MSNBC Poll: Should GMO foods be labeled?

February 28, 2011

For years now, the Unites States has lagged behind the rest of the world on the issue of GMO labeling. Driven by tremendous public demand for labeling of GMO foods, the countries of the EU mandated labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients back in the late 1990s.  Since then, despite overwhelming sentiment on the part of the American public in favor of labeling, the FDA has declined to take any similar action to protect American consumer choice.

MSNBC is polling readers on whether or not they think genetically modified foods should be labeled.  At the time of this post, with over 10,000 responses, 89.1% of the poll group feel that labeling is an ethical issue, and that we, as consumers, should be given an informed choice.

Do you feel GMO products should be labeled?

We do.

Cast your vote here!

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11 Responses to “MSNBC Poll: Should GMO foods be labeled?”

  1. yodadoe Says:

    As a scientist educated in biology and genetics, I must ask the hard question: What evidence is there that genetically modified plants are harmful to our health? If there is some legitimate, peer-reviewed study out there showing harmful effects from the consumption of genetically modified plants, please pass it on. I am FOR accurate labeling of our foods, however. I just get a bit frustrated with people who take stands against something they don’t understand; ignorance is fear.

  2. yodadoe Says:

    Bah… I just found your links with some discussion of my last comment. I will read those, thanks! Soo… I am FOR labeling foods as non-GMO simply because I would like for the GMO status of food to be separate from the tag of “organic.” When I seek organic foods, I’m most interested in things like the presence of chemicals or hormones on or in the food that I ingest.

  3. solidchic1 Says:

    ‎…”If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
    Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, 7 March 1994

  4. BambisLand Says:

    YES, We are FOR the labeling of products containing GMO’s. How else will we be able to gather evidence to support or deny any harmful effects connected with GMO foods? The food companies have the responsibility of labeling their products accurately, so that we can make better, informed decisions. “Organic” they label their foods, because they have nothing to hide. What does this say about GMO’s?

  5. gmonewb Says:

    @yodadoe – I’d like to think I’m a rational person. I see three key problems with GMO food:

    1) I want labeling for GMO food but, frankly, I want better labeling for ALL food. How hard is it to provide an ingredients list with food sources? This is the stuff that goes in my body and I don’t have the time to grow my own food but I want to make my own informed decisions about what I buy and eat and where it comes from if I’m so inclined. With smartphones becoming popular, it should be possible to point one at a food item and get access to a repository of information beyond the label. Labels cost money to produce and change, but a database is designed to be changed and costs almost nothing to build these days. I suspect smartphones will play a significant role in accomplishing what the FDA seems to refuse to do.

    2) I want patent law to be logical and correspond to regulation: If the food is different enough to be patentable, then it needs significantly more rigorous regulation than food that isn’t. If it doesn’t require any regulation, then it shouldn’t be patentable. I see this as a case of the left hand (Patent Office) not knowing what the right hand (FDA) is doing. Food is a core aspect of life. You and I can’t live without it. So this, in my opinion, is a simple, sensible request.

    Also, Patent Law is broken, not just for food, but many other things as well. At the very least, some steps need to be taken to bring the world of patents in line with reality.

    3) I want GMO foods to be rigorously tested by the FDA instead of just simply passing through unscathed. Simpler things like food coloring (e.g. Red 40) underwent significant testing to prove their (relative) safety. Nothing like that EVER happened for GMO crops. This, in your scientific mind, should set off warning bells: GMO food requires no testing required to get it onto the dinner plate. But a new food coloring requires lots of testing.

    Basically, I want GMO food to MAKE SENSE. If GMO food was proven safe under strict regulation, I’d be okay with it. Maybe not thrilled, but okay.

    I hope these simple bullet points clarify why I and many other people care.

    Additionally – Monsanto, the leader in GMO food production (during my personal research, I estimate close to 99% of the GMOs in U.S. and 90% worldwide), is NOT a trustworthy company. They’ve lied repeatedly about most, if not all, of their products in their past and information is slowly coming to light about several of their current (chemical and biological) products having what I consider to be significant public lies. More than 85% of key crops grown in the U.S. (corn, canola, cotton, soybeans) were GMO last year alone (2010) and those seeds are produced exclusively by…Monsanto. Run that logical loop through your mind a few times and then against the first three points.

    GMOs seem to have arrived on the scene around 1995. On a personal note, over the past 10-15 years, good friends in their late 20’s have died strangely due to cancers that supposedly don’t affect the age group they were in. Also, children being born with Autism, which is believed to be related somehow to genetics, has suddenly and inexplicably spiked…in the last 10 to 15 years. Allergies have also supposedly similarly spiked in the last…10 to 15 years. The U.S. bee population has dropped 90% in the last…10 to 15 years. The bees are dying due to a fungus + virus combination. So let *me* ask a hard question: Where did the fungus and virus come from? I can easily see how all of these things could correlate to genetics and I have to ask myself where in the last 10 to 15 years has something significant changed that could potentially be a causal factor? GMO in the food supply is a pretty good time-based correlation. Today, GMO food is found in 70 to 75% of the food we eat. So I’m eating an untested, genetically modified, patented product that I consume daily, is sitting my cupboard/fridge, and we have lots of diseases doing strange, inexplicable things all of a sudden. I see this as suggesting a one-to-one causal relationship. I can’t offer actual studies or hard numbers because they don’t exist and no one is funding such things. All I have is just what I and my still living friends have seen and observed as empirical evidence that a study really needs to be conducted to provide skeptics like yourself with concrete facts and those of us who already suspect this correlation with similarly concrete facts. Maybe I and my friends are just perceiving unpleasant things as being related that aren’t related at all. I sure hope so because otherwise the human race, simply put, is screwed.

    I’ve studied this stuff for the past few months to try to learn about it and form a rational opinion. I’m really new to this whole topic of GMOs but everything I read isn’t pretty and those defending GMOs constantly fail to address my three key points. Why is that? I don’t know but most people in the anti-GMO camp suspect a cover-up. Hopefully it is obvious that I’m not anti-GMO (I’m not) but I am pro-logic, pro-common sense. There’s also, unfortunately, a lot of fear mongering too of the “Monsanto is EVILLLLL” variety. I don’t necessarily care about that as long as they are held accountable since they clearly can’t hold themselves accountable.

    As to why I’m concerned: A GMO, from what I understand, is multiple genes typically spliced into E. coli and then forcefully injected into the cell of the plant where it multiplies inside the cell. How I read that is: We’re screwing with nature with no way to undo it if we mess up. THAT is the real concern I have.

    I’m a software developer. If a piece of software crashes in my industry while the user operates it, I can go in and fix it. The crash, while annoying to the user, was not a terribly big deal. The medical industry and the military, however, have to be ultra careful with their software. If THEIR software crashes, lives are lost, so lots of additional safeguards exist and very strict testing is mandated to help eliminate the possibility of crashes. GMO food falls squarely into the latter type of category because there is no way to undo a screwup where people or animals or other living things die. At least not with today’s GMO/DNA technology. If some lab tech screws up and it gets put into production and it mutates in unexpected ways, the broken GMO spreads fast because that is how nature works. It would likely take a decade to even come up with a possible fix and then a few more years past that to implement said fix. Then again, I’m assuming it could be fixed in the first place. I’ll give science the benefit of the doubt but my personal experience says that fixing software bugs that can’t be replicated on the developer’s personal computer takes ten times as long and, in many cases, is not solvable at all in which cases the software developer just shrugs their shoulders. Similarly, if the lab tech can’t replicate the mutations that created the problem, it becomes magnitudes harder to fix.

    So where does this leave me? I recently gave a presentation on what I’ve learned about GMOs and people are kind of fearful and has sparked some major conversations with the people I know and care about. So I’m now, at the recommendation of someone I trust, looking into developing a resource portfolio of information that people can actually do something with. I’m taking action to help others become aware and then allowing them to do something instead of just being afraid. Where this will lead me is unknown. The results will certainly be interesting and I’ll probably learn a lot in the process.

  6. gmonewb Says:

    @BambisLand – I just read somewhere tonight that just because it says “organic” doesn’t mean that it is GMO free. The same place said it has to be certified “100% organic” to be GMO free.

    But with crossover and bees and birds and wind and nature in general, I don’t see any way to keep GMO out of organic. Even if it was all grown in a greenhouse, someone could potentially walk in with contaminated seeds in boots or shoes and then it could spread from there. There would have to be constant testing of the crops to make sure no GMO genes were polluting them.

    I’m sure organic is currently cleaner, but this is a hard problem that involves nature. And nature is basically unpredictable but, when things happen, they rarely happen in our favor.

  7. greent Says:

    Independent studies indicate that rats developed internal organ abnormalities after being fed a GMO diet. Please refer to this web site or do your own search for more detials:

  8. Smiley1 Says:

    I watched the Monsanto documentary. They are splicing out a piece of Mother Nature’s gene & putting in diseases that have killed huge populations of humans, & insecticides, malaria, mold and more. If the insect takes one nibble, they die. That is what will happen & is happening to us with these GMO’s. Because one stupid judge allowed one person to patent a living thing, this is what it has come to. 93% of US corn is now GMO. The same is to be said for Alfalfa, Soy and a few others. It is becoming a Monopoly. Monsanto will have total control over ALL of the US and eventually the world’s food supply. Forcing farmers to burn their REAL seeds from generations, destroying everything that is real & meant to be. What sort of idiots think that eating chemicals, infectious diseases, and man made formulas could be better than Mother Nature’s food. Would you put Elmer’s Glue in your gas tank? Don’t think so!!!!! Our bodies need Mother Natures fruits, vegetables, meat, water and natural ….key word…natural ….resources!! And Mother Nature adapts & is smart. Making insects & disease immune to the killers, and then scientists feel they have to make even stronger killers. Do you know how many killer are on our fruits, veggies and eaten by our animals? Not 1 or 2….hundreds & thousands on just 1 plant!!! Outrageous. And now they are putting them right into the gene. No washing will ever rid you of the chemical.

    Our President is well respected by me, and there are a lot of things he should not get involved in that people think the opposite. But this is one that he should be aware of and take part in stopping. Monsanto is a dictator out only for greed with money. But a word to them…..if they kill all the population…there will be noone around to pay them anything!!! We will all be dead.

  9. DianeBoulder Says:

    It is really critical that consumers educate themselves about GMO food! Since the January 27, 2011 USDA shocking decision to allow unrestricted planting of GE Alfalfa, along with GE Sugarbeets and the GE Salmon recent deregulation I have been reading and researching GMO crops and food. GMO food crops are now in most of our food and the health consequences are terrifying. Farmers heirloom crops seed is being contaminated with Monsanto “patented” GMO seed and Monsanto sues the farmers!!! We consumers need to unite at sites like these. But, we have to do more. I have called the White House, my senators, and my congressman and educated their offices about GMO food. Most are shocked and completely clueless like I was 6 weeks ago. MSNBC is conducting this survey. Vote a lot. I have already contacted them to do a program on this.

    gmonewb and Smiley and greent have stated the facts exactly correct. But, now we have to tell everyone you know. This information needs to go viral on the Internet. Consumers need to demand GMO labels on their food. When consumers start contacting the big food producers demanding NO GMO’s in their food they will stop buying GMO crops and farmers will stop planting them.

    We need a very large consumer campaign demanding GMO labeling and NO GMO’s from food producers. When the big producers see market share going to producers who have made the NO GMO pledge it will make a difference.

    Right now so many crops are GMO and the seeds are contaminating NON GMO crops. We are at a critcal point where we need to stop the GMO crop approvals from the USDA. Obama has loaded the USDA with former Monsanto executives, hence the recent approvals. What a betrayal. This is a really tough and difficult fight. But, we have no choice but to fight it.

    Our government is allowing the contamination of our food supply. A march on Washington is really needed here. The news media is so busy reporting on the Middle East protests that they are not listenng to the protests right here. Monsanto sales were $11 billion worldwide last year with about $2 billion in sales. They spend over $500 million lobbying Congress. The Organic Industry sales were over $36 Billion last year and growing. Our government needs to look at which industry is more important. The numbers are on our side.

  10. leoevon Says:

    I understand that there isnt much evidence of GMOs being “bad” for ones health. Never the less, I am for labeling of GMO foods for a few reasons:

    1. If in the near future we do indeed find some health problems linked to possible GMO foods, it would help with investigative studies on the subject.

    2. Monsanto, the corporation behind much of the GMO crops, is run by terribly corrupt and callous individuals. They are bullies and have put alot of small farmers out of business. So, its a matter of who you want to do business with.

    3. Its also matter of preference. Just as some like to be able to see the ingredients in the foods they buy, wether for health reasons or ethical reasons, so should we be able to see how it was produced; especially considering the corporation that produces it may have an extremely questionable reputation of disregard for the environment and the way it treats others.

  11. the big picture Says:

    When man starts altering nature, we are setting ourselves up to destroy the human race. When 90% of the bee population has died off, birds start falling out of the sky for no apparent reason (I don’t beleive what the newspapers or evening news says) and pestilence, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis and war are at our front doors,we had better be getting on our hands and knees and praying. As is with birthing pains, the closer you get to the time the more frequent and more severe the pains occur. From what I know and see we are ripe for the rapture and second coming of our Lord and Saviour and tribulation starts after that. Wake up people, please! Has no one noticed the severity and frequency in which all these things are occuring? Look at the BIG PICTURE NOW.