the effects not just the benefits of GMOs.

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    • Busta

      I just have to add in… Cigarettes were considered safe and the tobacco companies fought us for years. Now there is true evidence that cigarettes kill. Now this author is trying to do the same, when we know there is something wrong. Simple words, few words. Please America read up on GMO’s and think about how safe it is to have food from a garden or your own cattle, not vegetables sprayed with chemicals or livestock eating fake corn and injected with numerous chemicals. In fact most countries are against GMO’s in food because they have a vast knowledge of it. America is always slow to learn and that’s why so many people die today. They don’t want us to be overpopulated. JUST THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR BODY. Make the right choice when you vote, also think about these companies spending tons of money to go against labeling GMO’s. I’m sure they have enough money to label GMO’s, they just have secrets worth the money they spend to hide it. If everyone caught on they would get crushed. They even threaten people who try to publicize any information against them. PASS IT ON.

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    • suzanne lehman

      Well, as far as safety of GMO’s goes….you’re just wrong. New studies are out everyday with research showing GMO’s to have detrimental affects on the health of research animals, fieldworker illnesses ( dermatological changes), pediatricians are finding kids to be allergic to foods not otherwise thought to cause problems….some doctors placing patients on GMO-free diets have seen reversal of symptoms. There is thought that GMO’s play a role in the increased incidence of autism in this country.
      Do your own research regarding studies coming out, watch “Genetic Roulette”,find your own answers. Not answers feed to you by industries like Monsanto, who hold the position that they don’t need to be studied because “of course they are safe”. Your mind is a wise mind….feed it! You may be surprised by your conclusions.

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    • dawn serano

      There is a lot that can be said about this article, but I will jump to the main point: labeling. Author states that GMO food labeling will produce a stigma towards GMO’s and should not be allowed. This is an example of an aristocrat type person trying to keep the masses uninformed and uneducated. The appropriate action should be to raise awareness and eliminate the stigma if you believe in GMO’s, not to keep people dumbed down by not informing them or by keeping them from making their own decisions. Don’t believe this guy – he just wants to have all the information and decision making power for himself.

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    • Dave Manoulian

      I found this in the comment section of a related article : Guest said

      The Nuremberg Code 1. “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legalcapacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him/her to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonable to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment. The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.”

      Regulatory studies for GE foods are 28-90 day rodent trials and no long-term or human studies are conducted for approval. Therefore consumers are the experiment and any company that does not label the GE ingredients in their products are contributing to an experiment on humans without allowing for the consent of the human subject. The individuals at these companies responsible for their refusal to label the GE ingredients in their products should be charged with crimes against humanity!

      If you want to be part of a medical experiment that is your choice but it is a violation of the rights of every person who does not. This isn’t one sided journalism, it is humans unknowingly and often unwillingly being used as a medical experiment. Regardless of what preliminary studies on animals suggest, humans have the right to choose whether to be part of a medical experiment or not and asking for animal studies has nothing to do with the story which is about the right to know and the right to choose to be experimented on or not.
      Reply

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    • Camille

      In light of the recently released study by researchers in France (conducted by Gilles-Erik Saralina from the University of Caen) that found that rats fed Monsanto’s genetically modified corn (the same corn Americans are eating) developed tumors, organ damage and premature death, I would hope that the Berkeley Blog would reevaluate its anti-Proposition 37 position to on one that is pro Proposition 37. The blog should do this for the simple reason that it is better to air of the side of protecting Americans’ health from food that will make us sick rather than taking the position of the industry, one that has a dubious record of telling the truth?

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    • Bonnie&Clyde

      We can all see Mr. Zilberman that your grant research $$$ all come from Monsanto and the other big chemical companies.

      It’s funny how so many sheeple still believe poisons sprayed on and incerted into there food is some how good for you! People think some it’s safe because it’s been out sence 1996. Funny how the unknowing fail to see the increase in Obesity, Diabeties, Cancers, Allergeys etc. in one of what should be the healthiest countries in the world…humm. Could it be all those GMOs?

      According to your followers and you there are no links, but of course it’s not legal to test GMOs by a 3 party because they have patents on there seeds and only testing if any is by the chemical company itself, go figure

      Let just see who profits from these GMOs, 1. Chemical Co. (makers) 2. FDA,USDA, EPA ($$ coming from Gmo makers to pass and allow GE crops) 3. Big AG getting there subsidies for growing GE crops in overabundce 4. Big Pharmas (taking care and selling the drugs to the sick GMO eating sheeple).

      Any questions?

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    • Beryl

      Oh my Gosh do I ever agree!! I strive to never eat this frankenfood. It’s pretty scary what we are leaving our Children :?

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    • Linn

      Yes, a question. How come everybody eating this food isn’t obese? Or diabetic? It seems to me we first need to look at ridiculous portion sizes and sugar/soda consumption. Yes, that means blaming it on ourselves and not evil chemical companies, but even so. And why is the global effect just ignored by the anti-GMO contingent? Maybe making the world vegetarian is a better solution, but let me know how that goes for you. By the way, the possessive is “their,” the word is “inserted,” and the plural of allergy is allergies. Your arguments on a university website are much more easily dismissed when you appear borderline illiterate.

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    • Sue

      I think we need to define GMOs clearly.
      Hyrids should not be confused with genetically modified organisms or (GMOs) which, according to About.com Biotech Guide, can be any plant, animal or microorganism which have been genetically altered using molecular genetics techniques such as gene cloning and protein engineering. Plants like corn that has the pesticide Bt engineered into its genetic makeup to make it resistant to certain pests are GMO crops. Bt is a natural pesticide, but it would never naturally find its way into corn seed.

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    • Srdjan Ostric

      I totally agree with you. I am not sure that it is wise to assume all GMO’s are bad (I’m some are, but I think looking at the specifics would be helpful), and everything else is ‘organic’ and just because it is labelled so, it is good. What is organic really?

      But I am not sure why there is such a fight against labelling, either, though. I mean things are labelled ‘healthy’ which are obviously not, and so I think labelling and understanding what it means is important. Long and short is I am not sure I can say categorically bad or good, all or none.

      I do think some GMO’s might be helpful and not harmful in a world of 6 billion people and limited resources. There are obviously many passionate views in this matter.

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