It doesn't get much darker than this, moaned the anti-GMO groups, when confronted with the new labeling bill that President Obama is expected to sign into law.
Which underscores just how screwed up their priorities are. Really? A deadly drought is hammering East Africa, 84 people in France were just mowed down by a terrorist, cops and citizens are killing each other in America and a fricking food label is the darkest thing on the horizon?
Still, I can't help but chortle when I see Andrew Kimbrell, director of Center for Food Safety, sputtering and wringing his hands in despair. Whassa matter, Andy? Worried about losing one of your longest-running fundraising gambits, the demand for labeling?
Or are you just whimpering because you gambled, and lost, when you believed that teeny-tiny Vermont would serve as a labeling model for the nation? You folks pushed, and Congress pushed back and voided Vermont. So suck it up and deal.
Kimbrell and crew took a similar gamble in Hawaii with the anti-GMO bills they pushed through here. The Hawaii laws have nothing to do with protecting anyone (save CFS's fundraising machine) and everything to do with establishing a precedent for supposed “home rule,” which groups like CFS define as their right to meddle in local affairs.
Thus far, however, the courts have dealt the antis a losing hand, firmly establishing the pre-emption authority of state over counties in these matters. We'll see whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals solidifies that authority further, as it appears inclined to do.
It's also fascinating to watch these guys whine about how the law keeps people in the dark, when the anti-GMO groups themselves are so very non-transparent about their own funding and actions. To use their line against food manufacturers, if you've got nothing to hide, why aren't you disclosing?
Speaking of which, I see that Kauai House candidate Fern Rosenstiel is promising: “Personally I will work to develop a strong reputation for very transparent and clear decision-making relating to all positions I take.” So why not start, Fern, by disclosing the finances of your anti-GMO group, Ohana O Kauai — like who gave you money, how much and where it was spent? Also, how much have you gotten in crowd-sourcing, and did you declare it as taxable income? And why are you giving your occupation as “environmental scientist” when you're a bartender at Tahiti Nui?
Meanwhile, the labeling issue is becoming increasingly moot, anyway, since the USDA has declined to regulate crops modified through the new process of gene-editing. First up: canola oil rich in omega 3 fatty acids and mushrooms that resist browning with age. Also in the works: genetically-edited soybeans that produce oil able to withstand high cooking heat without producing trans fat; low-gluten wheat and potatoes with fewer neurotoxins.
Though the antis have lost labeling as a powerful fundraising tool, they can still simplistically exploit many other complex issues, such as pollinator health. The Hawaii Branch of CFS just came out with a scary schtick in which they are trying to blame pesticides for the decline of native Hawaiian birds — uh, guess they never heard about habitat loss, avian malaria and rat/cat predation — while painting a dire picture of honeybee health.
In fact, Hawaii's managed honey bee colonies are among the healthiest in the nation. There has been no colony collapse disorder in the Islands, and there's a hearty feral bee population. The greatest risks to Hawaii bees are the varroa mite and small hive beetle, but they're not sexy fundraisers, so CFS focuses on pesticides.
In the real world, pesticides are but one of many threats facing pollinators. Scientists are now starting to suspect a new culprit in the decline of bees: soaring levels of carbon dioxide associated with global warming. As Yale Environment 360 reports:
The adverse impact of rising CO2 concentrations on the protein levels in pollen may be playing a role in the global die-off of bee populations by undermining bee nutrition and reproductive success.
Though beekeepers can supplement with protein patties in the fall, no such option exists for native bees, which actually do the lion's share of pollination.
Meanwhile, high CO2 levels are affecting more than protein levels in pollen:
Samuel Myers, a senior research scientist at Harvard’s School of Public Health, has published groundbreaking studies on how rising CO2 levels lower the nutritional quality of foods that we eat, like rice, wheat, and maize, which lose significant amounts of zinc, iron, and protein when grown under higher concentrations of CO2.
“We are fundamentally transforming all of the biophysical conditions that underpin the global food system,” said Myers. “Global food demand is rising at the same time the biophysical conditions are changing more rapidly than ever before.”
To quote Mr. Toad: “Hold on to your hat, because away we gooooo.....”