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October 16, 2013 at 11:27 AM
Dangers of food production don’t exist
Initiative 522 amounts to fear mongering by “natural food” manufacturers and retailers [“GMO labeling will cost— but how much can’t be determined,” page one, Oct. 10].
Fact is, we have relied on genetically modified foods since the Neolithic Revolution, enabling the exponential increase in the population and improving the health and longevity of the human race.
Our worldwide staples of rice, corn, potatoes and wheat are only dimly related to their natural wild forebears. Was Luther Burbank, who developed improved strains of peaches, plums, blackberries and potatoes, a mad scientist?
We should not stigmatize the mass of perfectly good food with scary labels that imply danger where it does not actually exist. Consumers truly concerned about GMOs can search for “organic” and “no GMO” labels.
Constance Hellyer, Seattle
October 7, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Consider the environmental effect
Everyone talks about the safety of GMO foods for human consumption, which I believe is still up for debate, but ignores the damage done to our environment due to the increased use of herbicides. [“GMO labeling ads play fast and loose with costs,” page one, Oct. 2].
An article in Forbes on July 2, “GMO Crops Mean More Herbicide, Not Less” provides details of the increased use herbicides with GMO crops. It is not surprising that Monsanto is a big supporter of the “No on I-522” campaign, since they are the supplier of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. The Food & Water Watch found that the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest GE crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased tenfold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012.”
So it is more than the just the question of the quality of the food we eat. It’s also about the overall cost to the environment.
Elliot Gitten, Bainbridge Island
October 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM
Let the consumer make the choice
Human digestive systems have developed over tens of thousands of years. Exposing them to totally new genetically modified foods is a risk we do not need to take. We have not done sufficient testing of these new “Frankenfoods.”
We have enough mysterious illnesses, such as Autism, Parkinsons, Altzheimers and cancer, for which we don’t know the exact causes. At least, let the consumer make the choice. Those who wish to choose the GMO foods, if they are cheaper, may still do so.
Charles Hodson, Federal Way
October 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Initiative focuses on how food is produced, not country of origin
Farmers can be easily be confused with the I-522 labeling initiative. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 25.] I thought it had to do with country of origin labeling. Country of origin labeling laws are a different set of labels that have nothing to do with I-522. The initiative before voters this fall has no bearing on where food comes from, only how it is produced.
People have been brain washed on GMO like it is a monster, which is the farthest from the truth. Now you can pay more for organic foods, but is it really organic? Even organic foods play the label game and as a farmer that is a joke.
Plant breeding, including GMO, is to provide better crops, larger crops and resistance to weeds and viruses, all of which help to feed America and the world.
Now people want to live longer and they have the answer of warning people from GMOs. Don’t be fooled. Vote no on I-522.
Darryl Ehlers, Lynden
September 30, 2013 at 7:17 AM
A commercial experiment
Much has been written, largely by opponents of I-522, arguing that there is, as of now, no measurable difference in the nutritional value of genetically modified foods compared to organic foods. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 5.]
This is a red herring. The real issue is whether or not the public shall have the right to decline to participate as guinea pigs in a huge (but profitable) experiment in human nutrition, the effects of which, like smoking (endorsed by doctors in the past), may be unknown for years.
I believe the public should have the right to choose whether or not to participate in any experiment, whether scientific or commercial.
Bill Appel, Seattle
September 26, 2013 at 7:26 AM
The right to know
The Seattle Times has recently published some articles about Initiative 522, the initiative on labeling food products that contain GMOs (genetically engineered organisms) on the upcoming ballot in Washington state. [“GMO labeling campaigns raising near-record money,” page one, Sept. 25.]
After reading all these articles, I have even more concerns about what is in the foods we eat. Of course I don’t want to spend more on food. Nor do I want costly expenses on businesses. Nor do I wish to be hoodwinked by large chemical corporations who seek to alter a vegetable such as a beet into a genetically engineered “supersugar” seed.
There have been increases over the last 60 years in documentation of cancers, brain disease, morbid obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and even mental-health issues throughout society. It seems plausible that our foods’ ingredients could hold some major keys to our poor health.
One has to ask why a few agrochemical companies would spend more than $11 million in our state to keep us from knowing more information about genetically engineered ingredients in our foods.
I have my own opinion as to why. But I must say, my “right to know” cannot be sold. We deserve to know what is in our food. More importantly, we have the right to.
