GMOs: Revisited

In November 2013, I published a post discussing legislation pending in the last session that required labeling of products that include “Genetically Modified Organisms”. I’ve left that post intact below. That legislation has been refiled and proponents have secured a great list of cosponsors, so the issue will clearly get more discussion this year.

I didn’t join the list of cosponsors because I do find myself troubled by a number of questions about the legislation:


  • Those who have health concerns about personal exposure to GMOs and chemicals do have the option of buying Organic labelled food. This is a well-developed legal framework. How would GMO labelling actually help people?
  • If GMO labeling is really part of an educational campaign to inform those who are unaware of how modern American agriculture works, are we focusing on the right issue? Many object to GMOs because they facilitate the use of pesticides and herbicides. If chemical exposure is our real concern, shouldn’t we be focused on disclosure of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides?
  • In the larger picture of climate change and food economics, are GMOs themselves actually the problem? Climate change is, despite our efforts, clearly happening. Is it possible that genetic engineering could actually have a positive role in producing crops that are can sustain people as climate changes? Could we actually be hurting real prospects for progress by making GMOs the issue?
  • The biggest climate issue in the food supply is the heavy use of animal products. Eating less animal products can make a big difference in personal carbon footprint. Does a focus on GMOs give people a feel-good issue and allow them to avoid harder food choices?

I’d welcome further discussion at this site and I’m also trying to gauge interest in a local symposium on the subject. We could put together a program of informed presenters on the science and the legal framework and have a discussion someplace in my district.

For a significant new statement in favor of GMO labeling, please see this piece in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The November 2013 Post

I’ve recently been hearing from an increasing number of people concerned about genetically modified organisms in the food supply. The main concern is for legislation requiring disclosure of genetically engineered ingredients. In response to this concern, I have cosponsored legislation to require labeling of foods and companion legislation requiring labeling of seeds.  These bills and several other similar bills are pending before a couple of committees at this time — the environment committee and the public health committee.

I think there are multiple ways that the legislature could respond to the issue.  People have a “right to know” and the case for a requirement of disclosure is strong.  The bills that I have co-sponsored implement this approach, which resonates with my general emphasis on transparency.  Connecticut and Maine have taken this approach with their legislation requiring that enough other states adopt it before it takes effect.

On the other hand, the truth is that essentially all corn and soy grown in the United States is genetically modified to make it able to tolerate herbicide application.  Since soy and corn are so widespread in livestock feed and also in processed foods, most of what we eat does directly or indirectly include some genetically modified elements.  Given that, it makes sense for consumers to generally assume that products involve GMOs unless specified otherwise.  It may be more practical to allow products to identify themselves as “non-GMO” and to regulate the use of that term.  That would be consistent with our approach to the use of the term “organic” — most agricultural products today are grown using herbicides and pesticides — potentially more worrisome than genetic changes in the plants.  Yet, we don’t require disclosure of that.  Instead, we allow products to identify themselves as “organic” if they meet certain standards for non-use of chemicals.

For an interesting discussion of the issue of genetic engineering, please see this article in Scientific American.

I welcome suggestions about how best to approach this issue.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

49 replies on “GMOs: Revisited”

  1. Dear Will,
    Please continue to support labeling of GMO foods and seeds. They are in fact potentially dangerous for human health and the environment. There are many articles on various websites that discuss this issue. The only way to avoid GMO foods now is to buy organic food that is non-GMO verified. I have to do this because I have Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Therefore, it is critical for me to avoid GMO foods. Please keep up the good work.

  2. Dear Will,

    I do support consumer right to know, but at the same time I firmly believe that forcing manufacturers to label all food will increase the ultimate cost to consumer without doing much more.

    As such, I believe that only certified “Non-GMO” products should be labelled as such. The rest of the food should be by default treated as “might or might not contain GMO ingredients”. This will create a good option for people who choose to avoid GMO altogether, while keeping the the prices affordable for the rest.

  3. SaraSezun points out one good reason why we need to know what’s in food products. AlexBulychev worries that it will be burdensome to the food industry. Will points out that GMO fodder is in most meat and poultry. And soon we will be eating GMO fish as well.

    By Will’s logic, given that high-fructose corn syrup is in so many products, why not just let them label it “fructose”, as I’m sure they would love to do?

