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California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the tastes-like-gene-splicing dept.

Biotech 559

bbianca127 writes "In November, California will be voting on Proposition 37. The proposition would mandate putting labels on foods that have been genetically modified. While supporters of the proposition think that consumers deserve to know what they're eating, opponents call it 'anti-science' and have donated $25 million to defeating the measure. From the article: 'Unsurprisingly, the battle has gotten very expensive, very quickly. Agribusinesses and food manufacturers have donated a total of $13 million toward defeating the measure, bringing the total up to $25 million in the coffers of those proposing the proposition. In comparison, the organic farmers and environmentalists who support the proposition have managed to raise less than a tenth of that total amount.'"

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Our economic evidence (-1)

FrenchDoors (2711733) | about 2 years ago | (#41060845)

Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear

Re:Our economic evidence (5, Insightful)

VinceVulpes (1717404) | about 2 years ago | (#41060973)

Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear

What..... that big business, agri or otherwise, has no problem withholding salient information from the public (even when they have the right to know) in the name of profit?

Anti Science? (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41061187)

Knowing less means knowing MORE!

Re:Anti Science? (1, Funny)

haruchai (17472) | about 2 years ago | (#41061421)

Ah, the biblical knowledge paradigm.

Re:Our economic evidence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061005)

What's that? The average consumer doesn't know their elbow from their ass?

Re:Our economic evidence (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061395)

Or that the average consumer doesn't actually care unless you scare them into caring with an official looking label.

Question is... should you?

Reasonable (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060867)

While the motivations for this may be unscientific, not telling people what they're eating doesn't really help either. People need to learn more about the science so there's less unknown for them to be afraid of.

Re:Reasonable (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41061075)

Most commercial applications of genetically modified food have been developed to benefit the producer, not the consumer - and the consumer has a right to know about it when it's occurred. The US ostensibly practices free market economics, after all.

People should be allowed to know what the modification made was, and then choose whether or not they wish to consume food possessing that modification. If we're talking about increased Beta Carotene levels in Golden Rice, I suspect most consumers won't have a problem with it. If we're talking about soybeans and corn that have been modified to survive repeated direct spraying with Glyphosate - more people will probably opt out of eating that.

I find it odd on a site where so many bristle at the very idea of closed-source software that people are basically endorsing closed-source food production.

Re:Reasonable (2)

EzInKy (115248) | about 2 years ago | (#41061239)

Even if you ignore the question of health issues, people should at least know whether or not it is legal for them to plant the seeds from the produce they purchase and grow their own.

Re:Reasonable (2, Informative)

jxander (2605655) | about 2 years ago | (#41061323)

Saw this a while back, seems relevant.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/2541-Feeding-Edge

Pretty much EVERYTHING you eat today is genetically modified on some level. To expect consumers to decide what genetic modifications are acceptable and which ones aren't, is a very tall order for the layman. If only we had some government group to Administrate the Food sold in this country. They could oversee medicine too. We would call them the FDA and they ALREADY EXIST.

Re:Reasonable (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061457)

Saw this a while back, seems relevant.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/2541-Feeding-Edge

Pretty much EVERYTHING you eat today is genetically modified on some level. To expect consumers to decide what genetic modifications are acceptable and which ones aren't, is a very tall order for the layman. If only we had some government group to Administrate the Food sold in this country. They could oversee medicine too. We would call them the FDA and they ALREADY EXIST.

.. and they are in the pocket of firms like monsanto. GM soybeans were approved in the us without even going through proper testing. I'm sure you don't find it interesting that outside the US (EU) for example where the testing WAS done, the gm crops were banned... hmm, wonder why that happened?

Re:Reasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061383)

If we're talking about increased Beta Carotene levels in Golden Rice, I suspect most consumers won't have a problem with it. If we're talking about soybeans and corn that have been modified to survive repeated direct spraying with Glyphosate - more people will probably opt out of eating that.

You think most people will even notice the difference between those two situations? Most are either going to adopt a policy of not caring or trying to avoid all GM foods. Not that I am against informing consumers of what they are getting, typically such information is only non-superficially by a small minority of consumers. Another minority will try to use it to further their own misinformation campaigns, considering some people already will cite ascorbic acid as an example of evil chemicals added to food.

Re:Reasonable (-1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | about 2 years ago | (#41061387)

Do you expect the labels to also describe what kind of selective breeding has been performed? Dated at least back 1000 years?
Exact same concern - what stops someone using selective breeding to increase tolerance to Glyphosate?

People frankly don't care. Unless it is labelled that is - then it must be bad because they had to put a label on it.

