Commentary: We’re getting warmer
No — not global warming. It’s industry that’s getting closer to a strategy on biotech labeling that might finally begin to defuse the fear and loathing anti-GMOs activists are so good at stoking.
A coalition of food-industry businesses and NGOs has announced they are advocating for federal policy that would require labeling of biotech ingredients.
No, not really.
The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CSAF), which represents 29 food processing companies, agricultural trade groups — including the U.S. Beet Sugar Alliance and the National Association of Wheat Growers — and non-profit advocacy groups, made it clear that the GMO labeling for which they’re advocating must be linked to a health or nutrition issues.
Why? Because the Food and Drug Administration should require labeling only when impacts health, safety or nutritional risks.
The coalition is also arguing that FDA should define the term “natural” to establish a consistent legal framework for food and beverage labeling, which frankly is a far better use of its resources than a campaign to “demand GMO labeling,” but then qualify it in the fine print with the “but only when it affects health or nutrition.”
Nobody blames industry organizations for being frustrated by the slew of state ballot measures that have (so far unsuccessfully) attempted to impose mandatory GMO labeling on the food industry. It would be costly, cumbersome and counterproductive.
When any industry is forced to “do the right thing,” there’s no traction to be gained by spinning the outcome as something industry wanted all along.
Worse, the coalition’s policy points are as ineffective as their half-hearted attempt to pretend they’re in favor of GMO labeling. Disagree? Let’s examine the CSAF’s talking points:
- “Many of the most influential regulatory agencies and organizations, including the Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Health Canada, USDA and National Academy of Sciences, have found genetically modified food ingredients safe, and there are no negative health effects associated with their use.”
Like most of the Coalition’s messaging, this one’s close, but problematic. First of all, most Americans don’t know and don’t care when someone invokes the World Health Organization or Health Canada. More importantly, GMO skeptics — not the fervent opponents, but the confused majority — don’t consider USDA or FDA or the AMA to be impartial, objective agencies that only have the public good on their agendas. Rattling off an alphabet soup of agencies has very limited persuasive power.