    Nobody has mentioned how agribusiness lobbyists will work very hard to thwart efforts to label food as non-GMO. Or, how they have succeeded in preventing effective oversight over pesticide use. We can’t let corporate profiteering plow us under. That is why we must sometimes not be “reasonable.” We must fight to make it harder for the companies that have created America the Obese continue to undermine our health and well being.

    Will, please draw the line a little closer to our side, practicalities aside.

  4. A couple of more thoughts.

    One promising approach to improving food safety and producer transparency is to enable or even require that food products be certified by independent boards as meeting specified standards of husbandry, content, handling and sustainability. The seafood industry is moving in that direction, but determining what standards make sense and how to verify compliance are still big issues.

    Another idea to label foods to indicate the amount of energy input and carbon pollution the production of a serving of food entails. You might assume such numbers are hard to compute, but soon there will be apps for that.

    Food supply chains could put such figures together, but will not do it voluntarily. A lot of consumer muscle, backed up by political will, are needed to make that happen. Likewise, producers could track GMO inputs to their products. Isn’t that what computers let them do for themselves anyway?

  5. I’m sorry to mouth on, but there is a lot at stake here.

    I have learned that the Farm Bill that’s meandering through Congress is under pressure from industry to eliminate country-of-origins requirements for imported foodstuffs. I expect the usual economic arguments are being made on their behalf by their lobbyists. (source:

    This political minuet illustrates that agribusiness – and most other industries – want consumers to know only what their marketing departments tell them, not simple facts. If it were not for food safety laws, we would be even more in the dark about food ingredients, nutrition, and sourcing. We’ve known that for over a century, but keep forgetting.

    Unless and until their are reliable alternatives to government regulation, we need all the public oversight we can get, but it needs to be effective and practical. Making it so is what we expect you and your colleagues to do, so I am very pleased you are considering these issues and taking action. Please be bold. Thanks.

  6. My concern with labeling in the negative, as in “Non-GMO” is that it places the cost burden on companies that are doing the right thing. My thought is that companies that are using GMO’s should be the ones bearing the cost, not the organic farmers. My other concern is that when you look at a can of soup, the assumption most consumers would make is that it is moderately healthy, natural food. I would much rather see things marked “unhealthy” or “non-natural” and run under the assumption that if nothing is said, it is good to eat.

    Thanks for your attention to this critical issue.

  7. I would like to add my voice to those who very much want to have GMO foods labeled. In reality, the producers label their foods with many different facts and ingredients right now. Labeling a food as containing GMOs is just one more. I believe the cost argument is a red herring, designed to distract from the real issue – agribusiness doesn’t want you to know that GMOs are in the food we eat.

    Many other countries have banned GMOs. It’s unfortunate that corporations are allowed to experiment on the US consumer. While these companies and the FDA claim these foods are safe, I remind you that they also said trans fats were safe, as well as various other man made and synthetic foods that have turned out to be most definitely NOT safe.

    Unfortunately the GMO cat is out of the bag – as you say, most of the corn and soy in this country are already GMOs, supposedly to make them resistant to herbicides. All the more reason to positively label food as containing GMOs.

    I do understand that it may be difficult to get this passed. I would accept labeling of a food as “non-GMO” as a fall back position.

    Thank you for sponsoring this legislation. It is very important!

    Claudia Erland

  8. The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, which closed its doors in 2007 (meaning that some of its data may be outdated), was a non-partisan non-profit that provided information to consumers and policymakers regarding agricultural biotechnology. The initative sought to be an objective and trustworthy source of information about genetically modified organisms. Its reports are still available online at They include research about efforts to use genetic modification to enhance nutrition in food and a report providing an overview of issues in the regulation of GMOs.

    Anne Johnson Landry
    Committee Counsel and Policy Advisor
    Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

  9. Genetically modified organisms/genetically engineered ingredients have been in the food supply of Homo sapiens since Homo sapiens arrived on the scene. Indeed, food has been continuously genetically modified and engineered for all of its seven million years of existence. The question before us seems to be how genetic modification and engineering is performed rather than whether it is or is not performed. After all, one can hardly alter or prevent genetic modifications achieved through evolution, natural or otherwise.

    We seem to be saying that genetic modification by means of an alpha particle (no human control) or selective breeding (some human control) is not suspect but by means of direct DNA manipulation (more human control) is suspect. In other words, the issue is the amount of human control exercised, not whether or not genetic modification occurs. Thus, we seek to establish a control threshold. If the amount of human control over the creation of a new organism is below the threshold then we don’t want to be informed and we’re willing to let evolution take its course. But if the amount of human control exercised is above the threshold then we want to be informed.

