Label GMO foods in the US.
Debate Rounds (3)
For the purpose of this debate, it is important to define "GMO" as "genetically modified organism," and "GMO foods" as "genetically modified organisms that have had new genes from other organisms added to their existing genes," according to Brown University. These definitions are important for the layperson to understand what this debate is truly getting at.
As I am in the CON or negation of the resolution as it stands: "All foods with GMOs ought to be labeled," I will outline why all foods with GMOs needn't be labeled as such. I interpret the resolution to refer to government regulation of the labeling process, as the only way to systematically guarantee that 'all' foods with GMOs have labels is to federally regulate said process.
Contention 1: Labeling GMOs leads to misinformation and a misinformed public.
Contrary to what the pro has argued, these labels would misinform the public rather than inform them. What we have here is a simple cause-and-effect relationship: people would see these labels and then associate GMOs with negative things. Compare it with, say, the labels on packs of tobacco products. While tobacco does indeed have negative effects on the body, GMOs have little to no proven negative effects on the body. So, why create a negative public stigma towards something that doesn't harm the public? What's more, these GMOs have multiple proven positive effects, including (but not limited to) increased nutritional value and less environmental impact.
According to the The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, some GMO foods have been created that are notably more nutritious in vitamin and mineral content. The United Nations goes on to note that not only would these foods be healthier for the public, but also would be very useful for feeding malnourished countries.
In addition, there have been leads in the GMO field that show that there's ways to create foods that have less environmental impact. According to Oklahoma State University, these GMO foods often require less chemicals, time and tools, and can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution, and soil erosion. Therefore, GMO foods can indirectly help improve the environment.
When looking at the benefits and weighing them against the (nigh non-existent) cons, it's quite apparent that placing negative sentiment on GMOs will only lead to a misinformed public and ultimately cause more harm than good.
Contention 2: Overbearing government regulation on GMOs will only cause corruption and ultimately untruthful policies.
By putting the regulation in the hands of the government (as I discussed above), you're only opening the doors to corruption and multiple conflicts of interest. Ron Paul on February 26, 2008,
"The federal government lacks constitutional authority to mandate labeling of products containing genetically-modified food. Furthermore, those who do not wish to consume genetically-modified products should be leery of federally-mandated labeling because history shows that federal regulatory agencies are susceptible to 'capture,' where the regulators end up serving the interest of the business they are supposed to control. In the case of labeling, federal agencies could redefine the meaning of 'modified' to allow genetically-engineered food on the market without fully-informing consumers of the presence of genetically- engineered ingredients. Instead of federal regulation, consumers should demand that manufactures provide full information and refuse to buy those products that are not fully labeled. Once producers see there is a demand for non-genetically-engineered products they will act to fulfill that demand. Of course, makers of genetically-engineered food should be held legally responsible if they fraudulently market their products or harm anyone."
The result of government regulation of this GMO labeling, as Ron Paul detailed, is the harm of the public.
In summation, it is important to take a holistic approach to the issue at hand. Creating barriers against an ultimately helpful science is counter-intuitive and goes against the foundation of which humanity has been built upon: innovation. Should you go with the pro on this resolution, you're preventing the growth of a science that promises to generate billions, nurture millions, and help our environment. Therefore, the only logical choice in this debate is the CON, and I urge you to vote as such.
Certainly any manufacturer, factory farmer, or other food product company would already be labeling their products with a GMO label within FDA regulation, if there were health benefits or environmental benefits to Factory Farming with GMOs to advertise. And with the massive amounts of profits companies such as Monsanto makes dominating the seed industry alone with patents on seeds, as well as creating a global dependence on RoundUp (a pesticide directly linked to Parkinson's Disease), they could afford labeling in order to educate the public on the potential benefits in health and to the environment with GMOs, if there are any. GMO mono-crop speed farming reduces biodiversity, depletes soils of minerals due to non-revolved crops (decay of natural matter back to the soils), enhancing soil erosion, not preventing it as my opponent suggests. The long term use of GMOs are not sustainable and causing CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. Without biodiversity you have no pollination. GMOs make bees sick and they go lost. Monsanto has to transport bees on 18 wheeler trucks from Factory Farms for Bees in Florida to pollinate their crops. The GMOs Monsanto uses kills the bees and they have to re-populate them far away from their pesticide laden crops. It's no wonder why the only labels on foods related to GMOs in any way whatsoever are by many organic farmers with non-GMO labels on their products. Monsanto owns many supposed "natural" food companies as well. Regardless of all this, if people know there are GMOs in their food, they can vote on what sustainable farm they want to promote when they buy food in the store.
