There is an ongoing battle over genetically engineered foods and Chuck Norris has entered the fray - and knocked himself out.
In a recent column at WorldNetDaily, Norris saddled up with left-wing environmentalist groups like Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch, and the Sierra Club to demand growing the federal governments attack on America’s farmers and food producers.
Norris’ piece, “Lambs to the GMO Slaughter,” calls on the Obama administration to mandate warning labels on any product containing genetically improved foods.
[sharequote align="center"]Big Greenies use scaremongering to dictate what you can and can't eat.[/sharequote]
There is no scientific justification for this measure: The American Medical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Food and Drug Administration - among other respected bodies - have declared again and again that genetically improved foods are just as safe as conventionally grown crops.
About 90 percent of corn and soy in the U.S. are genetically engineered, genetically improved foods are grown on hundreds of millions of acres worldwide, and the AMA notes that we’ve been consuming genetically improved foods for 20 years and “no overt consequences to human health have been reported.” See what 10 scientific organizations have to say, if you’re still skeptical.
But despite a complete absence of evidence, left-wing greenies and organic activists are spearheading what one scholar termed a “multi-decade public disinfromation campaign” to stigmatize genetically improved foods.
Given how snooty liberals love to accuse the right of being “anti-science,” there’s a great opportunity here to accuse the left of the same thing.
Yet Norris doubles down on the Big Green propaganda. He criticizes the use of genetically improved foods technology to resist herbicides, claiming that it perpetuates “a vicious cycle resulting in higher usage of more and more toxic herbicides.”
But that isn’t accurate. According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency - no friend of America’s farmers - herbicide use has declined since the widespread adoption of genetically improved foods technology in the 1990s.
The enhanced resistance of genetically improved seeds has also increased agricultural productivity, which has reduced the costs of food. Following the green radicals would come at a significant cost: Experts estimate that mandatory genetically improved foods labels would raise New York state grocery bills by $800 per family per year.
But spikes in food prices are just the beginning.
People hold signs during a demonstration against agribusiness giant Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMO) in front of the White House in Washington on May 25, 2013. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Mandatory labels inevitably limit consumer freedom. Despite claims about a “right to know” or transparency, genetically improved food labels are nothing more than an effort to precipitate consumer confusion instead of consumer choice. Americans who want to avoid genetically improved foods already have that option: They can buy foods that are labeled as organic. But that isn’t enough for radical environmentalists. The Big Green movement wants to impose its organic agenda on others, using scaremongering tactics to dictate what you can and cannot eat.
Consider, for example, the European Union, which has required genetically improved food warning labels since 1997. A report produced by the University of California found that the EU food policy provoked latent consumer fears about genetically improved foods, making it financially disadvantageous for EU food processors to continue using genetically improved ingredients. As a result, genetically improved foods have all but disappeared from the shelves of the EU. This means that instead of informing consumers, the EU policy of genetically improved food labels eradicated consumer choice by eliminating the capacity to choose them altogether.
The federal government should heed this cautionary tale and continue its resistance of mandatory genetically improved foods warning labels. Theoretically, special genetically improved food designations might seem like a step towards transparency. But in practice, the policy codifies inaccurate stigmas and dangerously reinforces existing consumer misinformation about the safety of genetically improved foods.
Consumer clarity, and not consumer confusion, should be the aim of biotechnology policies, and warning labels only mislead the public by validating the inaccurate fears proliferated by environmentalists. For a guy who can win a game of Connect Four in three moves, Chuck Norris should be smarter than Greenpeace propaganda.
Will Coggin is a senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom.
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