Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Wall Street Journal

[Ms. Pamela Bailey, President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association had an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal in support of genetically engineered foods (GMOs) on May 7th, 2015. Below is a copy of an email response sent to her.]

Ms Bailey….. I happened to purchase a copy of the Wall Street Journal for reading while eating lunch. I ran across your opinion piece about GMOs. It is clear where your pay check originates, but I am wondering about what background you have in biological science.

I, for one, applaud Chipotle’s decision to remove genetically engineered ingredients from the food they offer. I applaud Vermont, and for that matter Connecticut and Maine, for passing legislation that would require labeling of foods containing GE components. I applaud all efforts, and there have been many, to pass GE labeling legislation in the many states where legislation has been introduced. I just hope Rep. Mike Pompeo’s bill will go down in defeat.

I noted that your piece could have been written right out of the Monsanto public relations department. What you failed to mention is that 64 countries world wide require labeling or ban GE foods all together. What you failed to mention is that food companies have been able just fine to serve markets in those countries. What you failed to mention is that GE crops were brought to the market and declared to be safe simply by government decree during the Bush/Quayle administration with Michael Taylor at the FDA. What you failed to mention were Taylor’s close ties to Monsanto and even being a VP there for a time. What you failed to mention is that there have now been several animal studies, mostly in other countries, where test animals fed genetically modified feed developed a whole range of health issues. What you failed to mention is that the primary reason for GE crops to date has been to enable them to withstand massive doses of the herbicide, glyphosate, and live. What you failed to mention is that pesticide residue follows the crop to the dinner plate and that glyphosate has now been designated as a “probable human carcinogen” by the WHO. And, I might add, the use of pesticide has gone up, not down.

And why do I care. My background includes over 20 years in the newspaper industry with several as publisher of an Indiana daily. At middle age, I returned to Purdue where I garnered a MS in aquatic toxicology and a PhD in genetics. I was with a research group that did some of the early genetic modification in fish. I know the inside story.

You have partaken of the Kool-Aid served by big chemical/seed corporations. Last year, the AARP reported that the expected life span for men in the USA is last among 17 industrialized countries and that of women is 16th of 17. Further they reported the span has grown wider over the past 30 years. Something is seriously wrong and I happen to believe it is our food supply when compared to the other 16 countries.

You claim “GMOs have been in the food supply for decades without a single documented illness”. I would appreciate knowing of long term safety studies, human or animal, carried out by independent researchers in the United States without ties to big chemical/seed or big food.

Finally, I am about as staunch an advocate as one might find for the public right to know. There is a long list of information on food labels. Whether a product contains genetically engineered ingredients needs to be in that list. Secrecy is not the answer. I am taken by the parallels I see with the history of the tobacco industry. Secrecy and lies were the order of the day.

Regards, Kent Blacklidge

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About Kent Blacklidge Ph.D.

As part of a newspaper family who owned a 34,000 daily newspaper in the heart of the Midwest, I have a passion for a strong “Fourth Estate”, the press. Without a diligent and assertive free press, the power would be taken from the people. People have the absolute right to know. After earning a degree in Industrial Management from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue, I spent over 20 years in newspaper management with several as publisher. I am also holder of three graduate science degrees including a Ph.D.. I have a passionate interest in science and the environment. I have little tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
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