GMO mosquito test approved

Aedes aegypti during blood meal

Photo by James Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities have given the approval for testing genetically modified mosquitos in Florida. The company that developed the mosquito, Oxitec, promotes it as an alternative (less chemical impact) way to battle the pesky disease-bearing Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Continue reading “GMO mosquito test approved”

Zika-Fighting Mosquitos

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Puerto-Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi is pushing for Zika-fighting mosquitos to be introduced into the island to push back against the illness that plagues it. There are over 5500 people infected. There are 676 pregnant women who are infected as well. The virus can cause serious birth defects. As one might imagine, there is considerable confusion and fear regarding messing with the genes of a species. See this article about the mosquito called OX513A. When the modified male insects mate with females in the wild, 97% of the offspring do not survive. Studies in Brazil and Panama have had success rates as high as 90%. Are we smart enough to mess with mother nature in this way? The earth is a very complex ecosystem. Many feel that doing something like this can have unintended consequences. I guess we don’t know what we don’t know, and that’s what’s scary. However, there are thousands of people right now with the Zika virus who might argue otherwise, and several hundred babies to born with serious problems. Can we do nothing when we have the technology to  fix this? Read the ABC News article by Paul Blake and Gillian Mohney here.

Why not label Proud?

Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart holds a bag of the finished product inside a warehouse in Oakland, California, where the company runs its business on Sept. 9, 2013.
Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart holds a bag of the finished product inside a warehouse in Oakland, California, where the company runs its business on Sept. 9, 2013.

Soylent, a meal replacement drink, is turning the tables on the labeling controversy. The word soylent is a conglomeration of the words ‘soy’ and ‘lentil’. The company proudly uses GMO ingredients, and although only available over the internet is taking a totally different stance on the labeling issue. While the rest of the world is running consumer-scared for the hills trying to skirt the labeling issue by removing GMOs from their products, Soylent is embracing the labeling requirement. Their product is designed to simply ‘feed people’ in an efficient manner. The product itself is not very tasty, but is designed to give nutrients in proper ratios. The focus here is to feed people efficiently, which is also the impetus behind the GMO movement (which is something the non-GMO camp has lost sight of). With a growing population, this is a worthy goal. Unfortunately, with Soylent’s less-than-marketable taste and it’s odd name (see the movie, Soylent Green), it’s hardly the poster child for GMOs.

Obama Signs Labeling Bill

Well, the President has signed it and it is finally law. The USDA has two years to write the rules that govern labeling. This law preempts the Vermont law that went into effect in July. Some are calling this the ‘Dark Labeling’ law due to the fact that it will allow producers to use a QR code instead of a plain English label. See this story about what the QR code might come to represent.

President Obama on Friday signed a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation will cover most food packages.
President Obama on Friday signed a bill that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation will cover most food packages.

QR Code = “Contains GMOs”

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Addison Martin (addison-martin@uiowa.edu), in a piece for the Daily Iowan reports that Jen Angerer, the marketing manager for Iowas City’s New Pioneer Co-op is “disappointed” that the recent compromise labeling bill contains provisions for the use of QR codes. Angerer believes this may not be a positive thing for producers who wish to get around printing their ingredients in plain sight. The use of a QR code, according to her, will likely become the defacto symbol for “GMOs included”. Thus, someone without a smart phone (or the time to scan all those products), could simply avoid any product with a QR code on it, assuming it contains GMOs. Of course, all this hoopla is happening in the shadow of the fact that there is nothing factual to back up the fears that GMOs may be harmful. Read the original article here.

Mixed Reactions to Labeling Law

GMO-free Florida says they got 85,000 signatures in 13 days on a petition asking the President to veto the new labeling law that recently was passed by Congress. The problem, they say, is that a significant percentage (21%) of Americans do not own smart phones and have never used a QR code (or even know what one is). They would rather see a plain text label. Uncertainty about GMOs has consumers in some areas flocking to producers who pledge to provide GMO-free products. See the story by reporter Amanda Skrzypchak.