A Publication of WTVP

GMO… What comes to your mind when you see those three letters in unison? Are you fearful? Would you want to eat food that lists genetically modified organisms among its ingredients?

The fact is that nearly all consumers eat GMO products each and every day. In short, a GMO is biotechnology that speeds up the plant breeding process. I am venturing to guess that more than 90 percent of the corn and soybeans grown in Peoria County and throughout Illinois are GMO products.

Today’s corn and soybean seeds are bred to tolerate herbicides and control insects and diseases so the plants can produce at their maximum potential. Biotech products are not significantly different from conventional ones, and they have been researched, grown and consumed for nearly 30 years. During that time, not a single allergy, sickness or reaction has occurred, and thousands of scientists have attested to their safety.

On November 6, 2012, voters in California had Proposition 37 placed before them. In the world of agriculture, this was significant. In the world of consumers, it had even more significance. If passed, Proposition 37 would have required labeling on raw processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food was made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specific ways. With more than 12 million voting, California voters said “No” to Proposition 37 by a margin of 51.5 to 48.5 percent. In my opinion, those who understood the potential negative results that could come with its passage voted ”No,” while voters who just read a couple of “scare-tactic” sentences about the initiative likely voted “Yes.” It was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. From numerous editorial quotes in California newspapers, Proposition 37 reads like it would have benefited trial lawyers the most had it passed.

Similar legislation may come before voters in other states. If it does, please study the issue and make an educated decision.

Taxpayers pay employees of the Food and Drug Administration to monitor our food supply. The FDA provides science-based labeling guidelines for all food and drugs produced and sold in the U.S. The Illinois Farm Bureau, an organization of 80,000 farmers, supports the FDA’s guidelines, particularly that no special labeling is required unless a food is significantly different from its traditional counterpart. The Bureau also supports the FDA’s use of nutritional information on labels, particularly where the health effects of an ingredient are medically proven (low salt, no trans fat, contains caffeine, calcium-enriched, etc.).

For California or any state to mandate labeling that thwarts FDA guidelines not only belies the stature and credibility of one of the world’s most respected food regulatory agencies, it would increase food costs, confuse consumers and do nothing to improve food safety. It’s simply dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets to pay for additional regulations. Once a new law is passed with increased regulations or higher taxes, how often do you see those regulations or taxes lessened? Once taxpayer money finds a home, it’s usually safeguarded, and the walls are reinforced.

If, for some reason, you want to avoid GMO products, eat organic. The organic industry does not include biotech production methods in its certification. Moreover, by taking away the existing option provided by organic farmers, mandatory labeling of GMO products would reduce organic market share and potentially decimate a market that farmers and the food industry have worked hard to build. iBi