Letters: Labeling genetically modified food
Regardless of the safety and science behind genetically engineered foods, the unnatural growing process should be enough to necessitate proper labeling.
Displaying such a label does not automatically insinuate that the product is dangerous and should not be consumed. The long-term health ramifications are debatable. Either way, this should not be the deciding factor in one’s decision on Proposition 37.
After all, if scientists widely concur that genetically modified crops are as safe as any and in some cases even make for improved environmental conditions, would not people then perhaps buy a product merely because it displays this label?
Daniel A. Cowell
Proposition 37 would serve only to scare off people from worthwhile crop improvements. Genetic modification does to plants in a short time only what natural selection or selective breeding does slowly.
Every plant and animal, good and bad, is a product of genetic modification by Mother Nature. Every living thing has been genetically modified from some predecessor. It is called evolution. Man has been modifying crops for thousands of years.
Corn was modified by Native Americans over hundreds of years to the food we eat today. The potatoes we eat were also modified by Native Americans through selective breeding. The main difference between this and genetic modification is the number of steps between the donor plant and the final product.
The article presents an exceptionally one-sided view of genetically modified foods. As a medical research scientist who published a comprehensive, peer-reviewed critique of genetically modified food safety testing, I can state confidently that it is false to say such foods and the toxic chemicals they require are extensively tested and proved safe.
No producer-independent safety testing, long-term or multigenerational rodent studies or epidemiological studies have been done to support the hypothesis that these foods are safe. However, there are published data demonstrating toxicity to rodents and the environment. There are thousands of these products on grocery shelves but no way to trace back any adverse health impacts in the absence of labeling.
There is no scientific evidence that any genetically modified food is safe for long-term consumption, and labeling must be required.
The writer is a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
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