Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Monday, August 21, 2017
OPEN LETTER: Tulsi Gabbard's GMO labeling push is an embarrassment to pro-science progressives
By Selected News Articles @ 5:28 PM :: 3286 Views :: GMOs

Viewpoint: Democrats’ GMO labeling push is an embarrassment to pro-science progressives

by Michael Rosch | August 21, 2017 | Genetic Literacy Project

[Editor’s note: The following open letter is in response to a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed by 22 House Democrats calling on the USDA to make sure federal GMO labeling standards include “all GMO foods, including foods which contain ingredients like highly refined sugars and oils, as well as foods produced with new genetic engineering techniques,” among other requests.]

Dear Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI),

I was deeply troubled by the recent letter you wrote to Sonny Perdue, Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, regarding food labeling standards for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

It’s disheartening to see intelligent individuals on the political left like yourself continue to focus your efforts on this issue despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that indicates you are simply tilting at windmills.

In fact, among a list of 20 points of broad consensus among scientists regarding GM crops is that the Hawaiian papaya industry was saved by genetically modified papayas designed to be resistant to the deadly papaya ringspot virus. One of your own constituents explained how biotechnology rescued the Hawaiian papaya from the verge of extinction and urged you to change your position:

“When you made that quip about “GMO-free” in your mailer, it really shows me that you’re ignoring the farmers that were saved by biotech and fueling the attacks against their fruit that is no different than those GMO free ones.  Not all farmers are able to grow GMO free given the nature of this disease.  If you are really wanting those local and sustainable food supply for Hawaii, why are leaders such as yourself participating in attacks against people who are growing food in a local and sustainable way?  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  Representative Gabbard, you might want to know that nearly 95% of Hawaii’s papayas are GMO because the disease is so rampant here.  You’re speaking against the majority of the farmers here and it’s downright sad that you can ignore that.”

I proudly consider myself among the progressive left. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Primary despite my disagreements with him on this issue because we share common values on so many other issues. Like Bernie Sanders and yourself, I too am greatly concerned about consumer protection.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

But I don’t allow my skepticism towards big business entities to bias my view of the actual science behind GMOs. There is a profound inconsistency in the way the political Left markets itself as more pro-science than the climate-change-denying Right while simultaneously championing efforts like your unhealthy fixation on GMO labeling that undermines robust science with an even greater consensus than that of manmade climate change.

So what’s the real harm in this labeling campaign of yours? Shouldn’t consumers be informed what’s in their food? Of course they should. On the surface, it’s of course a reasonable-sounding argument. The problem is there’s already so much propaganda falsely implicating GMOs for all manner of unproven ailments. Labels further give the public the impression that the label exists to warn them of harm. Once the labels are there, GMO critics will then argue, “If GMOs are so safe, why did the government put warning labels on them?” This is the hasty generalization fallacy, or more commonly known as the “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire Fallacy.”

Congresswoman, this campaign against GMOs is fundamentally anti-science, every bit as anti-science as Right-Wing campaigns denying the human-effects of climate change or opposing the teaching of evolution. Last year, 107 Nobel laureates signed a letter to Greenpeace urging them to end their opposition to GMOs. Scientific American, The New Yorker, and the The LA Times have all come out against labeling efforts. In Forbes, science journalist Kavin Senapathy concluded:

The undeniable reality is that the anti-GMO movement is organic industry-led, and it all begins with the lobby for mandatory labeling of products created with genetic engineering.

As I’ve written about several times, including here and here, there is no logical ‘right to know’ whether a food contains GMOs:

If we really want to label food based on breeding techniques, the only logical tactic would be to label ALL breeding techniques, including those that created our friends the sterile watermelons, atomic grapefruits, and others like hybridization, marker-assisted breeding, and more so-called ‘non-GMO’ techniques.

And even the lobbyists for the organics industry who are arguably the most vocal advocates for GMO labeling in the name of the public’s “right to know,” as you put it in your letter, hypocritically took steps to prevent the USDA from providing similar quality assurances for the organic food from which they profit.

When the subject of labeling GMOs came up in Vermont several years ago, plant pathologist and geneticist Pamela Ronald wrote an excellent article in MIT Technology Review, where she said:

“If Vermont had honestly assessed genetically engineered crops, the bill would have indicated that there is not a single credible report of dangerous health effects from GMOs and that there is no science-based reason to single out the resulting foods for mandatory labeling. It would have mentioned that the technology has been used safely in food and medicine for 30 years. It would have stated that farmers’ use of GMO crops has reduced by a factor of 10 the amount of insecticides sprayed on corn over the last 15 years, reduced food costs, decreased carbon dioxide emissions, and enhanced biological diversity.” 

Make no mistake. Efforts to add warning labels to GM foods that have shown no indication of harm is every bit as corporate-driven as any efforts by the Koch Brothers or Exxon, etc. Those most benefiting from it are parties marketing so-called “organic” foods, a product that, contrary to the hype, offers no health or environmental advantage over the alternative.

It is a tremendous embarrassment for supposed “science-friendly” progressives on the political Left to maintain this preposterous position of advocating for labels that provide zero real world benefit to the public and that are so demonstrably based on unfounded concerns while products with far more legitimate bases for concern get ignored.

Congresswoman, your efforts in this arena are not only wrong-headed; they fly in the face of all the available evidence, stifle human progress, increase food costs for everyone, does immense harm to third-world populations, and denies the consensus of virtually all relevant reputable international science organizations, who universally agree that the process of genetic engineering is no more risky to human health than conventional agricultural processes.




TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Conservative Alliance

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

Conservative Forum for Hawaii

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii


DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute


Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group


Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii



National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today


Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii



Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii


SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu


West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii