Former presidential candidate, consumer advocate and ‘Time Magazine Man of the Year’ Ralph Nader recently came out in support of the growing movement for organic, healthy, and non-GMO food, writing in a June 21 editorial that the latest initiatives of the movement should be “celebrated.”
“Across the country, consumers are demanding the right to know what is in their food, and labeling of genetically engineered food,” Nader said.
“It’s a vibrant and diverse coalition: mothers and grandmothers, health libertarians, progressives, foodies, environmentalists, main street conservatives and supporters of free-market economics. Last year, a New York Times poll found that a near-unanimous 93 percent of Americans support such labeling”
A recent poll conducted by Consumer Reports also showed overwhelming support for labeling. Nader is a longtime consumer advocate whose worked help lead to the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Time Magazine also named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans in the 20th Century.”
He’s a five-time presidential candidate, most recently running for office in 2008 as an independent and receiving over 700,000 votes. He’s also run as a Green Party candidate.
“GMOs Not Proven Safe,” Nader Says
As Nader notes in the article, the FDA admitted in court in 1998 that it had reached “”no dispositive scientific findings” about the risks of GMOs in our food supply.
He also pointed out that “there is no scientific consensus about the risks of eating genetically engineered food, according to a statement last year signed by nearly 300 scientists.” (Editor’s note: another similar letter from over 800 scientists around the world was also sent out this year).
Another review published in Environmental Sciences Europe found that the “data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems” arising from diets of genetically engineered food, and this could well just be the tip of the iceberg if a recent republication of a study linking GMOs with tumors in lab animals is in fact an indication.
“There is no mandatory pre-market safety testing for genetically engineered food,” Nader went on to say. He also called into question why 64 nations in the world already label genetically modified food, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, even Russia and China, while noting the huge advertising expenditures made by Big Food companies to block labeling.
Nader continued: “The food industry is quick to scare consumers with the canard that labeling of genetically engineered food will raise food prices. But manufacturers change their labels often, so their claim doesn’t make sense. It has been debunked in an study by Joanna Shepherd Bailey, a professor at Emory University School of Law, who found that “consumers will likely see no increases in prices” as a result of labeling genetically engineered food.
Labeling is of course just the first step, as people need to know what’s in their food to make an educated purchasing decision. The next steps include more rigorous, independent testing of GMOs, getting cross contamination under control and repaying organic farmers for the damage that has been done in this area, and perhaps even a ban, if the independent studies question the safety of GMOs are true, that is.