I'd be all for what you are proposing if it was a website or something.
Just not a gimmicky scaremongering logo on the packaging.

Re:Reasonable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061427)

I find it odd on a site where so many bristle at the very idea of closed-source software that people are basically endorsing closed-source food production.

You seriously underestimate just how much astroturf there is on social web sites these days. That $25M isn't all going on beer and skittles you know.

Undesired Side-Effects (0)

Arakageeta (671142) | about 2 years ago | (#41061453)

Normally, I would agree, but I must disagree in this case. The vast majority of people in the U.S. are science-illiterate and easily swayed by sensational headlines (For example, last week slashdot posted a story on how the background radiation in Fukushima is less than that of Denver, yet people panic over radiation exposure in Japan, but not Colorado.). I worry that a similar backlash against GM crops could negatively affect the world's food supply.

While we can disparage crops that have been crafted to withstand copious amounts of insecticide, please keep in mind that there are 7 billion people on the planet, and all of them need to be fed. Much of the world depends upon the United States' agricultural output. GM helps boost this output. While the American consumer can withstand a few cents increase in cost due to decreased food supply, the same increase can trigger food riots in less fortunate countries. If the United States' agricultural output is enhanced by GM, then I'm all for it. I worry that shunning GM food in the US could hurt further investment/development.

Re:Reasonable (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41061143)

I'm guessing that "The ingredients are a legally priviledged trade secret of Con Agra, Inc." is not an answer that will do much to diffuse even the most epistemologically shoddy senses of paranoia...

So we've dropped the pretenses... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060869)

and just jump straight to discussing which side has more money rather than which side has valid points?

Re:So we've dropped the pretenses... (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41061237)

and just jump straight to discussing which side has more money rather than which side has valid points?

Why not? The outcome of the vote is the only consequence that will make an actual difference, and votes are won through advertising, not facts. Anybody with money understands this already, and is using this to their advantage every chance they can.

Do try to keep up.

Re:So we've dropped the pretenses... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41061293)

The voters are dazzled by money. Facts just bore them. So money is what wins elections.

Re:So we've dropped the pretenses... (2)

causality (777677) | about 2 years ago | (#41061345)

and just jump straight to discussing which side has more money rather than which side has valid points?

There was a pretense?

What's to fear (4, Insightful)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#41060873)

The GMO makers tout their products as being so safe and great, such benefit to humanity. They should proudly label their products: Contains GMOs! What's to fear!?! This isn't anti-science but pro-science.

Re:What's to fear (4, Interesting)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#41060927)

In other news, superbugs are growing resistant to bug-resistant gmo crops:

http://www.rodale.com/gmo-corn [rodale.com]

Re:What's to fear (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060941)

Because there is zero evidence that consuming GMO foods causes any harm whatsoever.

Putting a label on it only serves to reinforce people's existing prejudices.

Re:What's to fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061181)

Right. it's the same with "Free trade" clothing or "Free trade" coffee. All labor laws are being followed and putting those labels on products just serves to make the consumer fearful that other products they consume are not produced ethically.

That's why organic labels and "no HGH" labels were met with such an outcry: they're misleading consumers into thinking they're getting a better product and they're hurting other companies unfairly.

Oh .. Wait, forget all that. I'm not a corporate shill. They're just labels meant to inform consumers, sorry.

Re:What's to fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061333)

Writing off anyone who disagrees with you as a "shill" is an intellectual cop-out.

I realize that it is a time-honored tradition here on Slashdot... but shouldn't we set the bar a little higher?

Re:What's to fear (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060975)

Because people unjustly believe that GMOs are harmful at all, which is complete BS. Brainwashed people (especially Americans, due to their culture) can't be healed very easily.

Re:What's to fear (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41061109)

So you think it's better to just keep people in the dark about the origins of they are eating, just because there's no evidence that it will do them any harm, and only because giving them the freedom to make an informed choice on the matter will probably cause them to choose to avoid it?

Go ahead and include parts of Europe in that... (3, Insightful)

logicassasin (318009) | about 2 years ago | (#41061273)

Considering that there are several European countries that have blanket bans on GMO crops, you might want to include them in your "Brainwashed people (especially Americans, due to their culture) can't be healed very easily." statement.

Re:What's to fear (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#41061315)

So you're saying the free market can't work in America, because consumers can't be trusted to make their own decisions?

Re:What's to fear (5, Insightful)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 2 years ago | (#41060985)

I want a big "Monsanto" label on these foods just so I can avoid supporting ridiculous patent lawsuits. [wikipedia.org] If you really want to limit who can grow plants from *your* seeds, grow them in a dome where wind and bees can't get at them. (What? Then they won't pollinate? Too fucking bad.)

