A Washington state referendum to put warning labels on genetically modified foods, I-522, failed in the last election, but a new effort is more clever - they want to warn the public about Frankenfish and are couching it in an effort to simply make the public aware if it's farm-raised or caught in the wild or, oh yeah, a TRANSGENIC ABOMINATION OF NATURE.
As many in the science audience know, the AquAdvantage fish has been the victim of a spectacular anti-science governmental fail for over a decade and a half. If you think the left or right is more anti-science, you can use this fish - engineered to grow a little faster than regular farm fish - as evidence. When Republicans controlled Congress, it couldn't get approved, when Democrats controlled Congress it couldn't get approved. When a Republican controlled the White House, it couldn't get approved and when two Democrats controlled the White House, it couldn't get approved.
House Bill 2143 says consumers have the right to know exactly what kind of fish they are getting thrown at them in the Pike Place Fish Market. I suppose I would agree, if the intent weren't so obvious. It won't look different than any other fish, and it won't taste different than any other fish, but you just need to know it is different than other fish, because it grew a little faster, thanks to the evil tinkerers in science. The belief is that this caters to political constituency fish farmers, no differently than when politicians cave in to corn farmers about ethanol.
Washington state is a blue state, of course, and there is a reason Democrats in Congress want warning labels on GMOs - because their constituents do. Put "Franken-" in front of almost anything and anti-science progressives are going to be against it because they are motivated by fear - of biology, of vaccines, of energy. Science for progressives is like gay marriage for social conservatives; a slippery slope to Hell. It's why states like Washington and California lead the country in anti-vaccination sentiment also. When conservatives want to put a label on science textbooks because they might contain evolution, they are rightfully mocked for being anti-science. But when progressives want to put a label on food because it might contain GMOs, they are applauded as consumer activists. And science media criticizes the former, but enables the latter, by giving credence to claims it is instead about 'not trusting corporations.'
This is how anti-science progressives see biology. In this light, those on the right wing not accepting evolution are a lot less dangerous to poor people, because religion does not cause the third world to starve.
I noted one time in the LA Times that Frankenstein Was Not A GMO and so this Franken- business makes no sense anyway but, other than a hilarious comment by someone wondering how a science article got published in the LA Times, it didn't change many minds. People scared of science would rather get Dengue fever (well, let poor people get it, anyway) than believe that a harmless critter that helps prevent it could actually be harmless. And this fish is just as harmless.
Do people want to know what is in or on their food? Without a doubt. But only when prompted to worry about genetically modified foods do people suddenly get worried about them. Only 7 percent simply list it as a concern, while everyone else lists pesticides (usually in regard to conventional farming) or foodborne pathogens (usually in regard to organic farming).
Food labels are a terrific idea - especially if they include the level of pesticides on organic food, which a government study in Canada found to be higher than conventional food before they quietly swept it under the rug.
Canadians could probably live in Washington state and feel pretty comfortable about their science mentality.