California State Sen. Noreen Evans wants any food that contains a genetically modified ingredient to have a special label declaring it - unless the product is alcohol.
It's an odd exemption. The public apparently wants organic, non-GMO beer and even Whole Foods is getting into the Organic Beer Business. Plus, if the issue with GMOs is safety and awareness why should alcohol be exempt? The verbiage of Senate Bill No. 1381 says GMOs are misbranded if they are not declared and that is a violation of the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law, so why are restaurants and bake sales and cafeterias exempt?
It isn't because Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms manages labels federally, as some anti-science activists rationalize, because the FDA obviously does the same thing with food labels. States can go above and beyond that, Pennsylvania even owns all the booze stores in its state, so there may be a more practical reason.
Activists want labels but do not want to run up against a giant, organized industry that will spend tens of millions of dollars against them. Napa County’s Local Food Advisory Council is suddenly just fine with GMO labeling - because their business is now exempt.
Californians are afraid of progress. And science. And Democratic politicians won't stop until they ban what they fear.
In other words, it may not be about protecting people or awareness, it may once again be about the politicization of science. Look for homeopaths, anti-vaccine groups and the $29 billion Big Organic conglomerate to join the fray against science once again. Oh, and Professor Marion Nestle, who is a molecular biologist, and so should know better, but latches onto every food fad that comes along.
Despite the perception that a few companies monopolize the GMO market, in reality Whole Foods has a greater monopoly in its market than ConAgra or anyone else in food - but organic food and its allies in the homeopathy and alternative medicine worlds know that the large companies they demonize are only going to take a tangential interest, unlike if they included beer and wine in their awareness initiative. Labels will not directly affect the revenue of ADM or Monsanto. It is food producers alone who will have to pay the cost and endure the lawsuits and that means only consumers will pay more for this intellectual placebo.
Kent Bradford, professor of plant science and director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at U.C. Davis, tried to be the voice of science but no one is listening to reason. He lives in a town where they want to ban fluoride too. The residents of Davis are squarely against GMOs.
The Proposition 37 referendum in California failed because the public has seen this kind of lawyer-sponsored silliness before; the pointless cancer-causing chemicals signs in every business that have protected no one and made attorneys rich. The list of exemptions under Prop 37 was arbitrary and dizzying - organic food was exempt, alcohol was exempt, meat, cheese, dairy and eggs were exempt, restaurants and baked goods were exempt.
Like Prop 37, this is a lawyer's bill rather than a consumer one - it allows any resident of the state to bring a lawsuit and ask for damages even if there is no evidence of harm. The problem for the groups behind Prop 37 was that voters got to decide. And so activists behind this bill wanted to prevent that and get Democrats to use their supermajority to pass this without public debate - but they did not foresee that the corruption by other California State Senators would cost them that supermajority, so now Democrats would have to negotiate with Republicans who side with science in order for this to pass.
Evans pretends to be impartial: “I want to be very clear: This bill doesn't ban anything. It simply requires labeling. It's agnostic on whether GMOs are good, or whether they are bad.”
Why not saddle all bread with a giant gluten warning label then? Gluten can kill people with Celiac disease whereas GMO foods have never even given anyone a stomachache. It is not "agnostic" to say Pi =3 and put a warning label on math books, it is actually wrong, just like it is wrong to claim that a warning label on genetically modified food is not meant to create market share for organic food (which would somehow be exempt from the law simply by buying a sticker) using the force of government.
Democrats let this get out of committee because they are for this and only the tiny Republican minority is in opposition. Genetic modification is only mildly a part of government-funded academia so they are not worked into the same levels of outrage as they would be if 52 Republicans in Congress were trying to get the federal government to put labels on GMOs, rather than 52 Democrats.
And that's a shame, because it lends to the belief that science academia puts politics before science. Private sector science knows enough to be worried if either party gets a way to legislate the nature of science and reason.
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