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According to the new congressional GMO labeling bill, which the President is expected to sign into law any day, food manufacturers will be required to disclose the presence of genetically engineered ingredients either in plain English or in the ancient Kavavil language as follows:

“Krrazpt xri drivqqwit bmoopedi wroovi u korzicla zixxo praggimon”

Only seventeen living people can read Kazavil but that is the compromise reached by congressional democrats and republicans. It seems like a fair deal, halfway between the advocacy groups that wanted full disclosure in English and food companies that wanted no disclosure at all.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. What is true is that food companies will have to disclose the presence of GE ingredients but have several options for how to do it. One is plain English. Another is by means of a QR code that the consumer can scan and get directed to a website that will give all the pertinent information. For a lot of people, those who either don’t have smart phones or have no, even if they do, idea what to do with a QR code, it’s about the same as having it in ancient Kazavil.

The new law solves the problem of Vermont’s mandatory disclosure law – now preempted by federal law. It does not answer the question of GMO safety; no law can do that. It also leaves open the definition of what is a genetically engineered or modified food.

Here is my take on GE foods: I think, but don’t know with absolute certainty, that they are safe. I don’t know with absolute certainty if organic lettuce at the farmers market is safe either. But I do think consumers have a right to know if that’s part of what they are eating. In any earlier blog I wrote that Campbell’s was doing it right by disclosing the presence of GE ingredients in a forthright and positive way. I doubt that this disclosure is hurting the sale of their SpaghettiOs one bit.

Frankly, putting it in ancient Kazavil might not be such a bad idea.

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