I do not think that the United States government should regulate a labeling process. The FDA is already bought out by Monsanto, and are already providing loopholes and ways out of informing the public accurately by allowing food manufacturer's "trade secrets" or brand names in labeling. Aspartame labeled under different names such as NutraSweet is an example. In 1985, Monsanto Company bought G.D. Searle, and the aspartame business became a separate Monsanto subsidiary, the NutraSweet Company. Aspartame is now AminoSweet, owned by Ajinomoto. Sucralose is sweeter, more popular, and retains it's sweetness under heat. The only way to systematically guarantee that "all" foods with GMOs are labeled with accuracy would be with a privately funded internationally recognized NGO (non-government organization). This would be a market driven company voted on for the people and by the people. People would be informed of this company and simply decide themselves if they were to buy products with it's GMO labels or Non-GMO seal. That non-profit company would not be subsidized by Monsanto as our government currently is.
In contention 1 my opponent stated labeling GMOs leads to a misinformed public. This would only be the case, as my opponent said, if there was conflicting interest between shareholders in a company like Monsanto and the organization informing the public. Currently shareholders of Monsanto, are within our current government. Adviser to the FDA, Michael Taylor is a former Monsanto lawyer, and is a most influential shareholder of Monsanto. Michael R. Taylor was named deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2010.
Monsanto is integral to WHO, and future plans of the Codex Alimentarius. If you can control the food you can control the people and you can control the economy. You can specifically control population growth as well.
There is in fact the potential benefit of a GMO that does not include herbicides known in systemic agriculture, such as with Golden Rice, which could solve hunger problems worldwide. The public should know about this. With a label they would be informed. In contention 1 you assume that GMO labels would associate "negative things". The only thing that a label would create is information about what is in a food. I eat Cheetos rarely but sometimes cave in, the new extra spicy jalepeno flavor is great, and I do minimize my intake of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) normally. Regardless of what this ingredient may or may not have as an effect on obesity and the diabetes it may lead to, at least I have been informed it is in Cheetos, which helps me consider a choice. And that choice ought to be my right. I am arguing that that labeling ought to be on there. It is for all foods with HFCS, because we voted on it. Prop 37, the "California Right to Know Act," would require labeling of many " but not all " foods containing genetically modified components and would prohibit marketing such foods as "natural." It was narrowly defeated 53% to 47%. Agribusinesses and food corporations spent 45 million to defeat it. France was able to ban Monsanto's MON 810 "Yieldgaurd" maize amidst environmental and health concerns. People as well stopped buying products containing it due to labels on foods indicating that maize was Genetically Engineered. France's bee population after mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, was restored naturally.
I'm not disputing contention 2 in my opponents argument, because regulation or de-regulation, corruption or conflicts of interest are irrelevant to my "resolution". For my resolution government does not have a role in the labeling process, it would be market driven, by the people, and through an international NGO not subsidized by an international agribusiness such as Monsanto.
Labeling GMOs in no way would create barriers to science or limitations to innovation, it would only create truth for the people to know which scientific innovation is in their food, which is humane. We already get a list of ingredients for our food, so why not GMOs. If they are good GMOs, there is nothing to hide, and why not promote them then. People can decide for themselves, and we have become the science experiment of Monsanto after all. 80% of our foods contain GMOs. People have the right to be informed.
Regarding both Ron and Rand Paul, they endorsed Mitt Romney, and are associated with Monsanto. Ron Paul is anti-war which is good. He's been silent about Monsanto's war on farmers and telling the EPA to Ban Glyphosate.
See the International Journal of Biological Sciences on how the Sub-chronic and Chronic Health Effects can be Neglected for GMOs, Pesticides or Chemicals at http://www.ijbs.com...
GMOs with fortified Iron should be labeled. Again, this is about the "Right to Know" since these are genetically altered crops. "Golden Rice" rich in beta-carotene genetically altered indeed may be a benefit to global starvation and increased Vitamin A in it could be a benefit to children suffering from blindness. Then again there are over 200 forms of carotenoids, some detrimental. We've become the experiment.
Vote PRO in this debate - GMO foods ought to be labeled. The consumer should have a choice to make their own decision, and be informed of what they are buying. The "Right to Know" PRO vote is the most "holistic" and sustainable approach as well as the most responsible and humane decision. To vote PRO for labeling GMOs is wiser.
