25 May 2014 - If GMO Labeling is to Be, Make it Federal

If you are a regular reader of ‘Samuelson Sez’, by now you know my feeling on the need for labeling foods containing GMO’s, genetically modified organisms. I think it is unnecessary because with more than 150 scientific reviews and tests around the world, there has been no health hazzard found in GMO foods. Nor have they found that non-GMO foods are more nutritious or healthier.

Yet, with recent happenings, I have resigned myself to the fact that we are going to get labeling of GMO foods, so now my plea is that you make it a federal law and not state-by-state. That would complicate everything in the food industry if you had to label foods for one state or one county. The voters in Vermont have already approved a GMO labeling law and California is going to bring it back to the ballot. It is also on the ballot in Washington state and several other states.

Again, I plead, make it a federal rule and not a state rule. To make matters even worse, a few days ago, voters in two small rural counties in Oregon approved ballot measures to ban cultivation of genetically engineered crops within their boundaries. How can you do that? One county can’t grow GMO seed varieties? Other counties can? That, I can assure you, will create a real problem for farmers in those two counties.

I have shared this story before and I still agree with what Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told me a year-and-half ago when I asked how he felt about GMO labeling. He said he believes there are two reasons to label food packages, one is to list the ingredients, the other is to warn of any danger and he said there is no scientific study anywhere in the world that shows any danger.

One more point on GMO labeling . . . a recent study by Cornell University on the cost of mandatory GMO labeling in NY State showed it would probably increase the grocery bill for the average family of four by $500 to $800 more a year. That price increase would be reflected in higher raw material food costs as companies compete for the available supply of non-GMO foods, as well as the increases in packaging and distribution costs.

It seems to me we are going backward instead of forward in our efforts to feed a hungry nation and a hungry world, if we try to stop the use of GMO technology, which I feel is the true goal of proponents of GMO labeling. But if that is what you want . . . Please, make it a federal law and donate the dollars you would spend to get a “yes” vote or a “no” vote to your local food pantry.

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