Search Results for ‘gmo’

Trans fats banned! Now make way for palm and coconut oil, GMOs…

Pushed by a lawsuit, the Food and Drug Administration has followed through and banned the use of trans fats in processed food: producers have three years to phase out the substance. I’ve got a new piece at Cato making a few basic points: the move is sheer paternalism, it’s setting a precedent (against voluntary consumer assumption of even small risks) that activists are eager to roll out against other ingredients like salt and sugar, it’s not popular with the public (this poll finds a plurality, not majority, going along, while this one finds majorities opposed). And voluntary consumer adjustments (trans fat consumption is down by an estimated 85 percent) have already cut Americans’ average daily intake to half of what the American Heart Association recommends.

Then there’s the sadly ironic history of the whole subject: trans fats were avidly promoted at the time by the same sorts of public health activists and government nutritionists who now push for a ban. CNN:

Dr. Steven Nissen, the chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, praised the FDA for its “bold courage” and said it “deserves a lot of credit” for taking this “enormously important” move.

“In many ways, trans fat is a real tragic story for the American diet,” Nissen said. “In the 1950s and ’60s, we mistakenly told Americans that butter and eggs were bad for them and pushed people to margarine, which is basically trans fat. What we’ve learned now is that saturated fat is relatively neutral — it is the trans fat that is really harmful and we had made the dietary situation worse.”

Or as my colleague Scott Lincicome puts it, “Food tyranny didn’t fail. It just needed better managers”

Now make way for the most popular, and still legal, substitutes for trans fats: tropical palm and coconut oils, each with problems of its own. And an even better prospect — the next panic? –is GMO-derived high-oleic soybean oil.

My Cato piece is here. And I made the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable today on this subject, which is always nice.

Retract our anti-GMO study? See you in court

French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini is not taking particularly gracefully the withdrawal of “a controversial and much-criticized study suggesting genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats” [Reuters]:

“Were FCT [Reed Elsevier’s journal Food and Chemical Toxicology] to persist in its decision to retract our study, CRIIGEN would attack with lawyers, including in the United States, to require financial compensation for the huge damage to our group,” he said in a statement.

CRIIGEN is short for the group with which Seralini has worked, the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.

Washington voters reject GMO labeling

Following the example of California voters, Evergreen State voters were turning down the measure by a 45-55 margin at latest count [KING]. Less happily, the town of SeaTac south of Seattle will now experiment with a $15 minimum wage [same], and those in New Jersey are inscribing an indexed minimum wage into their state constitution. [Star-Ledger] Voters in Westchester County, N.Y. chose to retain County Executive Rob Astorino, whose battles with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have been chronicled in this space. [White Plains Patch]

More: Quirky soapmaker Dr. Bronner used its own product labels to crusade for the unsuccessful GMO bill. Thank you, Citizens United, for protecting its freedom to do so! [Caleb Brown]

OMG NYT OKs GMOs

“[T]here is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers,” says an editorial in, of all places, the New York Times. [“Why Label Genetically Engineered Food?“]

And while on the subject of publications outperforming expectations, Slate features a sober look at “cancer clusters,” with George Johnson reviewing a new book on the Toms River, N.J. episode.

About that “GMO food causes rat tumors” report

Don’t miss multiple posts by BoingBoing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker on the shoddy science behind a recent alarmist report. It’s all the more noteworthy because one of her BB colleagues was at first taken in by the report, requiring an awkward rowback that developed into a crusade of its own against bad activist science. Earlier on Prop 37 and the California political angle here, etc.

Prop 37 and GMOs, cont’d

The California proposition [earlier here, here, and here] is now running into a wave of disapproving editorials in California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee. Tyler Cowen administers a well deserved rebuke to tendentious NYT food-policy columnist Mark Bittman [Marginal Revolution and followup] Also check out the analysis by Jonathan Adler [“How Not to Label Biotech Foods,” New Atlantis] and Baylen Linnekin [“California’s GMO Labeling Law Isn’t the Answer,” Reason] And in California Political Review, John Hrabe notes my Daily Caller piece in the course of observations about the ambition of some Californians to play regulator to the world. (& Matt Bogard)

Somewhat relatedly, it is now clear that Vitamin-A-laden golden rice could fight child blindness arising from nutritional deficiency in the underdeveloped world; alas, it’s being held back by Greenpeace anti-GMO efforts [Margaret Wente/Toronto Globe and Mail; Art Caplan, NBC]

Food and nanny state roundup

  • Has Obama administration endorsed anti-GMO campaign with new labeling law? Not really [Thomas Firey, Cato, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • United Nations anti-tobacco meeting seeks to exclude persons overly involved with tobacco production, ban list turns out to include many officials of member governments [Huffington Post UK]
  • Dumping Michigan tart cherries to comply with USDA marketing order? There must be a better way [Baylen Linnekin]
  • “I am the man, the very fat man, who waters the workers’ beer.” [Science Daily, prompting Christopher Snowdon’s recollection of that line of song]
  • Feds alone have spent $500 million chasing food-desert mirage, with “negligible” impact on health [Mac McCann, Dallas News, earlier]
  • “FDA Assigns Zero Value To Smokers Who Die Because Of Its E-Cigarette Regulations” [Jacob Sullum, more on vaping]

July 14 roundup

  • “‘Ding Dong Ditch’ Left Shorewood Insurance Agent an Emotional Wreck: Lawsuit” [Joliet, Ill., Patch]
  • “Why Lawyers Should Be on Twitter – And Who You Should Be Following” [Kyle White, Abnormal Use]
  • “New GMO law makes kosher foods harder to find” [Burlington Free Press, Vermont]
  • “The Justice Is Too Damn High! Gawker, The High Cost of Litigation, and The Weapon Shops of Isher” [Jeb Kinnison]
  • Wisconsin judge uses guardian ad litem to break up uncontested surrogacy, dissolves both old and new parental rights, now wants Gov. Scott Walker’s nod for state supreme court vacancy [Jay Timmons, Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; legal orphanization of kid averted when new judge revoked orders in question]
  • Ninth Circuit affirms sanctions against copyright troll crew Prenda Law [Popehat, our coverage]

Food stories of the year

Baylen Linnekin asked several food policy wonks what they thought were last year’s and next year’s biggest food stories, and here is part of my reply:

The troubles at Chipotle (whose food I like and buy, despite its dumb anti-GMO stance) brought home two points: local and handmade and every other good thing bring real tradeoffs, and food hazards aren’t just the result of moral laxity fixable by replacing “them” with educated idealists like “us.”

I also predicted that food commentator Mark Bittman, often criticized in this space, would find few takers for his notion of carding kids who want to buy a Coke. Read the whole thing here, and unrelatedly, if you are interested in food issues, check out this Russ Roberts interview with outstanding food scholar Rachel Laudan (earlier).