For the purpose of this debate, I find it important to outline my opponent's main contentions and respond to them individually. First, I will address my opponent's argument about the "right to know." Secondly, I'll analyze my opponent's protest against the environmental impact of these GMO foods. Finally, I'll argue against my opponent's belief that government regulation wouldn't be needed for a labeling process.
The "right to know" is indeed a valid argument, and many would tend to agree. However, it's important to look deeper into our current food labels, and what they really tell us. Our ingredients lists do not tell us everything; often times (even on the back of Cheetos packaging, as my opponent used for an analogy) things are generalized, or even omitted. The most common culprits are "Natural and Artificial Flavors," "Spices," and "Coloring." Even many of the preservatives in foods are generalized. This is because these additives have little to no impact on the human body, after thousands of tests for every possible circumstance. A common argument against this is that the omission of ingredients is simply the result of government cover-ups, corruption, and conflicts of interest. However, many respected scientific groups and labs support the notion that these kinds of additives have no impact on the human body. In the case of GMOs, the story is much the same. A report in Food and Chemical Toxicology reviewed 24 long-term/multigenerational studies which all concluded that "genetically modified corn, soy, potato, rice and wheat had no ill effects on the rats, cows, mice, quails, chickens, pigs and sheep that ate them. Growth, development, blood, tissue structure, urine chemistry and organ and body weights were normal."
Regarding your protest against GMOs and their so-called negative environmental impact, it is crucial to separate the impact of GMOs themselves and the irresponsible actions of Monsanto. You see, the environmental collapse that resulted from the GMO crops was not because of GMOs, but rather because Monsanto (and other major corporations) abuse harvesting techniques such as speed farming. These negative environmental impacts are nothing more than the result of irresponsibility; if we wish to fix this problem, then it's important to tackle the problem at its source: foolish farming techniques. GMO crops, should they be raised in an environmentally responsible way, do not harm the environment at all, and have many benefits as well. This is supported by a 250-page analysis from the National Academies in 2010, which states:
"About 90% of the corn, soy and cotton now grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, and that has led to less use of pesticides, more targeted insect control, a shift to fewer toxic chemicals and less soil erosion compared with conventional farms."
Finally, we all must realize that the government must take part if a nationwide forced labeling policy would come into effect. If we truly wish to "let the public know" about any instance of GMOs in any food product, the only way to guarantee that evasion doesn't happen on a massive scale is through government involvement. This would put this policy into the hands of, as my opponent has conceded, agencies with questionable ethics and notable conflicts of interest. May I suggest a better solution to a public truly worried about GMOs: companies looking to capitalize on the stir regarding GMOs should start labeling products as "GMO free." This would take the exact opposite approach of my opponent's, and would benefit both parties: those who fear GMOs, and those who don't. Compare it to the "Gluten Free" fad, and things start lining up - gluten, although having almost no effects on 99% of the population, became "dangerous" to many. The government didn't force gluten labels on everything, and the consumer had a choice. When you give the consumer the final choice, everybody wins.
It is vital for everyone to consider the entire picture with this situation. Consider the evidence, the multiple lab studies and highly respected scientists that support my position. Consider the price of voting pro: a major loss in economic freedom. Consider the side that will benefit all - the CON.
The above article concludes "Between 1992 and 2002"the period over which GMO crops moved rapidly from test plants to farm fields to dinner tables, the USDA spent about $1.8 billion on ag-biotechnology research"of which about 1 percent went to safety testing, a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis shows. Meanwhile, the ag-biotech industry uses its patent power to maintain tight control over who researches what"and dominates the research agenda at America's main ag-research universities. When we eat GMOs, as millions of Americans do every day, we're still eating in the dark."
Regarding Glyphosates integrally ingrained into systemic agriculture's weed tolerant Genetically Engineered seeds - they have been linked to human harm - birth defects (warning the photo on this page is not suitable for minors) published 6/13/11: http://www.theecologist.org...
Download and print report here: http://www.scribd.com...
Until further testing is done, consumers ought to have "The Right to Know" if they are consuming GMOs.
Secondly, regarding environmental impact, in India (below), and regardless of the major issue surrounding a freedom of choice; that United States GMO farmers have to purchase their crop seeds from reduced diversity in supply due to systemic agricultural farming practices - which require farmers to buy their seeds from primarily Monsanto, whom own the patents to RoundUP Ready "systemic" seeds laden with Glyphosates.
1,000 farmers in India commit suicide monthly, 125,000 so far due to the devastation from planting GM cotton seeds in India. The seeds require twice as much water as conventional seeds and have created massive complications.
