18 September 2013

Who misleads who about misleading information? YES on I-522, Label GMO foods

Alright this is something that people need to be aware of. In Washington State we have Initiative-522 on the ballot this upcoming election. If passed, we will be the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. Simply put, a genetically modified food is sourced from a "GMO" or genetically modified organism. This means that the organism's genes have been bonded with another type of organism's genes to produce the pros of both organisms. So for example, combining genes from a heat resistant plant to genes of corn to hopefully grow more corn in hotter climates.

Here is a list of financial contributions for and against 522. Note that all the opponents are from out of state.

There is a lot to put here, both in my opinion and just information. I am going to do my best to keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

Currently as 522 is written, it stands with the common GMO labeling laws that more than 60 countries share. That includes the fact that foods like meat and cheese are not labeled UNLESS they are from a genetically modified organism; if the cow was only fed GM grass, then it would not be labeled.

Here is the thing about that, and this is why you HAVE to pay attention to the way that information can be framed. Here is the ad against 522 that has aired recently. You'll note several things, like the misuse of the words "misleading" and "would".

Now, let's take note here. Wording is everything when it comes to this (which is why this seems so tricky). When they say you can't "detect" the genetic engineering, it's because you can't trace the source of where the GMO came from exactly. You don't detect it like you detect how much milk is left in the fridge. The product was not GMed itself (the soy milk), but the soy bean used to make the milk was. Because it is much more common to find GMed soy beans that it is to find GMed beef. Which means that most of the beef you'll be seeing was cut from cows that were fed GMed grain, but the cows themselves were not GMed. SO GET THIS IF YOUR SALMON IS GENETICALLY MODIFIED YOU BET YOUR HAPPY FISH-EATING-ASS THAT SALMON WILL BE LABELED. 

I know what you're saying, that these are the same thing, and they should both be labeled. And I agree with that. Because technically, the soy bean is to soy milk what the grain fed to cattle is to dairy milk. The main difference is a heartbeat; whether the final product is made with a machine or a cow. So yes, I agree that it should all be labeled. But we should not try to get ahead of ourselves here. It makes sense to stay level with the world market regulations. Once we have those in place, we could potentially be a world leader in demanding stricter regulations. But baby steps here people, baby steps. 

Also note how they pit soy milk vs dairy milk in a state who just loooooooooooooooooooves their dairy cows. 

Here Dan Newhouse says "It's so badly written that pet food would be covered, but meat for human consumption would be exempt." 

Once again, we are presented with the dairy/meat argument. I won't attend to it again, just refer to above for the same reason that it is exempt. However, you'll note the use of the word "would". CLEVER CLEVER DAN NEWHOUSE. PET FOOD ISN'T EVEN FUCKING COVERED. THERE IS NO MENTION OF FOOD FOR PET CONSUMPTION COVERED IN THE INITIATIVE. Here they have used the power of the word "would". By the standards set by the initiative there IS pet food that WOULD have to be labeled, because it is sourced from plants that are GMed. BUT IT'S NOT ACTUALLY COVERED, THAT'S THE THING. They use the "would" here to imply that if t passed that pet food would have to be labeled.


And in this instance they have even been able to use the word "would" for both an item that isn't even included in the initiative, and for an item that is (even though it is exempt).

I think that was everything. Did I mention how Monsanto can go suck a cob of GMed corn?

Read the initiative yourself (short and easy read, really)

Mythbusters page from YES on I-522, used for this blog

There are several other arguments that the No campaign has made that are sufficiently yawnful, but I won't bog you down with all of that. Just remember to pay attention to how these ads are framed. They are simply twisting these words around to try and make you think this is something negative, something lacking, and something that doesn't make sense. But it does make sense to be aware of where your food comes from, to expect your food companies to not have anything to hide, and to take that first baby step towards the US labeling food as a whole.

PS Hand in hand with this point is this part of section 3 "(g) Food that has been lawfully certified to be labeled, marketed, and offered for sale as “organic” pursuant to the federal organic foods production act of 1990 and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto by the United States department of agriculture;" This will be something to watch out for, but we can't change that in the state. We have to handle what we can now. 

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