GMO scare is a lot of hype with little substance

Several years ago I received a news release, just before Thanksgiving, urging folks to abstain from turkey at their holiday feast and to substitute “tofurkey” instead. Tofurky is a concoction of soy and a bunch of other stuff (spices and what not) that apparently adds flavor to the meat substitute.

I suggested that I would forego the tofurkey and enjoy a real turkey with friends and family. As I recall, I also added a pork loin to the feast—real pork, not tofahog, or whatever.

I received emails from people who thought they had the right to tell me what I should eat. Some called me names, including a word also used to describe a donkey. I survived—sticks and stones, as they say.

Just last week I received another news release from folks who want me to screen all my Thanksgiving foods to make certain there are no GMO products lurking in the turkey. GMO, the news release said, may be “an unwelcome and hidden guest at your Thanksgiving celebration.

“This year GMO Inside, a new coalition that advocates for increased consumer awareness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods, is offering tips and suggestions for consumers on how to remove unwanted GMOs from their holiday feasts,” the release read.

It also provided a list of products that should be eliminated from the Thanksgiving menu. I will not repeat the list, but it includes some well-known and well-respected name brands and popular products.

As I have said before, people have a right to eat whatever they want—organic, vegan, gluten-free, soy-based (I have no problem with soy but really prefer meat.), local or omnivorous. And if folks want to research every product they buy to determine if it has transgenic properties, then I guess they have the right to do that.

And if an organization has an issue with a product, any product, I agree that it has the right, perhaps even the responsibility, to alert the public.

However, and this is a big however, when an organization determines that a product is bad and decides to turn other people against it, they should offer some facts to support the reasoning behind the boycott.

I found no such reasoning in this particular press release. The only “evidence” supplied was that GMO products have not been adequately studied and tested for human consumption. In all the adverse publicity I’ve seen, heard and read over the last decade and more condemning GMO products, I’ve yet to see evidence of any ill effects from them.

There have been rumors and there have been many examples of hyperbole—frankenfoods, products that will turn consumers green or make them glow in the dark—and other ridiculous claims that had no merit.

I’m not fearful of GMO foods. I’m also not afraid to eat non-organic foods or foods that traveled more than 14 miles to get to the market. I’m convinced that the United States continues to have the best, safest, most affordable food supply in the world and perhaps in the history of the world. And I’m equally convinced that the USDA and the FDA are doing their jobs to assure us that our food supply is of the highest quality.

I’m also convinced that many organizations use controversy to attract attention and often portray problems where none exist.

I’m looking forward to a nice Thanksgiving turkey later this week, perhaps another pork loin and if GMOs are on the menu, I’ll dig into those as well. Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

TAGS: Management
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