Connecticut last week became the first state to pass a law which requires all genetically modified food to carry a warning label; according to Connecticut senate president Donald E. Williams, “There is mounting scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods are harmful to our health.”
Happily for everyone living outside Connecticut, Williams is wrong. In fact, to quote the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects.”
Genetically modified crops ought to be universally popular: being hardy by design, they require less pesticide and less farmland to duplicate the yields of nonmodified stock—which is to say, they tackle two of environmentalists’ bêtes noires, chemical pollution and deforestation. They also increase food supplies and lower prices; Norman Borlaug’s dwarf wheat saved hundreds of millions of people from starving to death in India and Africa.
But genetically modified crops are not universally popular, because of the hard work of neo-Luddites. Like parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, opponents of GMed food have decided to embrace fear of something they don’t understand. And that’s their right; The Scrapbook strongly supports everyone’s freedom to think whatever he wants, no matter how silly. The problem here is Connecticut legislators subordinating their judgment to rabble-rousers.
There’s consolation in that Connecticut’s new law is, for the moment, toothless—to take effect, four other northeastern states with populations totaling 20 million will have to pass similar measures. The Scrapbook hopes that neighboring state assemblies take their jobs more seriously.