To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Recently in Washington State, a ballot initiative requiring the labeling of foods made with genetically engineered organisms (GMO) was narrowly defeated. Biotech and junk food corporations along with the Grocery Manufacturers Association spent nearly 22 million dollars on a misinformation advertising campaign to keep people in the dark about the contents of their food. The amount spent broke all records in Washington State for spending to oppose a ballot initiative.
Why would these corporations spend obscene amounts of money preventing people from knowing what’s in their food? If the biotech industry had confidence in the crops and food they create they would be proud of it and enthusiastically tell consumers. Their adamant resistance to labeling testifies to their lack of confidence in the safety of their products.
The ballot initiative in Washington merely sought to label GMO foods, but for the opposing corporations the real issues that caused the corporate money to flow were transparency, accountability and especially liability.
With GMO foods unlabeled, correlations between the introduction of GMO ingredients into our food supply and human illness can never be scientifically tested and causation conclusively proven. Without labels, scientific and medical researchers will never know who is eating GMO foods and who is not, how much is being eaten, what kinds are being ingested and how often. As with tobacco products, the lack of immediate harm is not proof of safety. No proof of illness means no liability. The biotech industry remembers all too well the liability costs incurred by the tobacco industry.
The citizens in 64 nations enjoy the freedom and right to know if their food contains GMO ingredients. There are only two industrialized nations that do not require GMO food labeling -- the U. S. and Canada. That’s a sad commentary on democracy in the land of the free.
The writer is the co-founder of Mass Right To Know GMOs, which is a statewide network of safe food advocates working together and with state legislators to reach a critical mass of awareness and support for legislation mandating adequate labeling of Genetically Modified (GM) foods in Massachusetts.