Farming forum: GMO labeling - good, bad, or ??

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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Oct 3, 2013 10:50 AM CST
Washington State has an upcoming ballot issue regarding mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) on food labels. Without getting into a political discussion of our specific ballot issue (it may or may not be well written, etc.) - I'm looking for input from actual farmers regarding the general issue of whether GMOs should be labeled or not, hoping for a respectful discussion much as we often have on use or non-use of chemicals in the garden. If this is too much of a political hot-button, I will withdraw the question.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 3, 2013 12:40 PM CST
I'm not a farmer, but I'll toss in my two cents.

I favor the mandatory labeling even though I don't think there are any health risks associated with them (yet). I suspect that fewer of the most toxic pesticides and herbicides are used on RoundUp Ready crops than are used on other crops.

I think it will make more people aware that they've been eating food with ingredients from GE'ed crops for years (like corn and soy derived ingredients).

I also think it will be interesting and maybe useful to see products developed that can display "NO GMO ingredients". They will command premium prices until competition drives them down ... but then we'll start to see the real financial costs of avoiding GMOs.

Too bad it isn't economically practical to assay and label every box of cereal with the residual amounts of chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons and organo-phosphates from "traditional" herbicides and insecticides!

As more pests and weeds develop resistances, GE techniques will be used to add more transgenic DNA, and more varieties and greater amounts of insect toxins like bt. I read about one experiment where someone used an experimental 'triple-stacked" bacterial insect toxin.

The GE technology is so powerful that at some point it probably will create things that are detectably harmful to humans or livestock, and I would rather see the precedent established that we DO have to label such things.

Personally, I think the risk of GMOs are in the areas of decreasing crop species' genetic variety, finiancial monopolies, and transgenic gene "leakage" into weeds and other crops.

And I have a question mark in my mind (unsubstantiated by any study I've heard of) that cultivating square miles of crops with gene sequences inserted using Agrobacterium plasmids MIGHT enable some very low rate of conversion into "jumping genes" to accumulate silently until "something" became mobile and spread to other species. Pure SF speculation, but I wonder about thing that only happen once in a billion times. After you have 100 billion blades of modified wheat over the yearss, you would start to observe the rare events.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
Cat Lover Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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OldGardener
Oct 4, 2013 7:22 PM CST
I would like to see labeling, also, but for a far different reason. I, like many others, tend to vote with my pocketbook and mandatory labeling would help immensely when deciding what products to purchase and, hence, what companies/corporations to support.

While researching this topic in the past, I have seen the argument made that mandatory labeling will lead to higher prices due to package redesign. Whether this is a valid point or not .... Shrug!

I hope I remained apolitical. Smiling

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! The WITWIT Badge Raises cows Region: New York Farmer
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Kathleen
Oct 5, 2013 4:55 AM CST
any discussion of the current farming environment is going to wander into political territory, so I think we might as well just agree that this is a political issue. As far as I know, this website has no regulations against political discussion and as long as we keep it civil, there will be no problem.



Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 5, 2013 10:03 AM CST
I agree, Kathleen, and am hopeful we can have a courteous discussion of this rather serious gardening issue. In Washington we are being inundated with so much press both ways, and both sides have heavy support from various farming groups, that it is difficult to sift through it all. On the face of it, to me it makes sense for labeling as a buyer-beware type of thing. For myself, if I knew a product had been genetically engineered I would probably choose another. That may just be a knee-jerk reaction on my part. One thrust of the anti-labeling camp appears to be added cost to the producers, and I'm just not sure how valid that is. Another is that engineered produce is safe and better than otherwise, and I question those claims. I do admit I have not done much research, and as an informed voter I should do so. Hoping for some insight from real farmers.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
So Cal (Zone 10b)
Cat Lover Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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OldGardener
Oct 5, 2013 11:13 AM CST
Deb, here is an article detailing the opposition to GMO's by organic farmers. It discusses the suits filed when non-GMO crops are cross-pollinated with GMO crops and then the farmer is sued for patent infringement. Rodale's uses the estimate that .5-2% of the organic corn on the market is contaminated with modified genes. I have a sister who is an organic farmer and am from the family of a farmer so it is a topic that I know all to well can become rapidly heated. According to Rodale's. as it stands now, the USDA regs mandates that the organic farmer plant a buffer in order to protect their crops from possible cross-pollination; however, if a modified gene shows up in that farmer's crop, they are still legally liable (ie., patent infringement). This may give you some insight as to the opposition's point of view:

