Daily Archives: August 11, 2012

It's the ignorance is bliss argument 2

I think every ingredient in food should be listed. Almost certainly, the vast majority of people have no idea what most of these ingredients are and whether they are are safe or not.

But if people don't understand, the answer is not to hide the ingredients, but to educate people.

Reshared post from +Mike Elgan

Is the Public Too Stupid to Understand Food Ingredients?

There has been a lot of debate lately about food and beverage labeling. Should ingredients be listed? Or are people too dumb to understand, so it's better to conceal from the public what they're putting into their own bodies?

I have to admit that I've been pretty shocked lately by public support for the latter idea. Many people will actually argue that certain ingredients should not be on food labels because people don't understand that the ingredients are safe.

One example is genetically modified foods. California's upcoming Proposition 37 would require that GMO foods are labeled as such. Opponents to the proposition argue that people will falsely believe that GMOs are harmful, so they shouldn't be told.

Another debate is raging in the wine industry. There are currently about 200 ingredients you can add to wine without having to list it on the label. Advocates for the status quo argue that some people will falsely believe that ingredients commonly added to wine (clay, acid, lab-cultivated yeasts, enzymes, sugar, gelatin, charcoal, a fish bladder extract called "isinglass" and many others) are harmful or undesirable, and therefore shouldn't know they're there.

Now, I understand why food and beverage companies don't want labeling. They want to add anything they want without losing sales to people concerned about those ingredients. They don't want market advantages conferred on natural food producers who make foods without ingredients that are objectionable to some customers. Customer ignorance is more profitable than customer knowledge.

What I don't understand is the acceptability of that argument among the general public.

In fact, it's outrageous. Why? Because people are trying to win the argument through legislation.

GMOs are controversial. Some people say they're fine. Other's say they might not be. We're all arguing about it. But some people who embrace the "GMOs are fine" opinion want to win the argument by removing knowledge about which foods contain GMOs. They want people who don't want GMOs to eat them without knowing it because they've already decided that their side is right, and the other side is wrong. Argument over.

When food ingredients are controversial, it means by definition that the argument has NOT been settled. Don't let the advocates of ignorance end the argument in their favor by a legally sanctioned suppression of facts. Oppose the advocacy of ignorance argument, especially as it relates to food.

Your right to know what you put into your own body is more important than their right to secretly slip ingredients and chemicals into your body that they've decided you shouldn't worry your pretty little head about.

Californians: Vote YES on Proposition 37. And everybody: Harass your congressmen to stop allowing food and beverage producers to hide what they put into YOUR body.

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