Re: Re question on labelling genetically modified foods

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 06:58:55 MST

On Fri, 7 Jan 2000, Elizabeth Childs wrote:

> I get my produce delivered from a company that only handles organic produce.
> About 50% of what they bring me is easily the best I've ever had in my life.
> 40% is OK, and 10% is crappy looking. *Way* better than Safeway and at
> least as good as the conventionally grown produce at the local premium
> grocery store.
> I wish they'd irradiate it, though.

Here, here!! A fine example of an educated consumer. While there may
be some bad press regarding radiation byproducts, I suspect most of it
is fear-mongoring. On balance, the probable risk reduction you get from
killing the bacteria would offset any marginal increase in toxin exposure
that might come from radiation generating "new" molecules (after all vegetables
and many fruit are a chemical soup of natural "pesticides" anyway).

> My wonderful life extension doctor recommends eating organic. His arguments
> are outlined in his book, "Renewal: The Anti-Aging Program," by Dr. Timothy
> Smith. There are many pages of references for anyone who wants to check out
> the cites themselves.

I haven't read the book. However, much of anti-aging "science" is working
at the margins. If they don't make distinctions of relative risks
(tobacco >> alcohol >> pesticides >> herbicides, etc.) and lump them
all together they are oversimplifying and trying to sell books without
giving you a balanced presentation of the data.

For people who can afford it, going organic is perfectly fine. However
the probable benefits are probably slightly below taking one-a-day
vitamins. You have to be somewhat careful with organic however.
Dr. Ames is fond of quoting the story of the development of a highly insect
resistant vegetable developed by one company. It turned out that it has
about 3x the normal level of carcinogenic toxins. The average consumer
eating his nice pretty pest-free organic food has no way of knowing
whether the grower "happened" to invent one of these and is serving it
up to you.

Which brings us to a *very* interesting question. Is there *any* regulation
at all on developing new foods? Aren't growers/seed companies free to
breed anything and market it?

So, in theory the logic being applied to GM-"labeling", re: safety, should
be reversed and applied to any "home"/"corporate"-bred varieties as well.
Ideally the exact chemical composition of *all* of the foods in our food
supply should be available so the complete mutation/cancer-promotion or
allergic reaction potential could be assesed by the consumer.


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