Can you imagine grocery shopping and having the supermarket manager tell you that the labels had been removed from all the products on the store’s shelves? Unthinkable! Unimaginable!
So why then is there such intense opposition to the idea that product labels should include disclosure of any genetically engineered ingredients? After all, public opinion overwhelmingly favors GMO labeling. A 2011 New York Times poll found 89 percent of Americans want labeling of GMO products. Separate polls conducted last year by MSNBC and ABC reached similar results: Nine of ten Americans favor mandatory GMO labeling.
Accurate product disclosure allows consumers to make informed choices. When it comes to food, we should be concerned and aware of what we are putting in our bodies and in our children’s bodies. Who could argue with an idea so obviously worthwhile?
Agricultural and chemical company interests and their allies oppose GMO labeling, that’s who. And these companies, led by industry bogeyman Monsanto, have the money, the political and lobbying muscle and the financial interest to fight against the popular will.
How many aces should one player be allowed to have?
As the New York Times reported last week, the EPA has denied a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to revoke approval of the herbicide 2,4-D. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/10/business/energy-environment/epa-denies-request-to-ban-24-d-a-popular-weed-killer.html. A story about an environmental advocacy group coming up short – - unfortunately, we have heard that tale before.
Further down in the Times’ article, however, comes the real story that explains what happened here and also why efforts to limit environmental and human exposures to toxic substances is such a challenge.
That sounds like the name of a rock band, I know, but the headline actually refers to an important scientific struggle over the health effects of exposures to even relatively small amounts of dangerous chemicals.
BPA (found in plastics). Dioxin (highly toxic byproduct of various industrial processes). Atrazine (a widely used herbicide).
Dangerous chemicals, right? One would think that it would be easy and obvious to associate these well-known chemicals with harmful consequences to human health and also to wildlife. When there is a well-funded, highly motivated lobby resisting the weight of scientific findings, then that lobby can create a scientific debate.
Who could possibly be interested in resisting that highly toxic chemicals, even at lower doses, can have adverse health effects? Why, the chemical industry, of course.