    It seems to me that defining this threshold (never mind enforcing it) will be quite difficult. How do you measure degree of control? Or do we also care about the nature of the means? Are modification means A, B, or C below the threshold whereas means X, Y and Z are above the threshold? Or do we also care about who is doing the modification? Massachusetts agriculture experiment station OK, but high school chemistry class not so much. Do we license modification means?

    All by way of noting that perhaps “genetically modified organisms” and “genetically engineered ingredients” deserve more careful definition before we start writing laws, rules, and regulations based on these concepts.

    BTW, you engage in human controlled genetic engineering when you exercise choice with respect to with whom you procreate. The amount of control is probably a topic for another day.

  10. In response to Scott’s points, I think there is a huge difference between selective breeding which has been done for thousands of years and GMO which refers to direct DNA manipulation. Even Monsanto, one of the largest players in the GMO market says on their site (

    “Vegetables are typically not genetically engineered. Primarily, traits in vegetables are accomplished through breeding technology. Breeding is more cost effective than genetic engineering given the amount of time and research it takes to develop biotech traits. So, most vegetables you run across are, in fact, not genetically engineered…Biotechnology is generally used when a trait is needed but breeding can’t accomplish the development of the trait fast enough.”

    So I think we can agree that the issue at hand is whether food that comes from direct DNA manipulation should be labeled. Personally, I am very concerned about the health risks of GMOs and I want to know. I understand the impracticalities mentioned above, but it is the responsibility of the food industry to let people know where their food comes from. I think giving food manufacturers and stores a reasonable amount of time to come into compliance would help reduce extra costs. For packaged products, labels need to be reprinted periodically anyway, they would need to add some additional wording. For raw produce, I can see that it might be a little more complicated.

  11. The issue of compliance is why affirmative disclosure regulation probably needs to be national. Most food production occurs across multiple state lines.

    I think that at the state level, I’m leaning towards regulating the claim of “GMO free” so that consumers know what it means when producers use it.

  12. I’ve lately received some additional emails along these lines:

    Food industry lobbyists have a “One-Pager” of talking points that states that state GMO labeling laws violate the First Amendment, and that any state that passes a GMO labeling law will be sued.

    The food industry is wrong on this, but they continue to make these claims in an effort to scare lawmakers like yourself into rejecting GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling bills.

    The fact is, according to the Vermont Law School, and the Washington D.C.-based law firm, Emord & Associates, the food industry is way off base. After extensive research and analysis, both the Vermont Law School and Emord & Associates independently concluded that state GMO labeling laws do not violate the First Amendment.

    You can read Emord & Associates analysis here.,%20Jan%2022,%202014%20(Public).pdf

    More than 90 percent of Americans want GMOs labeled. As a resident of this state, I ask that you support the will of the people by supporting GMO labeling, and not cave into baseless threats by food industry analysts.

    I definitely agree with these emails: I don’t believe that labeling laws violate the first amendment. I think this is an industry red-herring. I think the real issues are what are the most effective and workable ways to give consumers the information they need.

  13. Unfortunately, I feel that the federal government won’t take action until a sufficient number of states have called for mandatory labeling of GMOs. This is one of the many issues where it will take many smaller voices to influence our larger governmental body to take appropriate action.

    A call for mandatory labeling of foods that contain GMOs could easily contain a reasonable phase-in period so that manufacturers can use up labels and boxes that have already been printed, and include the GMO declaration in subsequent print runs – thereby reducing the cost load for manufacturers and also preventing waste, but still making a clear stance about American’s ability to make free choices. If we don’t know what’s in our food, how can we be free to make the choices that are supposed to “guide the market”?

    I urge you to support the mandatory labeling bills that are currently stuck in committee. Thank you!

  14. I agree that state action might prod the federal government on this and I’m definitely prepared to support a bill on this. I tend to feel that a bill regulating the use of the phrase “GMO-Free” might have the best shot of passage.

  15. Thanks so much for thinking about this issue and being open to input, Will.

    I am concerned about your approach that says, “well, the horse is out of the barn and GMOs are already prevalent, so let’s make anyone without GMO carry the burden.” Because our legislators were asleep at the switch when this vast experiment was begun by corporate America, why should we now make those companies that did the right thing suffer and have to explain themselves as being non-GMO? Big Agriculture has the money. They should justify their choices to the consumer.

