After reading about all the information on genetically engineered foods, I have made the choice to avoid buying all genetically engineered products. It is my prerogative to do so and my mind is made up. I do not buy foods that may potentially be transgenic. Buying all organic is not always the answer since the demand for organic is high that this choice is not always available. Hence, I sometimes I need to buy conventional foods. Today I read in the New York Times that the biotech companies are pledging transparency. I think that the ultimate way for biotech companies to commit to this openness is to label all products that are genetically engineered. Will the biotech companies stand by their pledge and label all genetically engineered products so that we can expand our choice of food purchases?
Submitted by: Theresa Lam
Expert response from Andy Hedgecock
Former Director, Scientific Affairs, DuPont Pioneer
Monday, 18/11/2013 13:53
First, I think it’s important to point out that nearly two decades of science and rigorous global review have demonstrated that biotech crops are safe. Therefore, biotech labeling is a question not of safety, but rather of how food is marketed. At DuPont Pioneer, we develop and market seed, both biotech and non-biotech, to meet the unique needs of our farmer customers and the markets they’re serving. As you’ve noted, there already are food marketing programs in place for consumers looking for products grown without the benefit of biotechnology. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic Program is probably the most recognized example, but USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service also offers process verification services for companies looking to validate a marketing claim about specific aspects of how a food is grown or processed.
At the end of the day, we believe all labels should be helpful and not misleading for consumers. What I find in the discussions I have is that "helpful" means different things to different people. When it comes to biotechnology, some would find it helpful to know about GM safety, and others are interested in the potential impacts to the environment (including beneficial), perceived corporate control of agriculture or how we make biotech crops and why. In the end, a label will not help answer these questions. But we can. That is why the biotech companies have joined together to create this forum where consumers can ask their questions directly of us―independent scientists, health professionals, farmers and more.
You’re not alone in your question about labeling; we’ve received and answered many on the site so far about this and a lot of other popular topics. I’d encourage you to check out other answers, and if you have a question that hasn’t been addressed, post it to the site and an expert will carefully review and respond to it.