Even Republicans And GMO-Friendly Executives Are Caving To Insane Anti-GMO Demands

Mischa Popoff Policy Advisor, Heartland Institute
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Instead of fretting over Sony’s sheepish release of a movie depicting the assassination of Kim Jong-un, consider how your grocery bill will look in 2015 if we accede to the anti-scientific demands of Europe, China, Russia, and Japan.

Long before every American household had a car, most American farmers owned tractors. The radio, GPS, handheld computers; farmers embrace new technology because they work harder and possess a profound appreciation for risk. This is why American, Canadian, Australian and Indian farmers have all embraced genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), crops that address these risks, while using less fossil fuel.

This bothers urban organic activists who claim efficiency on the farm threatens the environment and makes us all fat. They’ve launched 67 initiatives to label or ban GMOs in half the states across America, much to the delight of their comrades in Europe, China, Russia and Japan. In response, pro-GMO executives will spend massive amounts of money fighting these initiatives, only to quietly cave in in the end.

Take for instance the recent decision by McDonald’s Restaurants to reject GMO potatoes; a repeat of what happened back in 2001. Organic activists failed to scare American potato farmers away from growing GMO potatoes the way they scared wheat and flax farmers; so they went after the fast-food industry instead, and McDonalds collapsed like a Happy Meal driven over by an 18-wheeler. And rather than counter with a science-based offensive, the CEO of the U.S. National Potato Council (NPC), John Keeling, decided instead to do nothing.

It gets worse. The future for GMO farming now rests on a tenuous plan to try to magically sweep away all of the organic movement’s anti-GMO initiatives by agreeing to allow GMO foods to be labelled at the national level, voluntarily. If bipartisan support for the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” bill didn’t convince you of the dangers of bipartisanship in Washington, just wait ‘til you see how this “magical” bill being championed with bipartisan support by Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo plays out.

Never mind that federal law already trumps state law in the food biz, and that federal law already fully supports the science of genetic engineering. Executives at Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, The American Farm Bureau, and every commodity group (including the NPC) have decided to write more law, and in essence go for a Hail Mary pass. And they’re not the least-bit worried about the possibility of an interception.

Not only does Pompeo’s bill cave in by allowing GMOs to be labelled – admitting in essence that there might be something wrong with GMOs – it also includes a threshold limit on GMOs. And this plays right into the hands of organic activists. Guess who’s going to sue American GMO farmers when organic crops are found to be above that level, and can no longer be labelled GMO free?

According to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) – a set of federal standards written by the very-same organic stakeholders who now seek to ban GMOs – there is, currently, no threshold limit on GMO content in organic food. Yes, there are strict threshold limits on synthetic pesticides in organic foods. Pesticides are known to cause health problems above certain levels. GMOs meanwhile have NEVER caused any health problems at any level. As such, organic farmers are only prevented from making use of GMOs; they do not lose organic status due to GMO contact, comingling or cross-pollination.

In fact, no organic farmer anywhere in the world has ever lost certification due to GMOs. Not one. As anyone can plainly see, Pompeo’s GMO labeling bill is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist; an attempt to silence organic activists here in America while reassuring our trading partners that we’re willing to see things their way (i.e. non-scientifically) by labeling GMOs even though they’re perfectly safe, and worse, setting a threshold limit on them.

Rest assured, GMO labelling is not the end-game for organic activists. Neither is forcing crops like GMO potatoes onto the back burner, or keeping a crop like GMO Golden Rice from being approved even though it will prevent a half-million kids from going blind and dying every year due to Vitamin-A deficiency in the Third World. These are all mere skirmishes.

The real goal for organic activists is to ban GMOs outright the way DDT was banned in 1972, a terrible move by these very same activists which resulted in more deaths from mosquito-borne malaria in the Third World than were caused by both world wars.

GMO executives and politicians in Washington need to do their homework. Putting limits on GMO content in organic food will act like a restraining order on the most-promising field of agricultural science since Fritz Haber’s discovery of the ammonia synthesis process. There are already more GMO crops on hold than are approved. And if Pompeo’s bill passes, it will put us in line with Europe where no GMO crops are being developed, while also needlessly delaying the approval of life-saving GMO crops like Golden Rice, all based on the false assumption that GMOs pose some sort of threat to organic crops.

Thomas Edison and Nicolai Tesla didn’t work with the gas companies, candlestick makers and the whale-oil industry to find a consensus. They proceeded apace in spite of claims that electricity was dangerous and impractical. Unless we boldly defend the scientific fact that GMOs pose no risk whatsoever to people, animals, the environment and organic crops, people in developing countries will suffer, and the security of our food supply will, for the first time ever, be at risk.

If the fact that Republicans and Democrats see eye-to-eye with politicians in Europe, China, Russia and Japan isn’t enough to scare you away from the plan to accede on GMO labelling, wait until your grocery bill triples, bringing it in line with what citizens in these other countries are forced to pay just to eat.

Organic farming certainly has its place. But not at the expense of progress and human lives. Writing more law is never the answer. Enforcing the laws already on the books is. These laws were, after all, written for a reason. Weren’t they?

Don’t be sheepish when it comes to your food.

Mischa Popoff is a former USDA-contract organic inspector who agrees with President Clinton’s view that GMOs should be included in organic production on a case-by-case basis. For a more detailed explanation of the problems with Rep. Pompeo’s GMO labelling law, visit his website: Is it Organic?