    At the least, make them prove with long-term independent third-party studies that humans are not hurt by this genetic manipulation. Apparently the rest of the Western world does not believe their protestations that all is well. Why are we falling for their profit-driven recommendations?

  16. Will, thanks for being willing to lead on this important issue.

    I’m a strong proponent of having the products that are NOT natural — ie. those that have been genetically modified — bear the responsibility for labeling their products appropriately. You are right that virtually all corn and soy sold right now in the US are GMO. However, just because that is the current state of affairs doesn’t make it right. They have essentially flooded our food supply with these products to the point where they are nearly unavoidable. I don’t think they deserve a reward — the right NOT to have to label what’s in their product — for this selfish and unilateral behavior. I agree with PegKelly above that it thus seems very unfair to put the labeling burden on the smaller operations that grow non-GMO crops.

    If I had my druthers, I would apply the same GMO labeling requirements to meat and poultry products. If they have been raised on GMO feedstock, then I should be able to see that at the point of purchase and be able to seek out alternative products if I so desire.

    Monsanto and the other GMO seed creators are fighting so hard against these requirements because they know current consumers are not particularly well informed and may balk and demand changes when they learn what they are eating and feeding to their children. For these firms, it is all about making huge profit today. They don’t care about any potential longer term consequences for human health of consuming these products — they won’t be the ones in charge by the time we really understand the impact of these products. Also, do you suspect that there is more support among your colleagues for regulating the term “non-GMO” because of the campaign contributions they receive from these big firms and those that lobby on their behalf?

    I truly hope that we will learn that these products are OK for us in the long run. However, until we do know with certainty that they are safe, I want the ability to opt out of this real time experiment on our food supply — which I can do if the product is labeled appropriately.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  17. Monsanto and others have sued nearby farmers when the wind or other agents of nature have spread the seed from their, in my view, contaminated products to the nearby farmers’ fields. They won’t let them use the seeds from produce grown from Monsanto seeds. So it seems to me this is part of a much larger effort to patent food and then charge farmers for it. They are privatizing seed and in a generation or so, no one will be able to grow anything without permission from corporations.

    Is this what we want? At least let Massachusetts stop this here and now.

    (More on this here:

  18. Beyond what Peg says, the most horrific side of relying on GMOs are the threats to environmental and public health. Monsanto’s commodity crop seeds are immune to the effects of Roundup and similar pesticides and herbicides. All that poison affects the ecosystem negatively. These chemicals are likely a major reason for massive bee and bat mortality and other extinctions-in-progress. By saying no to GMO in the supermarkets, we can reverse this odious trend and make agriculture more benign as well as more affordable for small farmers. But the public needs the facts of what and where GMO food is in order to make that happen, and they need to learn about the deceptions that Big Ag uses to keep them misinformed.

  19. Donna/Peg/Geoff,

    Thanks for weighing in!

    Here are a couple of thoughts in response.

    1. A “non-GMO” labelling standard would not place a burden on anyone. Rather, it would allow the sadly few products that can make that claim a commercial advantage.
    2. I do deeply share the concerns that heavy use of pesticides, facilitated by GMOs, is doing real long term health and environmental damage. My guess is that it’s the pesticides themselves that are the most dangerous thing. Clearly there is increasing recognition of this problem as the Department of Agriculture has recently initiated efforts to help bee colonies to recover.
    3. We do have rules about use of words like “organic” and “natural” which as far as I know are working well in the market place. My focus on the an affirmative non-GMO labelling standard is consistent with that approach and is, I believe, the approach most likely to have a chance of state-level legislative success.
    4. I agree we have real federal-level legislative challenge on how to regulate pesticides to protect American consumers and agriculture itself.

    Thanks again for weighing in.

  20. I hear you Will. My first reaction is about a devil being in the details. Without belaboring, I have some operational questions:

    1. “Certified Organic” is a mark administered by USDA under the National Organic Program, as I briefly summarized here a while back. It’s a heavy-duty operation entailing 30,000 words of regs. So I wonder what would it take to create and properly run a “Certified GMO-Free” program” even if Washington did not administer it.
    2. In future, if you see a food product that does not carry a “Certified GMO-Free” label, as many would not for a long period of time, could you confidently conclude that it contained GMO ingredients? It very well might not, but for reasons you can never know the maker failed to have it certified.
    3. Are you willing to consign consumers to limbo while all this sorts out?
    4. So why not press legislatures and Congress to label both GMO and non-GMO products? Doing that might impel Big Food to accept the latter in order to avoid the former.

