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Democracy in action

#21 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2015-July-21, 07:24

Growing up, we had a garden. My mother tried, with limited success, to convince me that when I pulled a carrot out of the garden I should wash it thoroughly before eating it instead of just first brushing off the most visible dirt. I was told that it was ok to eat the peas directly from the pod but that the (string) beans had to be cooked first. And so on.

Ok, the garden has been replaced with the grocery store and my mother has been replaced by the government. What should I expect? I can already hear the Blackshoe answer of "Nothing good", but still I persist.

All food has been modified. Sure, but perhaps GMOs are in a different category. Still, it is not my plan to read five scientific papers before shopping at the store. So if, as suggested above, the FDA plans to examine GMOs on an individual basis and decide which are safe and which are not, I am inclined to accept this, with caution. The caution comes from realizing there are huge financial interests involved. I would like to think that science always triumphs, but it doesn't. And even in the best of worlds, we sometimes have to wait for the revised scientific view.

It's a bit tricky. When the government takes on the role of making our food safe, we have to beware of assuming that anything that is sold in stores must be safe since if it were not safe then it would be banned. Safe is not just yes or no, there are degrees. We still have to watch out for ourselves.

All in all, I see no real alternative to having the government taking a strong role in deciding on the safety of the foods that are sold in stores. We buy our vegetables and eggs through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but this is because they taste better. I don't really check into just how their hens are fed.

Bottom line: The bill in question seems reasonable to me. It seems right to worry a bit about whether the reviews of foods and drugs are conducted in a responsible manner. This applies in general, not just to GMOs.
Ken
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#22 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2015-July-21, 09:49

View Postkenberg, on 2015-July-21, 07:24, said:

We still have to watch out for ourselves.

Indeed we do! B-)
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#23 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-July-21, 10:11

View Postblackshoe, on 2015-July-20, 15:35, said:

I think the government has no business regulating drugs.

If not the government, then who?

We could have an independent group like Consumer Reports or Underwriters Laboratories, but without government backing they wouldn't have any teeth.

FDA's testing requirements may be onerous, which is why drugs that are available in other countries are not available here. But that doesn't mean that regulation in general is wrong, it just means their requirements may be too strict. Is that even enshrined in law, or just FDA tradition? It's probably an overreaction to past problems like Thalidomide, DES and Vioxx.

#24 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2015-July-21, 23:36

View Postbarmar, on 2015-July-21, 10:11, said:

If not the government, then who?

We could have an independent group like Consumer Reports or Underwriters Laboratories, but without government backing they wouldn't have any teeth.

FDA's testing requirements may be onerous, which is why drugs that are available in other countries are not available here. But that doesn't mean that regulation in general is wrong, it just means their requirements may be too strict. Is that even enshrined in law, or just FDA tradition? It's probably an overreaction to past problems like Thalidomide, DES and Vioxx.


You get all the fact correct except all of those who are harmed by FDA.

Main point humans are bad at risk.

With that said USA will never permit non FDA allowed drugs so non issue except in theory world.


Friedman discussed this decades ago...nothing changes.
"....The economist Milton Friedman has claimed that the regulatory process is inherently biased against approval of some worthy drugs, because the adverse effects of wrongfully banning a useful drug are undetectable, while the consequences of mistakenly approving a harmful drug are highly publicised and that therefore the FDA will take the action that will result in the least public condemnation of the FDA regardless of the health consequences.[4][5]..."

https://en.wikipedia..._Administration
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Taleb discusses the God complex many of us have when it comes to doctors.
I have quoted him in many other threads on this topic.
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#25 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2015-July-22, 03:03

It seems reasonable that an open market like USA has nationwide standards for food labeling and that individual states don't make their own regulations.

Also, for once ( :) ) I agree with Ed that this shouldn't really be the govt's business. We have independent organizations like the Soil Organization which police their own voluntary labelings and consumers that don't trust unlabeled food can vote with their shopping baskets. Someone has to sort out which criteria a product has to fullfill in order to be allowed to cary a non-GMO label and I am not convinced that the govt is particularly well equiped to do it.

But that is just my opinion and if 90% of the US consumers would prefer mandatory labeling then I wouldn't be opposed to it. It's not a big deal. Both as a consumer and as a shareholder in some food manufacturer I wouldn't lose too much sleep on this issue anyway.

