Message Number: YG4485 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2001-06-11 11:51:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Bob C: A MAD Look At Genetically Altered Foods

Bob mentioned that economics is most often a final deciding factor in
choices, and Christopher wrote:
>As Sukie pointed out, there's very little disclosure on
>food packaging in the first place.

Well, it's improved a huge amount, but there always are those who
figure "corporations first" and equate that with secrets, or *assume*
that any disclosure is bad and unprofitable due too much cowardice on
someone's part, or due to the calculated value of lives not adding up
to being worth the cost of changing packaging (though a new
eye-catching color. or inclusion of a coupon, or mention of new size
may be). There are alternatively are thinking corporations which
realize that disclosure can be economically useful. Example: frozen
fish product companies which used to just list "starch". Well, doing
it that way not only put them at risk for suits from those with
allergies, sensitivities, inability to digest specific starches, etc.
but it also meant that anyone unable to deal with any starch avoided
their products which meant that the families of those people also
didn't use the products. Now, the percentages of the populations
with such medical problems may be small but they still account for
large numbers, and when one takes into account that entire family
suppertime and weekend meals were lost as sales fronts it made
economic sense to reduce the numbers of people avoiding the products
by being specific about the types of starch included. They tried
that and it panned out with increased sales as well as better
protection for them against potential suits, all while also better
protecting and opening options for consumers. Not bad at all.

Similarly, there are very logical reasons for corporations to be at
least somewhat up-front about transgenic inclusions. Now, I can se
where the term "transgenic" may be a problem, but on fresh foods
they could instead use "crossed with" (which is not exactly up front
but is friendlier), and on prepared foods they could simply list both
the food and the item from which the genetic material came. Over
time people will relax enough to deal with transgenic as a term and
still take into account what the material came from, but meanwhile we
know from someone's sad experience that anaphalatic reactions to the
included genetic material have happened at least once, and that
having threats to health or life due to lack of labeling is a stupid
reason to suffer or die. We also know that there are ferrets here
(recent item of discussion in relation to eosinopilic
gastroenteritis, for example) whose diets include careful
eliminations of specific foods.

A lot of time labeling worries do not arise from responsibility or
from good economic sense, but merely from cowardice and lack of
creativity in finding a workable solution. That is not good business
management, but it fortunately can be corrected.

Let's make sure that anyone: furred, haired, feathered, bald, or
scaled has food with ingredient lists that are clear enough to
preserve health. Bad labeling is stupid reason to die.