Organic Consumers Association

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Forbes Writer: GMO Labeling Would Violate Corporate Speech Rights

In a blog post on, Glenn Lammi, general counsel for the right-wing, pro-business think tank the Washington Legal Foundation, goes on the attack against Mark Bittman's recent New York Times op-ed column calling for the labeling of genetically engineered food. Lammi, aside from indulging in ad hominem attacks mocking Bittman's "modestly named iPhone/iPad application, How to Cook Everything," not to mention "the foodie elites and Luddite activists" who oppose genetically engineered food, also indulged in just about every pro-GMO trope in the books.

Lammi extols the supposed virtues of genetically engineered food: how their safety is beyond question, how they increase agricultural productivity and lead to lower prices, etc. As Grist's coverage has explained time and again, none of this is so clear cut. But my favorite bit had to be this:

Biotechnology allows crops to grow larger, faster, with fewer or no pesticides, and in otherwise intolerable climates.

Yes, well, that's only true in Monsanto's marketing materials. As of yet, despite much hype, we haven't a GMO crop that can be grown in "otherwise intolerable climates." The single element in that list with a grain of truth is the "fewer or no pesticides" argument -- though with the rise of superweeds and superbugs, even that "quality" is under threat.

Lammi went on to claim that there is no legal basis for government-mandated GMO labeling. He maintains that legal precedent has established corporations' right not to speak assuming there's no compelling basis for requiring it. In other words, forcing companies to identify genetically engineered ingredients would violate their First Amendment rights!

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