Vail Daily column: GMO’s a bogeyman for big biz | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily column: GMO’s a bogeyman for big biz

Don Rogers
My View
Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Practically every form of life has been genetically modified.

I say practically because who knows, maybe an algae or alligator or other living amalgam we haven’t discovered yet has gone unaltered since before the dinosaurs died out.

Of course, our friends and neighbors who would have our food labeled for presence of GMO distinguish between natural change of the sort that shaped our branch of the primate tree that once included Neanderthals and the careful displacements of DNA in labs.

Manipulation of the sort that enhances nutrition, pest resistance and profitability of, say, corn is dangerous devil’s play at the root of genetic code to this way of thinking.

The genetic modifications inherent in HIV, SARS and Ebola, by contrast, are natural.

Now, to my way of thinking, the genetic modification that gave us Labradoodles is a high crime of its own. But the anti-GMO folks don’t seem to have a problem with this sort of modification through breeding. Maybe their sense of “natural” and mine differ here.

The current consensus of respectable or mainstream science is that no evidence has surfaced that food grown from lab-enhanced DNA is any different than crops whose DNA was manipulated the old-fashioned way for tens of thousands of years since humans began agriculture.

The cautionary adjectives are necessary because that great god “science” is like the Internet. The quality of the information depends on the source, and a lot of “sources” alas are pure crap.

Speaking of the food industry …

They’ve fully earned all of the suspicion that has led to drives in several states for GMO labels for large-scale manipulations of food that have little to do with DNA and everything to do with diluting what’s valuable in favor of less-healthy products that are cheap.

Sawdust, mouse turds, pink slime run through ammonia, you name it … that’s the root of this tilt at windmills. Today’s GMO Quixotes really are fighting something else.

Naturally, the industry resists a sensible step, whining about the expense and confusion in tracking the sources of food stuffs. Fear of GMO modification at the level of science is nonsense, but there’s something here to helping our large food purveyors understand where their products actually come from.

Labeling the plants and animals whose DNA was manipulated in labs should amount to little more than the cost of the label for companies that know as they are supposed to where their products originate. A little less in packaging flourishes should cover the cost just fine.

So while I find the fear of GMO ridiculous, I’ll vote for the labeling. The food industry can handle it. More information never is a bad thing in our lives.

And, well, they pretty much deserve this vote of no confidence.

Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2920.


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