24 April 2016 - Thank You, Dr. Miller, for Your Wisdom

You already know my feelings about the GMO food labeling issue because I’ve shared it with you many times, and I’m opposed unless it is a federal uniform law covering the nation. Yet I found very little support for my argument until a few days ago when I opened the pages of a newspaper to the Op-Ed page and found this headline - ‘GMO food labels are meaningless’. What? What newspaper? The Los Angeles Times!

Who wrote the Op-Ed piece? Henry Miller, a doctor and founding director of the Food & Drug Admisintration’s Office of Biotechnology. Let me share some of what the doctor had to say - “The push for labels on ‘genetically modified’ or engineered food is one of those social movements that sounds unimpeachable - like “Free the Whales” or “ Save the Planet. What could be wrong with empowering consumers with knowledge about their food- Plenty.

“Many of the nation’s largest food companies recently decided to label products that contain ingredients from so-called GMO’s. The companies are responding to a Vermont law set to go into effect July 1 - which thanks to an arbitrary, scientifically meaningless definition of ‘genetic engineering’ - will require adding labels to as much as 75% of supermarket offerings.

“In reality, there is no clear-cut category of GMO food, but Vermont’s law mandates ‘produced with genetic engineering’ labels when certain modification techniques have been used on crop plants. The definition - the direct injection of genes into cells, the fusion of cells, or the hybridization of genes that does not occur in nature. That definition skirts both science and history to achieve nebulous public policy goals. Farmers and plant breeders, of course, have been selecting and hybridizing plants to enhance desirable characteristics for millenniums.

“And that raises the question of whether Vermont’s labeling requirement is even constitutional. In a 2015 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that labeling requirements like Vermont’s are ‘compelled commercial speech’ and subject to ‘strict scrutiny’ to ensure they don’t run afoul of the free speech guarantee of the 1st Amendment.”

The Doctor ends his Op-Ed piece saying - “The labeling flap might be dismissed as much ado about nothing. In fact, it is costly and misleading. Activists may believe they are empowering consumers, but in truth, they are distracting them from substantive issues such as product quality, safety and value.”

Thank you, Dr. Miller for letting me share your thoughts on…

Samuelson Sez