This morning the NY Times editorial board weighed in on the recent ballot initiative in Washington State, which would have required foods to carry labels if they contained any genetically modified ingredients. The initiative failed in Tuesday s election by a 54 to 46 percent vote although many ballots (all mailed in) are still uncounted.
As the editorialists correctly noted, The aim of the measure is to discredit crops that use genetic engineering, though the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that genetically modified foods pose any more risk than conventional foods. [emphasis added]. Continuing in a logical vein, they noted that it would make more sense to let food companies decide if and how to inform consumers.
While we at ACSH agree that the real goal of the pro-labeling advocates is to discredit genetically engineered foods often for their own benefit the editorial neglected to mention that consumers, by buying organic foods, can already avoid GMO-containing foods.
The editorialists also suggest that the best move would be for companies to label foods voluntarily, which rather contradicts the advice to let the companies decide.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava s take on the editorial: It seems that the editorial board wants to have it both ways let the companies decide, but urge them to label voluntarily. A more reasonable approach would be to encourage those manufacturers and marketers who avoid GMOs to label their products as GMO free. We here at ACSH think that the correct basis on which to label any sort of food or ingredient is on the content of the food not how it is produced. If there is no proven harm or reasonable expectation of harm and there is none for GMO foods then there is no reason to label them.