WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? GMOs are not the same as traditional agricultural hybrids – they involve combinations of entirely different species. Scientists are divided on the subject of GMO safety, health & environmental effects. No one has “proof”, but there is a large amount of evidence causing concern. Some say GMOs are safe & productive, others claim they have adverse health effects on humans, animals, crops & farmers.
PART ONE – CURRENT KNOWLEDGE & OPINION
First, we would like to get an idea of what you already know about GMOs. & your position on labeling, and how you arrived at that.
(1) Do you know what is meant by the term, “GMO”?
Is it clear to you what is a “genetically modified organism?
(2) Do you believe that GMOs should be of concern to the public
for health or environmental reasons? Why or why not?
Do you believe that consumer protection should be handled by
the government or the market? Why?
Do you believe that consumers should have the right to know
if their food contains GMOs? Why or why not?
(5) Do you believe that GMO labeling would benefit or hurt
Rhode Island farmers? Why?
(6) Are you aware that Connecticut and Maine have passed
GMO labeling bills, to be triggered when others follow?
(7) Did you know that many countries have restrictions and bans
on GMOs while the United States does not?
PART TWO: HOW CAN WE USE COMMON SENSE
TO QUESTION GMO POSITIONS?
How might the questions raised below affect your thinking about GMOs & labeling?
How can we consider competing claims & find ways to evaluate or reconcile them sensibly? Each question utilizes only generally accepted facts, not disputed ones.
1. Consider the Source? Who is most to be trusted? Do the researchers who are performing studies have ties with commercial interests? Does that influence their work & findings? GMOs are designed to permit use of herbicides such as Round-Up and 2-4-D (an active ingredient in Agent Orange) that would otherwise damage crops. The GMO sellers also make and market the herbicides. Should we believe their claims that GMOs result in less herbicide use?
2. What Does History Teach? DDT, advertised as so safe you could drink it, had to be removed from the market. Antibiotic resistance from overuse is a serious concern. Can Round-Up resistance in farming result in the need to apply more or different pesticides?
3. Are There Real Health Concerns? Scientists disagree. Personal stories are most compelling as to actual cause & effect, but some people react to ingredients that others don’t (peanuts, soy, etc.). Already there are reports of people whose symptoms were relieved by going on non-GMO diets. How can sensitive folks avoid GMOs if they’re not labeled?
4. What’s the Real Impact on Farmers? Resistant weeds develop after a few years, requiring more or different, possibly more toxic herbicides to be used. Is there also a Pandora’s Box concern? Seeds blow with the wind. Monsanto has sued organic farmers for GMOs deposited unwittingly on their land. Can non-GMO options be maintained if contamination becomes widespread?
5. Consider Economic Concerns What might be the effect on costs & diversity if several large multi-national corporations control significant portions of the world’s seed supply? If farmers have to pay each year for new seeds, will retail prices rise? 63 countries require labeling of GMOs. Companies change labels all the time. Why no reports of increased costs from these?
6. Rights & Responsibilities: Who has the ultimate right to decide what we will put into our bodies? Is it those making money from selling the food – or we who consume it?