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Why Labeling of Genetically Modified Food Is Critical

by Gab Billones


Recently, Connecticut became the first state in the US to pass a bill that would require labeling for food products that contain genetically-modified ingredients. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stressed that he would sign the bill into law provided that four other states, at least one of which shares a border with Connecticut, will pass similar regulations as agreed during the legislation.


He mentioned that this bill strikes an important balance by ensuring the consumers’ right to know what their food contains while shielding our small businesses from liability that could leave them at a competitive disadvantage.

This success marks the first step of the United States to join the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, China, India and a lot of other countries for a mandatory call for labeling. A lot of advocates already had numerous attempts regarding this cause but their efforts were unsuccessful due to the steady stand of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in opposing the mandatory labeling. They state that these efforts has no scientific evidence of harm and would only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers.

Indeed there’s no wonder why the attempts of those advocates against the labeling of GMO’s always falter – the anti-mandatory labeling arguments are strong. They claim that these labels on food would simply imply a warning about health effects, whereas no significant differences between conventional foods and GM foods have been found.

Another claim is that the Right-to-know approach is too open-ended and potentially unbounded, because it can be invoked for virtually anything. And lastly, they stated that consumers who want to buy non-GM food already have an option to purchase those that are certified as organic. Foods that are labelled as “100% organic” has already been existing in the market.

Now why is there a need for labeling? Despite the claim that the right-to-know approach is too open-ended, still it is a right of the citizens. According to justlabelit.org, about 92% of Americans nowadays want to label genetically engineered foods and its growing. More and more individuals are getting concerned with their health issues. In addition, supporters of labeling are concerned that the unregulated adoption of GMO seeds is forcing the rapid evolution of weeds and insects. The creation of “super-pests” has potentially severe environmental consequences, among other things requiring ever more potent chemicals to control them.

Since the GMO age began over 20 years ago, agricultural chemical use in the country has increased (http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24/abstract), despite claims by the other companies that adoption of GMO seeds would minimize dependence on chemicals. In any event, there are strong reasons to believe that GMO’s are inconsistent with building long-term sustainable agriculture.

Beyond these concerns, the widespread support for this cause is solely based on the basic assumptions about transparency. There’s no need to come to a decision on the health or environmental effects of GMO’s to agree for the concern of a large population that strongly believes the importance of knowing whether their food contains GMOs. If they claim that there’s nothing to worry about these GMO’s,  then it is safe to assume that there’s nothing to worry about labeling it.

United States continues its’ aim upon the labelling of these products, having New York already preparing a public hearing regarding this cause. The hearing on the bill shall take place at 10 a.m. on July 30.


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