GMO foods don’t need labeling, farmers say

va-farm-bureauOn a recent WWBT TV 12 news segment, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation representatives explained that genetically modified crops are no different from conventional crops.

“There have been over 2,000 studies on gm foods before they’ve actually gotten to the marketplace, to prove their safety,” said Lindsay Reames, VFBF assistant director of governmental relations.

That’s why Reames, on behalf of Farm Bureau, spoke out against mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

“A mandatory label from fda would be a false impression to the consumer that there’s actually something different about that product,” said Reames. “Because GMOs are the way that seed was bred, it doesn’t change the nutritional composition of the end product.”

And farmers say they have better yields with genetically modified seeds.

“You have more of a guarantee of a productive crop,” said Farm Bureau producer member Jeremy Moyer of Oakmulgee Dairy Farm in Amelia County, which grows GMO corn and soybeans. WWBT also interviewed Moyer.

GMO seeds have been used for nearly 20 years to produce commercial corn, soybeans, squash, alfalfa and sugar beets. GMOs are bred at the DNA level to resist pests, disease, herbicides or drought. They help farmers grow more food with less cost and less land and resources.

But some consumers, and stores like Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market in Richmond, want GMO foods to be labeled.

“I think the big issue is when you play with life, play with the DNA structure of what you’re eating, people wonder, ‘Are there going to be unforeseen consequences to that?'” said Kirk Schroder, a food advocate for Ellwood Thompson’s.

There have been no scientific studies to back up Schroder’s concerns, Reames said.
Much produce and milk—from cows that eat GMO corn—and about 80 percent of packaged foods are genetically modified. Labeling GMO foods “would be a nightmare,” Moyer said. “As a dairy farmer, our milk is pooled with other farms’ milk, so we would have to pay for different trucking, or increased trucking costs.”

But GMO opponents say costs shouldn’t outweigh public health. “I don’t know that economic argument supports the fact that you shouldn’t know what you’re eating,” Schroder said.

Reames argued that people do know what they are eating and a number of companies already label their products based on production practices. Public health is of great concern, she said, but GMO products have been tested and verified by the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and have been proven safe.


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