    As a politician, you should know that letting an industry off the hook is not a key to regulatory progress. We need to fight for healthy food tooth and nail.

    And speaking of big food, here’s the 2009 infographic I used in my article that lays out the organic food industry. As you can see (if you view the image full screen) it is not a just playing field for small farmers.
    Structure of the US Organic Food Industry
    Going back to the land sure isn’t what it used to be.

  21. Thanks, Geoff,

    I think it’s right for people to press Congress and the state legislature for strong measures to address their concerns. As a legislator, I appreciate your advocacy support.

    But it’s my job to do the best thing that is actually possible logistically and politically — to swing for single or the double when I don’t see a fat-pitch over center plate. I’m looking for a way forward when I suggest a focus on non-GMO labeling.

  22. I think it is worth noting in this thread that a product that is labeled USDA Certified Organic cannot contain GMOs. You can read an explanation of the GMO policy on the USDA National Organic Program website as well as the full text of the USDA Organic Program regulations.

    The current USDA policy does not include regulations for products that are in the marketplace that may be GMO free but are conventionally produced.

    Andrew N. Bettinelli
    Legislative Aide
    Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

  23. Hello Will,

    I’m ambivalent, mostly because I am uncertain about the interactions between GMO development and pesticide use, and about the intellectual property issues that sometimes accompany GMO.

    On the other hand, I know of at least two uses of GMO are excellent — there’s GMO citrus in the works to allow the Florida (and other) citrus industries to survive an introduced disease (it’s a spinach gene), and golden rice would be a huge assist in many parts of the world.

    Merely labeling things GMO or not does not get at what I care about. I wouldn’t be opposed to a labelling scheme that allowed the existence of “GMO-organic” — i.e., not doused in pesticides, but perhaps GMO.

  24. I do not feel this is a label that is needed. This is not an area where science has shown any risks what so ever.I would rather focus on areas where there is a real idspute and not just fearmongerin.

  25. Will — your comments are very reasonable. Let those who want to avoid GMOs develop and promote standards and labels to identify non-GMO foods. Let the rest of the world prosper and avoid starvation through scientific progress, for example through the propagation of golden rice. Norman Borlaug is credited with having saved a billion people from starvation. Legislation that discourages GMOs will not affect the typical Whole Foods customer, but it will harm the people who most need better food.

  26. My principal concern is with the environmental effects from structuring agriculture to depend on pesticides. For example, corn is genetically modified to tolerate Roundup so agribusiness can use it in large quantities. The Roundup kills milkweed that used to grow in cornfields, and now the monarch butterflies don’t find the milkweed they depend on. So — how to attack the problem? Ban genetically modified corn, ban Roundup, produce genetically modified milkweed, what?

  27. Without trying to argue the pros or cons of GMO. I do also feel it is a matter of transparency.
    Some of your comments on agriculture may be true nationwide, but in our state Massachusetts we can buy non GMO livestock feed that is not organic and we can buy many products from local farmers that are non-GMO, but not certified organic. Certainly labeling what is non-GMO is a possibility,but that does not jive with what has been passed in other states (VT),I believe. Additionally I think labeling would benefit Massachusetts agricultural producers over typical corn belt states producers.

  28. I am stupefied at the lack of understanding and concern by supposedly well educated and well intentioned citizens. GMO is in and of itself not inherently evil. However in actual practice it is a corporate onslaught on our food supply in the pursuit of domination of markets and huge profits. It has nothing whatever to do with improving the supply of food for humans and is virtually unregulated in the US due to the power of the self same corporations (Monsanto, Dow) to corrupt politicians, government regulators and the courts. The fundamental strategy of the current technology is to insert the genetic material of foreign species (“transgenic”) into plants we eat or that animals eat, animals from which we derive our food products. The inserted genes direct the plant to produce pesticides to kill insects that try to eat the plant. These pesticides have been proven in hundreds of scientific studies around the world to harm mammals. They sicken and kill rodents. They cause digestive tract ailments and cancers. It is not a small risk. These are laboratory animal models for human health and they are fed ordinary amounts of GMO food.
    One really has to be delusional to deny these well known facts and presume oneself safe from harm. All the advanced nations of the world recognize these risks as facts and protect their citizens by refusing to permit GMO plants and GMO contaminated animals as food, or at least requiring them to be labeled as GMO. We in the USA are the only people being exploited and poisoned purely for the profits of giant agrochemical corporations.

