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In yesterday’s New York Times, Personal Health columnist Jane E. Brody wrote that while there are foods claiming not to contain genetically modified substances, the fact is that “nearly every food we eat has been genetically modified, through centuries of crosses, both within and between species, and for most of the last century through mutations induced by bombarding seeds with chemicals or radiation. In each of these techniques, dozens, hundreds, even thousands of genes of unknown function are transferred or modified to produce new food varieties.

“Most so-called organic foods are no exception,” she wrote. “The claims of no genetic modification really refer to foods that contain no ingredients that are produced through the highly refined technique of gene splicing, in which one or a few genes are transferred to an organism. But alarmist warnings about the possible hazards of gene splicing have made the public extremely wary of this selective form of genetic modification.”

While acknowledging that the American public has little understanding of genetic engineering of food, she quotes Dr. Henry I. Miller, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and co-author of "The Frankenfood Myth," as saying that “there hasn't been a single untoward event documented, not a single ecosystem disrupted or person made ill from these foods. That is not something that can be said about conventional foods, where imprecise methods of genetic modification actually have caused illnesses and deaths.”

She also notes that Miller believes that rather than imposing strict regulations governing the use and disclosure of genetically modified foods, the government actually simply ought to do a better job educating consumers about the positive aspects of such foods. Regulation, he said, breeds fear…and in this case, irrational fear.
KC's View:
While we remain personally agnostic on whether or not eating foods with GMOs is good for you, we have to disagree with the concept that consumers simply need education as opposed to regulation. Sure, education and information are important – but this remains an area in which federal agencies ought to be watching with a close eye to make sure all proper protocols are followed and that damage isn’t being done inadvertently.

Regulation doesn’t breed fear, in our view. Lack of disclosure does.