Washington university remains neutral on GMO labeling measure

09/16/2013 09:14:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Washington State University has issued a statement that it plans to remain neutral on Initiative 522, which would require labeling of all foods in that state that contain genetically modified organisms.

Although faculty members have the right to express individual opinions, they do not represent those of the university, provost and executive vice president Daniel Bernardo wrote in the statement.

"Our role as one of Washington State’s premier research universities is limited to providing objective, science-based information to inform decision makers," he wrote.

I-522, also known as the "People's Right to Know about Genetically Engineered Food Act," was originally pushed by Chris McManus, a Tacoma-area advertising agency owner who founded "http://www.labelitwa.org" target="_blank">www.labelitwa.org.

The measure goes before Washington state voters in November.



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Steve Farrar    
California  |  September, 20, 2013 at 04:16 PM

As a horticultual dept. alumni of WSU, I am disappointed that WSU is not supporting the right to know what's in our food. I would have thought after seeing PNW wheat exports to Asia curtailed after finding rogue GM wheat in Oregon, the university would see its way to taking a proactive position. Wonder how much money WSU gets from the biotech bullies like Monsanto, Bayer, etc. and if that had any influence on their lack of position. At least they didn't come out against GM labeling.

John R. French    
Marietta, Georgia  |  November, 16, 2013 at 03:08 PM

Steve, I think WSU has taken a scientifically rational position on this issue. On the basis of your position you should be demanding labeling of all horticultural varieties of every food source that has ever been derived from conventional breeding techniques. Clearly that's not practical or necessary, and would be virtually meaningless to consumers. Why do you allege that Monsanto, Bayer etc. are biotech bullies? It makes no rational sense to beat up on the very entities that are bringing our best technologies forward in the interest of feeding the world with nutritional foods that are less burdensome to the environment by reducing unnecessary use of pesticides. As a scientist, I'm sure you are aware that the introduction of genetically modified corn, soybeans, cotton, and several other extensively grown crops has cut herbicide use in the U.S. by more than 70% over the past 2 decades, and has negated the routine use of insecticides in many cases. The result has been lower loading of pesticides to the environment, as well as preventing yield losses due to insect infestation, and disease losses during storage. These collateral benefits in terms of mycotoxin reduction have just recently been realized in terms of protecting public health, and have never been possible before the use of GMO technology. The medical profession has used GMO technology successfully for more than 3 decades, without any special labeling from a "right to know" perspective. I fully support educational programs that promote public understanding about the benefits of GMO technology. So far, they have been few and far between. As a scientist, I encourage the dissemination of knowledge, and I encourage all of my colleagues to do the same.

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