13 Lies GMO Labeling Opponents Are Pushing to Keep People in the Dark
Photo Credit: Bogdan Wankowicz/ Shutterstock.com
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It’s déjà vu. Last year a coalition of out-of-state, multinational biotech, pesticide and junk food corporations spent nearly $46 million to narrowly defeat Proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling initiative.
Now, the same who’s who of the world’s most notorious global corporate bad actors has descended on Washington State. Why? To try to stop Washington State voters from passing I-522, a citizens’ initiative that, if passed, will require mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in all food products sold in Washington.
Like bad robots, they’re spitting out the same old, tired lies, designed to scare voters into voting against their own best interests.
Here are the lies. And the facts. Please read, print, email, roll up and stuff into a bottle you launch into the sea . . . whatever it takes to spread the word that while $46 million may buy a lot of lies, it doesn’t change the facts.
1. Lie: Labeling genetically engineered foods (GMOs) will cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year.
Trader Joe’s, Clif Bar & Co. and Washington’s own PCC Natural Markets all label their non-GMO product lines at no additional cost to consumers.
2. Lie: I-522 is full of arbitrary special interest exemptions that will just confuse consumers.
Truth: I-522 requires labeling for the GE foods that are most prevalent in the American diet – food on supermarket shelves. I-522’s exemptions are easy to explain and guided by common sense and the law:
- Restaurants – Restaurants and bake sales are not required to list the ingredients in their products. Requiring labeling for GMOs would have required tracking all the ingredients in restaurant meals, and since no other laws require that, it didn't make sense for this one to.
- Meat, cheese, dairy and eggs from animals - These will be labeled if they come from genetically engineered animals. However, they are exempt if the animals ate genetically engineered feed but are not themselves genetically engineered. This exemption is common all around the world. It didn't make sense for Washington’s law to be stricter than international standards.
- Alcohol – Alcohol labeling is regulated under different laws than food at both the federal and state levels. Because of the single-subject law that requires initiatives to apply to only one subject, alcohol couldn’t be included.
3. Lie: Consumers don’t need labels to avoid GMOs. All they need to do is buy certified organic products.
Truth: Food companies routinely and intentionally mislead consumers by labeling products “natural” in order to attract health-conscious consumers. Because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not prohibit the use of the word “natural” on products containing GMOs, most consumers are fooled by this label. According to a recent poll by the Hartman group, 61 percent of respondents erroneously believed that the use of the word “natural” implies or suggests the absence of GMOs, versus 63 percent who correctly believed that the label "organic" means that a product is GMO-free. Food companies should be required, as they are in some 60 other countries, to clearly state that a product contains GMOs. If companies truly believe their GMO ingredients are perfectly safe, why spend millions to keep from having to label them?
4. Lie: Washington will be the only state in the nation to label GMOs, unfairly hurting farmers and the state’s multi-billion agricultural industry.
Truth: Washington won’t be the only state labeling GE foods. Connecticut, Maine and Alaska have passed labeling laws and dozens of other states are considering identical proposals. Besides, 64 countries already require labeling, so many farmers are already used to labeling for exports. In fact, many Washington farmers support labeling because they believe that growing GMO crops destroys healthy soil, and because they sell crops to overseas markets that either require labels on GMO crops, or have banned them completely. These countries are increasingly concerned about U.S. non-GMO crops, such as wheat, that could potentially be contaminated by cross-pollination with GMO crops.