The Physics Police

The Physics Police

Monday, January 6, 2014

On GMO Labeling

Gary Patton argues that GMO foods should require a label because they are unnatural.

First of all, this is special pleading because none of the crops we grow are natural. They have all been artificially selected for desirable traits, some over thousands of years. Natural wheat is called grass, and natural corn is called teosinte. Also, many seed lineages were produced by irradiation to increase the rate of mutation, etc.

Not that it mattes, because food labels aren't there to tell you which technologies were used to produce your food. They're purpose is (and should remain) to convey information relevant to human health. Labeling something "unnatural" does not imply the thing is bad or dangerous. It tells you nothing about the impact of that thing on human health. So the fact that GMO is unnatural is no reason to mandate labeling.

Gary makes an argument for application of the precautionary principle. This puts the burden of proof on the GMO seed producers to demonstrate that there is no increased risk no risk to human health from GMO over conventional. I agree.

As it happens, the precautionary principle has indeed been satisfied by decades of careful study, finding approved GMO crops as safe as conventional. The burden of proof has been lofted by hundreds of scientific studies showing this clearly and definitively.

So say the European Union, World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (Source)

Since the risk to human health from GMO is equivalent to that from conventional, it needs no label.

Gary ruins his case for GMO labeling by falling back on the appeal to nature fallacy, and by denying the scientific consensus.

Gary, we've got a problem!!

No comments:

Post a Comment