Yesterday the the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, known as the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.” The bill prevents states from requiring mandatory labeling for any products containing genetically modified food. Currently, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont all have such laws. Whether or not this might be a blow to states’ rights, it’s certainly a win for common sense. Fewer people are being fooled by the propaganda and downright bad science surrounding genetically modified food.
The House Committee on Agriculture released the following statement from Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX):
Advances in technology have allowed the U.S. to enjoy the safest, highest quality, most abundant, diverse and affordable supply of food and fiber mankind has ever known. With the world’s population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, biotechnology is an essential tool for our farmers to meet this demand in an environmentally sound, sustainable, and affordable way. Unfortunately, proposed Federal and State laws threaten this innovation by generating a patchwork of differing labeling requirements, which will result in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers and interfere with interstate commerce. H.R. 1599 establishes a voluntary nation-wide marketing program that gives consumers access to consistent, reliable information while protecting advancements in food production technology and innovation.
Author of the bill, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is concerned that mandatory labeling will only end up raising the cost of food which will hurt families. “Precisely zero pieces of credible evidence have been presented that foods produced with biotechnology pose any risk to our health and safety,” he said, “We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.”
Will Saletan recently wrote an article for Slate about how anti-GMO rhetoric might be more dangerous than the actual GMOs. He spent a year researching for it and trying to understand why GMOs get so much hate. It’s long, but it cites several examples of an unwarranted witch-hunt against genetically modified products and is packed full of evidence supporting use of GMOs. Saletan concludes that “[t]he war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.”
Even Bill Nye recently flipped from being anti-GMO to pro (although he strongly supports labeling them) after learning more about them. “We are a society of farmers,” he notes, “and for thousands of years, farmers have been doing everything in their power to get the most product from their labor. Genetically modified crops are a way to do that.” Jordan Ballor points out that as Christians, we are called to have dominion over the earth and be stewards of his creation. He argues, “Increasing crop yields through technological advances like genetic modification appear to be will within the boundaries of God’s ordained freedom for human stewardship.” GMOs have real potential to help developing nations, to reduce use of dangerous chemicals, and bring down food costs. It’s refreshing to see that congress doesn’t buy the anti-GMO propaganda either. If private companies such as restaurants or grocery stores still want to avoid and/or label genetically modified food, they’re perfectly at liberty to do so, but it doesn’t make sense to raise costs by forcing something be labeled that ultimately probably doesn’t need to be labeled.