Re:What's to fear (3, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#41061313)

Not a bad idea. "Companies involved in the production of this food item" would be very useful information indeed. It could be like the ingredient list on the back. I'd happily avoid Monsanto products, but support responsible companies that make wise use of GMO.

Re:What's to fear (2)

neminem (561346) | about 2 years ago | (#41061351)

I would certainly support that label. I have nothing against GMOs per -se-, but I do have a lot against the particular practices of particular companies that support their use.

money is not the enemy (-1, Troll)

fusiongyro (55524) | about 2 years ago | (#41060877)

The agribusinesses are right, it is anti-science, and it is bullshit. In this case, the side with the truth also has the money. Imagine that.

Re:money is not the enemy (4, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#41060981)

What exactly is anti-science about demanding that ingredients be listed? If anything, it will make it easier to compare the effects of modified and unmodified plants. If there are no differences or the modified plants prove to be healthier, then there is no downside for the agribusinesses.

Re:money is not the enemy (4, Insightful)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41061047)

Indeed, and many countries have labeling requirements that require GMO to be disclosed as well. Oddly enough, GMO sells poorly in those countries. No wonder they're fighting it here(where something like 70% of packaged food products have GMO ingredients)

Re:money is not the enemy (3, Insightful)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 2 years ago | (#41061011)

The agribusinesses are right, it is anti-science, and it is bullshit. In this case, the side with the truth also has the money. Imagine that.

The "truth" about a food includes whether genetically-modified organisms were involved in producing it. Perhaps those advocating labeling are doing so for reasons that aren't scientifically valid, but, hey, maybe the answer to bad speech is more speech - why don't the agribusinesses spend their money making the case for food the production of which involves GMOs rather than saying "trust me, you don't need to know this". It's not as if it's banning GMO-based foods.

Genetically modified how? (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 2 years ago | (#41060891)

Genes from animals? Genes from other plants? Genes inserted directly?

Where does 200+ years of cross breeding come in? Is that considered 'intelligent design' or genetic modification?

Re:Genetically modified how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061037)

Didn't you notice the LHC fear mongering? If humans replicate natural processes then it suddenly becomes extremely dangerous and potentially apocalyptic. It's half arrogance and half ignorance, thus political.

Re:Genetically modified how? (4, Informative)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41061053)

Genes from animals? Genes from other plants? Genes inserted directly?

Bacteria like E. coli actually.

Re:Genetically modified how? (3, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#41061149)

Where does 200+ years of cross breeding come in?

200+ years? Try 3000+ years. Mankind has been selectively breeding plants and animals for at least that long, even though we've only recently started learning why it works.

Re:Genetically modified how? (1)

SuspectNumber3 (2623637) | about 2 years ago | (#41061183)

It all goes back to Gregor Mendel and those damn peas.

Re:Genetically modified how? (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41061303)

It's not even remotely the same. Cross-breeding does not generally insert genes from bacteria into plants, or squid genes into mammals. Not to mention bacteria or squid or other organisms that themselves had been previously "modified".

A lot of modern GMO practices resemble "cross breeding" about as much as Chicken Vienna Sausage resembles an actual chicken. Less even.

Re:Genetically modified how? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061455)

Because genes from plants are safe, but not genes from bacteria and animals?

Lobbyists (4, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#41060907)

It isn't anti-science to know the ingredients, and their specifics, of what goes into the foods we eat. It is just the companies being concerned about giving away what could be harmful nutritional information. The lobbyists wail against it like children. This doesn't make any arguments against science.

Re:Lobbyists (2, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about 2 years ago | (#41061355)

So do you want a label on all apples 'contains cyanide'?? How about organic celery that contains celery psoralen?? (Had to be taken off the market in the 80s because the levels were so high as to be hazardous.) How about a label on lettuce that it might contain listeria? How about one on organic foods that states 'nutritional superiority claims are unsubstantiated and any difference in nutritional value is related to the the area that they are grown rather than the method'.

But .. to be fair, it was recently noted that it was traditional methods of cross breeding that sapped all of the flavor out of tomatoes. Seems that even the more traditional methods have issues. Maybe we should put that label on tomatoes .. 'Warning: decades of making this red have removed all flavor'

I'll agree it isn't against science. It's about a small group of people who want to introduce fear into the population. Those that don't want GMO can always buy organic, there seems to be plenty of it around. They can also raise their own. So this isn't about their rights.

Instead, they want to scare the vast majority of people who don't really give a crap into thinking that the food they are eating is bad for them, when there is very little science behind it their claims. Just the FUD the eco-nuts want to spread for their own self-serving benefits.

