Being a certified organic soap manufacturer means looking at things in a particular way. Being certified means we have to play by specific rules established by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). We’re required to account for all our ingredients and processes, in addition to how we keep our records.
One of the NOP’s rules prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms in anything we make or sell. GMO’s don’t occur in nature. They alter the DNA of organisms that do. No long-term studies have been done to assess their effects on human and environmental health. And the people who are telling us they’re safe are the same ones who told us PCBs and DDT were safe. As a business, we need to stay current on what ingredients contain GMO’s and where our ingredients come from. We also stay up-to-date with GMO’s as an environmental and political issue.
All the Wrong Reasons
The problem with the initiative votes in Colorado and Oregon is that the winners got more votes for all the wrong reasons. Not because their science is good, or they’re feeding the world, not because crop yields are larger, or the need for pesticides has been lessened. None of that has been proven in the ample time there’s been. This has all been claimed in corporate-funded studies, but the problem with corporate science is, it’s marketing, not science.
We Deserve Better
The saddest part of these votes on an issue that affects us all at the genetic level is this: we don’t know, had labeling opposition been forced to stick to the issues and prove their claims, if the vote would have been the same. We deserve better than we got. Here’s a short list of labeling-opponent claims that are simply, provably, wrong:
- There Was Never A Ban. Though labeling opponents changed the argument in an effort to paint initiative supporters as extremists, neither the Colorado nor the Oregon initiatives sought to ban the use or production of GMO’s. They only required that any “prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been produced using genetic modification” be labeled as such And yet, initiative opponents made it sound like the sky was falling. What’s true is that corporate spending to defeat labeling initiatives in four states in the last two years totals over $100 million, for the single purpose of changing the message to one that suits them.
- GMO Labeling Will Not Raise the Cost of All Products. There is easily accessible proof that labeling does not cause prices to go up. Brazil has required GMO labeling for 10 years and costs have not risen. The European Union has had a labeling system since 1997 and a recent report by the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection has found that food prices have not gone up. That report also noted that prices haven’t risen in Norway since they introduced their current labeling system.
- GMO Labeling Will Not Taint GMO Products As Less Attractive. Big-food companies adopted an oddly victimized stance when they claimed labeling will make their products look bad in comparison and people won’t want them as much. Ten years in Brazil, and longer in the European Union, has shown that labeling does not cause consumer preference to go down.
As it turns out, the opposite of all these industry claims is true. Products containing GMO’s do not go up in price when they’re required to be labeled and consumers don’t shun them. Most importantly, consumers are informed and allowed to make their own choices, rather than having choices made for them. In Brazil and the European Union, anyway, real science wins out over corporate science and the choices of consumers are honored, not dismissed through industry spin. For America, this is more like we deserve.