http://www.rodale.com/research-feed/organic-vs-monsanto-orga...
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Oct 5, 2013 11:47 AM CST
Speaking from a diet point of view...I have Crohn's disease (which I keep under control through a specific diet) My dad developed Crohn's in his later years also....I do care about GMO labeling, want to see it used and this article says it all for me.....
http://howtoeliminatepain.com/crohns-disease/attention-crohn...
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 5, 2013 11:56 AM CST
For some reason AVG won't let me open that page. I'll try to work around it, would be interested in reading the article. (AVG is not even my normal virus program, not sure how it got on my computer...)

Without getting into the ins/outs of whether GMOs are appropriate, I really can't understand the opposition to simply labeling things so folks can choose what they eat.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Oct 5, 2013 12:07 PM CST
Deb, I have AVG also, but don't have a problem with that page...sorry.
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Oct 5, 2013 12:22 PM CST
You know, an afterthought..it strikes me that if those who do not want to label their products as GMO thought that it would be a good promotion for their product, they would all be in favor of the labels......no?
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 5, 2013 8:22 PM CST
I'm with you Sherry. If the position of the GMO folks is their produce is superior to non-GMO, wouldn't they be the first to slap a label on it? Kind of like when every friggin walnut needed to have that stamp saying it was inspected or some such nonsense. Really made it hard to have a nice holiday basket of nuts. I'm more than a bit put off at how much money Monsanto is throwing at this issue, in oppositon.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Oct 5, 2013 8:55 PM CST
Yep...maybe we'll be seeing labels like...


New! Improved! Now GMO!.......................................lol..
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Oct 5, 2013 8:57 PM CST
Oh, yes! I remember the walnut labeling, now; what happened to that absurdity?
Porkpal
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 7, 2013 2:43 PM CST
>> mandatory labeling would help immensely when deciding what products to purchase

Eventually that may be possible. But I think that, at first, virtually all processed foods will have to say "containing ingredients from GE crops". I read somewhere that for Trader Joe's to sell non-GMO foods, they only have two choices, fully-fully-organic or imported from other countries.

I agree that labeling will motivate people to look for foods where even the sugar, corn syrup and lecithin come from from non-GE sugar beets, non-GE corn and non-GE soybeans, if they can find any.

It may stimulate some distributors to start up non-GE supply chains where they accept only the few remaining non-GE beets, corn and soybeans being grown. And then more of them may be grown.

As I've said, I'm not that worried about those products (but I understand that many other people whom I respect came to the opposite conclusion). But I wish the labeling rules would apply to things like whole ears of sweet corn! That's the point where I would kinda rather not eat the GMO plant itself, if the non-GMO crop is nearly the same price and doesn't have more nasty herbicides.

I can't justify that desire based on anything scientific. I guess just random un-trusting conservatism. Ten or twenty years after each crop was introduced, and there are many "real world" studies about humans eating lots, or none of each crop ... THEN I won't mind GE corn either.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
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Horseshoe
Oct 13, 2013 10:17 AM CST
Bonehead (I LOVE that handle!! Smiling ), Deb

I'm really glad to see a Washington State resident reaching out for more information on this topic. The actions in your state are being followed all over the country, on this issue anyway.

I've been considered a farmer for 30-plus years and until the government buy-out of the word "organic" was considered an "organic farmer". However, my thoughts and perspective don't necessarily come from the point of being organic or not. Although I don't do as much crop growing as I once did I still follow the issues that pertain to healthy growing/healthy eating/healthy Earth.