Cheerleading for Kraft (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060929)

So, this is what a totally free libertarian market looks like, huh? Big companies throwing temper tantrums at the very notion of consumer empowerment and scientists and government agents falling in line to soothe their wailing.

How about this? SIt down with the top food scientists in the United States, come up with every possible ingredient and fact about the contents of the food consumers should know, and then hire the top graphic designers to present this information in an organized and clear way.

Oh, what's that? You don't want to rustle Kraft and Dean Food's feathers? OK, forget it. Let's stick to our 1980s food labeling standards and continue eating anal glands with our vanilla wafer cookies in total blind ignorance.

Re:Cheerleading for Kraft (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 2 years ago | (#41061069)

I find it interesting that one of the cornerstone requirements for a working free market - perfect access to full information - is being opposed by entities praising the free market at every turn. It couldn't be that those are just interested in preserving their own position in the market, and are using "free market" as an easy mantra with which to mislead the voting public?

All sarcasm aside, my biggest problem with this situation really isn't that GMO food might be inherently more dangerous than non-GMO food. It's that when I buy a banana, I want to know that this isn't a regular Chiquita banana, but the glow-in-the-dark version that is designed to keep nocturnal monkeys from eating it. In other words, I want to know what the product is that I'm buying. This bill would help me with that.

In other words, the parent AC hits it on the head: this bill should be a no-brainer, because I should be able to know what I am buying.

Re:Cheerleading for Kraft (1, Flamebait)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | about 2 years ago | (#41061259)

I find it interesting that one of the cornerstone requirements for a working free market - perfect access to full information - is being opposed by entities praising the free market at every turn.

You don't know what you're talking about. Perfect access to information is a condition of a perfect market [wikipedia.org] , not a free market. The only condition for a free market is a lack of government regulations. Free markets do not require perfect access to anything, either as a condition to exist or in order to function properly. Your entire argument is a strawman.

It's that when I buy a banana, I want to know that this isn't a regular Chiquita banana, but the glow-in-the-dark version that is designed to keep nocturnal monkeys from eating it. In other words, I want to know what the product is that I'm buying. This bill would help me with that.

You're under the mistaken impression that there's some identifiable difference between GMO and non-GMO foods, that couldn't be achieved through natural cross-breeding techniques that have been used for thousands of years. Genetic modification just speeds up the process. Do you expect the entire genome of any fruit you buy to be mapped out for you before you decide whether or not to purchase it? If not, then your position is invalid, because just knowing that a food is “genetically modified” tells you absolutely nothing about what's actually in that food.

Land of the Free (5, Insightful)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about 2 years ago | (#41060953)

... except for freedom to make an informed choice? In my country all food must be labelled with nutritional information so consumers are able to make choices about what they eat. With the advent of genetically engineered or modified foods ("GE" or "GM") this labeling is very likely to be extended - as is being proposed in the US. For me this makes perfect sense, don't ban GE food, simply give people the choice whether they want to consume it or not. Consumer market forces will either make GE food a success or remove it far more effectively than tipping the scales with legal regulation.

Why proponents of GE are trying to stop (via outspending) those who promote informed consumer choice is beyond me. If GE really is beneficial then consumers will see the reduced prices of the food, notice the improvement in quality and associate those with GE. If GE turns out to be hazardous in some cases then an informed consumer is made responsible for their own decision (although, in the US this hardly seems to be a factor these days in lawsuits). What could possibly go wrong with labeling food?

Re:Land of the Free (-1, Troll)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | about 2 years ago | (#41061147)

That's silly. So-called “genetic modification” is no different from cross-breeding that has been going on since the dawn of agriculture. Would you require a label for food that's grown using a tractor, or a computer controlled irrigation system, or some other technology that didn't exist a couple hundred years ago? What's special about this, other than that ignorant technophobes are freaked out by this particular thing for no good reason?

Re:Land of the Free (5, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 2 years ago | (#41061267)

Cross-breeding by inserting genes from completely different plant species? Is that normal? Or, for example, inserting essentially a pesticide protein into the food? I don't think that can be done using the "natural" cross-breeding techniques.

Re:Land of the Free (1)

cowtamer (311087) | about 2 years ago | (#41061385)

Mod this up. The "it's just like the naturally produced thing" argument is complete BS -- there are quite a few "naturally produced" plants which are poisonous. You also have absolutely no way to know which mods were made to the organisms.

In either case, if it's such a great thing, just label it and I might still buy the GMO product -- but leave me the choice.

Re:Land of the Free (2)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41061275)

Because once they do this genetic modification they patent the organism and then when it pollinates other similar species through natural processes and they create a new plant, those are now protected by the patent as well.

