Ask Us Anything About GMOs!

Q:
I find it very interesting how the biotech industry has no problem with giving the farmer a label telling them that their seed that they have purchased has been genetically modified (roundup ready, drought guard & smart stax) and then you even advertise the benefits to the farmer. Also you even Specify to the farmer all the patents laws that it is protected under & warning them not to infringe on any of the following patent laws, clearly indicating they these crops are different! My question is, why do you have so much openness & transparency with the farmer but not with the consumer? If there were any benefits to the consumer then you would clearly support the labeling of GMO foods in the store & even advertise the benefits of eating it! Also you would explain what makes GMO food so much better & different from organic food! From the conception of GE food the biotech industry never had any intent of labeling GE food! Off course people are naturally afraid of something new that they don't understand like genetically engineered foods & so the biotech industry took advantage of this of this fear by not labeling GE food by putting it into the food supply without our consent or knowledge! The more the biotech industry opposes the mandatory labeling of GE foods the more it gives the consumer a reason to suspect that the biotech industry has something to hide!
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A:Expert Answer

 

Your question highlights some important issues, especially in terms of communicating to different audiences. The most direct answer to the first part of your question is that it’s the farmer who is the customer buying the product from the seed company, and our companies can only label the products that they actually sell.  This doesn’t mean, though, that we are intentionally hiding information from the end food consumer.  While we acknowledge that our industry has not done a very good job communicating to the broader public, we have not concealed information from consumers, and we are intensifying our outreach efforts because you are right – people are scared of what they don’t understand. I am too. This is why we created this website – so that you could ask questions, express concerns and receive responses directly from us to help you make informed decisions.

 

To your other points - I have not seen claims that GMO foods are better than organic foods.  In fact, to the contrary, there is little to no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods.  See this 2012 meta-analysis by researchers from Stanford University:

 

For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers and identified 237 of the most relevant to analyze.  Those included 17 studies (six of which were randomized clinical trials) of populations consuming organic and conventional diets, and 223 studies that compared either the nutrient levels or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination of various products (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs) grown organically and conventionally…   

 

After analyzing the data, the researchers found little significant difference in health benefits between organic and conventional foods.  No consistent differences were seen in the vitamin content of organic products, and only one nutrient — phosphorus — was significantly higher in organic versus conventionally grown produce (and the researchers note that because few people have phosphorous deficiency, this has little clinical significance).  There was also no difference in protein or fat content between organic and conventional milk, though evidence from a limited number of studies suggested that organic milk may contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids…

 

“Some believe that organic food is always healthier and more nutritious,” said Smith-Spangler, who is also an instructor of medicine at the School of Medicine.  “We were a little surprised that we didn’t find that.”

 

It’s actually this lack of material difference that means that a product doesn’t require a special label.  However, if a food produced through genetic engineering is compositionally or nutritionally different from its conventional counterpart, it would be labeled as required by FDA.  An example of this would be products made from high-oleic (healthier fat) soybeans, which are meant to provide a direct health benefit to consumers.

 

Finally, while we have opposed recent state mandatory labeling initiatives, we support voluntary labeling and companies’ ability to use marketing claims to differentiate and promote their products. This has been the stance for quite some time, as noted in this answer to another question on our website.

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