States Move on Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

Posted on 22. Jul, 2011 by in Business & Policy, Politics

Wait! Can you say if what you’re eating has been “engineered?” Not sure? Expectedly, you probably don’t know and you’re not alone.

Americans simply are not provided uniform, unambiguous notice when the food they’re buying – from soybeans to salmon – might have been derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In fact, the only guarantee of GMO-free food is to exclusively buy and consume “USDA Certified Organic” foodstuffs.

GMOs, for those perhaps wondering, are organisms that have been engineered – potentially by biochemical processes, shooting DNA-coated projectiles, or even direct insertion by viruses – such that changes to their genetic makeup have been affected from the introduction of foreign, heritable material – like putting some of what makes a spider, a spider, into a goat. Genetic engineering is different than the selective breeding of plants and animals that humans have done for thousands of years.

While proponents claim higher yields, enhanced nutritional value, heightened pest and disease resistance, and broader environmental tolerances with GMOs, detractors raise arguments around GMO toxicity, allergic reactions, disorders, uncontrolled gene flow into wild populations of plants and animals, inflated beneficent claims, corporate control of the food supply, and the patenting of life.

 Congress is wrestling over helping to advance GMO-derived foods’ market share, labeling, and banning them altogether. At the state level, though, California, Hawaii and Connecticut legislators are seeking what is currently voluntary per U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance: labeling.

Critics of labeling contend that it will imply hazard they say doesn’t exist as well as raise those costs associated with food processing, storage, and transportation. However, labeling should, at least, show whether the public has a conscious appetite for GMO-derived foods.

Assemblymember Bill Monning, representing California’s 27th District was contacted to learn more about his co-sponsorship of California’s own AB 88. Though the bill was defeated in committee, he says, “The concern is that it is a relatively new technology. If one ascribes to the precautionary principle, then we need to rely on a foundation of scientific data. I’m not persuaded that there has been sufficient testing of potential human impacts but also impacts on the environment of GMO salmon. Our salmon stocks are so endangered, we should be concerned about the impact of GMO super salmon on wild stocks in the oceans.”

“I believe this is a fundamental consumer right to know this issue. Consumers should be able to make informed purchasing choices based on knowing how the food they’re buying was produced.”


Additional reading:–20110524_1_gmos-food-safety-foods-market

Photo 1 credit: Petr Kratochvil


Photo 2 Credit: Vince Mig






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2 Responses to “States Move on Labeling of Genetically Modified Food”

  1. Spencer Christopher Arnold

    22. Jul, 2011

    Amen…about time.

  2. daniellakuttner

    04. Aug, 2011

    Europe has been on this train for years now, giving customers the freedom to choose. With knowledge comes the ability to make informed decisions about what goes into our body, a right we all deserve.

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