Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

July 18, 2014

LETTERS: GMO letter writer gets it wrong

GMO letter writer gets it all wrong

Indiana Farm Bureau applauds Rep. Todd Rokita for co-sponsoring HR4432, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. A letter in the July 10 issue of the Kokomo Tribune criticized HR4432 and Rep. Rokita, implying that it would reduce the information available to consumers.

However, what it actually does is:

• Inform consumers, giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to establish federal standards for companies that want to voluntarily label their product for the absence or presence of GMO ingredients so that consumers understand their choices.

• Provide consistency by allowing the FDA to define the term “natural” for its use on food and beverage products so that companies and consumers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform consumer choice.

Establishing a federal standard defining GMO foods is important, as many states have different definitions. If Indiana producers want to sell to California consumers and they choose to call their food GMO-free, this law would give them a common standard.

At this issue’s core is informing consumers. There are many companies that voluntarily provide information on GMOs in their products. The beauty of the free market is that if a consumer doesn’t want to purchase food from a company that doesn’t disclose this information, he or she doesn’t have to.

In the 30 years since genetically modified crops were introduced on a broad scale, allowing farmers to raise crops using fewer resources and fewer chemicals, it’s estimated that 7 trillion meals using genetically modified ingredients have been consumed worldwide.

In all that time and in all those meals, not one death or illness has been attributed to GM ingredients. Not one. Not anywhere.

That’s one reason why a mandatory label for foods made from GM ingredients isn’t a good idea. The FDA’s job is to warn consumers when something is unsafe — not unnecessarily scare them, which is what mandatory labeling would do.

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