Ask Us Anything About GMOs!

Q:
Why is Monsanto and other companies like it so against labeling foods that contain genetically modified foods?
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A:Expert Answer

Several experts have addressed this topic on GMO Answers. Below are some excerpts and links to answers on the website that you may be interested in reading.

 

By Cathleen Enright, Executive Director of the Council of Biotechnology Information (click here to view original response)

 

The US has a history of reserving the use of mandatory labels to convey information to consumers about the safety and nutrition of a product.  We support mandatory labeling of food including GMO food, when a food raises a safety or health issue, for example, to alert sensitive populations to the potential presence of an allergen. But mandating a GMO label would tell the consumer nothing about a product’s safety or nutrition value.

As such, we cannot support mandatory labeling of a food just because it was produced with biotechnology.  We believe this would convey to consumers that food made from crops grown by farmers who plant our seeds is somehow less safe, nutritious or of inferior quality to its non GM counterpart.  Two decades of scientific study and regulatory review around the world simply do not support this.

That said, we agree completely with voluntary labeling of food, including for the presence or absence of GMOs. Such voluntary labels are often used by food manufacturers seeking to promote their product over another’s. But by law, such labels cannot be used to make claims that are false or misleading to consumers including about the safety of a product.  Today, you can find voluntary, marketing labels, such as USDA Organic, being used to promote non GMO foods.

 

 

By John Rigolizzo, Jr., Board Member, Truth About Trade & Technology (click here to view original response)

 

There is nothing prohibiting voluntary labeling and many companies do. In fact, there’s an easy way to know if a product does not have GMOs ­ look for the organic label. But this issue is more complex because labeling could be very confusing……

Labels won’t help consumers make better decisions, but they’ll increase the cost of food because the labels aren’t free. They represent a significant new regulation on farmers and food companies. The added expense of compliance will be passed along to consumers. We’ll all pay more for what we eat at grocery stores and restaurants.

At a time when the U.S. economy is at best sputtering along in New Jersey and elsewhere, we shouldn’t pass pointless laws that make it harder for families to feed themselves.

It would be bad enough if the negative impacts of excessive labeling with information of no use to human health or safety were to stop there. Yet they’ll extract an even higher toll as they call into question the very purpose of GM technology. Consumers may begin to wonder why this food needs labels in the first place―and they may start to avoid it.

That would be a tragedy. Biotechnology lets us grow more food on less land. That’s why I grow GM crops on my farm, not far from where Assemblywoman DeCroce cast her wrongheaded vote in favor of an unnecessary labeling law.

As we struggle to feed our families in tough times―and try to find ways to feed a growing global population―we need to appreciate food grown with the benefit of biotechnology as part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

 

 

By Neal Van Alfen, Former Dean, College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis (click here to view original response)


The reason food is not labeled as containing GMOs is that mandatory food labeling is only used to provide information that may be important for consumers to make food choices regarding ingredients known to affect their health.  After many studies and years of experience with consumption of GMOs there is no credible evidence that there is a health risk associated with eating GMOs…..

Is it then fair and reasonable to require mandatory labeling to warn consumers that food contains GMOs when this labeling system is only used when health risk choices must be made by consumers?  Without evidence that GMOs are a health risk we should not compromise the integrity or credibility of our food labeling system by requiring a warning when there is no credible scientific evidence for adverse health effects being associated with the consumption of GMOs.

Foods can be and are labeled to help consumers make choices, but such labeling is voluntary. Common examples are kosher and halal labels that help consumers select or avoid foods based on their belief systems.

 

 

By Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD, Public Affairs, Monsanto (click here to view original response)

 

Labeling already promotes choice in the marketplace. Opinion surveys consistently report that consumers support FDA’s current labeling policy ­ mandatory labeling for important nutrition or safety information. Food companies can and do provide additional information voluntarily to meet the preferences of their customers; Monsanto is 100% supportive of food companies’ choices to voluntarily label food to meet the needs and desires of their customers. Today, hundreds of products labeled organic or certified non-GM are available for consumers who prefer these products. This approach provides choices for every consumer, making it easy to find specific products like organic and non-GM, and does so without risking consumer confusion. A recent piece from the editors of Scientific American states that “mandatory labels for genetically modified foods are a bad idea.”


Experts have determined that foods and ingredients developed from GM crops are safe. Agricultural biotechnology, the science of genetic engineering (GE), has been used for nearly two decades to produce plant varieties of corn, soybeans and canola among others that can persevere despite insect pests, plant viruses, damaging weeds or challenging weather conditions such as drought.


GE crops undergo extensive testing and are subject to approvals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Major scientific organizations throughout the world ­ including the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) , European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) ­ have concluded that foods derived from biotechnology are safe. The American Medical Association (AMA) states “Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.”


The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society and publisher of Science magazine, says, “GM crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. Legally mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) agrees that there’s no safety issue and labeling would be misleading. We agree.


Scare tactics are unacceptable. Proponents of I-522 are misleading consumers about the safety of GM foods, and have admitted that their goal is not just to require a label on such foods, but to ultimately ban these foods altogether. These proponents are waging a campaign of fear tactics and misinformation about the safety and benefits of these crops. While we respect that some people may choose to avoid GM ingredients, it is wrong to mislead and scare people about the safety of their food choices.

 

If you have additional questions after reading these posts, please ask.

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