  29. I think some of the opposition to GMO’s is hysteria. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that the onus of proving that any given application of GMO technologies is safe lies squarely on the shoulders of those who introduce it. If they can’t do it, tough luck. And a most of the applications of GMO technologies to date have been pretty stupid. For example, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” has produced huge but temporary profits for them, scads of resistant weeds, and left the rest of us wondering what the long-term health and environmental consequences of the vast amounts of this chemical may turn out to be. A far better approach would be to diversity the genetics of the crops and rotate them, with pesticides reserved for emergencies.

  30. Dear Senator Brownsberger,

    I support GMO labeling legislation and want to address two of your questions/points:

    (1) Those who have health concerns about personal exposure to GMOs and chemicals do have the option of buying Organic labelled food. This is a well-developed legal framework. How would GMO labelling actually help people?

    Organic food is much more than simply non-GMO food and I believe it must undergo costly USDA inspection to be certified as such. This makes Organic produce more expensive than conventional produce. Having a GMO level would be a way for consumers to select between different non-organic produce, whether of the same type (say, apples), or between types (they might choose rice instead of corn).

    (2) If GMO labeling is really part of an educational campaign to inform those who are unaware of how modern American agriculture works, are we focusing on the right issue? Many object to GMOs because they facilitate the use of pesticides and herbicides. If chemical exposure is our real concern, shouldn’t we be focused on disclosure of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides?

    A pesticide disclosure bill will not pass the legislature any time soon. I have doubts as to whether even a GMO labeling bill can pass, given the example in California of significant spending in opposition of the bill defeating it. I see GML labeling as a necessary first step and, by itself, it may encourage farmers who can not afford to certify as organic, to change their practices to avoid the GMO label. Ideally, it would be helpful if the label could read something like “GMO for pesticide resistance” or “GMO for drought resistance” etc. to allow people to further understand what the modifications were, but I don’t see that happening either (too complicated).


    1. Thanks, Keren, just a thought.

      The FDA does regulate truth of food claims so that if people make a non-GMO claim it has to be meaningful and accurate. In other words, if a farmer wants to offer non-organic GMO free product, I think the farmer may already have the legal framework in which to do that. I’m hoping to learn about this issue.

  31. I believe we have a fundamental right to know how the food we eat it grown, altered, and processed before we choose to but it.
    Just consider the amount of sugar that is now being added to the foods we eat and the effect it is having on the public health. What else is being added or changed. The only way to protect the consumer is full disclosure of what the food industry is doing to the food we eat.

  32. Consumers need to know if they are buying GMO foods so they have a choice to buy something else. Sneaking GMOs into our food supply is not right, yet that is exactly what producers have done and want to be free to do. Moreover, all GMO producers should be required to follow the “precautionary principle” – i.e., prove that their GMO is NOT harmful. It should not be up to the under-budgeted FDA to prove that a GMO IS harmful. The fact that Republicans want to kill the FDA and the EPA, etc., tells us exactly where the real public interest lies. We all know how profits trump public safety in the values of too many companies. They cannot be trusted. (And I say this as a career management consultant who has worked inside scores of companies.)

  33. I know as GMO company’s such as Monsanto have been testing their pesticides and other chemicals they are simultaneously poisoning the land that they use for such testing. I witnessed 20 years ago the chemicals that were poured onto the land of the beautiful and pristine island of Maui, Hawaii. Today, the residents have fought back by having a ban placed on the continued use of chemicals, through a referendum vote, for farming until testing of the land is done. Other country’s are already banning GMO products.

  34. I am in favor of full disclosure, or at least as much disclosure as I can get, in finance, biotech, medicine, and commerce in general, not just agriculture. Think of all the caveats you see in ads for medications. Drug companies wouldn’t provide them if government didn’t require them. That research in the effects of eating GMO food products is scant and may have been suppressed or trolled does not comfort me either. If they have nothing to hide, why shouldn’t the GMOers come clean to consumers? I could go on but I already have, so ’nuff said.

  35. I represent a pretty middle-of-the-road political standpoint, but am very much in favor of GMO labeling. Please use your voice to represent us in favor of both of these bills.

