(Posted Tue. Sep 18th, 2012)
Sept. 18: Citing numerous concerns about a fundamentally flawed ballot measure, the National Corn Growers Association has joined a large and broad coalition to oppose California Proposition 37, which, if approved by voters in November, will require labeling of some food products sold in that state that contain genetically engineered ingredients.
“We have several good reasons to oppose Prop. 37,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “First and foremost, while requiring a specific label about genetic modification, this added information says nothing about food nutrition, dietary requirements or food safety. And it does nothing to educate consumers about what biotechnology really means. While some tout this as a ‘right to know’ it actually will lead to more confusion that will cost farmers, consumers and California taxpayers at a time the state and its citizens cannot afford it.”
In addition, it is important to remember the benefits of biotechnology. The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the National Academy of Sciences and other similar institutions have determined that food made with ingredients derived from modern biotechnology is at least as safe as, and in some cases safer than, food that has not been made with such ingredients. And biotechnology helps agriculture sustainability. Farmers can grow more food per acre, using fewer inputs like pesticides on a per-bushel basis.
“Healthier, stronger seeds are an important building block of a good harvest in the fall,” Niemeyer said. “In a year of drought and heat, that can especially be the case. Our crop this year would have been much worse off if we were using the same corn we used a generation ago.”
Niemeyer pointed out also that even those who support labeling of so-called GMO foods should oppose this law because of its significant exceptions. For example meat, milk and eggs from livestock fed GMO feed are exempt, as are foods served in restaurants, or wines produced with modified yeasts. Further, foods that do not even include GMO ingredients will have to be labeled, if they are processed in plants that also make foods that contain GMOs, similar to current warning labels about manufacturing plants that process soy, wheat, nuts, and other foods. Food companies will either be forced to change all labels or reformulate with higher priced ingredients, the costs of either action will be passed on to consumers.
“We understand that some people are uncomfortable with biotechnology,” Niemeyer said. “That’s why we have an agriculture and food system that is diverse. The fact is, thanks in great part to the Internet and other services, consumers already have the ability to find foods that meet their preferences, even those produced without genetic modification.”