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November 18. 2013 4:50PM

Hippies lose one: GM labeling gets the boot

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee has recommended that legislators not approve a bill (House Bill 660) to require the labeling of food that contains genetic modifications. Common sense prevailed in the committee, and it should in the House.

Supporters of labeling claim that it is about informing the public. That is not so. It is about pressuring producers into dropping GM foods. And that movement is driven not by science, but by hysteria.

The committee saw that the bill had numerous flaws. It would have made food more expensive and harmed local retailers. And it would not have provided reliable information for consumers.

A label reading "Genetically Engineered" or "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" would have been required for any food made with (but not necessarily still containing) any portion of a genetically engineered ingredient. What does that tell the consumer? Next to nothing. A fruit containing the genes of another variety of the same fruit would get the same label as a vegetable containing animal genes or genes from, say, a nut. But no one would know which is which. Some help.

The real goal was not to alert people to allergens or animal genes. It was to frighten people into thinking their food was unsafe. The committee was right to vote against this fear-mongering.


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