In case you missed it, there’s an article in the Washington Post by George Mason University Law Professor Ilya Somin that is making the rounds on the Internet about an online poll of a representative sample of the U.S. population conducted by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics. The poll asked how people felt about various food-related government policies, such as a tax on sugared soda (60.91% oppose), or country of origin labels on meat (86.1% support). It’s an interesting survey, at least to nerdy types like me.
Yet the inquiring minds at OSU did something else in their survey that’s even more interesting. To gauge how informed consumers are on these issues that they seem to have strong feelings about, they asked a trick question: “How do you feel about mandatory labels on foods containing DNA?”
Now, for those of you still thinking about the portfolio that you just finished reallocating, let me remind you that DNA is that pretty double helix that contains the genetic code of all living things. Consequently, DNA is found in every living cell on the planet, including all of our own cells, and virtually all the food we eat: meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, you name it. Still, a good 80.44% of those surveyed (that 4 out of 5, right?) felt that we need to have labels on food warning us of the DNA lurking inside.
Professor Somin’s article also included Oklahoma State economist Jayson Lusk’s suggestion as to what a DNA food label might look like: “WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children.”