"But there is yet a more "sinister reason" for the mass suicides: GM crops, notably Bt cotton. Millions of Indian farmers had been promised undreamed of harvests by switching to planting GM seeds. They borrowed money to buy the exorbitant seeds, only to find their crops failing miserably, leaving them with spiralling debt from which the only exit is suicide. British journalist Andrew Malone writing for the Mail  reported an estimated 125 000 farmers had taken their own lives directly as the result of GM crops; the crisis being branded "GM genocide" by campaigners. It is perpetrated by powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians all over the world who persist in claiming that GM crops have transformed Indian agriculture and producing greater yields than ever before."
The Con states that "we all must realize that the government must take part if a nationwide forced labeling policy would come into effect". That won't be easy since these positions in our current U.S. government are filled by individuals whom ARE the Monsanto leaders:
Please see this diagram http://media.mercola.com...
"The power of Monsanto can be seen through its contributions to Rep. Frank D. Lucas, who's received the most money so far from Monsanto. Lucas just happens to be chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, through which every farm-related piece of legislation must pass. But he's certainly not the only one wheel getting greased by this biotech giant."
"While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients".
Above two paragraphs quoted from: http://articles.mercola.com...
As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Labeling will not prevent innovation, only safe-guard the people. People deserve "ethically" the "Right to Know" with both GMO and non-GMO labels. Subsidiaries of Monsanto claiming to have "natural" foods labeled on their packaging could not readily have non-GMO labels either, without an NGO supervision and testing of marketed food products. When our own government officials are greedy and acting as an agribusiness corporation among themselves, then either an Interpol oversight committee or an internationally recognized NGO could enforce labeling. Monsanto needs to be held accountable. Given their current control of the food market and our U.S. Government, and that they can spend millions of dollars to defeat measures like Prop 37, then they can easily afford to fund labeling of food products they design. The U.S. government has a conflict of interest in the matter given the number of individuals in our government with positions in Monsanto. With all the global imports and exports, and that there are 188 member countries of Interpol, an administrative organization could be alongside WHO to certify non-GMO labels and label foods with GMOs.
In Europe all products containing more than .9 percent GMO are labeled as such. 50 countries have either GE or GMO food labeling if not outright bans. Japan has banned GMOs entirely.
Before I begin this final argument and bring this debate to a formal close, I'd like to first thank my opponent for allowing this debate to be possible. Without him, this debate never would have happened and many wouldn't have informed of the issue at hand.
With that out of the way, I'd like to open this final focus by zooming in on a couple of main voter issues and I'd like to state why I believe the con has won both of them. This debate has essentially boiled down to two main things: the right to know and the actual safety of GMOs.
The right to know the contents of your food has been a constant throughout this entire debate. However, I believe the con has clearly won this issue, as the con has effectively provided a pragmatic solution to the problem at hand: let capitalism solve the problem. Seeing as GMOs don't pose an immediate proven threat to the public, the government needn't step in and harm this developing science that promises to help the environment, feed millions, and get not only the United States' economy but also the international economy the stimulation it desperately needs. The solution the con has provided, as hinted by Ron Paul in the con's Round 1 argument and outlined in the con's Round 2 argument, is to allow companies the choice to label or not to label, instead of forcing them to follow the pro's toxic policy. People who fear GMOs could simply opt out of buying products not labeled strictly "GMO free" and tested and proven as such, and those who don't could go on with their lives as they have before.
The public's minor concern about the safety of GMOs is, for the most part, misguided and driven by misinformation. This goes for both personal safety and environmental safety: personal safety has been proven time and time again, as pointed out by the con's Round 2 quote, "A report in Food and Chemical Toxicology reviewed 24 long-term/multigenerational studies which all concluded that 'genetically modified corn, soy, potato, rice and wheat had no ill effects on the rats, cows, mice, quails, chickens, pigs and sheep that ate them. Growth, development, blood, tissue structure, urine chemistry and organ and body weights were normal.'" Environmentally, GMOs have limited impact as well. While Monsanto's actions have been questionable, this was not the fault of the item itself (GMOs) but instead of the user, Monsanto. Monsanto abused GMOs and pushed policies with the intent of maximizing profit. If the government wishes to solve this, it's better to tackle the problem at the source: dangerous farming techniques. This is the only serious, proven problem the pro has provided and labeling GMOs will not solve this.
The reality of the matter is that when looking through the entire debate, the only side with a pragmatic, target oriented solution to the resolution is the CON, and I urge a strong vote in that position.
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