5 Big Drivers Behind the Chipotle Backlash


The last few days at Chipotle HQ could not have been much fun for the people running the marketing and public relations operation. The response to their announcement that they are removing some GMO ingredients from some of their menu items was not exactly met with the round of applause they must have been expecting. It’s been more of a collective raspberry. Here is a sample of headlines from mainstream, mostly liberal, mostly prestigious outlets:

TIME: Why Chipotle Mexican Grill Going GMO-Free is Terrible News
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:What Chipotle’s Ban on GMOs Says About Us
SLATE: Chipotle Wants to Sell “Food With Integrity.” Dropping GMOs Is the Wrong Way to Do It.
DAILY BEAST: We’re Paranoid About GMO Foods Because of Pseudo-Science
BLOOMBERG VIEW: Chipotle Bans Credibility
NPR: Why We Can’t Take Chipotle’s GMO Announcement All That Seriously
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chipotle’s GMO message is muddled
WASHINGTON POST: Chipotle’s GMO gimmick is hard to swallow
NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Chipotle Is Promoting Opportunistic Anti-Science Hysteria
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Chipotle’s junk science on GMOs
MOTHER JONES: Chipotle Says It’s Getting Rid of GMOs. Here’s the Problem.
VOX: Chipotle will stop serving GMO foods — despite zero evidence they’re harmful to eat
GIZMODO: Chipotle’s Anti-GMO Stance Is Some Anti-Science Pandering Bullshit
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Why Tyson antibiotic-free chicken is a bigger deal than GMO-free Chipotle

For the PR team it must feel more like a scandal being leaked, rather than an exciting new initiative. It was bad enough that the Ad Week blog did a post on it (pictured above) under the category “PR Fail”. When you’ve lost the support of Mother Jones on your sustainable food strategy, you are in big trouble. Ouch.

The response in the press centered around three themes.

A. There is no credible health or safety reason to remove genetically engineered ingredients from menus. In fact, the scientific consensus on the safety of genetic engineering is even more definitive than the consensus on global warming. This is not surprising, because it’s a much simpler, more straight forward question. Writers were quick to point this out. There was widespread concern that Chipotle’s marketing would only contribute to increasing unfounded, anti-science and pseudo-scientific fears.

B. The move was hypocritical and opportunistic. Chipotle is only switching ingredients like corn meal for tortillas and soybean oil for cooking and leaving their meat sources and soda fountain untouched. When it comes to the demand for biotech crops, the corn meal and sunflower oil that Chipotle is swapping out are small potatoes compared to the demand for biotech corn and soy driven by meat and high fructose corn syrup production. Some of the more sophisticated commenters pointed out that the rennet used to culture cheese will continue to be biotech, as it has been since we’ve stopped harvesting it from veal cattle for cheese making.

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C. A few (too few) pointed out the issue I poked fun at the other day: This move is a step backwards in terms of pesticide use and so-called “superweeds”. Farmers adopted herbicide tolerant corn and soy in order to use less herbicide and switch to a glyphosate, a safer herbicide. When you take that away, farmers don’t stop using herbicides, they switch back to the herbicides they were using before.

The excellent Dan Charles, NPR’s agriculture reporter, was one of the few who went to the center of the bullseye on this one:

As an example of the ways that GMOs can damage the environment, Chipotle points to the problems caused by herbicide-tolerant GMO crops and how they encourage farmers to use a single herbicide, usually glyphosate, or Roundup. This, in turn, has led to the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds, which Chipotle calls “superweeds.”

Chipotle’s answer to this, per its new non-GMO policy, is to switch from soybean oil to sunflower oil.

The problem is, many sunflower varieties, while not genetically modified, also are herbicide-tolerant. They were bred to tolerate a class of herbicides called ALS inhibitors. And since farmers starting relying on those herbicides, many weeds have evolved resistance to them. In fact, many more weeds have become resistant to ALS inhibitors than to glyphosate.

Why should Chipotle bemoan the emergence of weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, yet not to other weedkillers?


The thing that had many of us scratching our heads over yesterday was: What was animating this backlash in places where espousing the goals of the food movement is usually met with approval and encouragement? Just two years ago the decision by Whole Foods to implement full GMO labeling was widely met with approving coverage. It feels like a switch has flipped. What has changed since then?

Let me suggest five phenomena contributing to this turn of events.

1.) The Rise of the Celebrity Quack Has Shown That Quackery Has Consequences

Stop looking so smug. Not everyone is buying your bullshit.
Stop looking so smug. Not everyone is buying your bullshit.

The success of Jenny McCarthy, Foodbabe, Dr. Oz and other celebrity quacks brought quackery out of the shadows and dark corners of the internet and forced mainstream journalists to confront the phenomenon head on. In the case of Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaxx advocacy, we’ve seen some really horrible consequences in form of measles and whooping cough outbreaks. Journalists have become wary of contributing to this kind of stuff by “covering the controversy”.

In the case of Foodbabe, we have someone who has taken Michael Pollan’s unobjectionable rule of thumb to avoid foods with hard to pronounce ingredients turned it into a scientifically illiterate, paranoid baton for bullying companies into getting rid of polysyllabic ingredients, completely divorced from any rational risk assessment. It’s no coincidence that she is vehemently anti-GMO. She stands as proof that there is no way to completely idiot proof nutrition advice, even by as talented a wordsmith and popularizer as Pollan. But she has also starting to wield real power and is positioned to wreak some real world pseudo-scientific havoc. If she becomes the most prominent part of Michael Pollan’s legacy, he owes us all a very big apology.

While she has a growing, committed following, not everyone has been charmed by Foodbabe’s combination of aggressive science illiteracy; free range paranoia; and boundless upper middle class sense of entitlement. She’s a demon mash up of an Oberlin freshman working at the co-op and a Real Housewife of Orange County whining about her headache and the sulfites in her chardonnay. What began as a New York Times profile quickly transformed into a brutal takedown. Just today on Vox we get this headline: How should journalists cover quacks like Dr. Oz or the Food Babe?.

The quacks have worn out their welcome and their anti-GMO stance has been duly noted by the press.

2.) The Climate Change Debate Has Brought the Concept of Scientific Consensus to the Center Stage

Related to the backlash against quackery, is the growing importance of the concept of scientific consensus.  It has been central to the climate change debate and journalists are learning that they veer away from the scientific consensus at their peril.

Journalists can’t be experts at everything. One way to cut through the noise is to understand where the scientific consensus lies and anchor around that. Is there a controversy? Is the controversy because the evidence just isn’t clear yet and legitimate scientists have legitimate differences over what can understand so far? Or is there a controversy because one side is made up of cranks and quacks with an agenda who twist and misrepresent the evidence to fit suit their needs?

As I said above, the scientific consensus on GMO safety is even more solid than the one around climate change. After a decade of covering or following the climate debate, it’s no coincidence that Chipotle’s departure from the scientific consensus was the number one issue critics seized on.

Here the thing about the general backlash against quackery – once you’ve seen it one or two forms – you get to know the pattern and habits of quacks and you can recognize it in other fields without having to do a lot of homework on the subject.

3.) The GMO labeling campaign has been a crash course on GMOs for mainstream journalists.

The mandatory GMO labeling campaigns in California, Washington, Vermont and other states drew new reporters to the subject. Previously GMOs had been the subject of the occasional health or agriculture article, now they were everywhere.

Reporters have stopped interviewing obvious cranks like Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety and charlatans like Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology to present the anti-GMO side of the story. They have been looking to more sober voices like the Union of Concerned Scientists (though, they have been widely criticized by the scientific community for their outlier stance on GMOs and recently cleaned house, letting two key staffers go). Meanwhile, reporters are turning to several independent scientists where they used to turn to “industry spokesperson”. All this has shifted the Overton Window on GMOs in the direction of reality and away from lazy misinformation.