Whether GMO food is good or bad for consumers, farmers and the environment are interesting questions but I don't think it is so relevant for this discussion. It is about consumers wanting (for whatever reason, rational or otherwise) labeling, and how then to acchieve that in the most practical way.
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#26 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-July-22, 09:30

I'm not convinced that allowing industry to police itself is much better than the government doing it. The financial meltdown was due to the banking industry going overboard, taking advantage of the few limits that the government imposed on them.

In the case of GMO labeling, if we don't have standard rules, I suspect that the industry will acceded to the demands of the vocal pundits who think that there's something wrong with GMO food, despite evidence to the contrary. Most consumers aren't competent to judge, and they'll see the labels as a Mark of Cain, and avoid those products. While an independent agency could fill in the role, there's little incentive for the industry to set one up for this.

#27 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2015-July-22, 10:07

Perhaps not for the makers of GMOs (profit incentives and all) but perhaps a not-disinterested 3rd party like the insurance industry.

Since they are involved with risk assessment and management, they would balance out the cost of potential harm versus the premium paid by the industry to evaluate their products. Actuarial calculations would help with any long-term side effects. This has the downside of reducing human suffering to facts and figures as well as the obvious possibility of collusion or profit-optimization by the insurers. But then, is there an upside?
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#28 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2015-July-22, 14:52

My issue, as I've mentioned before, is not safety, but good customer service.

I want to know if the system is hiding the fact that $company_I_dont_like is involved in the food I'm buying, because they are deliberately trying to capture all farmers, and I don't like that. I want to know if $company_using_sweatshops is involved in the brand of clothes I'm buying because I want to discourage that behaviour.

In both and more of those cases, many many companies (not just the specific ones I know about) are spending a *lot* of money trying to make it harder for me to make those decisions. I wonder why.

Do I care if it's safe - for me - to use these products? Given that I'm living on borrowed time already, no. Does it matter? No. Business is actively trying to unfree the market by removing information from the customer end; I'm the customer end; it's "not fair" if I actively resist?
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#29 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-July-23, 10:10

View Postmycroft, on 2015-July-22, 14:52, said:

My issue, as I've mentioned before, is not safety, but good customer service.

I want to know if the system is hiding the fact that $company_I_dont_like is involved in the food I'm buying, because they are deliberately trying to capture all farmers, and I don't like that. I want to know if $company_using_sweatshops is involved in the brand of clothes I'm buying because I want to discourage that behaviour.

How would a label that says something like "This product was produced using genetically-engineered wheat" further that desire?

This seems more like a job for the FTC, requiring disclosure of all the manufacturers who contributed substantially to the product. Although that could be quite a long label.

#30 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2015-July-23, 11:43

Oh I don't disagree - but if I see "corn" and "GMO", I've seen enough ads watching curling to know who's involved. Maybe it's harder for me to work it out if it's not what I actually want - but "you must hide this from the consumer, because an educated customer is bad for business, so let's regulate ignorance" is guaranteed to be harder than that.

But I'm a pinko liberal. I believe "we will not allow lower levels of government to make the following kinds of regulations" should be protecting people - particularly people currently being discriminated against, societally or legally - not businesses.

I *expect* businesses to protect their business niches, even to the point of trying to regulate out of practicality anything that might compete against it. I expect politicians to think of the voters - and that means resisting those businesses when their protections are damaging to those voters.

I expect to be regularly disappointed in everything but being regularly disappointed.
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#31 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-July-23, 12:05

View Postmycroft, on 2015-July-23, 11:43, said:

But I'm a pinko liberal. I believe "we will not allow lower levels of government to make the following kinds of regulations" should be protecting people - particularly people currently being discriminated against, societally or legally - not businesses.

I agree. The problem is that much of the regulation of GMO has been fueled by alarmists. As a result, the labels end up scaring consumers unnecessarily rather than protecting them. It's like putting Jenny McCarthy in charge of the department that regulates vaccines.

#32 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2015-July-24, 09:58

I don't disagree with this, either; except that choosing to eat or avoid "food from $COMPANY-locked seeds", for whatever reason, has no impact on the herd of people who do the opposite. I do notice, however, that the makers of the vaccines aren't lobbying government about *that* (about many many other things, sure - but again, mostly "please weaken, or at least not strengthen) the regulations that require us to tell everyone about things that may harm sales because the customers freak out for no reason).

It's more like putting Richard Dawkins (or, going the other way, Tipper Gore) in charge of what's allowed on radio. It might lead to bad client decisions, and may change the landscape of what businesses will be successful, but is it a huge deal?
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#33 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-July-24, 16:28

When you allow the industry to regulate itself, you sometimes get Big Tobacco -- for many years they mounted a disinformation campaign against the claims that cigarettes cause lung cancer. They covertly funded supposedly independent scientific studies that supported their claims. It wasn't until internal memos were uncovered that blatantly admitted that they were aware of the health problems and were deliberately trying to sow doubt that the gig was up, and successful class action lawsuits were mounted against the industry.

You'd think that the insurance industry would have been eager to counter them, since treating cancer costs them so much. But I suspect they felt that they couldn't fight Big Tobacco. So instead they just factored the costs into their premiums, perhaps even charging higher premiums to smokers.

#34 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2015-July-24, 20:06

It pretty much comes down to conflicts of interest and/or the appearance of conflict of interest. Regulation is not enforcement and enforcement can be an effective tool or a blunt instrument. Either way, establishing independent arbiters is harder as the complexity of the issue at hand increases.

Profit is an efficient motivator while losses are the best eliminator (except where government can be induced to provide subsidies... or regulations against competition).

Democracy at its best, protects the rights of the individual from the excesses of the masses.

At its worst, it is a lumbering, careless and wayward means of directing the masses out of the wilderness (frying pans and fires come to mind here)
The Grand Design, reflected in the face of Chaos...it's a fluke!
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#35 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2015-July-31, 15:01

I got an email yesterday which alleged it was going to tell me something "disastrous" about the food we eat in the United States. I kind of suspected what it was about, but what the Hell, I was bored. So I clicked on the link to a video. The guy spent forty-five minutes telling me he was gonna tell me something important "in just a minute". Then he mentioned GMOs — and he still didn't get to the point, which was probably "give me money and I'll save you". Nope, sorry. Anybody who bases his sales pitch on fear-mongering is persona non grata in my house. I stopped listening.
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#36 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2015-July-31, 15:16

View Postblackshoe, on 2015-July-31, 15:01, said:

I got an email yesterday which alleged it was going to tell me something "disastrous" about the food we eat in the United States. I kind of suspected what it was about, but what the Hell, I was bored. So I clicked on the link to a video. The guy spent forty-five minutes telling me he was gonna tell me something important "in just a minute". Then he mentioned GMOs — and he still didn't get to the point, which was probably "give me money and I'll save you". Nope, sorry. Anybody who bases his sales pitch on fear-mongering is persona non grata in my house. I stopped listening.

But he wasn't talking about GW? :lol:
The Grand Design, reflected in the face of Chaos...it's a fluke!
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#37 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-August-05, 12:40

Heard a story on "Marketplace" yesterday related to this. While this new law preempts states from requiring labeling of GMO foods, it does allow voluntary labeling. What's happening is that companies that produce non-GMO foods are starting to add that fact to their labels. And there's an organization called the Non-GMO Project that sets standards for this label, and maintains a database of products that meet their standards.

So it looks like this may go the same way as "Organic" labels -- rather than force the Mark of Cain on the "bad" products, we allow producers to put a label on their supposedly "better" products.

http://www.marketpla...ways-gmo-labels

#38 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2015-August-06, 10:11

That may work - provided the term means something (and yes, I know "GMO" means everything I've ever eaten in my life, under "breeding counts" definitions of modified).

It may easily go the way as "organic" - which means absolutely nothing, and if it turns out that "non-GMO" labelled things sell, an unregulated mark will be abused by people who can come up with a reason why they're "non-GMO - well, *we* didn't do any modifying".

The only "voluntary marks" that seem to be difficult to assault are the ones with religious backing (Halal, Pareve, Kosher). I wonder why? [Note: I don't really wonder why.]
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#39 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2015-August-06, 20:09

View Postmycroft, on 2015-August-06, 10:11, said:

That may work - provided the term means something (and yes, I know "GMO" means everything I've ever eaten in my life, under "breeding counts" definitions of modified).

Are you ever going to give up on that pedantic definition? GMO refers to genetic engineering, not natural evolution of the genome through selective breeding. The meaning of a jargon phrase is not just the literal meaning of the words.

I'm pretty sure HR 1599 doesn't use the term GMO, I think it refers to foods that result from genetic engineering. But even if it did, there would probably be a definition section that says what counts.

#40 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2015-August-06, 20:56

Fair enough, but it keeps coming back to somehow human modified genes in a lab need to be labeled, genes modified by plants or stars or humans not in a lab do not.
At the very least this is discrimination, this is not equality

IN fact it sounds like crony capitalism thus my objection.
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