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more food labeling ideas

 
steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I see a lot of people protesting a lot of different stuff.  And some folks seem to have some influence with the powers that be.  I wish to express my thoughts along the lines of labeling in the hopes that some day somebody who can really make a difference might stumble onto these thoughts.

I think the FDA and the USDA are supposed to protect consumers.  Instead, they seem to have become a tool for big ag.  But I could be mistaken about that. 

In the next five minutes, please watch, as I cure 65% of all of the cancer in the united states.

It is my obnoxious, arrogant and crazy opinion that cancer comes from carcinogens.  I think that most people that get cancer, get it from carcinogens in their food.  Not from just one food, but varrying amounts from all sorts of different foods. 

So the first label I propose is the letters "CF" (carcinogen factor) followed by a number.

CF 0:  contains no known carcinogens
CF 1:  contains some
CF 2:  contains twice as much as "1"
CF 3:
CF 4:
CF 5:
CF 6:
CF 7:  contains seven times more than "1"
CF 8:
CF 9:  the maximum amount of carcinogens allowed for sale in the US

I think that with this wee bit of labeling, this will cure 65% of all known cancer.  I suspect it will also lead to a shift in pesticide use.

The only reason I can think of is that the FDA/USDA would be not cool with that is if they were run by the folks that make money from selling carcinogens.

The next idea I have is a label that says "contains GMO products" and another label that says "may contain GMO products"

And, finally, I think laws that restrict small farms should be lifted and these small farms can sell their stuff willy nilly as long as they hand out something that says "this food has in no way been inspected and may be unsafe for consumption."  The FDA/USDA could publish pamphlets on food safety for this sort of thing rather than putting in so much effort/money in banning it.

 
                    
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I think these are all great ideas, but the first one I want is simply "contains GMOs." 

It's ridiculous that we don't have any labeling regarding this (oh right, because almost all processed food would be stamped with it?) and to me, is a pretty good clue about the characters of the FDA and USDA. 

Remember when margarin was dyed pink, so even illiterate people could spot it for the fake stuff it is? 
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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Carcinogens are very, very tricky to study rigorously.

I joke with my work buddies: "Thousands of peer-reviewed studies have shown that research causes cancer in laboratory animals." (We do research for a living.)

Not all carcinogens have been identified, by a huge margin, and some of the worst are noticeably carcinogenic in quantities that modern instruments are unable to detect. In order to discover that, researchers had to make careful, extremely weak dilutions, and feed those to animals...but the tainted feed, and the animals with the higher rates of cancer, contained un-detectable levels of the stuff. (I've mentioned this before, but it's very easy to drive yourself insane worrying. It can be worth knowing this stuff, but please don't freak out!)

Some carcinogens aren't in people's food, but in their cigarettes. I eat a lot of carcinogens in the black pepper I use liberally at most meals, and occasionally take some with traditionally-made root beer. I'm sure I breathe a lot in on days when I'm downwind of the freeway, or of the docks.

This labeling scheme would help some people to avoid some things, but the decision of what makes the labeling list, not to mention how it's all computed, would be extremely political. A lot of people wouldn't (or couldn't afford to) care about the labels. Even if the best science from 30 years in the future informed the labelsm, they wouldn't speak to many of the most important synthetic chemicals or to any botanical chemicals which there is no profit motive to study, and with the CF formula set by law, it would always be out of date: based, at least partly, on studies that had later been disproven. These effects would all combine: ADM etc. would gently push stories to discredit the system, and/or lobby to make the testing regimen as expensive as possible so that their economies of scale widened the price difference between their food and that of smaller operations.

The intent is good, but I think it would be like trying to bail out a boat with a dinner fork. The tool just isn't made for the job.
 
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