Julia Sheriden, Seattle
September 25, 2013 at 11:13 AM
It makes sense
The process of plant-genetic engineering is different from traditional plant-hybrid breeding to obtain a desired trait. Genetic engineering forcefully introduces foreign-gene fragments into plant cells to create a new trait.
One pro for genetic-engineering techniques is that the trait can be obtained in weeks or months, unlike the years required for conventional breeding. A con is that hidden changes may occur in the plant cells due to the excess foreign-gene fragments. Some people exhibit allergic reactions to foods containing genetically engineered crop products.
Foods already carry a nutritional label with ingredients such as trans-fats, artificial dyes and sweeteners, preservatives and warnings for other allergens. Labeling genetically engineered foods is a logical approach to alleviate the food-associated problems in sensitive people.
Genetically engineered food labeling is required in 64 countries. Many U.S. food manufacturers already provide genetically engineered food labeling for export to those countries. The system of labeling is in place now.
If Initiative 522 passes, it may actually be beneficial for manufacturers because they can have common labeling and streamline their products’ packaging
Toyoko Tsukuda, Richland
September 24, 2013 at 4:34 PM
Thanks for the article on the Initiative 522 campaign. [“Familiar figures lead fight on GMOs,” page one, Sept. 23.]
Thanks for highlighting the chasm in money, with deep-pocketed anti-labeling forces outspending the pro-labeling side 5 to 1 in California, 3 to 1 in Washington.
I found it interesting that the anti-labeling activist from California who was quoted, Bob Goldberg, claims “the money doesn’t mean anything.” Obviously, the highly paid political consultants working on the anti-labeling campaign don’t believe they are wasting the millions of dollars their clients are spending to saturate our state with advertisements.
Monsanto sells billions of dollars’ worth of GMO seeds and the pesticides that go with them. That’s why the company pours millions of dollars that “don’t mean anything” into anti-labeling campaigns in California and Washington.
No matter what they say, Monsanto’s money means a lot to Goldberg, a biology professor who has professional ties to Monsanto, and it means a lot to the voters of the state of Washington.
Webster Walker, Seattle
September 16, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Informing the public
Products containing genetically engineered ingredients are banned outright in many other industrialized nations, or companies are required to provide labeling that indicates their presence in the food supply. [“Monsanto gives $4.6M to foes of GMO labeling,” NW Wednesday, Sept. 11.]
Initiative 522 is not asking for the more extreme option of a ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), instead empowering people with information so they can make the best food-choice decisions for their family.
If the presence of sugar, salt and other ingredient information is required to be labeled on consumer-food products, why not the presence of GMOs? The answer is simple: shareholder profit for the companies with vested interests in making their technology hidden and invisible in the food supply so people will never have the choice to knowingly purchase or not purchase their products.
There may be many smoke screens and scare tactics to prevent GMO labeling by the companies with vested interest in GMOs, but none of them will ever address the most fundamental issue involving this matter: the right for a population of people to make informed decisions about what food they ingest.
This is a matter of civil rights, which include informed consent. The people have a right to know exactly what nutrients they are eating. Other states like California have tried to seek the right to informed consumer choices regarding GMOs and failed. Please do not let that happen with Washington. We can set the precedent for the rest of the nation.
Adrian Linton, Mountlake Terrace
September 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM
I am definitely against the idea of putting something in my body from companies that won’t bother to tell me what was involved in the genetic alteration of their crops. [“Monsanto gives $4.6M to foes of GMO labeling,” NW Wednesday, Sept. 11.]
However, the whole point of Initiative 522 is not to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods; it is to allow Washington state residents, such as myself, the ability to make an informed decision on what we want to eat.
The real issue of what is happening right now with these major companies donating money is that they do not like the idea of their products being exposed. They are willing to deprive their consumer base of a right to know what’s in their products.
While I understand most consumers who are in an uproar about this issue are organic consumers, these companies are more afraid of losing the markets of the people who are not aware of the genetic alterations involved with their products.
These people must know the reasons behind the initiative, and that these companies will do anything to convince them that the labeling law will cost more money and that their GMOs are safe. Conversely, companies are constantly changing the labeling of their products, and do we ever see a crazy price hike due to these changes? No.
In the end, it comes down to a matter of priorities. I think these major companies are trying to prevent any backlash or loss of sales due to their misguided choices of “creating” their product.
Most consumers are just trying to feed their families with the best ingredients that their money can buy.
In the end, which priority is the most ethical?
Micah Woolman, Arlington
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