In a sane world this would be a non-issue. Unfortunately we live in America land of Monsanto and they go onto farmer's fields to test plants adjacent to Monsanto-owned "IP" and then sue the fucking shit out of farmers because their plants infringe their patents.

You can say all you like about GMOs being harmful or not but the protecting of natural life processes by corporations is harmful and detrimental to hundreds of years of cross-breeding, seed saving, etc.

Oh and GMOs are not allowed to be labeled "organic" and thus if they cross-pollinate with organics they invalidate the organic products and destroy the crop.

Re:Land of the Free (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41061357)

To add to what the others have said: yes, it is FAR different. Cross-breeding does not insert genes from exotic animal species or bacteria into plants. It is NOT the same at all, and if you think it is, you have been grievously misinformed.

Re:Land of the Free (0)

kc8tbe (772879) | about 2 years ago | (#41061175)

While I'm certainly in favor of giving consumers more information, a GMO label doesn't really do this. Corn and bananas have undergone extensive selective breeding to yield products that appear grossly different from their ancestral plants. Does that count as genetically modified? What about seedless varieties of fruit? What about grafting a branch of one species of fruit-bearing tree onto the roots/trunk of another species? What if I take a naturally occurring gene for hardiness from a plant found in the wild and add it to a cultivated plant of the same species? What if I take that naturally occurring gene and add it to a plant from a different species? What if I create a hybrid gene not found in nature and add that to my crops? The average consumer is ill equipped to interpret these distinctions, and so I don't think a carte blanche GMO label really serves consumers' interests or justifies its own cost.

Re:Land of the Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061285)

The average consumer is ill equipped to interpret these distinctions, and so I don't think a carte blanche GMO label really serves consumers' interests or justifies its own cost.

Interpretting other peoples' interests is a great way to justify all sorts of nasty things. Let people make their own decisions, however flawed.

Re:Land of the Free (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061327)

I propose a GMO Threat labeling scheme.

Green - Low
Blue - Guarded
Yellow - Elevated
Orange - High
Red - Severe

Re:Land of the Free (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41061397)

You need to educate yourself. GMO is not cross-breeding. GMO practices typically insert genes from already-modified bacteria, or other animals, into plants or other animals.

Sorry, but squids and cows don't cross-breed. Neither does E. Coli and corn. It just doesn't happen, man.

There is a very big difference. If all they were doing was cross-breeding or even a sped-up equivalent, nobody would care. But that's NOT what they're doing.

Ingredients and nutrition facts... (4, Insightful)

OldSport (2677879) | about 2 years ago | (#41060959)

...are required, so why not GMO labeling? It strikes me as the same thing. Why *wouldn't* you want to know exactly what is in the food you are eating?

What's more is that labeling GMO foods as such actually increases consumer access to information, which is one of the fundamental tenets of competition in the free market economy. The pseudo-conservative horde is always up in arms about labeling as being anti-free market when in fact the opposite is true.

Re:Ingredients and nutrition facts... (1)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41061373)

Even with the items labeled it's unlikely that the vast majority of Americans are going to give a shit either way. Hell, they already eat processed foods with tons of sodium and have diets heavy in meat and low in vegetable matter, so why would they even pay the smallest bit of attention to GMOs?

This is also the same American public who believe "evaporated cane juice" is somehow different than "sugar".

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41060963)

All food has been genetically modified, we don't eat any wild foods anymore.

Label Patented GMO, at least (4, Insightful)

Bookwyrm (3535) | about 2 years ago | (#41060965)

I would rather think businesses would want to label whether or not the produce had any 'patented' genetic modifications applied to them. People ought to be able to know whether or not it might not be legal for them to plant any of the seeds in the produce, after all, if they have not bought a license for the intellectual property in question.

(For the irony impaired, the above comment is intended to contain at 20% of the RDA of iron.)

Re:Label Patented GMO, at least (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about 2 years ago | (#41061127)

This. You see patent numbers or at least patent pending on just about any other protected products and even many that are not. Why not produce?

Re:Label Patented GMO, at least (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41061425)

Definitely! Monsanto should be required to modify their corn so that each kernel says "Patent no. 12345678" on it.

No, I am not being sarcastic.

We had this same bill in my fake senate class (0)

deisama (1745478) | about 2 years ago | (#41061001)

It was defeated. I said it was fear-mongering. Why warn someone of something that you don't have any proof is a threat?

The other line I said, which I don't know if it as effective, but it amused me greatly:
"My great, great, great grandfather made his fortune by genetically altering flowers to have new colors, so this isn't as new as people think"

Re:We had this same bill in my fake senate class (2)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41061077)

Do you consider an ingredient label requirement on food products to be a "warning" or a "threat"?

