You’ve got to hand it to the anti-GMO people. They sure know how to market. Support for government-mandated labeling of genetically modified food is at an all time high (whatever happened to liberty and personal responsibility?). But just how educated are people on what they’re eating?
A new poll find that people will blindly support government-mandated labeling of foods, even if it something that virtually 100% of foods contain.
from Consumer Affairs:
All of these are standard questions covered in every FooDS. But on page 4, it says that “Three new ad hoc questions were added to the survey this month,” and the first question asks whether people support or oppose various government policies related to agricultural matters: 80.44% of respondents said they would support “Mandatory labels on foods containing DNA.” That’s only slightly less than the 82.28% who support “Mandatory labels on foods produced with genetic engineering.”
Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this:
WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.
(Somin’s warning neglects to mention that sexually active men are also at high risk of passing DNA down to their children, unless the men wear a condom.)
The joke, of course, is that DNA is the hereditary material found in the cells of human beings and almost all living organisms – including all the different meat and plant products people eat. Labeling all food containing DNA would be almost as pointless as labeling foods that contain atoms.
One question the survey did not ask was whether people would support mandatory labeling (or even possible bans) of food items containing the potentially deadly chemical “dihydrogen monoxide.”
There is a well-known joke/prank wherein people will discuss the dangers of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide” (or even collect signatures on petitions urging that dihydrogen monoxide be banned).
Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you’ll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities – though even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system.
So is dihydrogen monoxide safe for human consumption? Of course. It’s not just safe, it’s mandatory: dihydrogen monoxide, the molecule consisting of two atoms of hydrogen for every one of oxygen, is just another way of saying “water.”
Not that any sane person would ever recommend banning water – but plenty of sane (though ill-informed) people have considered banning “dihydrogen monoxide,” because it’s a big intimidating multi-syllabic phrase that sounds all scary and chemical-y. And the latest issue of Oklahoma State’s FooDS survey suggests that even DNA – the building blocks of life itself – is equally scary and intimidating to people who don’t know what it is.
read the rest
This poll serves to demonstrate how powerful the bandwagon is and how easy it is to instill fear in an uninformed group of people. That fear can easily be manipulated into support for more government power over individuals and the economy.
My point here isn’t to disparage anyone who has made the decision to eat non-GMO or organic foods. If you feel like that’s a healthier lifestyle choice, good for you. You go right ahead and eat what you want.
What I do have a big problem with is people who want to force their lifestyle choices on everyone else or make everyone else’s lifestyle choices more expensive by mandating government regulations. Eat what you want to, and, by all means, educate people on what you believe are healthy choices. But don’t look to the government to interfere with businesses and private individuals.