GMO bans and labels

It appears that voters in Jackson county Oregon have passed a ballot measure that would ban GMOs in the county.  

Much of the discussion by supporters of the ban leading up to the vote focused on GMOs "contaminating" organic crops.  But, that really doesn't make any sense because organic is a labeling scheme based on process not outcomes.  Just because an organic-labeled food was found to have synthetic pesticide residue or (heaven forbid!) trace elements of GMOs, that doesn't make it non-organic as long as the producers followed organic rules and procedures.  

I suspect the outcome will embolden supporters of mandatory GMO labeling laws and will speed the efforts of GMO advocates seeking some kind of over-riding national labeling law (which is unlikely to require mandatory GMO labels).  

At the same time, there seems to be growing acceptance and acknowledgements of the benefits and safety of biotechnology by the mainstream media and by prominent food writers.  Mark Bittman's recent writing is one prominent example.    

In that vein, I noticed this recent piece in Slate by the food writer and historian, James McWilliams on GMO labels.  You'll see a quote from me about some of the pseudo science that's sometimes used to promote such labels, but McWilliams mainly focuses on the potential costs of such labels:

It’s certainly possible that food will be reorganized into three general tiers—GMO, non-GMO, and organic—with non-GMO food moving toward the more expensive organic option while GMOs, which will be seen as less desirable, drop in price.

However it happens, a cost-free label is a happy thought. But until the label becomes the law, and until consumers are set free to cast their votes in the aisles of the marketplace, we’ll have little more to go on than tea leaves. And until they are genetically modified to be more accurate, I’d prepare to pay more for food.