I'm with many others...actually the majority of Americans...definitely label food stuffs as GMO. And you're right, if the GMO products are so safe then why are the GMO promoters shying away from bragging about them on their labels and advertisements?

Most of the countries in Europe don't allow GMO products on the shelves. The countries that do have mandatory labeling laws. I'm sure we all remember when our US products didn't have ingredients listed much less the amount of calories, fats, nutritional info, etc. Nowadays that info is just a given, so why not easily add non-GMO or GMO, eh? Surely the unwillingness has nothing to do with increased labeling costs; companies change their labels regularly to attract or educate the consumer to "pick me! pick me!"

Just my two-cents worth on the labeling topic. I won't get started on the other controversial areas of GMO crops, growing them, their effect/affect on the surroundings since that is a whole nuther ballgame. (And also cus I'm having a terrible time typing with a Popsicle stick taped to a broken finger! Sad ) (On a good note, that sure was a delicious Popsicle I bought, just to get the stick! Rolling on the floor laughing )

Shoe (waving to the Farming Community)
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 13, 2013 1:33 PM CST
Thanks, Shoe, and I appreciate keeping the discussion focused on labeling rather than the bigger concept of whether GMOs should be used or not.

I think more information is always better than less. Including information on processed foods whether they contain GMOs or not is a slam-dunk yes in my opinion - similar to disclosure of high fructose corn syrup, MSG (although some tricksters still hide that with creative terms), types of fat, and all the other useful information that is now required for those who pay attention. Much as I love the convenience of prepared foods, one gander at the ingredient list is usually enough to convince me to put together a meal from whole foods. I also think GMO labeling should extend to the produce aisle. I like that my local grocery store now posts the country of origin in the produce aisle, and is placing organic produce side by side with non-organic. I especially like when produce is labeled 'local' as I live in a rural community and support my local growers. Seems it would be simple enough to just include on the bin label where the produce came from, organic or not, GMO or not. Give the public accurate information and let them choose what they want to eat.

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Kathleen Tenpas
Wickwire Corners NY (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! The WITWIT Badge Raises cows Region: New York Farmer
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Kathleen
Oct 14, 2013 10:12 AM CST
I've pretty much stayed away from this, because it does so often become farmer bashing, and while we don't plant GMOs, we do feed our animals 'conventional' corn, in very small proportions and we are farmers.

The whole expense argument is moot, as Shoe said. They change their labels almost as often as the fashions change, so why would it be difficult or expensive to just add GMO or non-GMO? I think it borders on the ridiculous.

On the other hand, how much government do you want? How many more laws can we stand?

Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Oct 14, 2013 10:33 AM CST
Good points, Kathleen. I have sent an email to my local grocery store suggesting they voluntarily label their produce bins - as Rick Corey noted, that is of more importance to me than the packaged/processed foods. I already assume those are chock full of stuff I probably don't want to feed my family and generally steer away from them.

I in no way intended to bash any farmers, if I've stepped on any toes, please accept my apology.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
Image
Horseshoe
Oct 14, 2013 11:14 AM CST
Howdy all...
And a special greeting to Kathleen! Hope you and Stan are doing well!

Bonehead Deb...I don't think you've stepped on any farmer's toes. No worries.

And good to hear you are buying local when possible. That alone will narrow down the highest percentage chance of buying a gmo crop, at this point in time anyway. Plus you'll be getting more bang for your buck as far as freshness and highest nutrition from a fresh-picked product from a local grower. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir though as no doubt many folks already aware of that.

Happy Day to All!
Shoe (stranded inside on a rainy day and "forced" to clean the shoffice, finally!) Smiling
{edited cus my broken finger doesn't speed type too well, yet}
[Last edited by Horseshoe - Oct 14, 2013 2:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Oct 14, 2013 12:39 PM CST
Shoe.....
I always enjoy your posts...regardless of what you're talking about......

Sherry (loading moving trucks today to move 900 miles North.....)....no rain here, but sure looking forward to it this Winter....
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."

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