In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Matthew Dalton reported that the European Union likely will approve a genetically modified organism for only the second time in the past 15 years. The EU is poised to grant E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company permission to grow 1507, a DuPont-developed GMO corn.
DuPont first sought approval in 2001 for 1507 … After positive safety reviews and several decisions by the European Court of Justice criticizing the European Commission for delaying its decision, the commission is now close to approving the crop…
The crop ‘meets all EU regulatory requirements and should be approved for cultivation without further delay,’ DuPont said.
1507 corn is resistant to the corn-borer worm, which has been known to devastate crops. Dalton writes that opposition to 1507 and, indeed, all GMOs runs strong throughout the EU. This resistance is echoed in the United States as well. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, for example, has issued repeated shareholder resolutions to DuPont, Abbott Laboratories and other biotech companies that would require the companies to label GMOs. The ICCR’s “2014 Proxy Resolutions and Voting Guide” states:
Since 2000, members of ICCR have argued on behalf of consumers’ right to know what’s in the foods they eat, including whether or not those foods are genetically modified. Urging the precautionary principle, they caution against allowing potentially hazardous material into the food supply and support voluntary labeling of GMO ingredients. Because there has yet been no national mandate that GM foods be labeled in the U.S., most Americans have been unknowningly eating them for years.
The above paragraph conflates two separate issues. The first is labeling food derived from GMOs, and the second misleads readers to conclude GMOs are “potentially hazardous material” requiring the exercise of the precautionary principle. As noted by this writer in a previous post, asking companies to further label foods presents additional costs, which negatively impacts costs to consumers and shareholders. Additionally, GMO labeling frightens uninformed consumers who may forego the purchase of any products so labeled – thereby forcing them to buy more expensive nutrition for their families or, worse, do without the sustenance altogether.
Nowhere in the ICCR’s guide is scientific evidence to support GMO fear mongering, which makes the following assertion a real head scratcher:
ICCR members filed a resolution with Abbott Laboratories asking the company to identify and label genetically engineered crops and organisms in all its products unless long-term safety testing shows that they are not harmful to humans, animals, and the environments.
That’s a mighty tall – if not impossible – order. In the meantime, the religious members of ICCR burnish their credentials as antagonists of corporate America as well as the world’s hungriest people least able to afford non-GMO foodstuffs.
In Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg examines economic culture - the values and institutions that inform our economic priorities - to explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called "soft despotism", and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States.