JBudzynski's picture
How does the Biotechnology Council live up to its first principle, "Respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families", by opposing GMO labeling of foods? Seems to me we could better choose the foods we prefer and consider healthy if they were labeled as to GMO. Since more foods lately are GMO than not, they need to be labeled. Please explain.

A:Expert Answer

Thank you for this question. I am very glad you asked it.  We absolutely do support the right of consumers to choose food that is healthy and nutritious.  And although we do not sell food products directly to consumers, we support food companies’ decisions to voluntarily label food products for the presence or absence of GMOs, so consumers who wish to can choose food that is not made with GM ingredients. Some companies have opted to use such voluntarily labels such as “USDA Organic."


We do support mandatory labeling of food, including GM food, if such food presents a safety risk to a certain population—for example, those allergic to a food ingredient.  We believe the harm in mandating labeling for GM food, just because it is a GM food, is that such a label would convey to consumers that foods made from the farmers’ crops grown with our seeds are less safe than, less nutritious than or somehow different from conventional or organic food.  


But there has never been any evidence linking a food-safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods.  There are hundreds of independent studies that demonstrate this (check out independent studies at Biofortified), in addition to the determinations from scientific and regulatory authorities around the world that GM foods on the market are as safe and nutritious as their non-GM counterparts [see FDA information here]. A few studies have asserted that such a risk exists, but each of these studies has been found not to be credible, essentially “debunked” by the global scientific community.  


Examples can be found here:



Chad Clifford's picture

Thank you kindly for you answer. Well they have yet to demonstrate with any long term study that it is safe yet either. THere is certainly a long and unfortunate history of otherwise safe products being found lethal or dangerous and removed from the market later on. Many red flags have been raised from GMO salmon to many others concerns. There is obviously great concern in the public and scientifically minded folks who employ precautionary principle too. Look at Europe's concern of GMOs to see how well they are accepted. Surely that is at the very least, cause for labelling. As it stands now, it comes across like the Bio-tech companies do not stand behind their GM products: if believed to be safe, it is their job to do the PR and convince people---not sneak in the GMOs to foods and demand that people not be allowed to know. This approach only breeds suspicion and raises trust issues. Is it not also condescending towards consumers to state they are not intelligent enough to decide if they should eat GMOs? I think they should just label the GMO foods, do the PR, and let the consumer drive the market for it. If they don't buy it, come up with something they do want.

Rebecca Gavin's picture

Chad Clifford, another thing to consider is that a "may contain GMOs" label really isn't going to give you much pertinent information. Unless it specifically tells you what the modification was and what the improved trait is supposed to be, it really doesn't tell you anything much. I am sure you know that all GMO products are not the same.

QuestionEverything's picture

I suppose I understand why some people are so insistent about this labeling issue, but I think the reality is that it is unnecessary. According to the USDA, 90% of all corn, and 93% of all soybeans planted in the US in 2013 was GM. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered...) So... if a food product contains any corn, soy or byproducts of either, and is *not* labeled "Non-GMO" or "Certified Organic" (voluntarily), it most likely contains GMOs. People keep saying "Tell us what's in our food", but they already do, as ingredient listing IS mandatory.