In Perspective: 'Right to know' is a sham

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“For all of their name calling of General Mills about keeping consumers in the dark and hiding a dirty little secret, these groups have a secret of their own.” In October, publicity over Washington State’s Imitative 522 increased dramatically on both sides of the issue. I-522 aimed to force all food manufactures in the state to label products that contain genetically modified organisms.

Anti-GM activists cried foul when it was discovered that those who oppose I-522 had once again raised more money than those supporting the measure. At one point, the media reported that supporters of I-522 were asking those who opposed it to quit donating money to defeat the bill.

One of the tenets that supporters kept touting for the measure was that consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. The supposition, of course, is that once they know GMOs are in their food, they will not buy it, or better yet, will demand food manufacturers stop using GMO ingredients.

So, with this situation playing out in the media, it was interesting when Green America and GMO Inside held a press conference in October to launch their campaign “No GMO’s, Cheerios!”

Since I was sent an invitation, I decided to listen in to the press conference. What a treasure trove of information. The four speakers ranted about how biotechnology is not a precision science and “shoots” genes into plants at random, the French scientist Seralini’s research is proof positive that GMOs are dangerous for humans, the precautionary principle is best, food companies have too much control over our food and children’s incidence of digestion problems and other issues have been increasing since GMOs were introduced into the country’s food supply. One of the doctors said eating GMOs is eating pesticides because GMOs are pesticides and should be considered as a poison.

No scientific information was offered during the conference, only opinions. Although the two medical doctors that spoke claimed GMOs were responsible for damaging people’s health, they offered no proof of their findings, just somehow knew that illnesses were caused by GMOs.

The press conference got even more interesting when the media were allowed to ask questions. One reporter asked the panelists why they had targeted General Mills and Cheerios in particular insteadof other cereal or food manufacturers. At first they claimed it was because General Mills is the seventh largest food company in the world and because they produce cereals in Europe without GM ingredients.

They argued that since General Mills can do it in Europe they should do it here as well.

But further into the discussion, they also noted that they had chosen Cheerios because it is typically one of the first foods children eat as they graduate to solid food. Then they went back to consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. When asked if the group wanted voluntary or mandatory labeling, the group stressed that they wanted mandatory labeling, and even claimed they had a survey where 93 percent of U.S. consumers said they wanted mandatory labels. Again, no more details to this survey were given.

Finally, when asked about if it wouldn’t be better to work with the FDA on the labeling issue, Elizabeth O’Connell, campaigns director, Green America, admitted that the goal of these groups is to eliminate GMOs from the U.S. food supply, not simply labeling them.

For all of their name calling of General Mills about keeping consumers in the dark and hiding a dirty little secret, these groups have a secret of their own. Their true agenda is not to provide more information to consumers, it’s to eliminate a technology from the world. And they admitted it. Want to hear it? Go to and listen to the conference for yourself.

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November, 15, 2013 at 08:06 AM

People have a right to know what is in their food. That is not simply a matter of opinion, regardless of what they do with that information. History will come down on the side of those who demand proper labeling, of that I'm sure. Impeding that progress is a temporary event.

Valentine Dyall    
November, 16, 2013 at 04:13 AM

Of course we have a right to know. Each plant and each animals species has tens of thousands of genes and thousands of different proteins. I demand to know what all of them are, listed on the packet. Moreover, I want to know every chemical and every mechanical procedure involved in producing my food. Also on the packet, please. In addition, I want the genetic history of every food stuff in that packet so that I can tell their origins. After all, I have a right to know, don't I? Oh, and by the way: a microscope, please so that I can read the information. I have a right to know which surely includes an ability to read that information, doesn't it?

R.J.(Bob) Evans    
Saskatchewan  |  November, 16, 2013 at 04:49 PM

The problem is that those who are demanding "the right to know" don't seem to realize that with that knowledge comes a duty to understand. And unfortunately none of them are prepared to spend the necessary time and effort to understand.

Kevin Folta    
Gainesville, FL  |  November, 16, 2013 at 06:12 PM

Bob, you nailed it. I've always said, the little mind screams for the "right to know" whereas the critical thinker harbors a desire to learn. Science and reason need to dictate this dialog, and I'm embarrassed by the people I agree with on just about every other issue.

Leslie H    
Walla Walla WA  |  November, 27, 2013 at 04:20 PM

Thank you 'Valentine' for adequately describing what all food labels would look like if "Anonymous" continues to "demand proper labeling". I'm not sure the current labels are IMproper...because as a consumer, I can always find a phone number to call on the packaging if I have questions or concerns about a product. But...if that isn't good enough for "Anonymous" then I think I'm going to switch professions and get into Packaging because it's going to be HUGE (literally and figuratively).

GMOhas GOTtoGO    
December, 12, 2013 at 02:37 AM

Silly article. First, the No on 522 side was a handful of biotech companies and the GMO where the Yes campaign had many thousands of contributers. Of course the NO side had a lot more money... and committed fraud. I agree the Yes campaign went about it too gently. They needed to get tough with facts and there are plenty that demonstrate harm from GMOs. They needed to counter the many false and misleading ads by the NO side. Money was a problem but there is a lot you can do to educate with low funds. Anyway the good news: Connecticut Is First State To Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms!!!!

Australia  |  December, 12, 2013 at 04:41 AM

We do have the right to know what's in our food. We do have the right to know whether it's GMO or not. But you know what really gets me in all this? The fact that these businesses are lying their collective butts off, telling you 'oh it's going to be so expensive to label it all'. Absolute and total BS. There are a multitude of US companies who make products and export them to other countries (like Australia) who require GMO labels. Guess what? They already HAVE labels. They just choose not to use them on the products they sell in the USA.

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