Re:We had this same bill in my fake senate class (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061207)

It's a warning for people with food allergies.

As far as I am aware, there are no documented cases of GMO-specific allergies.

Re:We had this same bill in my fake senate class (0)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41061121)

Yeah, but this real-world bill is in California.

Little-known fact: any substance produced in or imported into the State of California becomes a probable carcinogen. True story.

So GMO will be the next target. And after that? Who knows. Maybe they'll get a carbon footprint warning.

Information is good (1)

Pirate_Pettit (1531797) | about 2 years ago | (#41061045)

Perhaps, if this measure were enacted, many people who are fearful of such technology will see just how much of our food is modified from its natural state, while causing no harm to said people. As long as the label was neutral (instead of "warning! GMO detected! Has caused cancer *when ingested in extreme amounts by laboratory mice*), it could actually serve to inform the public, instead of scare them.

There will always be those who reject technological advancement. Let them have their information.

Re:Information is good (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41061475)

"Perhaps, if this measure were enacted, many people who are fearful of such technology will see just how much of our food is modified from its natural state, while causing no harm to said people."

Deliberate sterilization so that corn can no longer be used to seed for the next season... you have to buy more seed from Monsanto. Said sterilized crops escaping the fields and contaminating other crops. Massive die-offs of bees. Evidence of liver damage.

I think it's fair to say that those things might be considered "harm to people".

Label would be useless (0, Troll)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41061049)

Pretty much everything in the food chain contains some GMO product. Of course tracking what and how much would be an administrative nightmare with no benefit to consumers. But the goal of the anti-GMO crowd is to scare people into pricing the products out of the market, it has nothing to do with public health.

Monsanto = monopolist (3, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | about 2 years ago | (#41061061)

Regardless of your stance on the health effects of GMOs, if would behoove us to look more closely at the business practices (specifically w.r.t. intellectual property) of the seed giants, i.e. Monsanto: patenting life, monopolizing the seed market, shaking down small farmers with patent infringement suits, and all so they can sell more Roundup, creating a monoculture of herbicides. It's the same corporate playbook we've seen countless times in the tech world.

We had herbicides before Roundup-ready GMOs. It ain't no huge innovation, aside from being a revenue win for Monsanto.
http://cenblog.org/cleantech-chemistry/2010/03/what-did-farmers-do-before-roundup/ [cenblog.org]

Re:Monsanto = monopolist (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41061253)

These labels won't tell you whose seed was used. There are several companies that develop GMOs for use in agriculture.

Spending of the raised money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061065)

On what do they spend all that raised money to change the outcome of the vote? Advertising? "...to defeating the measure." sounds more than just an advertising campaign.

Nomenclature (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061093)

Meh... they shouldn't be allowed to call them whatever they were originally...

Strawberries spliced with salmon? Sorry, that's not a strawberry anymore.
Corn spliced with caterpillar? Not corn.

Re:Nomenclature (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41061241)

To be fair... "salmonberries" and "caterporn" don't sound very appetizing.

Re:Nomenclature (1)

AuMatar (183847) | about 2 years ago | (#41061401)

If the caterer is really hot I'd watch it.

Re:Nomenclature (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41061405)

Strawberries spliced with salmon?

Strawmon!

I think organic food should be labelled. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061101)

Oh wait, it is. It's the only reason people pay a premium for the same product.

This irks me. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41061113)

Act 1: FDA-or-somebody: "Umm, ADM, your 'xeno-bites' brand genetically engineered cowroach burgers have absolutely no track record of safety testing..."

ADM: "Shut up, four-eyes, and go kill jobs somewhere else. We'll let the consumer decide what they feel comfortable eating."

FDA-or-somebody: "Um, ok."

Act 2: California: "Hey, the consumers want to know what ingredients are in food, so that they can exercise free choice and let the market decide between "Ammoniabeef, Piney-Fresh" and "Soylent X"!"

ADM-or-somebody "Shut up, bureaucratic busybody, all our products are safe and legal and the consumers would just worry their little heads about it if we were to tell them. In fact, tell that dirty hippie down the street that he isn't allowed to use the phrases 'GMO free', 'less than .01% zergling by weight', or 'minimally teratogenic' in advertisements!"

This basic back-and-forth is what annoys me so much about this brand of spat: When the regulators show up, health and safety regulations based on research are treated as a bunch of ivory-tower paternalism. When the customers show up demanding the data that they actually need to make their own choices(since they are justifiably somewhat doubtful that benevolent regulators have their backs on this one), they get a paternalistic rebuff and assurance that the previously neutered regulators are totally all over this one...

