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Organic Consumers Association

Putting Fear on the Table--Industry Lies and Damn Lies About GMOs and GMO Labeling

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News page.

The science is clear and unequivocal, at least according to folks on one side of the argument. They can't understand why there's even a debate.

And yet the skeptics persist, certain in their belief that the scientists are either biased and pushing an agenda - or just plain wrong.

Sound familiar? The arguments may resemble the climate change debate, but the issue in this case is genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Genetic engineering has been part of Americans' food supply for almost two decades now. Hundreds of scientific studies have examined the safety of GMOs and none have found a link between consumption of foods with GMOs and adverse health effects.

Still, anti-GMO crusaders continue to push for new laws requiring labels for genetically engineered foods. Washington state is the current battleground.

Initiative 522, one of two initiatives on the ballot in November, would require labeling on some foods containing genetically modified ingredients. (Numerous exemptions would create a patchwork labeling system, confusing consumers and giving an advantage to some producers.)

Proponents say it's about the people's "right to know," and that it's a simple matter of putting a label on a package of food. The campaign emphasizes the need to "label genetically engineered foods."

But the irony of I-522 is that the measure is itself mislabeled. Anyone who spends even a short amount of time looking into it can see that it's part of a larger movement - fueled by emotion and fear - aimed at stopping genetic engineering.

Alex McGregor, president of the family-owned McGregor Company, a Colfax-based agricultural supply firm with roots in farming dating to 1882, calls I-522 a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

"Under the guise of letting people know, it's a campaign that runs in the face of sound science," McGregor said.

AWB came out against the measure this spring, siding with opponents who argue not only that it runs counter to science, but would also make food more expensive for consumers and food processors - without doing anything to improve food safety - make it harder for Washington growers to export their products, and open the door to frivolous lawsuits.


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