As I sat down to watch hearing 1 of 2 in the House of Representatives for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, I felt hopeful… hopeful that I’d witness a solid display of our elected officials searching for answers on an issue that’s been a hot button in states across the country for a few years now. I looked forward to hearing well-researched and educated responses to the issue at hand – the labeling of genetically engineered foods that already exist in our food supply. Instead, just over 12 minutes in, I witnessed a co-sponsor of the bill blatantly misinform everyone in attendance, and do her best to skew the hearing, right out the gate, to her own agenda.
“Golden rice has fed millions of starving people around the world, and additionally, prevented blindness and death because of the presence of Vitamin A.” – Representative Marsha Blackburn, TN
Someone who you think would be responsible enough to do her own research before speaking forcefully on the subject at a public hearing (for passing a bill into law no less), instead chose to lie about golden rice right off the starting line. The truth is that golden rice, which has been talked about extensively since it was on the cover of Time magazine back in July 2000, isn’t even on the market yet, so it’s saved ZERO lives. They’ve been working on it for years on end, and like anything else with GMOs, I’ve heard two sides of the story regarding the delays. One, that it’s because of excessive regulation combined with adamant opposition from some anti-GMO groups, and the other that it’s because of various other roadblocks related to testing, field trials, etc.
Regardless, golden rice isn’t there yet. And it’s extremely irresponsible to lead off a hearing like this with a lie — a lie that touts a GMO as a lifesaver when it’s never even been implemented. It’s not like she had a mental error in remembering something off the top of her head either, because she read it off a piece of paper. Potential lifesaver, fine. Millions of lives already saved? Not so much. And congratulations, you just gave everyone in the room the incorrect perception that GMOs are some world-saving superheroes, when in reality, 99+% of what’s in place right now is either glyphosate resistant crops, crops that produce the Bt toxin, or crops with both traits. That’s what these hearings should have primarily focused on, because those are the two GMOs that the vast majority of Americans are unknowingly eating under the current labeling situation.
If you want to mention golden rice, go right ahead, but mention it in the proper context. For a bill’s co-sponsor to act so irresponsibly in a public forum where laws are at stake, I’m sorry, that’s a problem. I had no shortage of concern after watching both these hearings, which I’ll talk about much more in-depth on GMO Truth Podcast #8, releasing this weekend.