With a ballot initiative that would mandate scientifically irrelevant labels on foods produced using genetically improved crops heading to defeat in Washington State, activists and organic-industry fronts like the Environmental Working Group, the Center for Food Safety, and the Organic Consumers Association are looking for the next state to try to con. Reports suggest Oregon is next on the anti-biotech hit list, so we took to the state’s largest newspaper — Portland’s The Oregonian — to call out activists for their unnecessary scaremongering in the homeland of the chicken-naming crowd.
We noted that activists’ claims that so-called “GMOs” are scary are meaningless, and pointed out that their loudest claims have been debunked. Remember that French study a reporter for the Los Angeles Times called “weapons-grade junk science”? We do:
But while [activists] are waging a long campaign against biotech foods, the evidence that such food is harmful tends to be scientifically pathetic. Take their new “gold standard,” a French study from last year that supposedly showed biotech corn caused cancer. That study was widely disseminated — and was repudiated by the European Food Safety Authority and six French science academies.
It turns out that when informed, consumers recognize that scientific authorities find genetic improvement of food crops safe and realize that activists’ trumped-up “right to know” is just cover for a government-mandated ad campaign on behalf of organics against their non-organic competitors. Indeed, these ballot initiative campaigns have been tied to the $30 billion organic industry:
The leading donors to the campaign in favor of [the Washington State campaign] include a producer of organic soaps, an online retailer of organic foods and supplements, and an organic cereal company. As a reporter for the Seattle Times noted in his write-up on a legislative hearing on the Washington measure, it looked “like an organic-food industry effort to impose a label on its competitors.”
But supporters of science should look to Oregon with hope. Despite the state’s hippie credentials, it has a history of placing science over activist noise:
Washington voters—just as Oregon voters did in 2002 when the Beaver State rejected these warning labels the first time activists put them to a vote—sent an important message with their votes this November on I-522. If activists try again, Oregonians should join the rest of the Pacific Coast in valuing honest science above scaremongering.