  36. 1) Roman Games. The state has serious financial problems. The political class distracts our attention by throwing this (non-GMO) corn into the barn yard of public discourse.
    2) With all do respect, I don’t want non-genetically modified organisms in my food. A carrot is a carrot is a carrot
    3) Speaking of carrots, suppose I hand you a carrot. Can you tell if it’s been genetically modified or not. For that matter, is there any food that hasn’t been genetically modified?
    4) If you ever wonder why people don’t have their kids vaccinated just look here. With our nanny-state bureaucracies issuing hundreds of wolf calls like this every week it’s no wonder that people just turn off the governmental squawk box. Sadly, of course, sometimes there is a wolf.
    5) Yep, putting more fine print on every can of peaches is going to a be a new dawn of healthy diets.

    Will, how to you expect people to take government seriously (never mind begin to respect it) when it spends its time generating debates on junk science?

    Cheers, Scott

    1. Scott, I tend to agree that there is some bad science out there about GMOs, but I’m not generating the debate. I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents who are concerned about it. It’s actually a Move On petition.

  37. I have to say, even with the high complexity of the food system as it is, I am in favor of labeling. I follow the money. The big agribusiness corporations are pouring tons of money into campaigns to fight against labeling. Why? Market domination is the main reason, it seems to me. Hiding the truth in order to gain more profit. I want to see openness whenever possible. They already fought to remove the “recommended daily percentage” from the nutrition labels when it comes to sugar. If anything, this is a 1% against the 99% struggle.

    I am on the side of continuing to work to make regulations favor the small farmers, the urban gardeners, the more organic farmers, the less intensive food processing companies, and smaller food retailers. I know it may not seem ‘fair’ in terms of free market philosophy, but the size of the corporations and their ability to influence public policy with buckets of money is a major issue to me. I say make them label everything we can, even if there’s almost no room left on the packaging for the name of the product! (well, almost).

    Yes, I know 90% of buyers will ignore the labels. But at least it gives us a foothold on changing this system.

  38. GMOs have consistently failed to deliver on their promises and have worsened the state of our soils. The Rodale Institute has conducted a 30-year comparison trial of organic vs. chemical farming techniques and found organic to be equal in terms of yield, more resilient to changing climate, and capable of building, rather than depleting, healthy soil. Furthermore, many of the modifications made to GMO crops involve “teaching” the plants to produce lectins from other species, and these have been shown to irritate or inflame human cells, degrade the glycocalyx of the intestinal lining, and cause other detrimental health effects. (A simple example here is prohevein, the primary allergen in latex, which has been inserted into GMO tomatoes as a fungicide.) These are just a few of the reasons above and beyond the basic “right to know”, which really ought to be enough in itself.

  39. The population at large needs to be educated in the need for disclosure regarding GMO’s not unlike the need to disclose factory farmed meats that are consumed. Yes, we do need a law in this state regarding GMO’s.

  40. Your posting re: GMO’s is enlightening and interesting. I would be in favor of a GMO symposium as it would get information out to the community and create a good discussion. I had not thought of some of the issues you raised and they really facilitate thinking.

    Unfortunately, I would not be able to attend to the symposium if it were held due to personal issues.

    I do appreciate your reaching out to the community.

  41. I do not like GM foods for the following reasons:
    1. Increase substantially the use of pesticides. In particular, they increase the use of RoundUp (glyphosphate) which is shown to have adverse effects. The use of pesticides spreads to the water and to the air. And this affects everybody. By the way, Monsanto is also the producer of RoundUp -isn’t this nice?
    2. GM plants do contaminate other plants, including organically raised plants. Thus, GM plants can potentially eliminate many organic choices.
    3. GM products may directly impact human health. For example, they may create allergic reactions. There are several studies that show this and other detrimental effects.
    4. GM plants have not shown to decrease world hunger. Improving food availabilty to poor nations is just marketing hype.
    5. The only reason GM foods exist is to increase the profits of Monsato et al. while the rest of us have to pay for the consequences, such as environmental degradation.

    Labeling is a step forward in educting people in all the downsides of GM foods. Hopefully, if enough people find out about GM foods (as in Europe) there will be such a reduction in the market that they will eventually dissapear from the food supply.

    I encourage you, Mr. Brownsberger, to be a sponsor of the GM food labeling bill. You do care about the environment, so you have to opose GM foods for that very reason.

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