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The Right to Be Manipulated

By Keith Kloor
Mar 5, 2014 11:09 PMNov 19, 2019 9:17 PM


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The list of supermarkets, companies and restaurants hopping aboard the anti-GMO train keeps growing. Last year Whole Foods and Chipotle made headlines for their pledges to go GMO-free. [CORRECTION:

Only Chipotle has made that pledge; Whole Foods has committed to labeling any of its products that contain GMOs]

Numerous food companies have already slapped such a label on their products. This week big grocery chains like Safeway have followed suit with a pre-emptive decision to not carry genetically modified salmon (trademarked as AquaBounty), which is awaiting approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). As Treehuggernotes:

Should the FDA green-light the fish, opponents of the salmon hope to block AquaBounty's channels to the market. In that regard, today's announcement seems like a major win. Kroger and Safeway join dozens of other grocery stores that have already promised to not carry the genetically engineered fish, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Meijer and Aldi.

Anti-biotechnology activists may have been on the losing end of recent GMO labeling ballot initiatives in Washington and California, but their broader campaign again genetically modified foods appears to be succeeding. Never mind that it's a fundamentally dishonest and disingenuous campaign. It's not about the "right to know," it's about the right to be scared by misinformation and fear-mongering rhetoric. It's about the right to be manipulated by activists and food companies. As Steve Savage observes:

For most consumers, the information on food products is not part of a functional knowledge-base that could guide their food decisions. Instead, they are left to be influenced by the advertising messages and ever-changing food fads that shape our “marketing of non-existence” food culture.

The latest company to jump aboard the GMO hysteria train is Smart Balance, which manufactures a highly processed substitute for butter.

From the LA Times article on Smart Balance's switch to GMO-free oils:

There is no definitive science showing such foods are harmful to human health when consumed. But critics say more time and testing are required to ensure safety, and that the process is unnatural and makes farmers beholden to a handful of seed manufacturers.

Just curious: Is the spreadable butter-like substance made by Smart Balance considered natural?

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