To the Editor:
I’m not quite sure what the issue is with Dick Atlee in his commentary of July 7 (“Imminent Food Threat”), whether it’s GMO’s in general or Monsanto.
Foods have been genetically modified by generations of humans. The problem I see is with the requirement for labeling foods which contains GMO ingredients. Do we start with corn?
If there is a marketing benefit to be found by some providers by saying their food is “non-GMO,” then let them market it that way, as many are currently doing. The problem is, I’m also not sure whether their claim is valid. But if they can put a higher price on it, and if people will buy it, so be it.
Actually, there have been no problems with GMO crops. But some like Atlee want to frighten the bejeebers out of folks and insist on labeling GMO foods.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have recently issued a new report. “The study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.”
Expert Matt Ridley is even stronger in his comments that this report “leaves no room for doubt that genetically engineered crops are as safe or safer, and are certainly better for the environment, than conventionally bred crops.”
He continues: “The national academies report makes the obvious point that genetic engineering is a method not a category of crop. It makes no sense to single it out for special labeling. Regulation should be based on traits, not techniques. After all, we don’t regulate food safety according to whether food is boiled or roasted, but according to what’s in it.”
Now, the biochemists at Pennsylvania State University found the gene that converts chlorophyll – the most common light-absorbing pigment used by plants to photosynthesize – to a form that absorbs wavelengths in the far red range of the light spectrum. The discovery could let scientists engineer crops to better harness the sun’s energy. It’s called chlorophyll f and was discovered by Australian scientists in 2010.
So if you do contact Sens. King and Collins, tell them to support the “compromise” labeling or get rid of the mandatory labeling issue all together.
If marketers want to label their products as “non-GMO,” let them do it if they can prove it.