Letter to Editor: GE Foods Show No Signs of Slowing
By Gary Hirshberg (Chairman, Just Label It)
Robert Paalberg’s essay, “The World Needs Genetically Modified Foods,” claims that genetically engineered foods have been forced out of the U.S. marketplace by consumer demand. This is nonsense. To the contrary, GE foods have shown dramatic growth in the American food supply over the last 16 years, now constitute the vast majority of our corn and soy, and show no signs of slowing.
Scientists are already sounding alarms over the rising use of herbicides that have accompanied GE crop growth. Now GE salmon have been engineered to produce growth hormones year ‘round and GE apples have been engineered to keep from browning. These foods, on the fast track to approval, couldend up in the food supply without any independent or long-term studies of human health or environmental impacts.
Paalberg argues that GMO naysayers are undermining efforts to feed the world’s people. Yet recent data suggests that some GE crops actually generate lower yields than non-GE varieties.
For example, field trials of GE soybeans revealed a 50% yield drop vs non-GE varieties. Early field tests suggest that a new GE corn seed designed to withstand drought will increase corn productivity by just 1% – exactly the same as traditional breeding and farming practices.
If the impact of a mandatory labeling law is, as Paalberg says, “surprisingly small,” then why not give consumers the right to choose what they are eating and feeding their families? The science is already mixed. Until we know more about the impacts of GE foods, labeling seems the prudent course.