Non-GMO Wild Turkey whiskey? Latest absurd food label illustrates hypocritical anti-GMO cancer fears

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[Editor’s note: Kevin Folta is a molecular biologist and chair of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida.]

[April 2, 2017] I saw a graphic on Twitter from the whiskey maker Wild Turkey. They were boldly claiming that their product was “Non-GMO”. Not a little asterisk, but a big meaty font. Here is a company boldly stating that they consciously select non-genetically engineered ingredients, namely corn, one of the central grains in its alcoholic beverages. Instead of GE corn, they select conventional corn that costs farmers more money to grow, impacts topsoil harder, and uses more insecticides.

The double crazy irony is that many in the anti-GMO movement will claim they fear GE crops because the products might contain trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate (parts per billion; e.g. seconds in 32 years). No reliable test has actually shown this. Then they center on glyphosate’s controversial listing by the IARC a “Group 2A Probable Carcinogen” despite thin data to support that assignment. Since this announcement, some critical of genetic engineering are frozen in fear of this herbicide that isn’t consumed in any great quantity, and even if it was, could maybe possibly remotely be problematic.

But the same agency rates ethyl alcohol as a Group 1 Known Carcinogen, along with benzene and formaldehyde.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Risky Whiskey or Science Under the Influence?

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

  • Robert Howd

    This is really the epitome of the old saying, “Choose your poison”!

    • No it is not. GMO is not a poison to humans in any way, shape or form.

      • Robert Howd

        Tongue-in cheek comment, of course! But all pesticides – and I’m referring to glyphosate, as mentioned in the summary of the original article – are by definition poisons.

        • Biron_1

          By the First Law of Toxicology everything is a poison — it’s just a question of the dose.

          • hyperzombie

            First Law of Toxicology everything is a poison — it’s just a question of the dose.

            I agree, everything but pizza, Oh and beer, and Bacon…..that is all.

          • Robert Howd

            Agreed, but some chemicals are produced just for their physical properties (solvents, gasoline, plastics), some for nutritional uses, some as medicines, and some for their toxic properties. It’s fair to call the ones produced for their toxic properties as “poisons” by intention.

          • Biron_1

            By your definition you can call them poisons if you are a fungus, weed or insect, but not if you are human.

          • Robert Howd

            Definition of poison: a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.
            This does not have a “species” modifier. As to dose, it is clear that glyphosate is not toxic in any way to people when ingested as a trace residue in foods, nor do currently marketed GMO products have any known human toxicity related to their genetic modification.

          • Biron_1

            “This does not have a ‘species’ modifier.”

            That’s because you picked a definition suitable to your argument. It does not make you correct in the context of this discussion.

          • Robert Howd

            The context of this discussion? You might not have noticed that I started the discussion and set the context.

        • Good4U

          Ahh, Robert, you are willfully forgetting that the use of “pesticides” such as glyphosate is actually a net benefit to us by displacing the alternatives which would otherwise be used. You should learn a few things about the alternative herbicides that were used before glyphosate, and which would be used again if glyphosate were somehow discontinued. Don’t post drivel. Learn something instead.

      • Red Beard

        Wrong, Jimbo.

    • FarmersSon63

      There has not been even one confirmed illness or death from consuming GMO’s in their 20 year history.
      Guess how many people died from consuming alcohol THIS WEEK?

      • Robert Howd

        Ah, but don’t forget, FarmersSon, that much of the alcohol is made from the GMO corn, so yes, many people have died from consumption of the GMO products.

        • FarmersSon63

          There is absolutely zero DNA in alcohol, you fool.
          The alcohol molecule is exactly the same no matter the source.

          • Qk

            AAAND then there’s the residue. The stuff that makes bourbon taste like bourbon, & not like vodka. Giddit?

          • FarmersSon63

            Burned wood?
            There are no GMO hardwood trees.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          Uh Oh, Robert thinks like an attorney.

          • Robert Howd

            Somewhat. But really just a scientist with experience in court testimony.

        • Damo

          While technically correct, you may want to include a disclaimer that those people would have died either way?

          • Robert Howd

            Of course.

  • A pasted copy of the letter I just sent to Campari USA:
    Campari – As a fan of your Wild Turkey products I am extremely unhappy you have stooped to the crass ignorance feeding tactic of mentioning GMOs on your labeling. I have been battling this ignorance foisted by the organic foods industry for years on social media. It is an insult to our intelligence to placate the genetically illiterate and should not be mentioned. On May 16th 2016 the National Academy of Sciences issued the definitive end all ultimate authoritative study on GMOs and found them benign. This officially ended the GMO debate. http://nas-sites.org/ge-crops/2016/05/16/report-in-brief/ Pandering to the remaining genetically illiterate consumer crowd should be beneath the values of any upright US business, especially the Wild Turkey brand. Obama’s bill decided you should only offer a cryptic QR code or a subtle little icon on labeling to satisfy the genetically illiterates.
    Stop this practice immediately. I will not buy any Wild Turkey product with GMO mentioned prominently on the front label. You insult the intelligence of your customers as much as a gluten free label would.

  • Bob

    Could any ingredient in the GMO crop even survive the distilling process?

    • FarmersSon63

      There is no DNA in alcohol.

      • Bob

        Then what difference could it possibly make whether gm products were used or not. The whole thing just seems so stupid.