Published on: May 4, 2015by Kevin Coupe
There is an interview in a magazine called On Earth with chef/restaurateur Tom Colicchio, who has moved beyond his cooking and entrepreneurial roots to found an advocacy organization called Food Policy Action, which endeavors to pressure lawmakers to make food part of the national public policy discussion.
There were a couple of interesting observations in the piece. One is what seems to be an evolving attitude toward meat:
"We just announced at Colicchio & Sons that we’ll be shrinking our entrées down from the six- or seven-ounce piece of protein to three to five ounces," he says. "So that represents one way to do it. People need to start eating a little less—of certain types of food especially. Can we change the American diet? Yes, but if we’re going to encourage eating more fruits and vegetables, or if we’re going to go so far as to say they should be eating organic fruits and vegetables, then first we need to rethink certain things—like the way we price crop insurance or allocate our agricultural subsidies ... I’ve never suggested not eating meat - I have two steakhouses. But I do think it’s a good idea to eat less of it, for both health and environmental reasons."
The other observation concerned GMO labeling:
"I'm not anti-science; I do believe there’s some good that could come out of biotech in agriculture. But given the overuse of herbicides and the stronger insecticides that come with it, what are all these doing to the environment? Now glyphosate is showing up in freshwater streams and in breast milk. What are the effects of that? The biotech companies originally did a great job selling this product to farmers, but they never had to sell it to the American public.
"So now you’re seeing pushback, with 90 percent of the country wanting labels. You hear people argue, 'If you want to buy GMO-free, just buy organic.' Well, what if I can’t afford organic? Should I be left out? I should be able to purchase something that’s not GMO. I think [labeling] would probably end up helping biotech companies in the long run. If they become more transparent and then try to explain to the public why their products are so good - why they’re necessary, what they can do - then we could be having a very different debate."
Now, to be fair, probably the reason I think this latter comment is an Eye-Opener is that it is pretty much the argument I've been making here on MNB. (Though he makes it better.)
In the end, I think, the biotech companies are hurting themselves by fighting against GMO labeling, because this effort creates more questions about GMOs. If they accepted labeling, and embraced the idea that they need to explain GMO technology to consumers, then I think they change the focus of the discussion. Which, in my view - and, apparently, Colicchio's - would be better for consumers, biotech companies, and the food industry.
- KC's View: