Debra J. Saunders

The problem is that Boxer's push to mandate labels for all GMO foods, unless they are exempted, is a recipe for information overload. "We see calls for mandatory labeling as a means to misinform consumers," countered Cathleen Enright, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, "at the least to misinform, at the most to scare" consumers by suggesting that modified foods are "unsafe or different."

To the contrary, modified is the norm. Humans have been modifying plants for millenniums. About 70 to 80 percent of processed foods are made with genetically engineered ingredients.

If the measure ever did become law, it would be a bonanza for lobbyists and lawmakers as industry groups bow and scrape before federal dignitaries to win exemptions for their goods. Boxer's bill, the San Francisco Chronicle's Stacy Finz reported, would exempt meat and dairy that is, though not modified, fed engineered grain. Proposition 37 would have exempted alcohol; Boxer's bill would not. Imagine the scramble to win indulgences for restaurant meals, dairy and drink.

If the public really has a right to know, there should be a warning label on all such measures that reads, simply: Shakedown.

Debra J. Saunders

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