Editorial boards in California and Washington overwhelming came out against mandatory labeling once they had done their homework. That’s what happens when people who know how to research, assess credibility of sources, and have no dog in the fight take a closer look at the GMO debate. It becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly, that when it comes to the risks of biotech breeding, the science is settled and it’s is only contested by crazy people.

On some of the more sophisticated environmental and business issues, it becomes clear that the critiques of biotech crops are really just generic critiques of industrial agriculture that have nothing to do with the breeding techniques. As Dan Charles pointed out, the “superweed” problem was equally, if not more applicable to the non-GMO option.

A story by Amy Harmon in the New York Times is about a county commissioner in Hawaii, rather than a journalist, but it lays out the roadmap of what this process looks like:

“You just type ‘G.M.O.’ and everything you see is negative,” he told his staff. Opposing the ban also seemed likely to ruin anyone’s re-election prospects.

Yet doubts nagged at the councilman, who was serving his first two-year term. The island’s papaya farmers said that an engineered variety had saved their fruit from a devastating disease. A study reporting that a diet of G.M.O. corn caused tumors in rats, mentioned often by the ban’s supporters, turned out to have been thoroughly debunked.

And University of Hawaii biologists urged the Council to consider the global scientific consensus, which holds that existing genetically engineered crops are no riskier than others, and have provided some tangible benefits.

“Are we going to just ignore them?” Mr. Ilagan wondered.

… As he traversed the island and the Internet, Mr. Ilagan agreed with constituents that there was good reason to suspect that companies like Monsanto would place profit above public safety. He, too, wished for more healthful food to be grown more sustainably.

But even a national ban on such crops, it seemed to him, would do little to solve the problems of an industrial food system that existed long before their invention. Nor was it likely to diminish the market power of the “Big Ag” companies, which also dominate sales of seeds that are not genetically modified, and the pesticides used on both. The arguments for rejecting them, he concluded, ultimately relied on the premise that they are unsafe.

Mr. Ilagan, just like any journalist or editor who digs into the issue, learns that the Seralini rat study was nonsense, that there are no sterile “terminator” seeds, that butterflies are not dying from a toxin produced by transgenic plants – but from farmers success in removing milkweed from their farms. He learns that farmers in India were committing suicide because of crippling debt whether they used Bt cotton or not. He learned that there is lots of independent and publicly funded research, despite what he had been told. One myth after another fell like dominoes when he put in the time to check with credible sources.

It become obvious to anyone who looks at the issue with fresh eyes and hews to credible sources that the bulk of objections to biotech crops are based on misinformation and faulty logic.

The labeling campaign has pushed many journalists through this same process. And it has had the exact opposite effect that labeling proponents were hoping for. This is obvious when you look at the reaction to Chipotle’s move.

4.) The Scarecrow and Farmed and Dangerous Put Chipotle on Thin Ice

Last year, the Chipotle marketing department released an emotionally powerful promo video about a Scarecrow who was very sad about the industrial food system and a not so subtle (or funny) four episode TV series called Farmed and Dangerous. Both offered a somewhat fact challenged critique of industrial agriculture. With these investments, Chipotle signaled to the world that they were going to market the shit out of their sustainability cred and make sure that everyone knew that they were better than everyone else.

This undoubtedly put a lot people on guard for marketing BS, and people were ready to see a Chipotle get their comeuppance. After substantive changes on things like antibiotics, local sourcing, and animal welfare issues – a superficial move like switching to GMO free cornmeal and cooking oil, while leaving meat and soda untouched came across like a cynical marketing ploy.  Apparently, there were plenty of people waiting to pounce. And pounce they did.

5.) People Are Fed Up With the Sanctimony of the Consumerist Wing of the Food Movement

This is the most obvious, most universal reason for the Chipotle backlash.

When the food movement was all about addressing serious health and environmental problems, increasing food security for the vulnerable, and rebuilding community through shared cooking and dining, it was something everybody wanted to be a part of it. As the most highly visible exemplars of the food movement have become entitled shoppers and diners finding ways to signal their superior education, taste, and virtue – it’s just become a boor. The setup to the punchline of a Portlandia sketch.

That many have run out of patience for hearing about how virtuous food can be was on full display this past week.


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  1. Foodbabe’s combination of aggressive science illiteracy; free range
    paranoia; and boundless upper middle class sense of entitlement

    I stood up at my desk and clapped at that part.

    Agree on all counts. I would only add to #5 that I think the bullying of academics by the likes of USRTK has also pushed them past boor and on to bully. That probably hasn’t bubbled up to most people’s Facebook feeds yet, but I’ll bet that journalists know this, and that affects their perceptions.

    • Yup.
      There are a number of other landmarks and phenomena that I wanted to include, but didn’t for my version of brevity.

      The anti-GMO movement is certainly a bully, I don’t know if I’d extend that to the whole of the food movement.

      The Lynas defection, the Seralini debacle, the Pew poll, the Nicolia and Van Eneenaman papers, the rise of Biofortified, GMOSF and GMOLOL are all really key as well.

    • Thanks!

      I agree that the anti-GMO clown car is a bunch of bullies. I’m not so sure that I’d extend that to the rest of the food movement that just wants more farmers markets and better local cheese.

      • And while they ‘hog’ the conservation, the useful items get shoved off the table, again. Local choice is great for what grows in your area, it is silly to expect ‘local’ citrus in most of the US, or local potatoes in the black clay belts of the south.

        • Time after time I have been told by activists that I should buy local. Take a wild guess as to how many Peach and Apple orchards there are in Phoenix.

          • I live in Dallas and the only nuts I would ever have would be pecans. All climates and soils are not suitable for all crops.

            Now a person can use a lot of additions to the soil to help grow some items, but that is silly to do commercially.

            The hot summer here, kills tomatoes, so any picnics in July would be missing the tomatoes.

            Crops have been shipped a lot longer than most folks realize. Even in medieval Europe, grain was often transported long distances and things like citrus fruit also.

          • I grew up in the 50s and I remember the much smaller selection of fresh produce we had. You could buy strawberries for maybe 6 wks out of the year. Blackberries and raspberries were a rarity. Lettuce was iceberg, greens were collard and turnip greens. No Roma tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes, no colored peppers.

          • Containerized shipping, intermodal friendly ports, getting rid of regulations (ICC abolished in 1995 for instance) that hampered adoption and improved customs procedures between countries changed that starting in the mid 70s and maturing in the early 90s. Today we can get produce from the southern hemisphere nearly as cheaply off season as we can from US markets, in season. Local is now global.

          • To the tune (loosely) of Gilligan’s Island.

            Come listen to a story of a community that wanted only locally grown.
            They thought that’ll be the way to go, eat only what they’ve sown.

            They drew up an ordinance, to buy nothing from afar.
            They pledged that nothing would come in by train, ship or car. (Train, ship or car !)

            No lemons!, No Limes, No pineapple! Not a single citrus fruit!
            No papayas and no mangoes, and bananas were out to boot !

            No maple syrup or buckwheat cakes, they were three hours away by car !
            No cod nor scrod nor crab nor shrimp, all shores were just too far ! (All shores were just too far !)

            They sowed their fields with assorted grains of wheat, barley, oats and rye.
            But, too late they realized, their land was just too dry !

            And the cows they kept ate what little what was left. And within the ensuing drought,
            their utters were left quite bereft, and their calves all died out. (Their calves all died out!)

            The children cried, the elderly moaned for days when they were fed.
            But now they only dreamed of that, as they tossed in bed !

      • Oh, I know–but I imagine that could impact the coverage and sympathy they get. Except from the usual stenographers who repeat whatever they are told…cough…Strom…cough….

      • I’ve been to many a farmers market, Philly, quakertown, gilbertsville, a couple in Berks County, PA, and many a supermarket. Though I enjoyed the occasional surprise at those markets, I find I still do almost all of my shopping at the supermarket. Just my opinion and preference. No matter. Wherever it’s sold, that food came from a farmer/fisherman somewhere.

