Feedback in Systems

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

Systems use feedback of various kinds to recalibrate in adapting to circumstances. It’s part of evolution. it’s part of social systems. Without feedback systems can spin out of control and crash. Joseph Stiglitz was a Nobel awardee in economics for essentially saying the same thing – that markets work, but only if there is full information available.

So can someone give me one solid reason why the industrial food sector, by and large, is so afraid to have their consumers know what’s in their food? The Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, General Mills, etc. have been throwing the money you give them when you buy their products into lobbying campaigns against the right to know what’s in your food. The Washington State Attorney General forced the disclosure recently of lobbying funds contributed to the anti- GMO labeling campaign that aims to defeat a proposal on November 5th in Washington that would require labeling of food with GMO ingredients. A total of $7.2 million so far through the industry’s main organization the Grocery Manufacturers Association, but a whopping $17 million so far from all sources as reported here, while the pro-labeling side has raised only $6 million mostly from smaller organic and natural food companies and supporters. And not surprisingly, the media blitz that money has bought is shifting the polls on the issue. This is the same game that was played out last fall in California with the Monsanto’s and the deep pockets flooding the airways with their public relations messages.

If like Joseph Stiglitz you too believe markets can work best with sunshine, then you might want to create a little feedback of your own. Look over the list of the manufacturers who want to keep us in the dark and let those that you have supported through your purchases of their products know what you think. Heck, if you feel strongly enough about this, tell them you’ll stop buying that product or products. Feedback like this will help the system recalibrate back to that which we support and will support us.

Now, I for one don’t think that the science is at all clear on the human or ecological safety of the GMO issue. Our bodies respond to parts per million and parts per billion of things in the environment. But I want to have a choice and be given sufficient information to make that choice. The fact that the GMA and the other food giants don’t want us to know, tells me all I need to know at the moment – They don’t believe in free markets.

The following two tabs change content below.
Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

Latest posts by Terry Link (see all)