How can August 2014 be the anniversary of GMO (genetically modified organisms)?
It isn't. It is the anniversary of my founding of an organization to label genetically modified organisms in food in the United States. It is the 20th anniversary of my founding of The Project to Label Genetically Engineered Food.
In the Spring of 1994 I was doing interviews for my public radio show in Boston. I was having dinner with a number of brilliant Harvard intellectuals. The subject of GMO food came up and I was dismayed to hear the argument that GMO was no different than traditional crop selection. I couldn't believe the mistake these brilliant people were making. Bad metaphors make bad policy. Since they were spouting mainstream wisdom I knew I had to do something to stop that.
The argument that GMO is no different from traditional breeding is still heard from defenders of GMO (such as Henry I. Miller). It is false.
There was never a way that a traditional breeder could put a banana gene in a pig. GMO includes fish luminescence genes in tobacco plants. Picture what the sex between the species of pigs and bananas and fish and tobacco plants must look like.
When I started my organization I was delighted to find that there were already two organizations in the United States opposed to unlabeled GMO food. One was Consumers Union and the other was a consumer science organization in Washington DC.
Very quickly we found allies in our battle; we found support in the organic food movement. I knew most of the leaders in that world, having helped start some of the founding organic associations in the Briarpatch.
We joined forces in pressuring the Department of Agriculture to define ‘organic food’ as excluding GMO. We had hundreds of thousands of letters submitted in the comment period. We won that battle. Food in the U.S. labelled ‘Organic’ can not contain GMOs.
I disbanded my organization. But I still have envelopes from that era.
My concern was that there could be harmful human effects of GMO food. With a distinction between organic and nonorganic food I knew it would be easy to detect any low level medical or related problems in the population. Some people might have the problem, but organic purists wouldn’t.
It is now 20 years later, we have had no problems whatsoever with GMO food, which a billion people consume everyday. To me that is sufficient evidence. I still hear crap about GMO seeds getting into non-GMO fields or harming some imaginary butterfly or bird. Not a shred of evidence supports any of this.
Nevertheless, all the work I did, all the effort built into organizing has been washed down the drain by the low level of intelligence of the anti-GMO, anti-modernity Left. They are still attacking GMO. Much of the most successful opposition to GMO comes from the anti-commerce anti-modernity Europeans.