There are arguments enough against having it merely one way or the other; but handing the customer the shit end of both worlds is just plain crass.

Better Label Apples, Ornages, and Bananas... (1)

SirBitBucket (1292924) | about 2 years ago | (#41061131)

All have been "modified" by grafting or cloning... How evil...

Re:Better Label Apples, Ornages, and Bananas... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41061431)

The banana so heavily, they are incapable of reproduction without assistance.

It's not about "not knowing" (-1, Flamebait)

Dave Emami (237460) | about 2 years ago | (#41061135)

It's about convincing the average consumer that there's something bad about GMO foods. In the absence of a health hazard (which the FDA has said does not exist), the labeling burden is on those who care about it. We do not have "Contains animal products!", "Non-kosher!" or "Non-halal!" labels on foods; vegans, or observant Jews or Muslims, look for foods labelled as meeting their guidelines. Likewise, people who want to avoid GMO foods can buy from producers that label their foods as GMO-free. What the Prop. 37 folks want is for the people who don't currently care about GMO one way or the other to see a label and think "Hmm, there's a label on this about it being genetically modified. That must mean it's something bad."

And by the way, why does the headline read "California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled"? Shouldn't that be "Organic Farmers and Environmentalists Want Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled"?

Re:It's not about "not knowing" (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41061341)

"Hmm, there's a label on this about it being genetically modified. That must mean it's something bad."

No more so than the label "May contain nuts" on a box of chocolate covered almonds. It's not because it's bad, it's because it's a fact... and allowing the consumer to make an informed decision (even if "may contain nuts" on a box of chocolate covered almonds might treating a consumer like an idiot, it's still not misinformation).

Re:It's not about "not knowing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061365)

p>And by the way, why does the headline read "California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled"? Shouldn't that be "Organic Farmers and Environmentalists Want Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled"?

No, It shoud read that people that want a free market to operate properly are asking for the information for that to hapen.

But why should they when the ministry of Agruculture only wants what's best for them, Comrade.

I believe Rachel Maddow pointed this out (3, Insightful)

Pluvius (734915) | about 2 years ago | (#41061161)

On Bill Maher's show: if GMO food truly is safe and beneficial (and it generally is if you remove Monsanto et al. from the equation), then the obvious solution is not to keep consumers from knowing what it is they're eating, but just the opposite--educate them on exactly what it is they're eating in a neutral, fact-based manner.

Rob

Re:I believe Rachel Maddow pointed this out (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41061309)

The GMO debate is completely absent the characteristics:

1. Neutral.
2. Fact Based.

Who is opposing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061173)

TFA states that "Agribusinesses and food manufacturers have donated a total of $13 million toward defeating the measure, bringing the total up to $25 million in the coffers of those proposing the proposition."

Apparently the list includes Coca-Cola, DuPont and Nestlé. Where can I get a list of all the businesses that don't want us to know what is in the food we eat and how it is made?

GMOs are probably the least of our concerns (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 2 years ago | (#41061199)

Have you seen what Americans eat these days? Holy shit, that wouldn't even pass as food 100 years ago! We eat such an unhealthy assortment of food as a daily staple, I think we ought to sort out our heart disease and diabetes problems before we spend our efforts scrutinizing GMOs. GMOs may be damaging our health, but it can't be as important as addressing the obvious and immediate issues we currently face.

Big money killed prop 19 and put in porp 8 (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41061219)

If history is a guide. Big money will successfully kill this. Note, it's not big money itself that does this. It's the damn voters who fall for it. Fuck them

Some real science (-1, Troll)

ShooterNeo (555040) | about 2 years ago | (#41061225)

The nasty truth is that actual living plants have so many mutations and gene crossings and chromosomes doublings that you should not think of extant plants as some pristine, perfect creation passed down from God (or Gaea). This is what the nuts in California are actually up in arms about : they believe that "naturally" occurring crops have to be superior to something that has had a few genes artificially spliced in.

Thing is, every crop humans grow for food already HAS been genetically modified, through centuries of selective breeding. In the case of ruby red grapefruit, the crop was developed by exposing the seeds to radiation and causing a LOT of mutations quite fast.

Modern genetic engineering is just a cleaner, and more accurate method. Rather than mixing genes up blindly, the scientists who perform it carefully insert desirable traits and test the outcomes. This can also lead to much safer, faster growing crops. Optimize the Krebs cycle for corn, and it will grow twice as fast. Allow crops to synthesize their own pesticides in the inedible parts of the plant, and humans stop inadvertently consuming pesticide in their diet. Make the crop resistant to pests, and you won't need as much pesticide. And so on.

