FDA’s ap­proval of blight-re­sis­tant potato a blow to anti-GMO move­ment.

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

If we could go back in time and avert the Ir­ish potato famine, in which a mil­lion peo­ple died, who would pos­si­bly op­pose it?

No one, ob­vi­ously, in­clud­ing anti-GMO ac­tivists. But the ques­tion presents it­self in light of ap­proval last week by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion of a ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered potato that re­sists the blight that de­stroyed Ire­land’s crops in the 1840s.

That same blight re­mains de­struc­tive to this day.

The blight-re­sis­tant potato by J.R. Sim­plot Co. is just the lat­est ad­vance that raises awk­ward ques­tions for the anti-GMO move­ment. And in an­other de­vel­op­ment of per­haps greater sig­nif­i­cance, the Camp­bell Soup Com­pany has de­cided to be­come the first large food com­pany to dis­close the ex­is­tence of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in­gre­di­ents in its prod­ucts.

The com­pany is bet­ting on the good sense of con­sumers and their trust in sci­en­tific con­sen­sus. Let’s hope its faith is war­ranted.

Most so-called GMO la­bel­ing has been on prod­ucts that do not have ge­net­i­cally al­tered in­gre­di­ents. In ef­fect, the sellers are boast­ing of that fact. But as Camp­bell’s chief ex­ec­u­tive freely ac­knowl­edged to The New York Times, three-fourths of her com­pany’s prod­ucts in­clude GMO corn, canola, soy beans or sugar beets.

Ob­vi­ously, Camp­bell be­lieves con­sumers will go on buy­ing its prod­ucts at the same pace once la­bels are in place, which will take 12 to 18 months. If so, the de­ci­sion will go a long way to­ward end­ing the shrill GMO la­bel­ing wars.

In 2014, Colorado vot­ers re­jected a deeply flawed ini­tia­tive re­quir­ing GMO la­bel­ing. And while sim­i­lar bal­lot ini­tia­tives have failed in other states, Ver­mont passed a law re­quir­ing GMO la­bels by July 2016. The is­sue isn’t about to dis­ap­pear.

Camp­bell Soup sup­ports a manda­tory fed­eral re­quire­ment for GMO la­bel­ing as a way to avoid a patch­work of state laws with slightly dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments. But most food pro­duc­ers op­pose a fed­eral man­date be­cause the la­bel­ing move­ment has noth­ing to do with food safety and they fear la­bels will stig­ma­tize thou­sands of safe and whole­some prod­ucts.

But what if the vast ma­jor­ity of con­sumers take the la­bels in stride? What if the la­bels de­mys­tify GMOs and lead to greater pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of their po­ten­tial to bat­tle mal­nu­tri­tion and re­duce the use of pes­ti­cides?

The anti-GMO move­ment, fu­eled by the or­ganic food in­dus­try and anti-cor­po­rate ac­tivists, has main­tained for years that all it wants is to pro­vide the pub­lic with more in­for­ma­tion. Camp­bell Soup is about to call their bluff.

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