Congress Faces “Frankenfoods” Fight … Or Does It?

Food fights in the elementary school cafeteria repelled us; those since, including the one going on in the U.S. Congress just now, have done the same. A bill in CongressFrankenfoods addresses GMO (Genetically Manipulated) food products to the satisfaction of neither side of the accompanying controversy.

The bill provides for voluntary labeling of such products; its opponents insist upon mandated labeling. Greenies in this squabble proclaim that GMO food is essentially, poison or near to it. Big food producers prefer to ignore the fight and just sell food. Food producers who are invested in (allegedly) GMO – free products see mandatory labeling as marketing help. A typical greedy food fight for Congress, where the primary food appears to be money.

Inanity isn’t rare on Capitol Hill of course, but this seems pretty far gone even for Congress. For one thing, nearly everything any of us eats is a product of genetic manipulation. It required ages of careful crossbreeding by Indians to produce what we call “corn” out of an ancient grass called teosinte. Wheat and rice don’t resemble their origins very closely either. Cows and chickens are far removed from their ancestors as well. Fruit and veggies too. And consider dogs, also a food item in some places. Not much resemblance to Original Pooch.

But the anti-GMO folk don’t seem to mind any of that. It really isn’t the “genetic manipulation” that they actually object to; it’s speeding up the process in a laboratory that gets to them. Gregor Mendel crossbreeding in his garden is ok; doing exactly the same thing indoors is making “Frankenfoods.” Evil, not to be permitted. Poison, like as not! Or so their campaigns convey.

Their greatest difficulty is a total lack of evidence for any harm resulting from these products. Never mind; harm could occur, right? The only unarguable evidence so far seems to be greatly increased harvests of substantially less expensive food. The “Green Revolution” is part of that; it has reduced hunger world wide.

We see the anti-GMO crowd as today’s Luddites. Typically for the breed, they want Congress to impose their view by force of law; they’re not big on allowing other people their personal choices. They know what’s good for us and wish to assure that we receive it, desired or not.

That’s how we see it; maybe we’re missing something. Certainly, tomatoes and strawberries we see now are prettier and larger than the old natural ones were, but it seems to us some of the flavor has fled. A genetic trade-off, no doubt. We preferred the originals. Sigh … They cost more, though and didn’t ship as well.

We hope that  any GMO labeling remains voluntary. Producers will provide it if people prove willing to pay for it. Competition will assure that. Until someone shows real dangers with the food, Congress should stay out of it. A Congressional food fight is no more attractive than one in elementary school, seems to us.

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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