We use sewage as fertilizer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061247)

Bill hr254 has died in committee for over a decade. [govtrack.us]

The sludge [wikipedia.org] industry makes billions spreading you and your neighbors sh!t on farm fields....and they like to do it in secret, cause, well, you know - its disgusting/revolting/dangerous [usatoday.com] /creates superbugs [care2.com] /un-american [youtube.com] /u pick the description. [sourcewatch.org]

In the end, u r eating the end of the line of a sewage treatment plant.

I wonder how much of our healthcare problems in this country are caused by using effluent, septage, or sewage in food production for people?

I think this is as big, or a bigger issue, than GMO.

If you think GMO is bad, stop eating cheese - most cheese consumed in USA comes from GMO organisims that are centrafuged to pick out the enzyme which causes milk to curdle. [wikipedia.org]

what about pesticides, herbicides... (1)

ondelette (253185) | about 2 years ago | (#41061271)

It is all about trade-off. So, if we want to inform the public, that is good, but let us do it fairly, without the FUD though. Many producers of regular crops also use a lot more insecticides. Why shouldn't they be required to disclose it as well?

Moreover, the public should be informed that the wheat and the rice they eat has nothing to do with what their ancestors ate. It has been modified in all sorts of crazy ways, sometimes use radiations to accelerate genetic mutations. Should we disclose this as well? Let us be fair: why not?

A better informed consumer is a great thing. FUD is something different.

I'll take GMOs if this means that farmers don't have to dump crazy quantities of insecticides on their field. But if I don't know which insecticide they used and how much they applied, how can I make an informed decision?

Bad headline. How is this "California wants?" (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 2 years ago | (#41061325)

The headline is ridiculous. Perhaps a majority of Californians want this. We will find that out in November (at least we will find out if a majority of the Californians who bother to vote want it).

However, the initiative process means anyone who gets enough signatures can get an initiative on the ballot. Anyone. That's why saying "California wants ... " is ludicrous. Both right-leaning and left-leaning initiatives, some loony and some thoughtful get on the ballot in California. Getting on the ballot in California means nothing. The proof is in the voting.

Sometimes there are diametrically opposed initiatives (e.g. a few years ago one would deregulate somewhat the power company, and another would increase it's level of regulation!). Does that mean California is cognitively dissonant? Perhaps, but not because of whatever initiatives are proposed, since they are proposed by different people.

Just by looking at the initiatives proposed in the last few years (e.g. some anti-immigrant, some pro-pot) you would think that all different kinds of people with all different kinds of ideas live here. Imagine that.

It's pro consumer choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061331)

Does it matter if it were anti-science?

Labeling is anti-science? (2)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | about 2 years ago | (#41061367)

How can it be anti-science to put a truthful blurb on something which says what it is?

California Wants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061389)

So you had a chat with California, and California told you what it wants, did it?

Interesting. Given all the controversy and disagreements between various Californians, it is a bit surprising that California has reached such a clear position before the referendum has been held. Does California not care about the opinions of Californians who are opposed to the labeling?

If California is so biased and does not wait for the conclusion of the democratic process, I wonder why Californians allow California to stay. Do the wants of California have any bearing on the matter?

Meg Whitman (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061439)

Meg Whitman outspent Jerry Brown. Anecdotally, the spending may have backfired as it caused her to be seen as the "big money" candidate. If throwing money at a campaign always worked, we'd have had a President Steve Forbes too.

There is not one thing Monsanto and friends can say to change my mind about this. Let 'em spend themselves into oblivion.

Oooh let's apply this across the board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061459)

I'd like to know where my computer's component parts came from. Not generally, I mean specifically. Which country, which mountain, which small town, whichever of those is applicable. What were the resulting processes from there on.

How is this anti-science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41061461)

Simple labellling could save tens to hundreds of hours of lab work for smaller scale researchers. Sorting out which foods are GM and which are not would be a time consuming task some folks cannot budget into their research.

There is nothing wrong with knowing which foods you put into your body. Science cannot prove or disprove the safety of the food universally and ultimately that is the discrection of the consumer, not a board of marketing directors or GM researchers to determine. If I don't like GM I don't like science? Is that it? Are scientists going to use the anti-creationist mantra that questioning research findins is unscientific? Yea, and questioning your President is unpatriotic, right? Keeping information from me that are no doubt pertinent to my consumption preferences, THAT is anti-science.

And I'm saying this as a person who has full confidence that well researched GM foods are acceptible food sources! As a consumer, I reallly don't care if it's GM, I just care how expensive it is! :)

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