  2. I love the last point “When the food movement was all about addressing serious health and
    environmental problems, increasing food security for the vulnerable, and
    rebuilding community through shared cooking and dining, it was
    something everybody wanted to be a part of it. As the most highly
    visible exemplars of the food movement have become entitled shoppers and
    diners finding ways to signal their superior education, taste, and
    virtue – it’s just become a boor. The setup to the punchline of a
    Portlandia sketch.” I love to garden, I had backyard chickens for many years and was really excited about learning how to do these things and share what I had grown and learned with others. For anti GMOers, and to a certain degree, some organic farmers, it is more about moral posturing, vanity and religious purity than the simple joy of eating and growing. And to be against modern plant breeding is to be against curiosity and adventure itself. We have delicious heirloom varieties because people tinkered and experimented. We should continue that tradition and look to the future as well as looking into the past.

  3. Marc, please post a lousy article soon as I feel nauseous with all this niceness going on. Good job….

  4. The only problem that I have with the GMO companies is that two of my neighbors got cease and desist orders when they have been growing corn for seed for over 50 years. THAT is what is out of control. The worst part is that my sister is a patent attorney for Monsanto.(although she didn’t have anything to do with these incidents)

    • I call Bullshit on this one. These kind of stories are repeated over and over, yet not a single one has ever been able to actually supply any evidence. Ask your neighbors for a copy of the court or attorney letter and see how fast they backtrack.

    • Well, if they were growing Monsanto seed in large amounts, without permission, then they deserved it.

      But I doubt this story happened at all. Like others have said, these stories pop up but nobody can ever prove it.

    • You do realize that Whole foods makes as much money as Monsanto right? And that they have had 10 times as many recalls.

  5. I think that this shift actually started with Food Babe – at least that is when I first noticed that a lot more critical articles were appearing. Not long after, it was Oz, Jenny Babe, and so forth. I just hope it keeps up and does not get drowned out by the Chipotle Paid Shills…. 😀

  6. I’ve been watching this change with boots on the ground for fifteen years, speaking to public audiences and teaching about the subject. The Jeffery Smiths, Shvias, Kimbrells, Hansens, Hubers, Seralinis, etc were allowed to run virtually unchecked, spreading fear and mistrust about science. It was a political battle against facts, and they won the middle. Now scientists are fighting back as they abuse OUR journals with bad science. Farmers are participating. There are legions of science-loving laymen that have sophisticated understandings of this topic, and dive in to meet the public. The companies that make GM seeds are involved. Journalists get it, more are reporting on it, and their credibility is tied to landing on the right side of history.

    Plus, none of the doom-and-gloom predictions opponents made have come true.

    Also, there is a leading edge we’re seeing that the good idea to farm with organic/sustainable approaches is being tied to the anti-GMO movement and seeing is credibility erode. Even national leaders at the USDA in organics see this.

    There is blood on the hands of the anti-GMO movement, they just won’t look at it. History will show, soon, that these people (and companies like Chipotle) took money by manufacturing risk and then cashing in on the opportunity– even though it harmed the environment, the farmer, the consumer and slowed adoption of science that could help the needy.

    And now the trolls with no real human names will trash me for what I said above, as they fight to defend their dying scam.

  7. Good piece but one thing jumped out at me, “…Michael Pollan’s unobjectionable rule of thumb… turned it into a scientifically illiterate…? Really? Isn’t that rule scientifically illiterate on its face?

    • I know a lot of other people thinks so. I don’t.

      I think that on balance, eating fresh ingredients, scratch cooking and minimally processed foods is heatlhier than living on highly processed foods. Long lists of polysyllabic ingredients is a marker, not a cause. (It’s not the syllables that aren’t the problem – which Pollan has said, but Foodbabe seems to be insisting on.)

      Of course if you were feeling contrarian, you could compose a healthy diet from processed foods and an unhealthy diet of scratch cooking. But as a rule of thumb, Pollan’s admonition works as well as any other heuristic and we all need hueristics to get through the day. The key is understanding the spirit of a rule of thumb and using it productively.

    • I can just imagine an inspector at the checkout counter saying, “Hold up there, Ma’am. You’re not leaving here with that box unless you pronounce those ingredients!”

    • I know a lot of people that think so. I don’t. It’s meant as a rule of thumb and I find that it generally holds. Scratch cooking and minimally processed food tends strongly to be more healthful than highly processed foods. Polysyllabic ingredients are a marker of highly processed foods.

      Of course, you could construct a healthful diet from highly processed foods if you set your mind to it. Just as you can scratch cook unhealthy choices. It’s also true that even scratch ingredients like potatoes or carrots are made up of compounds with polysyllabic names. But the point of a rule of thumb is to take the spirit of it, and use it as a guide. It should be a helpful heuristic, not the basis of legislation.

      Pollan himself has said that the syllables aren’t the problem, the processing is the problem and there is science to support that.The trouble with Foodbabe is that she is insisting that it’s the syllables that are the problem and that we should legislate accordingly.

  8. Great piece, Marc!
    I think this will help some people on the fence both understand why the backlash, and hopefully push them to research claims better!

  9. I agree with all five of those reasons. The first and last one especially. I am all for helping people eat better and getting better access to quality food… But Food Babe and her ilk aren’t doing that, and neither is Chipotle… Or now Panera! They’re doing publicity stunts, all of them. Helping poor people in food desserts get access to produce and meat would be 1,000,000x more useful than what any of them have done…but none of them have focused on that. And sure, you can excuse Chipotle and Panera for that, but Food Babe is a person? Oh wait, no, she’s a corporation!

  10. If there’s no problem with GMO then why is Monsanto spending millions to keep labeling off of foods using GMO??!! If there really is no problems with GMO, then let food be labeled if it has GMO products in it. Let consumers decide what they want or don’t want to eat!!

      • Jason, you really don’t believe that this is that simple a situation do you? And if it were that simple, then why spend the millions to stop legislation to label GMO products? Just label the products and let the consumer decide what they want to ingest into their bodies!!!

          • Being a simpleton in life as you are Jason doesn’t negate the fact that there is a lot more to this GMO situation then you, I, and the rest of the population is being told. Just the fact that these GMO product produce pesticides as they grow is enough for me to understand that I don’t want to be eating it!!!

          • Considering that your name, rhetoric, and attitude are the same as a person who fears chem trails, and that you have not produced any real evidence of your booga booga-ing, I’m fine with you not eating my tasty food, taking your tin foil hat, and hiding in a hole.

          • The old tin foil hat comment is old and used by many ignorant people such as yourself. Hey, by the way what are they spraying in the upper atmosphere and why? If you don’t know because they won’t tell you, then may be you need to be concerned about it. Or is that just conspiracy theory. You may want to see how many “conspiracy theories” of the recent past actually turned out to be fact!!! Look it up, you might actually learn something Einstein!!!

          • They are contrails, no one is spraying anything. You have fallen for another hoax.

            BTW, insulting folks just make you look more childish and less intelligent.

          • Clearly you need to inform yourself about “geo engineering” which was passed by congress over a decade ago. And being ignorant to facts should not give you a pass.

    • They are fighting it because it hurt their production in Europe. People do not like new. However I’m with you. It’s pretty fishy business if to operate in hiding. If your product is so awesome, then wouldn’t you want it on the label of everything?

      • I’m okay with new as long as we can verify that it is truly safe to eat. And I feel the same as you. If it is so great a product, then come out of the shadows and prove to us why it is so great and why we should embrace it.

    • Just as there is no problem with the safety of any of the GMOs on the market, there is no problem with harvesting crops during a full moon. And calling to label crops harvested during a full moon makes as much sense as calling to label GMOs.

      Labeling implies danger, which is not the case with GMOs. Just as crops harvested during a full moon pose no danger to health.

      • Sorry your post makes no sense. What does harvesting during a full moon have to do GE crop?!! If there is a GE crop growing it’s own pesticide, I don’t want to eat it. I should have a right to know what is in the food that I ingest. If you don’t care what you put into your body, then so be it, I do.

        • What they have in common is that there is no credible reason that either would have an bearing on the relative safety of your food.

          If there were any evidence of increased risks associated with biotech breeding, there would be justification for government mandated labeling just as there is for allergens and trans fats.

          In the absence of evidence, you are just talking about the uninformed curiosity of a subset of consumers. That is where voluntary labels like the Non GMO Project are justified. You are free to seek out a label to give you the information you desire, it’s just that the Non GMO Project is the correct vehicle for that.

          Just as the market responded with gluten labeling when consumers demanded it, the market is providing GMO labeling to consumer who desire it.

          One person may be curious about what part of the moon’s cycle food was harvested during, and one person may be curious about a specific breeding method. It makes little sense to create a new government enforced “right to know” every time some group dreams up a new thing that they are curious about.

        • You might want to start with your mistaken belief that GMOs make crops grow their own pesticides It’s clear from what you say that there is so much you don’t know or understand with this issue. BTW, have you ever heard of a metaphor?

          • I believe that after reading all of your post, that there is quite a bit that you need to educate yourself about. But the reality of all of this is that you can eat this GMO crap all you want, I choose not to.

          • And that is fine with me, as long as you don’t impose a penalty on everyone else by requiring dumbass labeling that will simply cost the consumer more in the long run. Utilize the Non-GMO verified project and/or the organic label to discern which products are guaranteed not to have GMOs. I have to hand to it to you, nice try….with the vague allusion to things I “need to educate” myself about, but no specifics. Either because you really don’t know any, or because you know a little about them but not really, but I should just go out there and “educate myself” but you are just sure that I must not know all the ridiculous claims that are made, and who has/is making them, and what the scientific consensus is regarding transgenic plant breeding.

          • Most consumers don’t know about organizations like the “Non GMO Verified Project”. They don’t know to look for these outside organizations. If there is no problem with GMO then there shouldn’t be such a huge deal with simply labeling products that have GMO. I really don’t see why the big rift, unless companies that provide products with GMO have something to hide. It is really that plain and simple.

          • If consumers don’t care enough to know about the Non GMO Project, then that’s because they don’t care.

            If there is no problem with biotech crops, then there is no reason for the government to get involved in mandating a label.

            Government mandated labeling should be confined to relevant health and safety information and to preventing consumer fraud. It is really that plain and simple.

  11. Hi,

    I am currently a first year PhD student. I have three years
    of experience in undergraduate conducting research in Organic Chemistry,
    Organo-Metallics chemistry, and analytical chemistry. Being that I am in my
    first year of Grad school, I am learning about what good science is…how to
    critically analyze writings, methods, hypothesis, conclusions as well as being
    able to develop and conduct experiments of my own…research is my career of
    choice, I love what I do. Frankly, who wouldn’t want to get paid to learn, to
    explore the unknowns, to critically think!

    I have read your article in its entirety and it is very well
    written. My only qualm is that I cannot find the science! I see lots of
    opinion, tons of words that evoke emotion, the links you post are mostly to
    news stories that talk about the bad science behind GMOs yet I see no attempt
    by you or any of these news outlets to PROMOTE good science…where are the
    toxicological papers that were conducted by Monsanto, Serelini. And others
    EXPERTS who have conducted the research…where are the links to the
    correspondence between Serelini and Monsanto….It would be good science; and in my opinion serve to foster a more productive discussion if these references
    were provided. This would allow those involved in the discussion to learn from
    the experts, do any necessary background research so that they become more
    scientifically literate…and then a fruitful discussion could take place in the
    proper context.

    Again, I’m no expert in Toxicology, statistics, or regulation,
    I am like everyone else here; a citizen who is out to learn and find the truth.
    There are people who are experts in this field and the debate is going on!!
    Instead of focusing on the topic of “bad science” lets actually use that time
    to do some good science.

    It’s finals time for me right now, I am completing my first
    year (which everyone who has completed their PhD says is the toughest year),
    but I needed to take sometime out of my day to respond and help foster a
    healthy discussion and so I have conducted my own review of the literature and
    would like to share them with the community.

    1. Here is the paper by Seralini, it was republished in 2014
    because of an outcry from a lot of scientist, within a week of this paper being
    published. Lots of these scientist were plant biologist developing GM crops,
    others who were developing GMO patents (keep in mind they are not experts in
    Toxicology), and of course Monsanto. Little summary on the methods used: Approximately
    same number of rats as all other studies, and conducted for 2 years.


    2. The papers by Hammond et. Al (Monsanto), there are three
    papers first is on root-worm resistant corn, second is on corn borer resistant
    corn and the third is on NK603 (round up tolerant) corn. Around same number of rat as Sealini, and
    Each done for 90 days.




    3. Here is a paper where Seralini answers the questions of
    the critics to his paper.


    4. Here is Monsantos response to the Seralinis response


    5. Response from Dr. Heinmann to Critics of Seralini


    6. ENSSER (European Network of Scientist for social and
    environmental responsibility) comments on Seranelis study


    7. A couple of letters from Scientist wanting the debate to
    be fruitful



    8. Some comments on the Double standards used by the EFSA
    (European Food Safety Authority), Written by TestBiotech, an institute for
    independent impact assessment in biotech. I think we can all get behind having
    independent scientist (those not affiliated with the product/company)
    conducting experiments in addition to those conducted by those entities, It’s
    good science…and real science, (take any ethics in science course).



    9. Letter to the editor from ANBio


    As you can see the real debate is taking place!! This is
    where our focus needs to be on…not on Chipotle…or quack scientist…lets focus on the real scientist…

    Ok well I got to prepare for a Toxicology, Radiation
    Science, Environmental Chemistry and statistics exam…Hope these Peered Reviewed articles, letters, and comments from experts in the field help foster a healthy and fruitful discussion of the issue at hand. It’s a lot of reading….but if we
    want to be informed we must do the research.

    • Well, this is a piece of cultural criticism about what happened in the media. I often write about science, but this is a piece about how science affect culture.

      It was not about Seralini, it just mentioned him in passing. But, Seralini is a quack. The paper was nonsense. If you are still clinging to one fishing expedition paper by a known charlatan 3 years after he was exposed then I don’t really know what to tell you at this point.

      The basic fact of the matter is that he did not use a large enough number of rats per group to produce statistically significant results for the length of the experiment. There were insufficient controls. The study design did not meet the EFSA standards. It is null. It does not count as science.

      Seralini’s results are easily shown for what they are by comparing them to the results Suzuki et al got in 1979 from feeding SD rats regular feed for 2 years and watching the results. The rats developed tumors. That’s what SD rats do.


      Spontaneous endocrine tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats.

      Suzuki H, Mohr U, Kimmerle G.


      endocrine tumors were found in 81 of 100 Sprague-Dawley rats (42 males
      and 39 females) which survived for more than 2 years. Most of these
      tumors were medullary carcinomas of the thyroid, followed by tumors of
      the anterior pituitary gland, pheochromocytomas and cortical adenomas of
      the adrenal gland, and islet cell tumors of the pancreas. Multiple
      occurrence of these tumors was frequently observed. This study describes
      the morphology of these spontaneous endocrine tumors.

      • When problems with two papers by Pamela Ronald were shown, she did the right thing and withdrew them herself. Pro-science people supported her decision to do the right thing.

        When problems with Seralini’s paper were shown, he did not to the right thing and withdraw them, he went on a book tour.

        When his paper was correctly retracted, he didn’t do the right thing? No, he paid to have it republished elsewhere.

        If you’re argument hangs on a single poorly constructed rat experiment that posits no hypothesis vs. thousands of studies and a clear, durable hypothesis, then you might want to reconsider your position.

        You aren’t just cherrypicking, you are inverting the pyramid of evidence. That’s how pseudoscience works, and it’s easy to recognize when you get the hang of it. That’s a big part of what the essay was about, and you are making my point for me.

      • I understand what your piece was about, however what I’m noticing and what I am responding to is the discussions that your piece has illicit. I am glad that we are able to communicate openly about this issue, this is what is needed!

        “It was not about Seralini, it just mentioned him in passing. But, Seralini is a quack. The paper was nonsense. If you are still clinging to one fishing expedition paper by a known charlatan 3 years after he was exposed then I don’t really know what to tell you at this point…..The basic fact of the matter is that he did not use a large enough number of rats per group to produce statistically significant results for the length of the experiment. There were insufficient controls. The study design did not meet the EFSA standards. It is null. It does not count as science.”

        Exactly!!! The issue is not about Seralini!! The issue is about the way in which the studies have been carried out!! Not just by Seralini but by Monsanto! Please point out that both studies are flawed! Again I am no statistician, however it would seem that the studies that were carried out by Monsanto (which no one can deny has a conflict of interest in the matter) are equally invalid! and these are Studies that purport the safety of the very product that Monsanto is profiting from! Do you not see an issue here? Should not the study by Monsanto be held to the same criteria that Seralini’s study was held…and at the least would the result obtained from Seralini’s study raise questions? Should not all of the studies that have purported the safety of GM foods be held to this same standard!! All of the studies are short-term and use very low number of rats….PERIOD…we cannot just assume that because one GM food is safe all others are….and on the other hand we cannot assume that just because one GM might cause cancer all others well too!

        I agree with you studies should be carried out that use more rats…this experiment could be improved! Seralini’s experiment went a step further from the Monsantos study and increased the duration of time of the exposure. When it comes to pesticides, rigorous toxicological studies must be implemented before the acceptance of such products: Hazards Characterization, Endpoint selection, Dietary exposure assessment, occupational/residential exposure assessments and finally conclusions…FIFRA, FFDCA, and FQPA are key governing laws that govern pesticide usage.

        In the case of GM foods that produce and are resistant to certain pesticides (note pesticides is an overall term for Herbicide, fungicide, rodenticides etc..) Chronic/carcinogenicity oral dietary studies should be carried out. The purpose is to characterize potential toxicity through the oral route for up to 1-2 years, it models dietary exposure, and usually mice, rats, and dogs are tested (to address interspecies differences), they then are evaluated for tumors. This is from my toxicology notes, gotta use this chance to study for my finals 🙂

        Good science is the underlying topic of the discussion here…we must not forget that. The reason why science work is the ability for other peers to review ones work and attempt to reproduce it and improve upon it. If I were a toxicologist and not a chemist this would definitely be on my list of possible dissertation projects. I mean come on!!! One study by either side of the argument is not enough to be conclusive…we should not stop asking questions, we should not stop conducting research….especially when it comes to the health of ourselves and the ecosystem.

        Evolution…changing…adapting…these are key to a species surviving…all of which require us to constantly self reflect and strive to become better. Society can always be better, we should never be content with how things are! (of course this is MY opinion).

        All I am trying to say is be open-minded about the issue, I think that the GM foods that are produced for nutritional supplementation might not be an issue (of course long-term studies should be conducted before I can make a definite decision). I think that GM food that actually produce pesticide might be an issue because well…they produce pesticides which are known carcinogens…the dose makes the poison of course so one would have to find the NOAEL (no observable adverse effect level) and LOAEL (lowest observable adverse effect level) to find what dose range is permissible when it comes to these product…again good science…

        we need to stop jumping into things before we really consider the consequences, we have countless examples of this (use and improper disposal of PCBs, our Energy Crisis, California water crises, DDT usages and decline of our national bird, etc). Our society is very reactive…we need to be more proactive….and that is really the point…being more proactive instead of waiting for things to go wrong.

        • “I think that GM food that actually produce pesticide might be an issue because well…they produce pesticides which are known carcinogens”

          This is just completely incorrect.

        • GM foods that produce pesticides that are known carcinogens? I think you are not only confusing Bt and Roundup Ready traits, but I think that you are also confused about the difference between known, probable and possible carcinogens. The Seralini paper and the papers from the Monsanto research are only the tip of the iceberg as far as the weight of research on GE safety is concerned. You can dive into that wealth of research on sites such as: http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ If you are all about safety studies, you might want to question why there are no safety studies necessary for new varieties produced other means such as mutagenesis. You can subject seeds to heavy gamma radiation, grow up the surviving seeds which may have multiple unknown mutations, find a pretty colored vegetable being produced, and have that crop on people’s plates the next year. You can even grow that untested seed organically, but a variety that has been genetically engineered and took over 10 years and 100 million dollars of safety testing to bring to market is verboten. I would also suggest that you take a look at how the GM crops are grown. Get in touch with your Agriculture Extension people. They are the ones that advise farmers on best practices for their particular type of agriculture. They may be able to connect you with a farmer or farmers that will be more than happy to show you around and answer questions. Many people are woefully ignorant of how modern farming actually works. You may be surprised by the level of education and the technical savvy of those farmers. Keep in mind that by the end of your PhD saga you should be an expert in your area of research, have a good working knowledge of your discipline of Chemistry, and have better grasp of how little you know compared to all the knowledge out there in the world. Those were words of wisdom from a Nobel Laureate that I heard as a beginning PhD student. It will help to keep you questioning your own knowledge and assumptions.

          • Geneticliteracyproject is a great resource. I totally agree with you are right there are a lot of studies that need to be carried out when it comes to safety studies.

            One of the reasons why I decided to go for my PhD is so that I could continually learn, after getting my BS I realized how little I truly know…the Universe is vast!! It’s funny I use to joke around and say that the title of by undergraduate degree explains it all….BS! I want to continue questioning my own knowledge and assumptions, what I have been taught, what I have read…growth, gaining wisdom, knowledge and understanding are my lifelong goals! I will be a student for life.

            Thank you for the advice, that is exactly what I plan to do! I have a huge interest in Urban Garden development; actually one of the main reasons why I stumbled across fafdl.org…there is a wealth of knowledge out there and there is only so much I personally can learn and do…it is going to take all of us coming together having discussions such as this for progress to take place.

            Thank you Verna, I truly appreciate your insight. Truly a beautiful thing when minds come together and learn from one another.

          • Austin, you are so positive and open minded. You have articulated very well things I continue to argue. Please stay this way!

          • I appreciate your enthusiasm. You may be new to the subject, but I am not. I cannot rehash controversies that were settled two years ago every time I write something new about biotech.

            I wrote at length about the Seralini retraction last year, with ample sourcing. Those essays can be found here:



            This is ground that we covered extensively in GMO Skepti-Forum.

            If you really want to dig into these issues, I would highly recommend that group. You can find multiple discussions of Seralini and his papers here:

          • Marc thanks for the link definitely will check them out, seems like I have a lot to catch up on!!

          • Austin, I am a plant scientist (PhD biochem and molecular biology), and I recommend that you to take a few statistics courses as part of your PhD studies. The reason why the results from Hammond et al., (2004) are valid, while those from Serelini et al., (2012) are utter garbage has to do with the experimental design and the power of analysis that was a consequence of that design.

            The Sprague-Dawley rats used in the study have a natural pathology rate of close to 80% and an average life expectancy of 2 years. Based on this, the population size used by Hammond et al., (20 individuals per sex per treatment) was appropriate for a toxicology study according to the OECD guidelines.

            Basically, over the course of the experiment (90 days) this population would not experience significant natural disease pathology, and the power of analysis would allow for a reasonable alpha value for significance.

            Serelini’s study only made use of 10 individuals per sex per treatment, and extended the study to 104 weeks (2 years).

            Think about this for a second. The average lifespan is 2 years, so by the end of the experiment 1/2 of the rats could be dead, and it would be just natural population variance. This leaves 5 individuals per sex per treatment. Now out of these, 4 will probably have some form of pathology (particularly tumors) just due to their genetic background.

            This means that Serelini was trying to test for treatment significance with a population of 1! Even if all the rats survived the full 2 years, the base population of the treatment groups still only leaves 2 individuals expected to be tumor free.

            This is a terrible power of analyses, and should have been caught during the initial peer-review. The fact that no toxicologist was present on the review panel, nor was a bio statistician, speaks volumes about the editorial control at the time.

            According to the OECD guidelines, a sample population of 65 individuals per sex per line was more appropriate, but this was ignored.

            Additionally, there are the frankly dishonest figures used by Serelini, both in the publication and in the media briefings he gave (prior to the release of the paper I should add). Look at the figures released, and look at the groups pictured.

            Notice which group is missing from the poor, tumor covered rats? The control group.

            Do you know why? Because they hat tumors that were statistically identical to those in the treatment groups. In fact, when the proper statistical methods were used, NONE of the treatment groups showed any effect in the study…except for one. The group that was fed a non-GMO diet, but drank water containing glyphosate had a significantly longer lifespan.

            This should have been a red flag, but as with the rest of the study, it was ignored.

            To sum up: Experimental design was the key difference between Serelini et al., (2012) and Hammond et al., (2004). The former used insufficient sample sizes, incorrect statistical analyses, and downright unethical representation of their data. The former designed and performed the experiment properly, and the results are considered valid, and have even been independently validated (for instance by the GRACE project in 2014).

            Finally, a bit of advice. Stay away from anything except for the peer-reviewed literature. Particularly a researcher’s personal website. If the data’s not good enough to make it through peer-review, it’s not worth considering.

          • Your totally right…it would behoove me to take a couple stats class or read a few Stats books (what I have learned thus far is not sufficient). Thanks for the insight and thank you for breaking it down for me. I definitely can see the issue with Serelini et al., (2012) from a statistical point of view. I’m interested in what long term studies have found. Back to web of science!!

          • There are two major papers you should take a look at in terms of long term studies.

            The Snell review:

            Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: A literature review


            The aim of this systematic review was to collect data concerning the effects of diets containing GM maize, potato, soybean, rice, or triticale on animal health. We examined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from 2 to 5 generations).

            We referenced the 90-day studies on GM feed for which long-term or multigenerational study data were available. Many parameters have been examined using biochemical analyses, histological examination of specific organs, hematology and the detection of transgenic DNA. The statistical findings and methods have been considered from each study.

            Results from all the 24 studies do not suggest any health hazards and, in general, there were no statistically significant differences within parameters observed. However, some small differences were observed, though these fell within the normal variation range of the considered parameter and thus had no biological or toxicological significance. If required, a 90-day feeding study performed in rodents, according to the OECD Test Guideline, is generally considered sufficient in order to evaluate the health effects of GM feed. The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.


          • And the Van Eenennaam meta-analysis:

            A new scientific review from the University of California, Davis, reports that the performance and health of food-producing animals consuming genetically engineered feed, first introduced 18 years ago, has been comparable to that of animals consuming non-GE feed.

            The review study also found that scientific studies have detected no differences in the nutritional makeup of the meat, milk or other food products derived from animals that ate genetically engineered feed.

            The review, led by UC Davis animal scientist Alison Van Eenennaam, examined nearly 30 years of livestock-feeding studies that represent more than 100 billion animals.

            Titled “Prevalence and Impacts of Genetically Engineered Feedstuffs on Livestock Populations,” the review article is now available online in pen-access form through the American Society of Animal Science: http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/92/10/4255.long. It will appear in print and open-access in the October issue of the Journal of Animal Science.

            Genetically engineered crops were first introduced in 1996. Today, 19 genetically engineered plant species are approved for use in the United States, including the major crops used extensively in animal feed: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, soybean and sugar beet.

            Food-producing animals such as cows, pigs, goats, chickens and other poultry species now consume 70 to 90 percent of all genetically engineered crops, according to the new UC Davis review. In the United States, alone, 9 billion food-producing animals are produced annually, with 95 percent of them consuming feed that contains genetically engineered ingredients.

            “Studies have continually shown that the milk, meat and eggs derived from animals that have consumed GE feed are indistinguishable from the products derived from animals fed a non-GE diet,” Van Eenennaam said.

            “Therefore, proposed labeling of animal products from livestock and poultry that have eaten GE feed would require supply-chain segregation and traceability, as the products themselves would not differ in any way that could be detected.”


  12. Enjoyed this article immensely. You made a good point that one of the ironic outcomes of all the labeling initiatives is that the percentage of people who oppose labeling hasprobably actually increased due to the initiatives. In each case, early polls showed overwhelming, seemingly insurmountable support for the initiative. I believe that is because early on, most people have invested little intellectual energy in actually exploring what genetic engineering is, how it has been deployed, and whether endowing foods with traits through biotech mediated processes entails actual or unprecedented food safety risk. Since it is unfamiliar, the initial tendency is to be cautious. Additionally, the press tends to have a natural bias toward skeptical and suspicious coverage of commercial innovation, and tends to pay more attention to controversy than consensus. But the initiatives have inspired more people and the press to inform themselves, and lo and behold, the undiscovered information they didn’t have before is that to their surprise, there is information that genetic engineering is not the boogeyman all those people who get on the news make it out to be.

    I do believe over time, the press has increasingly tended to reject some of the more bizarre and silly representations of biotech applications in food production, and has moved beyond the more superficial understandings and that is slowly influencing public opinion away from more extreme perceptions. Even among many of those who continue to be wary and uncertain about the safety and value of the technology, I think the street theatre of things like the fish-tomato costumes is losing its persuasive power and being seen for what it is, manipulative imagery. I too perceive the debate is slowly shifting away from whether or not biotech applications in food are safe, to whether individual applications of the technology are wise or necessarily an improvement. That is a legitimate debate, and for that reason, I don’t believe arriving at a societal consensus on safety necessarily confers unquestioned social license on the use of the technology.

    Even though I believe biotech offers great value to farmers and food production, and farmers themselves will continue to embrace biotechnology, I do believe farmers themselves will move toward more being more selective with regard to the traits they actually want and will utilize. That is not a bad thing, it is just an indicator that we are entering a more mature stage of how we incorporate this technology, one that is better informed because of the successes and failures of initial uses of the technology. Over time, I think our uses of this technology will become increasingly targeted and valuable.

    • You’re dead on right about the dynamic of those elections. One caveat is that the professional anti-labeling argument hinges on costs rising. Which, while true doesn’t increase people’s understanding of the issue.

      With the Innate potato and Arctic apples hitting the market, this about to become a very different conversation.

  13. This article makes me dizzy with all of the government law involvement with the food that we eat (just as the involvement in our every day life). The bottom line is that I don’t really know what government or big business’s intentions are, so at the end of the day, I want the choice to know what I am about to put into my body plain and simple!!!

    • Then feel free to buy organic and Non-GMO Project labeled foods.

      If you are so paranoid about the government’s intentions and whether they are in the pocket of big ag, why the hell would you want to talk GMO labeling away from a group like the Non GMO Project, which is on your side, and hand it over to the FDA which I’m sure you know is owned by Monsanto.

    • Then feel free to choose organic or Non GMO Project verified foods.

      If you are so paranoid about the government’s intentions, why would you want to take labeling away from a group like the Non GMO Project, who is on your side, and hand it over to the FDA, which as I’m sure you are well aware, is owned by Monsanto?

      It makes no sense.

      • Putting aside the fact that a GMO label tells you nothing about what you are putting in your body.

        • You are correct and yes I believe that the FDA is as crooked a government branch as there is. But, without legislation to force GMO labeling, many food products will continue to be sold with GMO in it. How many people are aware of groups like “Non GMO Project”? I ultimately feel that bringing GMO to the forefront gives others who are not aware of what has been going on, a chance to open their eyes and do some of their own research. I try my best to stay away from products that I feel may be harmful to me and my family, it is not easy. We are a generation brought up with highly refined, chemical laden food products which I believe causes many of the diseases that we see today. Our generation on average will not live longer then the generation before us. Many studies are starting to show this to be a fact.

          • GE is a breeding method not an ingredient. Sugar

            or oil derived from GE crops (unless specifically engineered) are identical chemically to the sugar or oils from the same non-GE crops.

          • I understand that GE is not an ingredient. But I would like to know if there is a GE crop in my food that produces its own pesticide. And if it does, I don’t want to eat it, simple as that. I believe that everyone should have a right to know what is in their food.

          • 1. A GMO label wouldn’t tell you if an ingredient was bred for that trait. It’s insufficiently specific.

            2. All plants produce pesticides.
            The toxicological significance of exposures to synthetic chemicals is examined in the context of exposures to naturally occurring chemicals. We calculate that 99.99% (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves. Only 52
            natural pesticides have been tested in high-dose animal cancer tests, and about half (27) are rodent carcinogens; these 27 are shown to be present in many common foods. We conclude that natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests. We
            also conclude that at the low doses of most human exposures the comparative hazards of synthetic pesticide residues are insignificant.<<<

            3. If the Bt trait is something that you are really concerned about, it would be a lot easier just to invest some time into learning how it works.

            The Cry protein from the Bt is activated by the alkaline environment in the bug's gut. It is broken down into amino acids like any other protein in the acidic environment of a human gut. It kills the bug by binding to a receptor in the bug's gut. Human's don't have that receptor. As far as humans are concerned it's just another protein.


            It's odd that you are clamoring for a "right to know" but you have chosen to keep yourself in the dark about the thing you are concerned about. What about your responsibility to find out?

          • So at the end of the day, after all of your gyrations, do you care about having GMO in your diet or not!!! I really don’t care how I have to find out about it, I don’t want Monsanto’s GMO products in my food!!!! That is pretty much the long and the short of it. I don’t trust Monsanto and their way of doing business. Some farmers claim that they won’t eat their own Monsanto crops!!!


          • If you really don’t care how you find out about it, I have some good news for you. The solution is already here. You can choose to buy certified organic or you can choose from among the 80,000 products certified as non-GMO by the Non GMO Project. They even have a free phone app.


            Now you have all the tools you need and you don’t need to create new government bureaucracy based on your superstitions and inability to recognize credible sources of information and sound reasoning.

            Good day sir or madam.

            I’ve had enough of your ranting. Please stop trolling my website.

          • I don’t care to make an already crooked government larger and more out of control then it already is. The problem with your point of view is that the common consumer is unaware of the organizations that you are talking about. The average consumer is used to looking at product labels to get their information. They should be informed by the labels on the food products that they are buying. With out labels on the products anything goes. The FDA exists for this purpose and this organization should be held accountable. If it can’t be held accountable, then why even have it? Do away with it all together.

          • If someone doesn’t care about GMOs then they don’t need a label. The FDA has its handsful holding companies accountable for things that matter. They don’t need to be further burdened with enforcing labels that don’t having anything to do with their mission of vouchsafing the safety of the food supply.

          • There is a limited amount of space on packaging, and a limited amount of consciousness the average consumer will apply to selecting their food. Both of those limited resources are better used conveying information that could actually improve people’s health, like calories and serving size, sodium content, and whether there are potential allergens, than saying whether a food is GMO free. If you want to know about GMOs in your food despite the fact that there is clear scientific evidence that GMO foods do not cause any health impacts in humans, fine, use the voluntary labeling schemes that have already been referenced here. But your insinuation that you’re advocating for mandatory GMO labeling to protect the average consumer is at best disingenuous and at worst harmful. If you want to help the average consumer, then you should advocate that the limited space on the front of packages be used to convey information that actually protects human health (like calories and serving size), not try to confuse people with things that do not matter to their health and well being.

            Simply put, by trying to force people to focus on things that don’t improve their health rather than things that do, you (and I do mean, as an individual) make people less healthy. By electing not to label, the FDA is making the smart decision that is more protective of public health.

            And before you even bother, no, I do not have any fiduciary interest in the GMO debate. Not everyone who makes clear and valid points that contest your point of view is a corporate schill.

          • IF GMO’s are so healthy, why aren’t they allowed in most of Europe?

            In fact, most GMO’s have NEVER EVEN been tested long term, so how do you know “there is clear scientific evidence that GMO foods do not cause any health impacts”…show me the long term test?


          • BHAHAH! Not labeling or informing the public is proactive for public health!?!?!?!!!
            Riiight. Really Virgin? There’s PLENTY of space on the packaging…like, saving someones life isn’t worth the ink…jeesh. Trust me, there’s plenty of room on all but the smallest of products, what a horrible excuse for not informing someone. Yeah, just like there’s not enough room on a prescription bottle to print all the tiny health warnings. They could fit it, if they want to..and I think if you look you will see its quite obvious that the FDA is NOT ‘Proactive’, rather ‘Reactive’ in its approach to drugs/outbreaks/nutrition, etc.

            Please! Oh wait, yes, maybe they should think of the customers eyes in 20 years and just NOT print the labels on medicine bottles at all..the labels should just say in large print “Trust us, these pills wont kill you quickly”.

            Research what has happened to those who’ve truly focused their time and life on healing people…like the Gerson Family, or Rife, or any of the ‘real’ healers or inventors that are labeled as quacks (due to corporate pressures), as our medical industry continues for 50 years to fail to heal cancer/, TB, etc. and the health issues of our people and our children continues to rise…Hmmm, I wonder why? Why aren’t cancer rates going DOWN?!?! Why aren’t disease rates going DOWN?

          • AWUN, I hate to tell you this, but the sites you are using to back up claims of farmers who won’t eat their own GMO crops are really, really bad. globalresearch.ca and naturalsociety.com….totally biased, based in pseudoscience…in other words, you can’t trust a thing they say. You know the old Gestalt motto? “Garbage in, garbage out”? You are putting garbage in your brain from these bogus sites, and therefore, the conclusions that you draw are false…conclusions drawn from false information are necessarily false.

          • Even WITH mandatory GMO labeling, food products would still continue to be sold with GMO-based ingredients. Because more and more consumers each and everyday are learning that GMOs are safe for human consumption, and have been for ages.

            You said it best. You try to stay away from things that you “feel” are harmful. Those are your feelings. Feelings aren’t science. They’re often misleading and misinformative.

          • I don’t care if other people want to know if they are eating transgenic crops. If they want to go non GMO and eat food that was grown with more pesticides, that’s their business.

            What I object to using government power to create a label that doesn’t have anything to do with what I see as the proper role of government. I’m all for labeling that conveys meaningful health, nutrition, and safety information. I’m all for labeling that helps prevent fraud. I thought front of the package transfat labels were a good idea. I think allergen labeling is a good idea. I think we should have total calories per package on the label.

            A mandatory GMO label does not provide any information that relates to anything that the government should be involved in. I also think the government already has enough to do. It shouldn’t be roped into doing things that the private sector is already doing, and doing better.

            For about the dozenth time, I support voluntary labeling. You already have the options to use the organic and non-GMO labels to achieve your goals.

            You keep rattling on about your right to know, but you are mistaken about some very simple things. Its hard to take your commitment to your own right to know seriously when you don’t take any responsibility for your own education.

            Also, a mandatory GMO label is a pretty clumsy instrument for avoiding Monsanto products since there are GMOs that are not made by Monsanto (and that will be increasingly true in the future.) and Monsanto sells lots of seeds that have nothing to do with GMOs. It’s like trying to boycott products from Italy by labeling products that contain pasta.

            I’ve already linked my views on this and they are very clear, but here it is again:

          • It depends on the product. In the case of a trait that makes a difference in the product for the end user, like an Arctic apple, then I would want to know. But Arctic will be marketing them based on the trait, so I won’t need a special label.

            If there were a trait that made the end product different in terms of safety or nutrition, the FDA has already said they would require labeling. Thus far, there hasn’t been any products so far that meet that standard.

            I don’t see a GMO label as useful to me when it comes to current commodity crops like corn and soy because it gives me no useful information about the properties of the corn or soy or how they were produced.

            Whoops. Sorry I thought you were asking if I wanted my food to have a GMO label.

