Iowa Public Television

 

E.U. mandates GMO labeling

posted on April 21, 2000


NOT SINCE THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY LUDDITES' VAIN ATTEMPT TO THWART BRITISH INDUSTRIALIZATION HAVE PASSIONS RUN AS HIGH OVER A NEW TECHNOLOGY AS THEY HAVE OVER THE DEPLOYMENT OF GENETIC ENGINEERING IN AGRICULTURE.

TO BE SURE, THE NEW BIOTECH SEEDS HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC CONTROVERSY PRACTICALLY WOVEN INTO THEIR GENETIC CODE. THE FAILURE OF THE FIRST WAVE OF PRODUCTS TO ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS CONTINUES TO AFFECT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.

BUT, MAKE NO MISTAKE, THERE WILL BE A NEXT WAVE. NEW ORGANISMS ARE LEAVING THE LABS. THE NEW "BREED" WILL CARRY ATTRIBUTES THAT PROMISE MUCH MORE TO THE CONSUMING PUBLIC. BUT THE NEW SEEDS WILL NEED TO BE ABLE TO SURVIVE IN A RIGOROUS CLIMATE OF SCRUTINY.

IN THE WAKE OF EUROPEAN UNION MINISTERS MANDATE THAT GENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS BE LABELED THE E-U PARLIAMENT HAS BEGUN WORK ON PLACING ITS MARK ON THE G-M-O CONTROVERSY.

LEGISLATION ON SEVERAL ISSUES IS EXPECTED TO BE CONSIDERED IN 2001.

-ONE WOULD MAKE BIOTECH COMPANIES LIABLE FOR ANY ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

-ANOTHER WOULD PHASE OUT THE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS AS THE MARKER THAT IDENTIFIES G-M PLANTS IN THE LAB.

-AND ANOTHER MEASURE WOULD IMPLEMENT THE BIOTECH GUIDELINES LISTED IN THE UNITED NATIONS BIO-SAFETY PROTOCOL.

THIS WEEK SECRETARY GLICKMAN ENTERED THE DOMESTIC G-M-O LABELING FRAY SQUARELY ON THE SIDE OF LABELING. SURVEYS INDICATE U.S. CITIZENS DO NOT CARE IF FOODS CONTAINING G-M PRODUCTS ARE LABELED, BUT THERE IS A GROWING MOVEMENT FOR THE INDUSTRY TO SHOW HOW USING TRANSGENIC INGREDIENTS BENEFITS CONSUMERS.

BIOTECH COMPANIES HAVE TAKEN A HIGHER PROFILE AND BEGUN TOUTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF G-M GRAINS WITH "CONSUMER-CENTERED TRAITS" EVER SINCE THEY LOST THE PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE IN EUROPE TO GROUPS LIKE GREENPEACE.

GLICKMAN: "it's not better than any other kind of food this will just tell the consumer this product was grown to meet certain standards"

AND THE ORGANIC INDUSTRY, A SEGMENT OF AGRICULTURE THAT HAS BENEFITED FROM LABELING, RECEIVED FURTHER CONFIRMATION IT IS NOW A PLAYER IN THE MARKET. A NEW U-S-D-A SURVEY SHOWS ORGANIC FOODS ARE IN THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENT OF THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY.

THE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED RULES FOR A U-S-D-A CERTIFIED ORGANIC STANDARD ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE THE SIZE OF THE ORGANICALLY GROWN FOODS MARKET.THE USDA ESTIMATES ONLY ABOUT 2% OF THE CONSUMER MARKET IS ORGANIC, BUT GROWERS ARE EXPECTED TO REAP BENEFITS OF NEARLY $6 BILLION THIS YEAR WHILE CONTINUING TO ENJOY A 5-YEAR TREND OF 20% ANNUAL GROWTH.

Tags: agriculture crops European Union farmers food genetic engineering news