Since the voters of California wisely rejected the misguided biotech food labeling scheme Proposition 37, activists have redoubled their efforts to shove these unnecessary notes onto food packaging. Washington will vote in November of this year on Initiative 522 if the bill is not passed by the legislature. Additionally, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Vermont, and Colorado have introduced bills to mandate it. And a federal proposal may soon be offered.
This returns us to a legislative question from a Washington biotech labeling hearing that we highlighted yesterday: “I mean, why should I care?” No credible scientific evidence has shown harm from consuming foods produced using genetic engineering processes, so it isn’t health. A study from last year that purported to show horrific effects from consuming biotech corn was trashed by national science academies, the European Food Safety Authority, and 700 scientists who demanded to see all the data.
Instead, we have unscientific snobbishness that activists would see codified as law. Every major newspaper in California endorsed a “No” on Prop 37, but that didn’t stop Berkeley foodie prophet Michael Pollan from praising it as a vehicle to bring a “food movement” into being. (Whoops.) New York Times columnist and certified food Luddite Mark Bittman waged holy war against pro-biotechnology commentators even as biotechnology researchers strive to improve nutrition throughout the world.
The costs of biotech labeling, if ever adopted, will be pulled from the pockets of consumers in grocery checkout aisles. That might not matter in Pollan’s and Bittman’s respective haunts, but in less fortunate places it does. Additionally, taxpayers might have to foot the bill to defend a law that might violate the First Amendment (quite often not an anti-food activist’s friend, it seems). All sorts of costs and no benefits: Another ingredient in activists’ “secret recipe.”