Alternative weekly Portland Mercury comes out against mandatory GMO labeling

It’s endorsement week at the Mercury. That means, for the next few days, we’ll be releasing endorsements in one or more selected races here on Blogtown—building up to our full set of election picks, due out this Wednesday.

Today, we reveal our decision in the race for Measure 92, which would require corporations to label whether food made for humans was produced through genetic engineering. (Hint: If you remember what happened after we announced our stance in favor of fluoridation, what happens next might feel a little familiar.)

After much debate, we’re coming down just on the “no” side of this issue.

The essential problem is dishonesty. Measure 92’s proponents argue it’s all about helping consumers make an informed choice. They insisted in our interview they have no problem with GMOs, and no other motives, ulterior or not, besides the spread of information.

But this campaign—like identical efforts that narrowly failed in California and Washington recently—is quite clearly a bid to get food companies to abandon GMOs, a backdoor attempt at altering our agricultural landscape.

See, the science we possess on GMOs indicates they’re almost certainly safe to eat. Indeed, the Yes on 92 representatives who attended our endorsement interview acknowledged purchasing and eating GMO products all the time. But there’s a clear motive for wanting “conspicuous” labeling on those foods, and it’s not to remind consumers that GMOs are harmless. Without sufficient context, a label is likely to sow doubt or apprehension in shoppers who assume it’s a warning, and that there’s a reason they should be warned.

To be clear, we loathe the state of industrial farming, and acknowledge that GMOs have taken it in the wrong direction. GMO technology in corn and soybeans has increased pesticide use, encouraged monocultures, and led to the rise of pests that are immune to poisons. If you can’t stomach the thought of agreeing with Monsanto, or abetting Coca-Cola, we understand completely.

But there are more straightforward ways of trying to change America’s problematic farming trends than a labeling measure that takes pains to protest it’s not actually out to do that.

Read full original articleAnd the Mercury Decides: Say No to GMO Labeling, Even If It Feels Terrible

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