            Do I want biotech products in my food? By and large, yes. I don’t eat much that is produced with corn, soy or beet sugar, but I’m glad that what I do eat is produced with less pesticides and less tillage. If I like papaya I’d be pretty happy to get it with less ringspot virus.

            I’m looking forward to potatoes that are less carcinogenic. I look forward to citrus that requires less insecticide.

          • Ahaha, I’m sorry but your an idiot Marc. Don’t you know the government wants to control EVERYTHING? They’re the ones who are supposed to be telling us what is SAFE to eat, not what Monsanto or any other companies “think” is safe to eat. It’s part of WHY the government requires labeling in the first place. As someone who has dealt with these issues and the FDA directly, I can tell you that a GMO label would INDEED provide information that ‘relates to anything that the government should be involved in’. Listing the possible harmful effects of foods or drugs is EXACTLY what they’re supposed to be doing, and are NOT. Your an idiot…go take your doctors prescribed pills, drink your fluoride water and you’ll get better….really. Of course, idiot protection is what our government excels at! They have to tell us not to pour hot coffee in our lap, or plug our hairdryer in while standing in the bathtub…but god forbid they label food that’s been genetically modified, and may sterilize you and your children, like the bees that are dying off. Really, go suck some more agent orange, DDT, or Fen Phen (now Phentermine, if it hasn’t killed enough). Don’t forget to ignore the chem trails, and take a deep breath too…nothing to see here, move along.

          • Don’t come in my house and call me an idiot. Continue to troll this website and I will ban you.

            Why would you take labeling away from an organization that is on your side, like the Non GMO Project and hand it over to a government that you don’t trust?

          • I’ve always thought the most ironic statement anyone could type is “your an idiot.”

          • No biggie. I have a cognitive glitch that causes my to type odd homonyms. The other day I typed “I’ll” when I meant “all”. It had nothing to do with not being able to spell “all”. Sometimes I see them and catch them. Sometimes I don’t.

            I’m not one to seize on typos as a mark of intelligence.

            But failure to proofread yourself in the process of calling someone else an idiot is pretty idiotic.

          • Right. No biggie, just amusing. I got a chuckle. I have a problem expressing what I really mean and not using the right words–

            I look forward to blight resistant GMO potatoes that don’t require as much blight spray.

          • I think you missed the humor in Randall’s post…

            Please realize that farmers have been considered bumpkins for the most part. It’s been that way for a long time. But most of us have at least a passing command of English as a native language.

            If we were all at the dinner table or at the VFW having a beer, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          • I think he caught it, but I found it really funny. And by Brett’s comment, he is big enough to laugh at himself, too. Kudo’s to Brett for that.

          • Someone just explained to you about how the FDA doesn’t test anything. Rather, they require the testing be done (at the expense of the company seeking approval (natch) and their scientists comb over the data and ensure that the studies are valid. So, you have got me curious, AmericaWakeUpNow. Why would you bring up that same point again, as though it hadn’t been responded to in full already? I’d really like to know, so if you see this, please explain.

          • Yep, and my feelings will guide me away from GMO’s..and they KNOW that…which is why they’re resisting.
            When given the choice, I bet most will chose a NON-GMO product…I know I do. GMO safety is TRASH, we need long term studies, not funded or backed by the companies that made the very products…ridiculous.

          • “Many studies”. Weasel words. Please show us these studies. I really doubt it is even possible to have a study that shows that future generations will live shorter lives than current ones. That’s mere speculation, based on nothing more than paranoia and pseudoscience.

          • 1. The FDA doesn’t do the testing, they require the testing:
            >>…after doing this reporting, I won’t be saying that there’s no required safety testing: saying so implies that GE food is unregulated and untested, and that simply isn’t the case.<<


            2. The reasons for the decrease in lifespan are easily explained by increases in heart disease and other metabolic problems which are easily explained by increased consumption of sugar and low quality starches and fats, coupled with decrease in fiber consumption. It makes little sense to speculate about things for which there is no credible mechanism of harm.

          • And by that AWUN, you mean to the exclusion of, or at the expense of other brands, like Syngenta, or Dow or Bayer? Do you have stock in one of those companies, AWUN? Actually, of the major Big Ag companies, I believe that Monsanto’s share of the market is rater small.

    • What is that is proof of?

      I wonder why you are starting with a conclusion and then looking for evidence that fits your conclusion, instead of looking at all the evidence and drawing a conclusion based on the evidence?

      Also, the link for the study is broken. Could you provide a link to the study so that we can evaluate it together and determine what evidence it provides?

        • Why was America Wake Up Now blocked??!! I’m sure “marcbrazeau” you had no hand in this correct??!!

          • America Wake Up Now was blocked for being a tiresome boor and polluting the conversation with paranoid badgering of other commenters.

            I invite a range of viewpoints to weigh in, and if you look around here or on the old site, you’ll find plenty of robust conversation and disagreement, with people who disagree with me getting their full say.

            But I make know apologies for drawing the line and escorting someone who is rude and making brain dead arguments to the door. I don’t get paid to do this and putting in the time to moderate and admin the comment section here certainly isn’t going to ever contribute to putting food on the table.

            I really want a broad and robust debate on this site, but I also don’t think logging to see the comments should be an unpleasant experience either. If you are rude and can’t participate in a conversation that moves forward, you are out.

            I could just as easily turn off the comments like most Anti-GMO sites. I don’t need this abuse.

          • So “marcbrazeau” that’s the best answer for blocking people’s comments that you can come up with, they boor you! What an absolute pompous nobody you are, and a waste of time!

      • Must be nice to have a forum to control where you ask people to comment and when the comments don’t suit your agenda you then block them from commenting!! Way to go marcbrazeau!!!

        • Look through the comment threads on this website and on realfoodorg.wordpress.com. Disagreeing with me is not what gets you booted. Trolling gets you booted. I make no apologies for kicking boorish, idiots out of my living room.

  14. I applaud Chipotle, I for one will eat there more now! Sorry, but the evidence is OVERWHELMING towards the health and safety of NATURAL organic products. Studies have been done on GMO foods and they clearly show their negative health effects. Problem is, when these companies ‘hockey stick’ their data, and stack their test results in their favor, and select the population with which they test on, and falsify the tests..of COURSE GMO’s look safe. But, we all know, they’re not. The Pharm, Chem and Bio companies know that they cant PATENT nature, or a natural plant, so they are AFRAID that people will take their power back, and give it BACK to the farmers, and the people! Nature cures, there’s not a pill or a surgery or a genetically engineered plant that will save humanity. We all are getting wise to the lies of big media, and big industry, government and the pharmaceutical companies/medical industry. You LIE to the people…and we know it. You can lie all you want, we will call you out. GMO’s kill the bees, sterilize the people, and have NOT been adequately tested for safety, which is why Europe doesn’t allow them in their foods. America is the test bed for all this Chemical crap, because we don’t speak out or get enraged enough about it.

      • Marc, I’ve not bothered to research who you are, or what you do…but you sound like an attorney, and talk like a politician. Do you have relations to the GMO/Biotech industries, and if not how do you purport to know so much with so few references to any studies (or did I miss them)?

        For some more info on GMO’s and what Monsanto is trying to do to the law “Monsanto Protection Act”, check out snopes and Wiki!
        Just like the medical companies in Michigan, they’re trying to STOP THE COURTS from suing them in the future…??!?

        Um..I think not. Nice try Monsanto…

        Here’s my belief…”Any law written by government, can be unwritten by the will of the world.”


        marcbrazeau – “The analogy fails. Cross pollination does not harm other crops. Some organic farmers make a deliberate decision to impose zero tolerance for cross pollination on themselves. There is no upper limit in the organic certification standard for cross pollination.

        It’s the organic farmer who is charging a premium for purity or perceived purity. If they want to collect that premium and impose those standards on themselves, then it’s incumbent on them to make it work, not to make their marketing strategy someone else’s problem.”

  15. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate (RoundUp) as a probable carcinogen. GMO crops are engineered to withstand high applications of glyphosate. For that reason I avoid GMOs.

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