Reply to October 20th Op-Ed
The recent opinion article “GMO labeling is not in our best interests” was inundated with discombobulated falsehoods, in a blatant effort to mislead and confuse the general public regarding genetically modified foods (GMOs). This piece was written in response to Mayor Steven Fulop’s September 23rd Op-Ed calling on legislators in Trenton to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law.
I would like to address and clarify a number of issues Gal Hochman and David Zilberman tried to put forth as fact, even though they are fiction. The adoption of GMO crops has been a nightmare for the environment in many ways. As weeds became resistant to the effects of pesticides sprayed on them and GMO crops, more and stronger toxins became necessary in an effort to control them. Weeds and bugs mutated from exposure to these toxins; they are now referred to as superweeds and superbugs. If this sounds like a horror movie, it’s because it is. Any citizen can find proof of this information on the USDA website. Superweeds are glyphosate resistant weeds, they can grow up to three inches a day, and require the use of ever increasing amounts and potencies of toxic herbicides to control. GMO crops are the food source in the midst of all these superweeds, also being sprayed with toxic chemicals. This is our food.
Vermont has indeed passed a unilateral labeling law however, contrary to what the authors say, the state is not alone. In 2013, Connecticut passed a GMO labeling law, and in January 2014, Maine followed suit. Connecticut and Maine's legislation both require four neighboring states to pass similar legislation before the laws take effect. There are now three states all together. A number of regions in the United States have independently voted to become GMO-free, for example the San Juan Islands of Washington state and four counties in California. Currently, Los Angeles is going to vote on an ordinance banning the sale and growth of seeds and plants bearing genetically modified organisms.
The people are speaking and legislators are listening. There are currently 35 bills pending in 20 states on GMO labeling, with votes coming up in November on mandatory labeling in Colorado and Oregon.
The Cornell University study the authors cite saying a family of four would pay $500 more per year in grocery bills due to GMO labeling is patently false. According to Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, the true cost would be about $2.30 per person,"less than a penny a day for each consumer." Furthermore, take note that packaged food labeling is constantly undergoing change for a variety of reasons. Think “New and Improved!”
Finally, I challenge the authors to show that there is any demand at all by consumers for GMO products, when the the “Non-GMO” label is the the fastest growing in the food industry, up 12% every year for the past three years, with no sign of abating. This is unprecedented growth! Global sales of non-GMO products are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent in the next five years, with a market valuation of $800 billion by 2017, according to Packaged Facts. The real demand will continue to be evidenced at the cash register.