Is non-GMO label a 'declaration of opposition to farmers, science?'

| | March 3, 2017

[Editor's note: Trevor Charles is a microbiologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada.]

[M]y tweet about an example of a misleading Non-GMO label garnered a reasonable amount of attention.

I got a response from a customer service representative on Monday morning, and they followed up by email. Here is the main part of their message:


Their response is more or less what I expected. Doubling down seems to be the name of the game these days.

Although it was a somewhat busy day for me, I thought it important to respond immediately. Here is what I wrote:


I am hopeful that ACE Bakery will take me up on the offer to put them in touch with some of the wonderful organizations that can help to tell the many stories of agricultural innovation. We need more principled companies to step up to the plate in a major way.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Despite what the marketing department says, the non-GMO label IS a declaration of opposition to GMO science

  • Bill Pilacinski

    I received a similar response from MinuteMaid about the non-GMO label prominently displayed on their orange juice – and also present on every other brand of orange juice in my supermarket; regardless of the fact that there are no GE oranges and their “pure” orange juice label showed no HFCS added. It will be interesting to see what happens when a GE solution to the citrus greening disease is developed, and saves the citrus industry as the technology did for the papaya industry in Hawaii.

    • WeGotta

      Did you also contact Kelloggs to ask why they use colorful boxes and cartoons to sell sugary cereal to kids (even going so far as to put “KRAVE” on a box of s’mores cereal) when science clearly shows that too much sugar is the cause of some of our most devastating health problems?

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        that was as stupid as it was irrelevant.

  • Alokin

    It’s not always a supplier’s call. Some retailers like Whole Foods are committed to offering as many Non-GMO Project Verified products as possible, and demand, if at all possible, that suppliers participate in that program. Whole Foods also executes supplier agreements that restrict the use of legal, EPA-registered pesticides based on “links” to harm that are not supported by credible evidence. And then, of course, there is the whole farce of organic being more nutritious and safer. When it comes to labeling, don’t expect much of it to have anything to do with valid, science-based claims.

  • In the UK I have had similar responses from our supermarkets. One express disbelief that I actually wanted to buy GMO products but the others simply said they were responding to customer demand by not selling them.
    HOWEVER on both sides of the Atlantic it is possible to find products in stores either containing or derived from GM crops; in particular cooking oils and ready prepared pies and other meals.
    It MIGHT be worth pointing this out to stores to test their reactions?

    • Aguirre15

      I do agree with you but I’d recommend not bringing refined cooking oils into the argument because they don’t contain DNA thus making GMO, non GMO irrelevant.

      • You are absolutely right but it still means that GM varieties would be grown. Many people do not iunderstand the difference between ‘conventional’ plant breeding and more advanced techniques.

  • WeGotta

    Here is my response to your response:

    Thanks for your article. I understand that many are confused about science. But labeling products with factual information is perfectly compatible with science.
    In addition, non-gmo techniques for breeding plants are also based on science.
    Not only that, more scientists would agree that non-gmo food is safe than would agree that gmo food is safe.
    So, in essence, labeling and choosing non-gmo food is more in line with science than hiding information and eating gmo food.

    A scientist shouldn’t have so much trouble understanding such simple concepts.

    • Aguirre15

      Labeling products with “factual information” which has no relevance nor meaning to the consumer and which has been deemed innocuous by the worldwide regulatory framework is misleading.

      • WeGotta

        Factual information is not misleading dude.

        The cartoons, slogans, colorful words, celebrities, company names and pictures on the package can be misleading though.

        • Aguirre15

          You are confusing marketing with standard product labels which contain contents of discrete and measurable ingredients, eg salt, sugar, fats and carbs. A GMO is not a discrete and measurable ingredient.

          • WeGotta

            Marketing = misleading
            Gmo = a real thing = factual

            Do you recommend food packages should have factual things printed on them or misleading things?

          • Aguirre15

            It’s pretty obvious you don’t know what GMO means so this is pretty fruitless.

          • WeGotta

            It’s just a question that you are not allowed to answer.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            She is also confusing reality with what goes on in her head.

  • Good4U

    I fill out every one of the surveys that are accessible via the codes on my grocery store receipts. On every survey form I fill out, I object to their marketeering of “organic” and non-GMO junk that seems to be creeping onto their store shelves. While in the store, I always tell the clerks & store personnel that I don’t want those sorts of products, and will not buy them. I always ask for the Innate(R) potato and the Arctic(R) apples from every produce manager I encounter.

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