TCTI: Too Crazy To Ignore
Dave Ross
farm_field_plow_generic_640_ap.jpg
Dave Ross asked Howard Buffet about some of the concerns has over GMOs, especially the allegation that breeding pesticide-resistant plants has created super-weeds. (AP Photo/File)

As I-522 trails, why Warren Buffett's son is singing GMO's praises

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GMO labeling looks like it's headed for defeat, which surprised me. I thought there would be a much more lopsided YES vote in King County from people who demand to know every last detail about the food they eat.

Was it just the money? The $22 million spent by the food industry to sow doubt about the measure?

Or was it possibly that people genuinely considered this an unnecessary vilification of a technology that, after all, has dramatically increased world food supplies?

I talked with Howard G. Buffet, who owns and runs a 1,500-acre farm in Illinois, and whose father also happen to be Warren Buffett - one of the world's richest men.

Howard, when he's not farming, travels the world trying to help other countries feed themselves - and uses Genetically Modified seeds to do it.

So I asked him about some of the concerns, especially the allegation that breeding pesticide-resistant plants has created super-weeds.

He said you should follow the science.

"As a farmer I can tell you I use primarily GMO products I try to select different products in rotation...so I have less of (an issue with super-weeds.) We've had super weeds forever. I mean, I can tell you 30 years ago when I was farming in Nebraska, we didn't have anything that could kill it," said Howard.

But Howard said that despite how farmers can be polarized, and even emotional on the issue of GMOs, we should have a good debate about it.

"But I think the main thing is to follow the science and try to get it right that way, because if we get it right that way - ultimately we do need technology to address hunger," said Howard. "People need to have options and choices."

Our initiative, however, is about labeling and once people understand that it's not a black and white issue I asked why we couldn't you just put it on the box and let people treat it like cholesterol - or anything else you can choose to buy.

"I don't think the issue of labeling it is not that it shouldn't be done. I think people should have as much information as they want to have or can have. I think everything I've ever seen happen in the label debate is, again, so polarized," said Howard. "If everyone has to label, and it's fair, and it's equitable, and it's completely across the board, and there's no targeting and there's no kind of a partisan attempt [...] I don't think it's about the actual fact of labeling. I think it's about how do you do it, and how do you do it right."

Howard G. Buffett is the co-author, along with his own son Howard W. Buffett, of the book, "40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World," in which he describes some of his successful and not-so-successful attempts to solve hunger problems.

I-522's supporters vow that they will take the fight to other states until over time, like gay marriage, the voters come around.

Find more election results:
Check Election 2013 results
GMO label initiative, I-522, trails in early election results
Listen: The complete interview with Howard G. Buffett on "Rossfire"

Dave Ross, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.
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