Over on my Business Ethics Blog, I recently posted an entry on “GMO Labelling and Consumer Rights.” That entry overlaps partially with a previous blog entry of mine on this blog, called “The Right to Know What I’m Eating.” The occasion for revisiting the issue is of course the impending vote on California’s “Proposition 37,” which would provide for the mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.
The only thing I’ll add here is a very brief response to a piece by Michael Pollan, which appeared in NYT Magazine. The piece is called “Vote for the Dinner Party: Is this the year that the food movement finally enters politics?” Pollan’s argument is essentially that Big Ag has too much power, and that voting “Yes” on Prop 37 is a way for voters to show Big Ag who is really boss. I usually like Pollan’s work, but this is a very weak argument. There’s plenty of reason to complain about Big Ag, but passing a bad piece of legislation just to stick it to them is a very bad idea. Food is important, so let’s pass legislation on issues that really matter, grounded in sound reasoning instead.
In a free society, you don’t pass laws requiring other people to change their behaviour unless their current behaviour is doing some harm or violating some right. There is still no evidence that GM foods do any harm, and requiring their labelling does not effectively protect anyone’s right to anything.